|Class-1 American Offshore|
|Tuesday, 22 September 2009 03:00|
SPIRIT OF QATAR TEAM SET TO RACE IN 29TH ANNUAL KEY WEST WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
DOHA (Qatar): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani has confirmed that the Spirit of Qatar Team will enter the 29th Annual Key West World Championships in Florida on November 8th-15th, 2009.
The seven-day powerboat extravaganza attracts up to 100 entries annually, with races taking place on Wednesday, November 11th, Friday, November 13th and Sunday, November 15th. Sheikh Hassan will team up with England’s Steve Curtis MBE in Spirit of Qatar 96 - running to full Class 1 race specification - and Qatar’s Abdullah Al-Sulaiti will be joined by usual Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini in Spirit of Qatar 95.
The Qatar Team, which runs under the wing of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF), withdrew from this season’s UIM-WPPA Class 1 World Championship in protest at some of the official decisions that had been taken in connection with racing infringements, but the QMSF quartet are relishing the opportunity to return to a racing environment in the United States of America and increase their race experience before a possible return to the Class 1 arena in 2010.
“We will race in the (Superboat) 750 and (Superboat) 850 classes,” enthused Sheikh Hassan, who has claimed 20 Class One podium finishes since he joined the world’s premier powerboat series in the middle of the 2003 season. “Both these classes have the same rules and regulations and similar power-to-weight ratios.”
Both Sheikh Hassan and Abdullah Al-Sulaiti will be racing in the USA for the first time, although Curtis has taken part in the Key West race meeting on four occasions and won his championship class twice. Nicolini visited the venue many years ago to manage a customer team, but has never raced in Florida before.
“We have yet to see the final race formats, but I don’t think it will be much different to what we are used to,” added Sheikh Hassan, who will need to leave Florida as soon as the Sunday race is finished to return to Doha for the build-up to the Unlimited Hydroplane racing in Qatar the following weekend.
“I can only speculate that it will be more of a top-end speed course than we have been used to in Class One. Steve (Curtis) has been racing for many years and his experience in the USA and at Key West will be a great asset for us.”
Curtis is relishing the opportunity to represent the Spirit of Qatar Team in Florida with the Skema V12-engined Qatar 96. “We are ideally suited to the Superboat 750 and Superboat 850 classes, although the American boats may be a little lighter than ours. It will be a great chance for us to get back into race mode and also a chance for Sheikh Hassan to spread the word about Class 1 to an American audience. Maybe it will even attract a few American teams to enter Class One in the future.”
Al-Sulaiti and Nicolini will use their Sterling V8-engined Qatar 95 at Key West, where former Class One racer Randy Scism is a regular among the 100 or so competitors and competes in the Superboat Unlimited class. “For me it will be a good experience to compete against other teams and at a new race venue,” enthused Nicolini.
The Key West race week is held under the auspices of Super Boat International Productions and starts with a boat parade and registration at the Race Village, Truman Annex, on November 8th-9th. Testing and official practice will be permitted on Tuesday, November 10th between 09.00hrs and 17.00hrs (local time), before the first race fires into life on Wednesday, November 11th.
Further testing and practice will be permitted on Thursday, November 12th and the Spirit of Qatar Team will be in race action for a second time on Friday, November 13th. Testing and practice is again allowed on Saturday, November 14th and the final race of the Key West meeting fires into life on Sunday, November 15th.