Line-up almost doubles to eleven teams, with sole British entry still to name crew line-up
The new Class 1 offshore series promoter, Nicolo di San Germano, is confident the UIM Class 1 World Offshore Powerboat Championship will have one of its strongest line-ups in recent years when the season opens in Dubai on April 14-16.
San Germano also announced that Norway, Italy, Brazil and Abu Dhabi have joined Dubai as the season venues, with the possibility of a sixth event to be announced later.
This marks a serious effort to bring the series back to the top of powerboating after its slow decline over the past five years.
Poor interpretation of the rules, often to the advantage of certain leading teams, plus rising costs of taking part has almost made Class 1 a Middle Eastern benefit.
The Dubai-based Victory team dominated the sport in recent years, picking up many accolades both in the pre-race Edox Pole Position contest and in the World Championship itself.
Although Victory will only enter one boat in 2011, contenders racing under the UAE flag still remain a serious threat.
UAE dominance with its apparent bottomless budget is probably one of the main reasons Class 1 has been struggling to attract teams from Europe and the United States.
But the determined approach by the UIM to even up the contests both with new rules centering on power units and overall rule interpretation is no doubt the reason 2011 season will see a much larger fleet.
Defending World, European and Middle East Champions Arif Al Zafeen and Nadir bin Hendi – the dominant drivers in Class 1 over the last four years – will be heading Victory’s single boat attack.
Spirit of Qatar‘s recently announced return to Class 1 renews their great rivalry with the Victory team.
Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Britain’s Steve Curtis will head the team’s two-boat assault on the championship in Qatar 96, with Class 1 debutant Ali Al Neama teaming-up with the experienced Italian Matteo Nicolini in Qatar 95.
Leading the line for Europe will be 2010 Edox Pole Position Champions Kolbjorn Selmer and Jorn Tanberg, the all-Norwegian crew, maintaining its partnership in Welmax for a third season, while supporting Norwegian entry Zabo Racing looks likely to maintain its 2010 pairing, with Paul Gaiser racing alongside throttleman Christian Zaborowski in Relekta.
Italy will enter three teams in 2011: Fendi Racing will make its championship debut with owner-driver Luca Formilli Fendi and Giovanni Carpitella continuing a promising Class 1 career that began in Abu Dhabi last season.
Giorgi Offshore has confirmed that throttleman Nicola Giorgi, who enters his 75th Grand Prix in Dubai, with powerboating’s nine time World Formula 1 champion, Guido Cappellini, resuming his partnership with Giampaolo Montaovoci.
Chris Parsonage Racing, the sole English entry, has confirmed participation but yet to reveal crew line-ups.