C1 Sheikh Hassan and Ali Al-Neama head to Arendal for Norwegian Grand Prix

BMW Norwegian Grand Prix, July 15-17, 2011

For immediate release
Wednesday, April 13th, 2011


· Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis hold second in championship
· Qatar’s Ali Al-Neama aims to build on solid start in Abu Dhabi
· Qatar Team concentrates on modifications to set-up for Arendal

ARENDAL (Norway): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Ali Al-Neama resume their quest for glory in the UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship this weekend at Arendal in Norway.

The Spirit of Qatar 96 and 95 duo will team up with England’s Steve Curtis and Italy’s Matteo Nicolini to tackle the BMW Norwegian Grand Prix, the third and fourth rounds of the world’s premier offshore powerboat racing series in a country where Sheikh Hassan, the President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF), has already taken two Grand Prix wins in his illustrious racing career.

Sheikh Hassan and Curtis currently lie second in this year’s championship after the opening two rounds of the series in Abu Dhabi. They trial the UAE’s Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and Nadir Bin Hendi in Victory 3 by 10 points and realise the importance of closing the gap on their great rivals in this year’s shortened eight-race series.

“It’s nice to be back and recognised by the fans,” said Sheikh Hassan, who performed a brief shakedown of both Qatar Team boats with Curtis yesterday (Tuesday). “Norwegian fans have been in love with the Spirit of Qatar team for some time now and we hope we can deliver a podium for them.”

But the QMSF president is mindful that the course is not easy. “There are so many turns and long straights. With the combination of both flat and rough conditions, it is more of a driver’s course than one for the throttleman. The start run is very tricky. If you get an inside lane, then you will end up turning very tight to maintain your position. If you are on the outside, you can still be on the power and push, so we will need to see which lane is preferable during testing and pole position.”

Sheikh Hassan and his throttleman have amassed six podium finishes from their 12 starts in Class 1 racing and also taken national and world titles in the United States of America. They finished second in both the Abu Dhabi races, while Al-Neama and Nicolini qualified third and snatched a similar finish in race two at the ADIMSC in Abu Dhabi back in April. The Spirit of Qatar 95 crew hold equal third in the points’ standings after two races, but Al-Neama will see the Arendal course close up and personal for the first time on Friday.

“I think it is clear that reliability, or the lack of it, was our Achilles heel at the beginning and probably cost us the odd win,” insists Curtis. “It is a little frustrating, especially when you look at the results we have had elsewhere. Now we have to concentrate on the set-up to suit the shorter, tighter circuits and calmer conditions we face in Class 1, as opposed to rougher seas and the proper open water courses in America.”

Modifications have been made to the drive shaft alignment on Spirit of Qatar 95 since the Abu Dhabi race meeting and Spirit of Qatar 96’s steering system has also been adopted by Al-Neama’s and Nicolini’s boat after modification work carried out at the Qatar Team’s new European base in Southampton.

The weekend’s action gets underway on Friday (July 15) with team registration and technical scrutineering. The Qatar Team will then be permitted to carry out a practice session from 15.00hrs local time. There will be a second official 30-minute practice session on Saturday afternoon at 12.30hrs and the Edox Pole Position begins at 13.15hrs. Race one of the BMW Norwegian Grand Prix starts at 17.00hrs (18.00hrs Doha time).

A one-hour practice session is permitted on Sunday morning from 11.00hrs and the second of the Norwegian Grand Prix races gets underway at 14.30hrs (15.30hrs Doha time).

2011 UIM Class 1 World Championship – standings after 2 races:
1. Victory 3 40 pts
2. Spirit of Qatar 96 30 pts
3. Spirit of Qatar 95 19 pts
3. Fendi Racing 10 19 pts
5. Team Abu Dhabi 5 18 pts
6. Poliform 74 10 pts
7. Chris Parsonage Racing 50 8 pts
8. MITI Tech Power 18 4 pts
9. Welmax 90 3 pts
10. Relekta 91 2 pts


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: 13/07/2011

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