Fresh from making history with a record-breaking 244-mph run at the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in Missouri, Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Steve Curtis front a three-boat Spirit of Qatar Team contingency at this weekend’s sixth annual Clearwater (Fla.) Super Boat National Championship race (Sept. 26-28).
Qatari driver Ali Al-Neama and American throttleman Billy Moore will run Spirit of Qatar 20 this weekend. Photos courtesy QMSF
The final round of Super Boat International (SBI) competition before the coveted Key West World Championships in November, the Clearwater race, which can be viewed live online, has become quite a spectacle as many of the top SBI teams consider it a tune-up race for Key West.
Joining Hassan and Curtis, who are racing the turbine-powered Al-Adaa’am 96 Mystic Powerboats catamaran, is the usual lineup of Qatari driver Ali Al-Neama and American throttleman Billy Moore in Spirit of Qatar 20 and rally driver Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini at the helm of Spirit of Qatar 613. All three boats run under the auspices of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation.
“Basically, we will use Clearwater as a shakedown for Key West,” Hassan said in a press release. “Key West runs for three days and we want to make sure the equipment will hold together and we can make all three races. After Ozarks, we know more about turbines now. We have made what we think were weak parts into heavy solid parts and we think they will last. The Shootout was an excellent test of acceleration for the boat but, when it gets to rough conditions and open waters, things need to be a little bit more reliable.
“Nasser and Matteo will race in the Extreme class against Miss GEICO,” he continued. “I don’t know if race officials would permit us to race in the same class as Extreme, but we will be there and hope that we can race against another Turbine-class boat. Clearwater is a fast course. I raced it for the first time last year and think it will be a challenging racecourse. It’s also a beautiful venue.”
A proud Spirit of Qatar Team took home the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout Top Gun trophy after running a jaw-dropping 244 mph.
assan expects Al-Neama and Moore to present a tough challenge in Clearwater for Team Stihl, Broadco and WHM Motorsports—the three Superboat-class teams to beat this season. Stihl won the last round and WHM Motorsports, which won in Clearwater last year, is expected to debut its new boat this weekend.
“We have been working hard on the 20 boat since the last race,” Hassan added. “I think it’s time now to test our new upgrades and, hopefully, this will give Ali and Billy an advantage and we’ll see them come out on top. We are aware that Stihl, Broadco and WHM are very strong and we will also need to look out for the rest of the Superboat fleet. They might have upgraded their game as well.”
After technical inspections and registration on Thursday (Sept. 26), boats take to the water for official testing on Friday. Two races will then take place on Saturday afternoon at noon and 2 p.m. (EDT).