C1 Sheikh Hassan relishes Class 1 season opener in Doha
2008 WPPA CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
Qatar Grand Prix, round 1 – February 28th-March 1st
For immediate release
Monday, February 11th, 2008
SHEIKH HASSAN RELISHES THE PROSPECT
OF CLASS ONE SEASON OPENER IN DOHA
Qatar Team enthusiastic about exciting new Class 1 calendar
Qatar 95’s Nicolini sees positive future for V8 engine development
DOHA (Qatar): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani is relishing getting the new WPPA Class 1 World Powerboat Championship season underway with the Qatar Grand Prix in Doha Bay on Saturday, March 1st.
With the exception of 2006 – when Doha hosted the highly-acclaimed Asian Games – the Class 1 series normally begins in Europe and finishes with traditional races in Qatar and the UAE. “I think it’s a good idea to start from here in Doha,” said Sheikh Hassan.
“Most teams will be able to take advantage of carrying out pre-season testing in good weather conditions and not freezing temperatures. By the time we have finished the Doha race and headed back to Europe, the European teams will have plenty of time to carry out further development before the second race in Montenegro at the end of May.”
Matteo Nicolini is also pleased with the revised format of this year’s calendar. “I fully agree that we should have two fixed venues at the start and finish of each season, with Doha kicking off the year in February or March and Dubai bringing the series to a close in December. We need stability in the calendar, with a minimum of eight or 10 races. I think we are heading in the right direction, because every year we seem to be adding a strong venue to our calendar.”
Last season Qatar’s Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Italian throttleman Luca Nicolini worked on the development of Mercury V8 engines with a view to the Qatar Team using them in the future. “The V8s are still under development,” admits Sheikh Hassan. “We will carry out testing of V8s with the spare boat, but we are currently happy with the performance and competitiveness of the Skema V12s. That said, we are always looking to the future and trying to improve our performance.”
In 2007, Qatar 96 suffered from the lack of acceleration at crucial times on the way to third overall in the championship, but Sheikh Hassan is confident that the acquisition of the Spirit of Norway team will solve any performance problems. “We learned a lot last year and we have already been in contact with the engine developer to improve the performance of the V12s. The technology gained from purchasing Spirit of Norway will give us added value to improve both the boats and the engines.”
Matteo Nicolini will partner Abdullah Al-Sulaiti in Qatar 95 this season and the Italian is relishing the prospect of working on engine development. “We are ready to begin working with Sterling and their V8 engines,” admitted Nicolini. “We still believe in the concept of the V8 engine and we will start to test them in the new boat that is being built at the Italian base of the Qatar Team.”
But Nicolini admits that the 2007 championship regulations confirmed the superiority of the V12 powerplant package, with first, second and third overall in the championship title race going to boats running V12 engines. “Qatar 95 was the first V8 boat, but in 21 podium places available last season at the seven race meetings, there were only four podium finishes for V8-engined boats and, even then, they occurred a couple of times when V12 boats stopped.
“The means that the V8 achieved less than a 20% success rate on the podium. The majority of the team believes there is parity between the two engines and one thing in favour for the V8 – thanks to the Qatar Team – is that the technical rules will not change until the end of 2009. That means there is good sense in teams investing in the development of the V8 for the future.”
But Nicolini is also proud of the Qatar Team’s achievements in a very short space of time. “For me the Spirit of Norway team will not make any changes or improvements to the boat in the short term. In the long term, I think the merger of expertise will help both sides.
“We must not forget that the Qatar Team is the only team, with the exception of Victory, that uses its own race boat in construction. It was a new project, a new design and we are completely independent in terms of technology for the building and development of Class 1 boats, Class 3 boats and any modifications on hulls, engines and transmissions. We only started in 2004 and, in four years, we have built up a strong, independent team.”
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