Sunday, 20 March, ABU DHABI (UAE): Teams and drivers entered in the new F1 Nations Cup Championship, which will start later this year, have given a unanimous thumbs-up to the series' boat-engine package after two successful days of official testing in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
Fourteen drivers from six countries - Brunei, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the UAE - were put through their paces by four-times F1 World Powerboat Champion, Scott Gillman, at the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club.
The F1 Nations Cup, devised by powerboat promoter and president of H2O Racing, Nicolò di San Germano, introduces a new approach to the spectacular sport of inshore circuit racing, putting the emphasis on driver ability, team participation and country success rather than that of individual driver success.
Each National team is backed by its UIM sanctioned National Authority and will run two boats using two to four drivers over a two-race Grand Prix weekend.
Drivers will compete in identical stock boats, run identical engines and propellers which will all be drawn for at the start of each race weekend, with the winner no longer being the strongest individual driver but the Nation whose driver-combination amasses the most points. "We are delighted by the turnout this weekend and the reaction by all the drivers has been very positive," said F1 Nations Cup promoter, Casimiro di San Germano. "F1 Nations Cup is a great opportunity for new drivers to step-up into top-flight powerboat racing and also a good platform for those looking to work their way into other international championships.
"It is also a very, very affordable way for new teams and drivers to compete internationally. The boats are owned and managed by H2O Racing and will be leased-out to teams. The cost to a team is 1500 euros per boat per event, which includes registration fee and insurance. The only other costs they must cover are their own travel and accommodation.
"In addition to the teams that tested this weekend we also have interest from Australia, China and the USA and our target is to have ten teams with 20 boats out on the water."
The single-seater, tunnel-hull catamarans are capable of breathtaking acceleration, high speeds and exceptional manoeuvrability.
Each boat is approximately six metres in length, 2 metres wide, weighs 455kgs and powered by a 2.5litre, 225HP Mercury Optimax 200XS SST engine.
After being shown around the raceboat and given an insight into its characteristics and handling by Scott Gillman, the first drivers out onto the water were the rookies and newcomers to single-seater racing, followed by the more experienced - the majority having competed at national level - some internationally. "We have a complete mix of racers here. Those moving into the sport for the first time and those moving up," said Gillman. "The newcomers are easier to handle, they are keen to learn and listen. Whilst those with a bit more experience already want to start modifying the raceboat!
"The boat-engine package is very good. This is great grass routes racing with all drivers using the same equipment with the focus very much on their own abilities."
The calendar for 2011 will be announced in the coming weeks.
Abu Dhabi Official Test
Teams / drivers
Nordin bin Hj Mohammad
Ismail bin Hj Kabon
Nordin bin Hj Idris
Yousif Al Rubaian
Mohammad Al Awadhi
Khalid Abdulla Al Kuwari
Naeem Al Kedawi
Saud Abdulaziz Ahmad
Mohammed A Shalabi
Rashed Al Tayer
Majed Al Mansoori
Faleh Al Mansouri
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Casimiro di San Germano
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