Sheikh Hassan buys Spirit of Norway

Steve Curtis and entire Spirit of Norway team included in the deal

Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani, owner/driver of Qatar 96, has upped the stakes in his bid to land the Class 1 World Offshore Championship, confirming that he has purchased Spirit of Norway from Bjorn Gjelsten. The mega-deal includes the services of eight-time World Champion, Steve Curtis, and the entire administrative and technical crew behind the multi-championship winning team.

“The Qatar team is one of the strongest and by adding skilled and talented personnel to an existing package we will make it more than a handful for our competitors,” said Sheikh Hassan. He added “Indeed, having Steve is by itself added value. With him onboard along with Matteo the Qatar stable will have the best two best throttlemen in the sport.”

Gjelsten’s decision to put the team up for sale follows his recent retirement, with the emphasis that boat and personnel come as a complete package.

“There has been a lot of interest in the boat, but my number one priority was to ensure that the entire team was looked after and included in the deal,” confirmed Gjelsten. “What was important to me was to sell to someone who I believe is dedicated and capable of taking the team forward as a winning unit, and Sheikh Hassan not only has the dedication but the resources as well. He is buying a very competitive package and it is important to keep the continuity and hopefully the winning formula Steve and I have built up over ten years.”

Sheikh Hassan is remaining tight-lipped and keeping his rivals guessing regarding the driver line-up for 2008, but there is a strong probability that he will drive alongside Steve Curtis in Qatar 96, the ex Spirit of Norway, with Matteo Nicolini and Abdullah Al-Sulaiti running ex 96 as Qatar 95.