C1 Crucial Moscow challenge awaits Qatar Class 1 team


Russian Grand Prix, round 3 – July 4th-6th, 2008


For immediate release

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008





Qatar 95 and Qatar 96 raring to go for new Russian Class 1 race

Exciting new boat tested as Qatar Team prepares for golden future


MOSCOW (Russia): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and British throttleman Steve Curtis MBE and Qatar team mates Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Matteo Nicolini head to Moscow this week to take part in Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix, the third round of the 2008 Class 1 World Powerboat Championship.


Sheikh Hassan and Curtis were the pre-season favourites to take the world crown in their first season racing together, but everything has not gone according to plan and the Qatar 96 crew trail the championship-leading Victory 1 boat by 24 points after the first two races of the season in Doha and Budva, Montenegro. They do, however, hold a joint lead with their UAE rivals in the Edox Pole Position Championship after a second place in qualifying in Doha and a fourth Pole Position of Sheikh Hassan’s career in Budva.


A high-speed crash late in qualifying for the Qatar race forced the crew to run a spare boat for the Doha race and Sheikh Hassan produced a sensational fight back to claim second place on his home event, but a cruel engine failure in Montenegro pushed him down to sixth in the Budva race and the President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF) now lies fourth in the series heading into the crucial Moscow showdown.


Qatar team colleagues Al-Sulaiti and Nicolini have fared slightly better: the Qatar 95 crew finished fourth in Qatar and claimed the final podium place in Budva and head to Russia in third place in the championship, five points ahead of their team mates.


“Moscow is an amazing city and will give our team additional international exposure,” enthused Sheikh Hassan. “We are all looking forward to racing here and, as far as I am aware, we already have a lot of local support for our efforts. I have seen the course in the advanced notice sent out by event organisers. It is shorter than we have been racing on recently, so we will be racing for more laps. I think it’s a real driver’s course. There are lots of turns that we need to work with.”


Sheikh Hassan admits that it has not been the perfect start, but there is a long way to go before the final race of the season in Dubai in December. “The championship is still wide open. We have looked at what caused the engine failure and we have made some improvements, so we should be okay for the Moscow race. The next race in Norway is only two weeks after Moscow and I feel that we need to win both those races. The Victory Team have been very strong so far this year, but we will push hard to be ahead of them. Everyone in our team has the same goal and we are focused and working in a very positive direction.”


The Qatar Team have not made any significant changes to the set-up of the boats since Budva, although Sheikh Hassan is aware that minor improvements can be made. “We know that both Qatar 95 and Qatar 96 are in good shape, but there is an element of acceleration that we are working on to improve our performance in crucial parts of the race course.”


The Qatar 96 hull that was damaged in the Doha crash will be ready for rigging in the coming weeks, although Sheikh Hassan and the crew do not feel obliged to push through the rebuilding work in time for the Arendal race on Sunday, July 20th.


“We will take our time in getting the boat together in the best way possible to ensure that we have a very competitive package when it is ready. Both Steve and Matteo have been working on getting our two race boats ready and into shape. Matteo also planned to test the new Qatar cat boat before Moscow.”


The QMSF has been pushing up and coming Qatari drivers in various marine racing disciplines this season and Yousef Al-Khulaifi secured three World Championship points during his first full UIM F1 race in Finland last month. Sheikh Hassan is keen for this progression to continue and Mohammed Al-Nasser is scheduled to carry out more Class 1 testing as soon as time permits.


“When the new boat is ready after the results of the testing, then we will put Mohammed Al-Nasser into the frame to give us more time working on vital parts that are under-developed so we can assess their reliability in a race environment and under severe race conditions. The profile of the QMSF is getting higher with each result we achieve. Any success of our drivers is adding value to our profile and image.”


Race weekend on the nearby Khimki Reservoir gets underway on Friday, July 4th with a first official one-hour practice session from 13.15hrs and a second stint from 15.15hrs. A drivers’ briefing and an official party bring the first day to a close.


Saturday (July 5th) marks the crucial Edox Pole Position qualifying session. Teams will be permitted 90 minutes of official practice from 10am and race qualifying gets underway from 15.30hrs. There will be a final one-hour practice session from 09.30hrs on Sunday morning and then the Russian Grand Prix roars into life at 13.30hrs (local time).


CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP – positions after round 2
1. Victory 1 - M Al Marri (UAE)/N Bin Hendi (UAE) – 44pts
2. Victory 7 - A Al Mehairbi (UAE)/JM Sanchez (France) – 31pts
3. Qatar 95 - A Al-Sulaiti (Qatar)/M Nicolini (Italy) – 25pts
4. Qatar 96 - H Al-Thani (Qatar)/S Curtis (England) – 20pts
5. Foresti & Suardi 8 - K Selmer (Norway)/G Montavoci (Italy) – 18pts
6. Jotun 90 - B Jacobsen (Norway)/J Tandberg (Norway) – 13pts
7. SeveneleveN 18
- G Manuzzi (Italy)/N Giorgi (Italy) – 5pts
8= Negotiator 50 - B Eker (Norway)/C Parsonage (England) – 4pts
8=Roscioli Hotels Roma 88 - S Carrasco (Spain)/D Cirilli (Spain) – 4pts

(Championship points include bonus points allocated to teams for running engines for two consecutive races - one point, per engine, per race)


CLASS 1 EDOX POLE POSITION - positions after round 2
1=. Victory 1 - 35pts
1=. Qatar 96 - 35pts
3. Qatar 95 - 21pts

3=. Jotun 90 - 21pts
5. Victory 7 - 11pts
6. Foresti & Suardi 8 - 8pts
7. Negotiator 50 - 7pts
8. SeveneleveN 18
- 6pts

9. White 4 – 5pts
10. Roscioli Hotels Roma 88 - 4pts






For further information:


Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: ndppublicity@compuserve.com. www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases).







Date issued: 01/07/2008

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