THEY have been promised the trench is deeper and the gullies are wider, which is what the Wanganui jetsprint racers will want when they go back to perform in front of 15,000 spectators at ASB Baypark Stadium this weekend.
After the debut of the Mount Maunganui round of the PSP New Zealand Jet Sprint Championship on Auckland anniversary weekend last year, the event has been expanded to host both the second round of the nationals tomorrow, as well as the one-off ENZED Stadium Jetsprints Cup competition on Sunday.
Joining the regular Kiwi competitors on day two will be guest drivers from Australia, the United States and Canada.
Although the Wanganui drivers are not yet sure of the Sunday format, defending Biolytix Jetpro 400s national champion Hayden Wilson, said the “dash for cash” was likely to have fewer qualifying events and then possibly a Top 8 shootout.
In a double drive with 2013 champion Gerry Linklater in White Noize, Wilson felt the shorter format would suit him well, as it may do others who usually don’t make the Top 5 and Top 3 eliminators in the regular rounds.
Many of the drivers take the full day to build up to their quickest speeds, he said.
“With only having three qualifiers and a Top 8 … I’m on the ball with my fastest times [from the beginning].”
But whatever happens on Sunday, both Wilson and Linklater said the emphasis remains on Saturday and earning points for the national title, with Wilson currently sitting in second place behind townmate Ross Travers.
“The shootout will, give it time, probably turn into something pretty prestigious,” said Linklater.
“Most definitely the focus is for the round of the New Zealand champs.
“I had a mare at the first round. Confidence isn’t a problem, I was just a bit rusty.
“But we put that one in the bank and keep moving forward.”
The New Zealand Jet Sprint Association press release said the diggers have been working flat out inside the rugby stadium for the last week.
“The track has been dug out and the concrete launch ramp has been laid. The track takes up more of the grassed area than at last year’s event and the channels are wider, which should allow the boats to go faster than in 2014.
“The RSQKRU [safety crew] has their fingers crossed for a quieter meeting than last year, as they were kept very busy indeed the last time.”
Wilson would be happy about that as well. In 2014, he adapted brilliantly to the narrower channels and won his first national round. However, complaints by other drivers about the conditions led to a review by the NZJSA and, ultimately, the championships points were discounted, leaving Wilson in catch-up mode.
“They have brought in the concrete launch ramp, which will make a big difference,” he said.
Travers also remembers the teething troubles.
“They’ve learned a lot. Last year I was thinking, ‘there’s 15,000 people here and we’ve run out of water’.”
Leading the series with his new 410 chev engine boat, Travers has been flat out this week as Radioactive just got back from its vinyl wrap in Palmerston North, while the engine was running lean and the panels needed repair after the crash during Round 1 at Shelterview.
Like Wilson and Linklater, Travers’ focus is also on the overall series.
“The main day is the Saturday.
“But I’m just there to enjoy myself. The whole family observes, with my son [Shane] navigating.”
Team Travers, his wife and two daughters, will be their in support, much as the family was during his land racing days.
“In the ministocks, you’ve got to be smooth, keep the power on. But in boats, if you take the power off, you go straight off.
“In any racing, if you’re not smooth, you’re not fast.”
In the Suzuki Superboats, the focus is on national and world champion Peter Caughey and what kind of comeback he will make from Shelterview where a broken crankshaft ruined his afternoon.
On Sunday, he will match up against world No2 in Australia’s Phonsy Mullan, but right now the man to catch in the series is Wanganui’s Pat Dillon, who finished on top of an all-Wanganui Top 3 in Shelterview against Peter Huijs and expat Leighton Minnell.
“We’ve just tinkered with a couple of things but drive just how it is,” said Dillon.
He was also hoping for a better track layout after last year.
Waitotara’s Duncan Wilson has a blown engine in the PSP Ltd Group A class, while 400’s driver Paul Tulloch, third at Shelterview, is also not attending.
-Doors open at Baypark on both days at 3pm.