C1 QMSF makes final plans for Qatar Duty Free Grand Prix
UIM CLASS 1 WORLD POWER BOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
Qatar Duty Free Grand Prix, Doha, November 20th - Round 5 of 8
For immediate release
Thursday, November 18th, 2004
QATAR MARINE SPORTS FEDERATION (QMSF) MAKES
FINAL PLANS FOR QATAR DUTY FREE GRAND PRIX
World's leading Class 1 racers prepare for Saturday's GP showdown; Argentinean football legend Batistuta drives Class 1 racing boat;
DOHA (Qatar): The Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF) spent today (Thursday) putting the finishing touches to its meticulous preparations for the Qatar Duty Free Grand Prix, round five of this year's UIM Class 1 World Power Boat Championship and the first of four rounds of the UIM Middle East series in the space of three weeks.
As international team members, media and officials arrived in Doha for the start of the official programme of events on Thursday morning, it was the turn of the Argentinean footballing legend Gabriele Batistuta to try his hand at Class One racing for the first time.
The former Roma star, who has played football for Al-Arabi in Qatar for the last two seasons - was a guest of the Highlander team and experienced several minutes of high-speed action in Doha Bay at the helm of the 9.0-litre, Mercury V8-engined hull which the Italians Lamberto Leoni and Edoardo Polli will use in Saturday's race.
~It was a fantastic experience for me,~ said Batistuta. ~I had driven a Victory Class Two boat in Dubai last year, but this was my first opportunity to drive a Class One boat. It is not easy. I am sure it is a difficult sport and I admire the guys out there doing such high speeds on the water in all weather conditions.~
Meanwhile, the QMSF's team of officials have been working around the clock to finalise communications facilities, the safety plan and the logistics of the weekend's programme of events. Ten boats will start the Qatar Duty Free Grand Prix, including last year's winners Spirit of Norway, the newly-crowned European Champions Victory 7 and home favourites Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Matteo Nicolini in Qatar 96, fresh from taking a maiden victory in the Color Line Scandinavian Grand Prix in Norway.
~We have been working on this race for many weeks and it is very satisying to see everything come to together and all the teams assembled in our paddock off the Corniche,~ said Hassan, President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation and driver of Qatar 96.
~We waited for the last hours to see what was happening with the remaining rounds of the championship and came up with a proposal to run a second race in Qatar,~ added Hassan. ~This will give us a better chance of winning the Middle East Championship. We must score points on the last four races, but it is especially important that we finish on the podium here. The set-up on our boat has changed since Oslo and we are hopeful that we have made significant progress before Saturday's race.~
After an open session where the general public were permitted access to the pit lane and paddock areas on Thursday afternoon, a spectacular laser show kick-started the weekend's festivities on Thursday evening. A second practice session and the Pole Position Competition will take place on Friday afternoon, with the Qatar Duty Free Grand Prix taking place over 19 laps in Doha Bay on Saturday.
UIM race officials have revised the calendar for the remaining Class 1 meetings, following the cancellation of the Fujairah race. A second QMSF Grand Prix will take place in Doha on Monday, November 22nd and the final two races will take place at the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) in Dubai on December 3rd and December 10th.
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