F1 Qatar Team set to field two local drivers in UIM F1 series
2008 UIM F1 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Qatar Grand Prix – March 29th, round 1 of 9
For immediate release
Wednesday, March 12th, 2008
QATAR TEAM SET TO FIELD TWO LOCAL DRIVERS
IN PRESTIGIOUS UIM F1 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Ahmed Al-Fayyad and Yousef Al-Khulaifi join Qatar F1 Team
American Jay Price confident of top season with new DAC boat
DOHA (Qatar): The Qatar F1 Team has entered Doha-based Ahmed Al-Fayyad and Yousef Al-Khulaifi alongside the American driver Jay Price in this year’s nine-round UIM F1 World Championship, which gets underway with the Qatar Grand Prix on Saturday, March 29th in Doha Bay.
The two new recruits to the Qatar F1 Team were chosen by Mohammed Al-Jaidah, the Qatar Marine Sports Federation’s Head of Formula Racing, and have been working closely with QMSF staff to prepare for the new season. They are both 28 years of age and made their F2 racing debuts in January this year in Doha.
“We have always seen the F1 series as a target in what it can generate for the State of Qatar in terms of exposure,” said Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani, President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation. “Having local drivers taking part has also been one of our main objectives. The two selected drivers have been going through an intensive and steep learning curve to reach the acceptable standard for entry into F1. We have been successful in obtaining seating time for them in F2.”
Al-Fayyad comes from a background of jet ski racing, while his new team mate gained his first marine sports’ experience racing pleasure boats. “It has been my job to mould them as drivers and teach them everything we can,” admitted Sweden’s Pelle Larsson, Qatar’s F1 Team Manager.
New Orleans-based Price finished fifth overall in last year’s UIM F1 Drivers’ Championship at the helm of his Mercury-engined BaBa race boat and his second position at the final race in Sharjah also confirmed that the Qatar Team claimed fifth in the UIM F1 Teams’ Championship.
“Jay is very important for the new guys,” added Larsson. “He was also around last season when we were moulding them. With his experience of F1 racing and a good crew around them, they will have the right input to make a good start to the season.”
Larsson has confirmed that lead driver Price will switch to a new DAC hull this season, although he has yet to decide which of the newcomers will drive the first BaBa or the team’s third boat. Price will also use a Mercury engine prepared by American Brendan Power and the Qatari drivers will use power plants from Nico.
Both Ahmed and Yousef will take part in their last F2 race in Abu Dhabi the week before the Grand Prix of Qatar. “We will have a test before and after this race and will bring all our crew over for testing,” confirmed Larsson. The season starts much earlier this year, so we will miss a lot of the possible testing. But that is the same for all the F1 teams.”
Larsson is confident that Price can reach the top three in the UIM F1 World Championship this season. “I am sure that he will make it. We have a strong team. My goal for Ahmed and Yousef is to give them a good year with good experience in F1. We need to understand not to put any pressure on them. We have to take things carefully and they have to learn at their own pace in a smooth way. Then we will have two good F1 drivers with good chances of reaching the podium in the next three years.”
After the Grand Prix of Qatar, the revised nine-round championship heads to Portugal in May, on to Finland and Russia in June, a pair of races in China in October and reaches its conclusion with a new race in Bahrain in November and the customary finale in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah in mid-December.
2008 UIM F1 World Championship calendar - provisional
March 29 Doha, Qatar
May 4 Portimao, Portugal
June 8 Lahti, Finland
June 15 St. Petersburg, Russia
October 1 TBA, China
October 26 Shenzhen, China
November 28 Manama, Bahrain
December 12 Abu Dhabi, UAE
December 19 Sharjah, UAE
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