C1 Qatar Team prepares for Honda British Grand Prix
2005 UIM CLASS 1 WORLD POWER BOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
HONDA BRITISH GRAND PRIX, July 17th, 2005 - round 1 of 7
For immediate release
Monday, July 11th, 2005
QATAR'S TWO-BOAT CLASS ONE TEAM PREPARES
FOR HONDA BRITISH GRAND PRIX CHALLENGE
Sheikh Hassan aims to improve on last year's third place;
Team mate Abdullah Al-Sulaiti faces maiden Class One challenge
PLYMOUTH (England): Qatar's Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Abdullah Al-Sulaiti will begin their 2005 UIM Class One World Power Boat Championship challenge in the English Channel off the coast of Plymouth, when they tackle the Honda British Grand Prix with their respective Italian throttlemen Matteo Nicolini and Lino de Biase, this weekend.
The Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF) duo plan to tackle all seven rounds of the series in their Michael Peters-designed Qatar 96 and Qatar 95 hulls. The British season opener will mark Al-Sulaiti's debut in Class One after his graduation from UIM Formula 2000 racing last year. Sheikh Hassan, the Team Principal and President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation, finished fourth overall in last year's UIM Class One series and in a similar position in the 2004 Pole Position Championship in his twin Lamborghini-engined Qatar 96 hull.
~We have made some tests before and after major changes to the boats and the results were as we expected,~ said a confident Sheikh Hassan. ~Both boats are identical in terms of set-up, but there have been slightly different performance results. We expected this difference.~
The two Qatar vessels will line-up in a powerful 10-boat field for the opening race off Plymouth Sound and inside the breakwater of the Devon naval port. ~It is important that we get the season off to a good start,~ said Hassan. ~I tested in Italy on July 4th just to familiarise myself with the changes to the boat.~
This season is a year of transition for the Qatar Team and Sheikh Hassan admits that the QMSF is beginning to build its own team and crew with less reliance on external resources. ~We have agreed with Nicolini Offshore to be the base for the Qatar Team in Europe. Our team will be fully responsible for boat maintenance and we signed a contract with an engine builder called Skema to service the engines, which were built by the Victory Team in Dubai. We have also signed with SCAM for the supply of an additional six V12 Lamborghini engines for the second boat.~
Sheikh Hassan is confident that Doha-based team newcomer Abdullah Al-Sulaiti will rise to the new challenge of Class One racing. ~Abdullah works and reacts well under pressure,~ said Hassan. ~The races in Europe will be a first for him, but I am sure he will perform really well. His team strategy is to run his own race.~
The Qatar Team made its Class One racing debut in the British Grand Prix in 2003 and Sheikh Hassan went on to finish in sixth position with Matteo Nicolini in a hired hull. ~Last year we finished third on the podium. Hopefully, in 2005, we will achieve an even better result,~ added Hassan. ~The sea conditions and potential adverse weather conditions are a problem for everyone. Teams will need to set their boats for two different water conditions, outside the breakwater and inside the breakwater. The improvements we have made should alleviate this problem.~
The Qatar Team Principal is realistic about his chances of winning the three-round UIM European Championship and going on to achieve success in the UIM Middle East series in the winter months. ~I believe that we have improved alongside everyone else, so the first race will be a testing ground to see what changes have been made and which have been the most effective.
~Matteo and I have the potential to win the European Championship, but it will be difficult. We have nothing to lose by trying and everything to gain. This year marks the return of the Maritimo Offshore boat and they will be tough to beat. The British Negotiator boat will also offer a stiff challenge and then, of course, we have to compete against the two Victory boats from Dubai and the Spirit of Norway entry. It should be a great year.~
No less than eight crews will line-up against the Qatari duo for the 18-lap, 97.75 Nm event, which starts with administration, technical scrutineering and a boat parade on Friday, July 15th.
The two-boat Victory Team has taken three wins in the last four seasons, since the Plymouth race joined the calendar in 2001. Six-times champion Steve Curtis will be joined by Spirit of Norway team owner Bard Eker as their team bids for a fifth world title, following the retirement of Bjorn Gjelsten at the end of last year.
Satiurday's itinerary features a couple of Honda support races, before the Pole Position Championship race takes place at 13.45 hrs (local time). The Honda British Grand Prix will consist of a start lap of 5.33 Nm, 16 x 5.25 Nm laps and one long lap of 8.42 Nm. The race starts at 14.00 hrs on Sunday, July 17th.
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