C1 Hassan Al Thani to step down from Class 1 racing in 2005


For immediate release
Thursday, December 16th, 2004


Qatar's Abdullah Al-Sulaiti to take helm of Qatar 96 in 2005;
Sheikh Hassan reflects on mixed UIM Class 1 season

DOHA (Qatar): Qatar's Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani has taken the decision to resign his seat in Qatar 96 for the 2005 UIM Class 1 World Power Boat Championship. He will be replaced in the Victory-built and Michael Peters-designed hull by fellow Qatari Abdullah Al-Sulaiti for the entire 2005 season.

Sheikh Hassan, who also acts as the President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF), finished fourth overall with Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini in the 2004 UIM Class One Championship in his first full season of racing. The Qatari had made his debut in the 2003 British Grand Prix in Plymouth in a Damas boat and finished sixth.

~I have taken the decision to stop racing due to commitments within and outside the Qatar Marine Sports Federation,~ said Hassan, who also works as a Human Resources Manager for the Qatar Public Works Authority. ~In addition to the attention that the QMSF management requires with a very full and expanding calendar of events in Class One, F2000, water skiing and sailing, I have other work commitments. It is very hard to race and also think about organising events at the same time.~

But Hassan is confident that his replacement driver Abdullah Al-Sulaiti will be a threat in next year's UIM Class One World Power Boat Championship. ~We have some very high calibre drivers in Qatar, who can be trained and will come up to speed in no time. I am confident that Abdullah will be very fast and competitive.

~He will go through some serious training during the close season. He will have to get very familiar with Matteo on how to race together, communicate with each other in a racing environment and support each other. More importantly, he will need to be able to judge things very quickly inside the cockpit while racing.~

While Sheikh Hassan admits that his main role in 2005 will be to manage the Qatar Marine Sports Federation's calendar of events and team line-ups, he also reflects on a 2004 season of mixed fortunes. Qatar 96 finished fourth in both the UIM World Power Boat and Pole Position Championships.

~The season was not fair to us really,~ adds Hassan. ~We had a very good chance to win something major this year, but our racing season was always full of surprises and unexpected events. I do feel that we are one of the best teams running. The highlight for Matteo and myself was winning the Scandinavian Grand Prix in Norway in August. But now I must look to build upon our experiences over the last 18 months and ensure that we continue to improve the entire Qatar Team for the 2005 season.~


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Date issued: 16/12/2004

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