|Qatar Team Makes Return To Class 1 In This Weekend’s Grand Prix Of Abu Dhabi|
|Monday, 11 April 2011 12:12|
ABU DHABI (UAE): The Qatar Team makes its return to Class 1 racing in this weekend’s Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi, with His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Ali Al-Neama being joined by Britain’s Steve Curtis and Italian Matteo Nicolini in Spirit of Qatar 96 and 95.
The two-boat team will take part in the series for the first time since the summer of 2009 and will line-up against eight other race boats on a course designed by the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC), near Lulu Island, in Abu Dhabi. The two races in the three-day meeting will take place on Thursday and Friday afternoons.
“I am excited about the team’s return to Class 1,” admitted Sheikh Hassan, the president of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF). “But, at the same time, I am a little nervous on what will be the outcome of the first race back for the team. Without a shadow of a doubt we will race hard, but safety will be a key factor on such a narrow course.”
Both Spirit of Qatar 95 and 96 will be powered by V12 Skema-Lamborghini engines and have now been rebuilt and refettled by the Qatar Team from a makeshift base in Abu Dhabi, following their arrival from the United States of America.
“Achieving the success we did in the USA last year was very important,” added Sheikh Hassan. “It proved that when everything is equal we can get things done and be who we are. Every team is a competitor this year. With the drop in power, I would say that every team has a chance to make the podium. It may be a case of who plays safe and lasts longest in the races.”
The outcome of the 2011 Class 1 World Powerboat Championship will currently be decided over eight races at four race venues – Abu Dhabi, Norway, Italy and Brazil – but Sheikh Hassan would like to see the championship expand and revert to its former glories as soon as possible.
“I suppose I am a little disappointed in a sense that we only have four confirmed race meetings, especially when we look at all the work we have put into getting the boats ready. But we still need to give the new promoter a chance to prove himself and prove that he can lead the changes within the sport.”
While Sheikh Hassan will be lining up at the start of his 48th Class 1 Grand Prix since he burst onto the racing scene in 2003, team-mate Ali Al-Neama will be making his racing debut in the Class 1 discipline. “I have always been offering advise to Ali at every race. This will not be any exception. We are a two-boat team and will work hard as a team to achieve the podium.”
Supporting the visionary Sheikh Hassan will be Steve Curtis MBE, the most successful Class 1 racer in history. “I think both Steve and Matteo bring that vital experience to the team,” admitted the QMSF president. “They both have different ways of doing things and just having them both in our team is a boost in itself.”
The Qatar Team planned to carry out a pre-season test and dunk test today (Monday) and tomorrow (Tuesday), after Sheikh Hassan and Ali Al-Neama arrived in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
The Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi timetable gets underway with registration and scrutineering on Wednesday morning, before teams are permitted to carry out their first official practice of the new season in a two-hour window from 14.00hrs (Qatar time).
There will be a second 30-minute practice session at the start of a hectic Thursday action on the racecourse from 09.30hrs. The first Edox Pole Position of the new season will get underway at 10.15hrs and will determine the starting order for the first of the weekend’s two Grand Prix, which starts at 15.30hrs on Thursday afternoon.
Crews will be permitted a third and final official practice session from 09.30hrs, but the finishing position from the opening race will determine the starting order for the second Class 1 race of the weekend, which starts at 15.30hrs on Friday afternoon.
Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi – timetable of events
Wednesday, April 13
09.00-10.00 Class 1 registration
12.30 Course viewing for drivers
14.00–16.00 Official practice
19.30 Driver’s briefing
Thursday, April 14
09.30-10.00 Official Practice
10.15-11.30 Class 1 Edox Pole Position
15.30 Class 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race 1
Friday, April 15
09.30-10.00 Official practice
15.30 Class 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race 2
20.00 Gala dinner
For further information:
www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases).