2008 CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
Qatar Grand Prix, round 1 – February 28th-March 1st
For immediate release
Thursday, February 28th, 2008
SHEIKH HASSAN SETS FASTEST LAP IN FIRST
PRACTICE SESSION FOR QATAR GRAND PRIX
Qatar’s Abdullah Al-Sulaiti sets third fastest time in Qatar 95
QMSF confirms Mohammed Al-Nasser will run in White 4
DOHA (Qatar): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and new British throttleman Steve Curtis MBE set the fastest time of 2m 40.40s in the first practice session for Saturday’s Qatar Grand Prix, round one of the 2008 Class 1 World Powerboat Championship, in Doha Bay on Thursday afternoon.
“I am pleased with the start we made this afternoon with the fastest time,” said Sheikh Hassan, who will be taking part in his 37th Class 1 Grand Prix this weekend. “But the conditions were going to deteriorate and we decided to come in after one other lap and save the boat and our best times for tomorrow.”
Teams were permitted two hours to test on the Doha Bay course after registration and scrutineering formalities had been completed at the new venue adjacent to the Sheraton hotel on Doha’s picturesque Corniche.
Doha’s Abdullah Al-Sulaiti, partnered by Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini, began preparations for his 22nd Class 1 Grand Prix by running for four laps in Qatar 95. He set a personal fastest lap time of 2m 45.01s during the session.
Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and Nadir Bin Hendi were second quickest in Victory 1 with a time of 2m 42.65s on their sixth tour, but only seven boats took to the water for the first practice session. Victory 7, Foresti & Suardi and SevenEleven also registered lap times.
The Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF) announced on Wednesday that Doha’s Mohammed Al-Nasser would enter the Qatar Grand Prix – his first Class 1 event – in White 4, which will run with last year’s Mercury V8 engines. Al-Nasser has tested for the team in the past and teams up with Luca Nicolini for the first time this weekend. He set the fourth fastest time in the first practice runs this afternoon.
“It will be good experience for Mohammed to enter the race with Luca,” said Sheikh Hassan. “He will use the Italian boat with the Mercury engines. It’s an all white boat to distinguish it from the Qatar boats, I suppose we can call it White 4.”
Sheikh Hassan’s Qatar 96 team mate Steve Curtis MBE is tackling his 114th Class 1 race in Qatar. The six-times World Champion has 40 Grand Prix victories to his name so far.
Tomorrow (Friday) teams will be allowed to carry out a second 90-minute practice session on the course from 10.30hrs, before Class 3 competitors are permitted a practice stint on the Doha Bay course from 12.30hrs. The crucial Class 1 Edox Pole Position qualifying session begins at 15.00hrs on Friday afternoon. This will determine the all-important starting line-up for the first race of what promises to be a thrilling season.
Timetable of events for Qatar Grand Prix
Friday, February 29th – Doha Bay
10.30 hrs – 12.00hrs Class 1 2nd free practice on race course
12.30 hrs – 13.30 hrs Class 3 official practice
15.00 hrs – 16.15 hrs Edox Pole Position – Qatar Grand Prix
2008 Qatar Grand Prix - 1st practice session fastest lap times:
1. Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani (QA)/Steve Curtis (GB) Qatar 96 2m 40.40s
2. Arif Saif Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE) Victory 1 2m 42.65s
3. Abdullah Al-Sulaiti (QA)/Matteo Nicolini (I) Qatar 95 2m 45.01s
4. Mohammed Al-Nasser (QA)/Luca Nicolini (I) White 4 2m 51.82s
5. Abdullah Al-Mehairbi (UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F) Victory 7 2m 54.04s
6. Kolbjorn Selmer (N)/Giampaolo Montevoci (I) Foresti & Suardi 8 3m 08.68s
7. Giorgio Manuzzi (I)/Nicola Giorgi (I) SevenEleven 18 3m 29.04s
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