C1 Sheikh Hassan sees great opportunity for world title bid
2008 WPPA CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
Qatar Grand Prix, round 1 – February 28th-March 1st
For immediate release
Sunday, February 17th, 2008
SHEIKH HASSAN SEES GREAT OPPORTUNITY
FOR QATAR TEAM’S MAIDEN WORLD TITLE
Defending champions Victory Team post revised team line-up
New Spanish team and driver changes add spice to Class 1 series
DOHA (Qatar): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Qatar 95 team mate Abdullah Al-Sulaiti will face seven other teams in this year’s WPPA Class 1 World Powerboat Championship, which gets underway with the Qatar Grand Prix in Doha Bay on Saturday, March 1st.
Sheikh Hassan has teamed up with eight-times World Champion Steve Curtis this season in Qatar 96, with Italian Matteo Nicolini switching to the throttle seat alongside Al-Sulaiti in Qatar 95. But several other teams will also field different driver and throttleman combinations when action roars into life in Doha Bay at the end of the month. The Qatar Team know that they are in a strong position to secure a maiden world title in 2008.
“Team competition is not allowed within the Qatar Team,” stressed Sheikh Hassan. “We may have our own jokes about it, but its everyone’s right to aim for the championship. We will be working as a team to support and back each other to reach our goal, which is the World Championship title for Qatar.
“There will be no team orders, but we are targeting first and second overall this season and we will work to get there. The first race in Doha will show what everyone has been doing during the close season. We have an additional set-up for race two, so we will hopefully be too much to handle for the rest!”
The defending world champions, Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and Jean-Marc Sanchez, will not race together this season in the UAE’s Victory Team. Instead, Al-Zafeen teams up with the experienced Nadir Bin Hendi in Victory 1 and champion throttleman Sanchez will race alongside Class 1 newcomer Abdullah Al-Mehairbi in Victory 7.
“The new Victory team is an interesting combination to see,” commented Sheikh Hassan about the changes to the line-up for his arch rivals. “I can see what they are targeting, perhaps another world title with both local crew members on board. Both have enough driving experience so we will see what they can deliver in the first race in Doha. A new driver in Victory 7 is also a good introduction to the sport for him.”
The Ugland Offshore Racing Team will again field the powerful V8-engined Jotun boat, but former mechanic Bjorge Jacobsen switches to driving duties alongside Jorn Tandberg in the striking red Norwegian entry for the opening race in Doha. Inge Brigt Aarbakke will share the driving during the season. “I had a talk with the team owner,” said Sheikh Hassan. “The new driver line-up and the new Mercury Class 1 V8 package will make Jotun serious challengers in the sport. Last year they were fast, but lacked reliability. I am sure they have done a good job and will be another team that creates headaches for us.”
Chris Parsonage Racing will field an unchanged line-up in the Sterling-engined Negotiator boat. England’s Parsonage again teams up with Bard Eker, as the pair attempt to maintain the useful form they showed towards the end of last season. “The Sterling engine set-up has proven to be very strong,” admitted Sheikh Hassan. “I am sure that Chris will be there fighting at the top. I don’t know what development he had planned for the close season, but it’s a boat that we will be keeping our eye on.”
Spaniard Domenico Cirilli has confirmed that he will field an all-Spanish team running under the Duemme Broker banner, while Italian former racing driver Giorgio Manuzzi and throttleman Nicola Giorgi use a new SevenEleven hull supplied by the Victory Team. Completing the provisional line-up for next season are Norwegian Kolbjorn Selmer and Italian Giampaolo Montevoci in Foresti & Suardi 8.
“I don’t know much about the Spanish team, but it’s good to see a new team joining the Class 1 family. We do need to see more of that and I am sure we will be able to get more boats interested. Giorgi’s team have a new package for this season, with a new Victory Team boat. I am sure they will be fast, but I don’t know if they will be fast enough to reach the podium. They can get there, but it will require hard work. At least they will not be running behind the pack.”
2008 WPPA Class 1 World Powerboat Championship – revised team line-ups (unofficial):
Arif Saif Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE) Victory 1
TBA/Domenico Cirilli (E) Duemme Broker 2
Abdullah Al-Mehairbi (UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F) Victory 7
Kolbjorn Selmer (N)/Giampaolo Montevoci (I) Foresti & Suardi 8
Giorgio Manuzzi (I)/Nicola Giorgi (I) SevenEleven 18
Bard Eker (N)/Chris Parsonage (GB) Negotiator 50
Bjorge Jacobsen (N)/Jorn Tandberg (N) Jotun 90
Abdullah Al-Sulaiti (QA)/Matteo Nicolini (I) Qatar 95
Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani (QA)/Steve Curtis (GB) Qatar 96
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