C1 Qatar Team heads to Plymouth for Honda British Grand Prix

Honda British Grand Prix, round 5 – Sunday, August 6th, 2006

For immediate release
Monday, July 31st, 2006


Exacting Plymouth challenge ahead for Qatar Team;
New Mercury engines for Qatar 96 crew;

DOHA (Qatar): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Matteo Nicolini have the opportunity to regain the lead in the UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship this Sunday, when they take part in the Honda British Grand Prix, round five of the nine-event championship.

The Qatar 96 crew finished fourth overall in the recent Norwegian Grand Prix and will be looking to add to their points’ tally in Plymouth, a mere three years after making their Class 1 debut together at the same historic Devon naval venue on the English Channel. While Al-Thani and Nicolini occupy the cockpit of the Mercury-engined Qatar 96, team mates Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Lino Di Biase will be at the helm of Qatar 95.

“The waters off the coast of Plymouth are very unpredictable,” admitted Sheikh Hassan. “You can be faced with two different water conditions on race day. Outside the breakwater it can be so very different to inside the breakwater. The weather and the wind can change very quickly. This makes the choice of propeller setting very important and means that the practice sessions will able be crucial.”

Sheikh Hassan admits that a new power steering system has been installed on the Qatar boats. “This should make it easier for us to have a softer and more exacting steering feel for the rudder. We had problems with the steering in Norway and it cost us a lot of time. I think that we may have had a defect in the electronic unit. The team is looking at the problem and we are confident that this can be fixed for the Plymouth race. We had a great speed on the straights, but were forced to ease off on the corners and this was a major burden.”

The Norwegian race took place on a narrow course on the fjord in Arendal and event officials introduced a new two-line system for the race start procedure to avoid a potential bottleneck at the first buoy. This placed a greater emphasis on a good Pole Position starting point, but the Qatar 96 crew were hampered by engine and transmission problems in qualifying.

But Sheikh Hassan is convinced that the one-off starting procedure has a future in Class 1 racing. “I think it’s a good idea. I hope that we can implement this some time in the future, as it will place a greater emphasis on the Pole Position times. It will mean that you have to get into the top five to be on the front row at the start. It also means that teams that have had an engine change can start on the second row as a penalty, just as you would find in say Formula One car racing.”

The Qatar 96 boat will have fresh engines fitted for the Plymouth race and Qatar 95 will use the Norwegian race engines. “We just hope that we can overcome the problems we encountered in Norway and really have a go in Plymouth. It is important that we have two boats on the podium and get back into contention for the championship.”

This weekend’s festivities will start with documentation and registration on Friday morning and the first of the timed practice sessions on Friday afternoon (August 4th). Pole Position qualifying takes place on Saturday afternoon and the Honda British Grand Prix gets underway on Sunday afternoon (August 6th).


For further information:
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: ndppublicity@compuserve.com. www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases).


Date issued: 31/07/2006

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