C1 Qatar Grand Prix race weekend fires into life in Doha Bay
2008 CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
Qatar Grand Prix, round 1 – February 28th-March 1st
For immediate release
Wednesday, February 27th, 2008
QATAR GRAND PRIX RACE WEEKEND GETS
UNDERWAY IN DOHA BAY ON THURSDAY
Qatar’s Sheikh Hassan set for first race with Steve Curtis MBE
Abdullah Al-Sulaiti prepares for title challenge with Matteo Nicolini
DOHA (Qatar): The 2008 Qatar Grand Prix, round one of the 2008 Class 1 World Powerboat Championship, fires into life in Doha Bay this weekend, as the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF) organise the first race of what promises to be a thrilling season of Class 1 racing action.
His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani teams up with multiple World Champion Steve Curtis MBE for the first time in the Skema V12-engined Qatar 96. The President of the QMSF is fully aware that this season marks his finest opportunity to date to win the coveted world title for the first time. Curtis is the most successful racer in Class 1 history and the recent acquisition of the Spirit of Norway operation by the Qatar Team is sure to bolster Sheikh Hassan’s title bid still further. The team carried out a test in Doha earlier this week.
The test was very positive,” said Sheikh Hassan. “The boat felt good. Steve had the upper edge, as he has a better advantage with the boat in terms of control and handling and this made it easy for me to go around the course with no hassle at all.
“Last year’s boat and the new Qatar 96 are identical. The only difference I can think was in the rigging process. I think the package is excellent. We will be watched very closely by the rest of the teams. Steve has an excellent reputation. He has many championships under his belt, so it’s an interesting combination to work with both Matteo and Steve. It’s easy to create a team and gather a number of staff, but hard to have the chemistry. Our team has blended very well with each other at this stage.”
Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini finished third with Sheikh Hassan in last year’s championship and the former UIM European Class 1 champion switches his allegiance to partnering Doha’s Abdullah Al-Sulaiti in 2008. Al-Sulaiti won the Middle East Grand Prix in Doha two years ago and he and Nicolini will be tough opponents this season in Qatar 95, which reverts to the Skema V12 engines to replace the Mercury V8s used in 2007.
Victory Team, the defending World Champions, have split the successful title winning partnership of the UAE’s Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and French throttleman Jean-Marc Sanchez, with Sanchez set to sit alongside Class 1 newcomer Abdullah Al-Mehairbi this season in Victory 7, while Nadir Bin Hendi partners Al-Zafeen in Victory 1.
Chris Parsonage looks set to persevere with the Sterling V8 engines in Negotiator, alongside Norwegian team mate Bard Eker, while the competitive Jotun crew of former race mechanic Bjorge Jacobsen and Jorn Tandberg are likely to feature on the podium if the reliability of their V8 engines can be sorted.
There are several other competitive team line-ups set to grace the starting grid for the Doha Grand Prix. Norway’s Kolbjorn Selmer and Italian team mate Giampaolo Montevoci will run in the Foresti & Suardi hull again in 2008, while Giorgio Manuzzi and Nicola Giorgi remain loyal to an all-Italian challenge in SevenEleven.
Team One will race a new boat for the first time. Frenchman Jerome Brarda looks set to team up with former Qatar Team member Lino Di Biase. Biase has won two Class 1 races – in Marbella in the 1990s and a famous win with Al-Sulaiti in Doha two years ago – and the pair are the unknown force this season. Completing the line-up is the all-Spanish crew of Sergio Mora Carrasco and Domenico Cirilli, although the Spaniards are planning to enter the fray at round two of the championship in Budva, Montenegro, in May.
“We will be looking closely at the Victory Team, Jotun and Negotiator,” admitted Sheikh Hassan. “They all have their own development plans, so it will be interesting to see the results of the Pole competition and not the practice, as I am sure they will be hiding their real numbers. I am feeling confident. Steve and I communicate very well and we understand each other. I know how Steve likes the boat to behave and he understands how I drive, so we should be ready for battle.”
Race weekend fires into life on Thursday afternoon (February 28th) with the first official practice session of the new season between noon and 14.00hrs (Doha time). The morning will be spent on paperwork formalities and scrutineering of the boats at a new location on the Corniche, adjacent to the Sheraton hotel.
Teams will be permitted to carry out a second 90-minute practice session on the course from 10.30hrs on Friday morning, before Class 1 entrants hand centre stage to Class 3 competitors for their stint on the Doha Bay course from 12.30hrs to 13.30hrs. The crucial Edox Pole Position qualifying session begins at 15.00hrs on Friday afternoon.
Race day gets underway with a third and final 90-minute practice session for Class 1 teams from 10.00 hrs on Saturday morning (March 1st). The Class 3 race will take place between 12.30hrs and 13.00hrs and then the 2008 Qatar Grand Prix takes centre stage from 15.00hrs. The race will run for 95.17Nm, over a start lap of 5.09Nm, 17 timed laps totalling 79.90Nm and two compulsory long laps of 10.18Nm.
Timetable of events for Qatar Grand Prix
Thursday, February 28th – Doha Bay
09;00 hrs – 12.00 hrs Administration and scrutineering
12.00 hrs – 14.00hrs 1st Free practice on race course
18.30 hrs – 19.00 hrs Drivers’ briefing
2008 Class 1 World Powerboat Championship – team line-ups:
Arif Saif Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE) Victory 1
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
Jerome Brarda (F)/Lino Di Biase (I) Team One 20
Bard Eker (N)/Chris Parsonage (GB) Negotiator 50
Sergio Mora Carrasco (E)/Domenico Cirilli (E) Duemme Broker 88
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
For further information:
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: email@example.com. www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases).