|Visionary Sheikh Hassan Looks Forward To Golden Era Of World Powerboating|
|Saturday, 17 March 2012 09:23|
DOHA (QATAR): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani began his Class One racing career in 2003 and, in the space of 10 exciting years of international power boating action, the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF) has risen to the very forefront of the sport under his presidency.
Qatar’s Class One team has won Grand Prix in Europe and the Middle East and the European Championship title. The F1 team has triumphed in the UIM F1 H20 World Championship on two occasions (2008 and 2011) and the QMSF’s professional staff have just hosted three back-to-back World Championship events in three separate marine sport disciplines. But still Sheikh Hassan looks to the future and the development of the sport.
“I think there has been a definite shift from Europe to the East,” admitted Sheikh Hassan. “That’s probably down to the state of the world economy and powerboats are luxury items. The economic situation in Europe is not helping in keeping the market for luxury boats in good health. Looking at the sport itself, there are a growing number of powerboat races in this region and the pleasure boat market in this area is also very strong.
“When we started out we did not set the actual goal to be in the position we are in today but, along with other board members at the QMSF, we discussed that we wanted to expand at a steady pace. Slowly we moved through F2000, got involved in the Class One and then the Formula One. It was a learning curve to build up the right team and raise the level gradually.
“The QMSF staff execute perfectly what needs to be done and have no qualms about organising three World Championship races in one go. This is the result, if you look from 10 years to now. I am so pleased we moved to the Pearl for this race. The Pearl reflects the glamour of the sport. The facilities here are spectacular and a great advertisement for Doha and Qatar.
“In every sport there should be growth and changes. There’s a lot of development that can be done with power boating, in all classes. We have seen in Formula One the first new four-stroke boats from South Africa. In Class One, there are huge developments with engines, gearboxes and electronics that can change engine performance. It is only a matter of putting in the right formula, the right venues, set-up and image of the sport.”
Sheikh Hassan would also like to see the USA and Australia integrated further. “The only downside, if you look at Class One in particular, is the moving of massive pieces of equipment and that makes the shipping costs that much higher. The sport itself does not have that much money to support the shipping, although I pay special thanks to Peters & May Racing (global shipping company) for their support of the QMSF and the sport as a whole.
“As long as the global economy helps, getting Australia and the USA on board with the Class One series would be the right combination. Two or three rounds in the US, two or three in Australia, one or two in Europe and one or two in the Middle East would give you a true Class One World Championship, for sure.”
The Spirit of Qatar Team’s celebrations received a blow on Friday morning when it came to light that Ali Al-Neama and Matteo Nicolini had been disqualified from third position in Thursday’s race one at the Pearl Qatar Grand Prix for a technical infringement.
After technical officials had examined one of the Skema V12 engines in Spirit of Qatar 95, it was deemed not to conform to an air tract seal and the team duly lost the 12 points that had been awarded after the race, the decision duly promoting Victory 3 to third position in the point’s standings after race one.
“We just break one bolt that is close to the scoop and give some leak of the air,” said a disappointed Nicolini. “The engine is supposed to give a reading of 100 and we have a reading of 80. Nothing change in the performance, but the rules state that if you do not have a reading of 100 you are disqualified.”
On Saturday, the Spirit of Qatar Team will line-up for the second time this weekend for a slightly longer 10-lap, 66.54Nm Grand Prix, starting at the Pearl Qatar at 15.00hrs.
“We hope the weather advisory continues for Saturday’s race,” adds Sheikh Hassan. “We would like it a bit bumpy. We are a bit short on the set-up in terms of top end speed. A wind speed of over 25 knots would be good for our boat. On Thursday, we saw 15 knots and then, at the start of the race, it was calm. Let’s just hope the wind comes in on Saturday afternoon. Hopefully, then we can go for another 20 points and a second win.”
2012 UIM Class One World Powerboat Championship – after race one (amended after post-race technical checks)
1. Hassan Al-Thani (QAT)/Steve Curtis (GBR) Spirit of Qatar 96 20 pts
2. Rashed Al-Tayer (UAE)/Majed Al-Mansoori (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 5 15 pts
3. Arif Saif Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Mohammed Al-Marri (UAE) Victory 3 12 pts
2012 Pearl Qatar Grand Prix – timetable of events
Saturday, March 17th
10.00-11.30 Official practice
15.00 Pearl Qatar Grand Prix – race 2
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