|Qatar’s Sheikh Hassan Seals Double Race Victory At Mackay In Australia|
|Sunday, 27 June 2010 23:47|
MACKAY (AUSTRALIA): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and British throttleman Steve Curtis MBE secured a pair of stunning victories in the Australian Offshore Powerboat Club (AOPC) Class 1 races at Mackay in Queensland on Sunday.
Sheikh Hassan is the President of the Qatar Marine Sport Federation (QMSF) and opted to take part in his first Australian race in the calendar break between his challenge for honours in the American OPA race series, where he has already taken back-to-back victories with Spirit of Qatar 96 in Maryland and Florida.
Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis were invited to Australia as guests of former Class 1 rivals Team Maritimo to discuss the future of Class 1 racing and to take part in the second and third rounds of the Australian Class 1 series.
Both the Spirit of Qatar 96 team members were given the full use of one of the Team Maritimo boats, which had been prepared at the operation’s Gold Coast facility. The Qatar Team duo fitted into their adopted team from the outset alongside race rivals, Peter McGrath, Ross Willaton, Pal-Virik Nilsen and reigning Australian Class 1 champion Tom Barry-Cotter.
“The first race took place over 30 minutes and we were involved in a really close fight with our Maritimo colleagues for the first laps,” said Sheikh Hassan. “We were lying second until around half-way and then Maritimo retired and we took the lead and held it to the finish.
“There was around one and a half hours between the two races, but Steve and I decided to keep the same set-up and just refuelled the boat. We had a good start to the second 40-minute race in excellent conditions and held the lead from the start to the finish. Steve did a great job to get the set-up right for the races.”
Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis will use the time in Australia to discuss the future of Class 1 and offshore racing with Team Maritimo Offshore and Australian officials. “We have always had an excellent relationship with Team Maritimo and showed today that on a level playing field we can be very competitive.”
Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis will now take part in the third round of the APOC series at Townsville on July 3-4.
“It has been a fantastic start to the season, ” enthused Sheikh Hassan. “We lead the US series (OPA) after two races and now we have the lead in the Australian Class 1 Championship.”
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