C1 Qatar to field two boats in 2006 UIM Class 1 Championship
2006 UIM CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
For immediate release
Friday, February 24th, 2006
QATAR TO FIELD TWO-BOAT TEAM IN 2006
UIM CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT SERIES
Qatar’s Sheikh Hassan rejoined by Abdullah Al-Sulaiti;
Revised Mercury engines for Qatar 95 and 96 in 2006
DOHA (Qatar): The Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF) will field two boats in the 2006 UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship, which gets underway with the Qatar Grand Prix in Doha on Saturday, April 1st.
His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini will be joined by Qatar’s Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Italy’s Lino di Biase in a pair of Mercury-engined boats entered by the Qatar Team on all rounds of the impressive, new-look series.
~It looks like being a very exciting season,~ said Sheikh Hassan, President of the QMSF. ~We will run Mercury engines in both Qatar 95 and Qatar 96. Last year promised so much and I was disappointed with the finish we made to the year after starting so well.
~I suppose it is a case of having unfinished business in the championship,~ added Hassan, who guided Qatar 96 to the 2005 UIM European Championship title and an eventual third overall in the UIM World Championship. ~My neck injury is now fully healed and I am looking forward to the first two races in Doha. We have an excellent team and I feel that we can win the championship this year.
~Last season I felt that two decisions went against us and that ultimately cost us the world title. Spirit of Norway gained points in both the Plymouth race and second Qatar race, where I felt that officials made the wrong decisions after key turning points in both races. That was like giving our rivals a 20-point head-start and that set the tone for the outcome of our season.~
Both the Qatar Team’s Michael Peters-designed hulls are being prepared by Nicolini’s race mechanics at the team’s workshops in Mina Seyahi in Dubai and a third boat will be built in the coming weeks. The team plans to test both race boats at the end of February to continue the test and development programme that has been in place since Sheikh Hassan burst on to the Class 1 racing scene in the 2004 British Grand Prix in Plymouth, United Kingdom.
Last year’s Scandinavian Grand Prix winner insists that the twin-Mercury engines have the potential to win races this season and is confident that the Qatar Team will be a force to be reckoned with in the revised boats. ~We basically started development of the Mercury engines last year. But one needs to appreciate that this is a recreational engine that we have modified for international race use.
~Of course, there were teething problems with things like engine temperatures and the engine alarm systems, but we have made improvements. The Mercury units offer better reliability than the Lamborghini engines and increased torque. Had we used these engines from the start of last season, we wouldn’t have had the teething problems on the final two races of 2005. We will make minor changes in the coming weeks, but I am sure that they will be a success for us and also for the Jotun team. I think the race boat is now easier to drive with the Mercury engines.~
The Qatar Marine Sports Federation will host the opening two rounds of the Class 1 series on April 1st and Friday, April 7th this year to avoid a date clash with the build-up to the Asian Games Doha 2006 in the autumn. Both events will also be counting rounds of the four-event UIM Middle East Class 1 World Powerboat Championship, with two events in Dubai completing the regional calendar at the end of the season.
~This year’s Class 1 calendar is very encouraging,~ added Hassan. ~There are a couple of dates still to be finalised, but I am looking forward to returning to Norway – where I have won two races in two years - and to the UK. There are additional races already confirmed in Spain and an entirely new race in Slovenia. We have eight confirmed races and I understand that there may be other exciting venues in the final calendar.~
The Qatar Team will once again lock horns with an international field made up of the finest Class 1 racers in the world. Sheikh Hassan admits that both the Spirit of Norway and two-boat Victory Team will provide the closest challenge over the course of the year, but he predicts that the ever-improving Jotun entries may well have been the surprise package come the final event of the season in Dubai on Friday, December 1st.
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