Sunday, 8 March, DOHA (Qatar): Now in its fifth year the thrills, spills and the spectacular that have become the hallmark of the Nations Cup since its first outing on Marina Bay in Singapore in 2011, are set to continue with the World Series returning to Qatar’s capital city Doha for a third time.
Teams from Germany, Italy, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will take on the current Nations Cup holders Team Belarus, with all teams and drivers running identical boats, Mercury engines and limited to a choice of two different sizes of propellers.
Belarus field a revised squad with Roman Vandyshev joined by Dmitry Malkin as they look to defend the title that the team won by a solitary point last year.
Last time out consistency was the key to the team’s overall success and despite not picking up a win in either the Match Race or Sprint Races, a string of top three and top six finishes in all competitions was good enough to see them through to win by one point from Italy.
Germany makes its first appearance in the series and will be relying heavily on the experience of two-time F-4S Trophy Champion Mike Szymura who teams-up with Austrian Bernd Enzenhofer to mount their challenge.
Szymura, 21, from Berlin has dominated F-4S for the last two years, grabbing six race wins and five Grand Prix titles on the way to his two Championships.
Back for their third appearance is Team Italy who has been impressive in all previous outings, this year rolling out a new driver line up with 22-year-old Domenico Leidi from Bonate Sopra and the experienced Roberto Lo Piano from Rome making their series debuts.
The star of the show for Italy in their previous outings was young Stefano Paoletti; in 2013 in Abu Dhabi Paoletti and Marco Gambi finished second, but it was the youngster from Miane’s brilliant virtuoso performances in Doha last year, winning the Match Race and both Sprint Races that almost gave them the title, missing out by one point to Belarus.
Qatar is the only team to have appeared in all Nations Cup events since 2011, with veteran driver Khalid Al Kuwari making his sixth appearance and is joined for the third time by Mohammed Al Obaidly.
The team has enjoyed mixed results so far, coming close to winning finishing as runners-up in 2011 and 2012, taking a disappointing fifth in 2013 and fourth last year, the high points for Al Kuwari his very popular double Match Race wins in 2013.
The current Team Russia line up of Mikhail Kitashev and Kostantin Ustinov will be hoping to try to repeat the success they enjoyed in 2013 after winning in Doha, but were part of a quartet who fell short last year managing only fifth, Ustinov’s second place in the Match Race their only notable result.
Making a very welcome return after missing out in 2014 is the series’ most successful team, the UAE, fielding a revised line up with Rashed Al Qemzi joined by series newcomer Rashed Al Remeithi.
In all their previous outings their drivers have dominated, Ahmed Al Hameli guiding them to victory in 2011 winning the Match Race and Sprint Races, Majed Al Mansoori matching him the following year. In 2013 Rashed Al Qemzi finished first in all four Sprint Races to give the team their third title in a row.
Also back and making their third start in Nations Cup is Saudi Arabia with Naeem Al Kedawi and Ahmed Saud Abdulaziz, Al Kedawi their sole representative in 2011 in Sinagapore the duo finishing second in Qatar and third overall in the standings in 2013.
The first of three days of action on Doha Bay kicks off tomorrow with two official practice sessions starting at 11:00hrs and 14:30hrs [local].