AQUA Lemoine, Zapata and Poret head star-studded field in Qatar

Aquabike Grand Prix of Qatar, March 10-12 – round 1

For immediate release
Thursday, March 10th, 2011


· Eight Qatari riders joined by strong entry from UAE and Kuwait
· Julie Bulteau and Stefanie Balzer head Ski Ladies F1 category
· Pole Position and first World Championship heats on Friday

DOHA (Qatar): The French trio of Cyrille Lemoine, Franky Zapata and Mickael Poret, reigning Ski Ladies F1 champion Julie Bulteau and Portugal’s defending Women’s Slalom Ski F1 champion Stefanie Balzer topped a star-studded field of 74 aquabike riders who took part in Thursday afternoon’s official training sessions for this weekend’s UIM Aquabike Grand Prix of Qatar.

Riders from 12 countries have completed registration formalities for the Qatar Marine Sport Federation’s (QMSF) first ever round of the UIM Aquabike World Championship, which got underway in changeable wind conditions on Doha Bay.

Lemoine won the Runabout 1200 title in 2006 and is the defending Runabout F1 champion. But the honour of running as number one for the weekend has fallen to fellow countryman and racing legend Francky Zapata on his Mercury-engined Zapata, with Lemoine sporting the number nine vest.

“For me, I don’t mind if there is a wind on the course,” said Lemoine. “It is not a problem for me. The objective is to make a good start to the season here in Qatar. It is a new racing venue and a new challenge.”

European riders, particularly Frenchmen, dominate the upper reaches of the bumper 38-aquabike entry in the Runabout category.

Abdullah Al-Sulaiti, Ali Al-Meraizeeq, Majed Al-Sharshani, Mohammed Al-Haidus, Waled Al-Sharshani and Abdullah Ali have joined Rashid Al-Kuwari of the Barracuda team to represent the host nation in the Runabout F1 category.

The experienced Abdullah and Nadir Bin Hendi represent the UAE on a pair of Rotax-engined See-Doos and Yousef Al-Abdulrazzaq, Khalid Burbayae, Mohammed Al-Baz, Saud Al-Sarraf and Mohammed Burbayae are flying the flag for the State of Kuwait.

Frenchman Mickael Poret is the defending Ski Division F1 champion and faces competition from a provisional 24 riders in his class this weekend. Almur Bin Huraiz heads a strong UAE contingent and lines-up alongside Qatar’s Waled Al-Sharshani on his Rip Speed Kawasaki and Hassan Al-Mannai on his Wave One Racing Hydrospace aquabike. Julie Bulteau is also registered in the mixed Ski Division F1 class.

Eight ladies have registered in the Ski Women’s F1 category. Bulteau leads the field that includes Stefanie Balzer, Slovenia’s Pija Sumer, Italy’s Marta Sorrentino and Paola Boggi, Spain’s Patty Gutierrez and the French duo of Estelle Poret and Lou Dardillat.

“Seeing as we are hosting the first round of the UIM Aquabike World Championship, this is a fantastic opportunity for our young jet-ski riders to compete against the World Champions in the discipline,” enthused Khalid Bin Arhama Al-Kuwari, head of formula racing at the QMSF.

“We have a popular local series here in Doha but this is an excellent chance for them to get an event of this status on their CVs, as they make their progression in the sport. Riders like Rashid Al-Kuwari, Majed Al-Sharshani and Mohammed Al-Haidus are regularly on the podium in the local races and it will be interesting to see how they get on over the weekend.”

Italy’s Roberto Mariani fronts the Freestyle class that also includes the UAE’s Khaled Al-Qubaisi, Frenchman Romain Stampers and Italian Valerio Calderoni.

The event is being organised by the QMSF under the presidency of His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani, in collaboration with H20 Racing under the auspices of the UIM.

Tomorrow’s (Friday) Pole Position action gets underway on Doha Bay from 10.00hrs with the Ski Ladies F1 qualifiers. Ski Division F1, Freestyle and Runabout competitors will follow the ladies on to the water during the 2h 45m Pole Position session.

The first of the World Championship heats begins at 14.00hrs. The Ski Ladies F1 riders again lead the way on to the water and Ski Division F1, Freestyle and Runabout riders follow in turn before the session finishes at 16.0hrs.

On Friday evening the top eight riders from the morning’s qualifying session from each category will compete in a special show, held under lights on Doha Bay, in Parallel Slalom in F1 Ski and Runabout and Freestyle.

2011 Aquabike Grand Prix of Qatar - timetable of events

Friday, March 11
09.00 – 09.30 Drivers’ briefing
10.00 – 12.45 Pole Position
10.00 – 10.45 Ski Ladies F1
10.45 – 11.30 Ski Division F1
11.30 – 12.00 Freestyle
12.00 – 12.45 Runabout F1
14.00 – 16.00 World Championship races – Heat 1
14.00 – 14.30 Ski Ladies F1
14.30 – 15.00 Ski Division F1
15.00 – 15.30 Freestyle
15.30 – 16.00 Runabout F1
21.00 – 21.30 Parallel Slalom Ski, Runabout and Freestyle


For further information:
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: ndppublicity@googlemail.com,
www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases).



Date issued: 10/03/2011

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