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C1 Qatar Team Principal weighs up rivals ahead of Qatar Grand Prix

QATAR MARINE SPORTS FEDERATION - LATEST NEWS

For immediate release
Monday, October 31st, 2005

QATAR TEAM PRINCIPAL WEIGHS UP
RIVALS AHEAD OF QATAR GRAND PRIX

Qatar's Sheikh Hassan sees the dawning of a new era in power boat engine technology

DOHA (Qatar): Qatar's Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani is fully aware that it will not be easy to win a UIM Class One World Power Boat Championship race in Doha for the first time. The Team Principal and Driver of Qatar 96 lines up with Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini against a world class field in the first of two Qatar Grand Prixs, organised by the Qatar Marine Sports Federation in conjunction with the UIM, next Monday.

Sheikh Hassan admits that it will not be easy to beat arch rivals Spirit of Norway, in particular, on home waters in Doha Bay. ~Spirit of Norway dominated the race in Doha last year, but we are looking to stop the domination of Spirit in the sport itself and not only in Doha. We will do what it takes to fight in Doha for a podium win and try to increase our lead in the championship.

~Spirit of Norway is an excellent team and they deserve all the respect they have earned in Class 1 racing,~ added Hassan. ~They have had a top class boat set-up since 2003. Steve Curtis is an excellent throttleman and can direct the team to victory. I am sure their boat will have an excellent performance. Even after the retirement of Bjorn Gjelsten and the introduction of new driver Bard Eker, this has not detracted at all from the boat's or the team's performance.~

But the President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation is also mindful of the threat posed by several other leading teams and is convinced that the switch from Lamborghini to Mercury engines is becoming a crucial factor in performance and reliability stakes among the leading runners.

~All teams are looking at using Mercury V8 engines for next season,~ stated Hassan. ~The Lamborghini V12 will also be allowed to participate and will be given the 'grand father' rule to stay in the sport, specifically for teams who have invested substantial sums of money in development and who need to cover their costs. We may see a few boats running in 2006 with Lamborghini power, but I think 2007 and beyond will see the beginning of a new era with the domination of Mercury engines and, perhaps, different engine builders.~

The Dubai-based Victory team has endured a mixed start to the 2006 season, but Qatar's team principal knows that they could strike back at any time. ~I think the Victory Team is still very strong, but they have endured some technical problems, which have held them back and prevented them from fighting for the championship. I am convinced that they will bounce back in the second half of the season in the Middle East.~

The Qatar Team holds a slender four-point lead arriving in Doha for the first of two Qatar Grand Prixs. ~Spirit of Norway is the closest in terms of points, but the championship is not over yet,~ admitted Hassan. ~Everything is possible, but I would think it would be Spirit of Norway, Victory 77 and our Qatar 96 boat at the front, with the Jotun 90 boat also a serious threat.~

While the waters of Doha Bay are generally calm in early November, the Qatar Team knows full well that they can be exceedingly tricky. ~The waters of Doha Bay are quite sheltered, but the race course can be very tricky. There is a very long right turn and that may create some problems with water bouncing back from the Corniche and generating two different directions of wake on the water. We normally have calm waters in Doha, but if we get a very strong north-easterly wind, it may create many kinds of wake, not big ones but wakes that make racing extremely hazardous.~

The opening Qatar Grand Prix gets underway with free practice this Saturday and the actual race takes place on Monday afternoon (November 7th).

Ends

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Date issued: 31/10/2005

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