WANGANUI jetsprint drivers Pat Dillon and Ross Travers remain atop the leaderboard for their respective classes after the second round of the PSP New Zealand Jet Sprint Championship in front of thousands of spectators at ASB Baypark on Saturday.
With deeper channels and faster curves for the second year of competing in Mt Maunganui, Dillon and navigator Steve Edmonds maintained their consistency from their Suzuki Superboats Round 1 win at Shelterview in December, finishing third on the day.
After a broken crankshaft ruined his day in Wanganui, Christchurch’s world champion Peter Caughey was back to his best, but this time had to contend with his old Australian rival Phonsy Mullan, who missed Shelterview but was at the Mount to race in both the nationals on Saturday and yesterday’s one-off ENZED Stadium Jetsprints Cup.
Mullan and navigator Nicole Cooper got a little revenge on Caughey, who had beaten him at the world champs and the last season’s national series, and won the Saturday round, which helped keep a little buffer for Dillon at the head of the series leaderboard.
In the Biolityx 400 series, Travers had no troubles making it back-to-back round wins with a 47.530 second drive in the Top 3 final, and now has a strong lead in the series as Hamilton’s Ollie Silverton finished second, followed by the growing success story that is Wanganui’s all-women team of Donna Thomson and Monica Couper in third.
They all seized their chance when Wanganui’s defending national Hayden Wilson had a hard crash after crossing one of the islands in the course and split the boat, leaving it submerged right up to the engine.
Wilson thought he was alright but when asked a few basic questions it was clear the lights were on but no-one was home.
“He was knocked out, didn’t get to race after that. He was in La-La land,” said Gerry Linklater, who also competes in their White Noize boat.
“We spent all afternoon fixing it so I could carry on, but it had a few too many problems.”
They worked on the boat through the evening and yesterday morning so Linklater could still compete in the Jetsprints Cup yesterday.
But Travers was having no such issues with his new 410 chev engine boat Radioactive, which continues to be the strongest craft in the 400s and often better than most in the more powerful divisions.
“It’s flying. You just couldn’t ask for more,” he said.
“The track’s good, nothing wrong with it, definitely better than last year – they’ve knocked that on the head.
“Just stay in the middle of the track.”
On the last run the engine did not quite sound “on-song”, which the crew put down to a water leak which was cleared before yesterday’s Cup competition.
But the Wanganui racers all had to acknowledge the great improvement of Thomson and Couper in Two A Breast, who brought home their first podium placing after four seasons in the sport.
Their Top Three run was around 50.1s, and a delighted Thomson said it was an eventful day, having come out of the water as fourth qualifier.
“We put it behind us, went out in the Top 12, bettered our time and carried on.
“We’re now able to work out lines and going fast.
“We’re getting down to the nitty gritty, rather than just trying to stay in the water and finish.
“We dedicate this to all our sponsors.”
Thomson and Couper’s third place follows up their fifth in Shelterview, which keeps them at the top end of the 400 series points ladder.
Racing continued yesterday with the one-off Cup event for all three classes, which includes guest drivers from Australia, the United States and Canada.
The course followed different rotations from Saturday, and consisted of three qualifiers and a single Top 8 “dash for cash” shootout.
PSP New Zealand Jet Sprint Championship, Round 2.
Biolityx 400: 1. Ross Travers/Shane Travers 30; 2. Ollie Silverton/Geoff Sisterton 29; 3. Donna Thomson/Monica Couper 28.
PSP Suntuf Group A: 1. Sam Newdick/Glenn Mason 30; 2. Blake Briant/Kate Hoggerbrug 29; 3. Tristan Hynds/Mathew Fagan 28.
Suzuki Grand Vitara Superboats: 1. Phonsy Mullan/Nicole Cooper 30; 2. Peter Caughey/Karen Marshall 29; 3. Pat Dillon/Steve Edmonds 28.