C1 Qatar announces two teams for 2005 UIM Class One Championship


For immediate release
Tuesday, May 17th, 2005


Sheikh Hassan lines up with Italy's Matteo Nicolini for second full season;
New Class 1 challenge for Qatar's Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Italy's di Biase

DOHA (Qatar): Qatar's Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani, President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF), and Abdullah Al-Sulaiti will form a two-boat team in this year's UIM Class One World Power Boat Championship, with their respective Italian throttlemen Matteo Nicolini and Lino di Biase.

Al-Thani and Nicolini finished fourth overall in last year's championship in their Michael Peters-designed Qatar 96 hull and in a similar position in the 2004 Pole Position Championship. The pair will compete together for a second full season in the hull they damaged in Lisbon last year.

Al-Sulaiti, meanwhile, makes the transition from Formula 2000 racing and will race in Class One for the first time when the seven-race series gets underway with the Honda British Grand Prix in Plymouth on July 15th-17th. He teams up with Italy's di Biase in Qatar 95, the twin Lamborghini-engined hull used by Sheikh Hassan on the later races last year. Both boats will be powered by L804V4 engines.

~Initially I thought that work commitments would keep me away from racing this year,~ said Sheikh Hassan. ~But the idea behind running a two-boat team was made after I reconsidered and decided to come back to the sport. It would have been difficult for our new driver to push hard, as he will be under pressure to keep the team very competitive. So, to help bring the new driver to a competitive level, I decided to run again with Matteo. I also feel that we have unfinished business from last year.~

Both Qatar entries will be run in association with the Dubai-based Victory Team, but using the Qatar Team's own personnel and mechanics. ~We had planned to run alone in 2005,~ added Hassan. ~Last year was a learning curve for us and we discovered all about logistical problems and what we needed to do in terms of spare parts, engine set-ups, engine servicing and overhauling and boat assistance.

~We are still in association with Victory Team and are still running Victory Team V12 engines and gearboxes, but we decided to recruit our own team members, who we feel can grow and develop with us and, hopefully, create the best team on the water and in the pit area.~

Both Qatar 96 and Qatar 95 will be identical in terms of specification. Both boats were built by the Victory Team and both have been tested in previous races and have been competitive. ~We are planning to carry out some testing in the next few weeks. Abdullah and Lino have already tested together and get along fine. But we are aware that there is more work to be done.~

Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani admits that choosing the second driver was not an easy decision. ~I had two potential candidates for the seat. We had to see which of our Formula drivers at the QMSF were aggressive on the water and who had the personality outside the boat, the communication skills, the drive and ambition and who would cope better under pressure. We tested Abdullah in Oslo last year and the recommendation from Matteo was very positive. Abdullah showed a good turn of speed, had good handling skills and was not fearful.~

Hassan admits that making a good start on the first of the European races will be the key to the season. ~The calendar is shortened, but there is potential for an eighth race in September. I am sure that competition will be very aggressive this year and it is important that we start on the podium in Plymouth. This would be a big boost to the entire team.~

Despite the absence of last year's Norwegian champion Bjorn Gjelsten, Sheikh Hassan admits that competition will be as tough as in 2004. ~I wish Bjorn was back in the seat this season to fight to the end, but Spirit of Norway will still be a leading contender with Bard Eker and Steve Curtis and both Victory boats and Maritimo will pose serious threats.~


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Date issued: 17/05/2005

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