Sunday’s third round of the 2010 Jetpro Jetsprint series brings an intense battle of Goliath supremacy between Wanganui’s Leighton Minnell, Queenstown’s Chris Munro and Palmerston North’s Richard Burt as three of the teams competing at the Meremere water course sprint bowl (21 February).
The trio have headlined the opening two events in the six round series that includes teams across the three Suzuki super boat, Scott Waterjet international Group A and Jetpro Lites categories.
Tied for round wins in the Suzuki super boat field, Minnell and Burt have the added pressure of Munro to wedge their points offering following the season’s second round near Featherston late in January.
Having missed the opening round, Munro is an outside shot for the title, and offers additional competition between the title contenders with his raw pace. Returning following a three season hiatus, Munro and navigator Brent Scammell bring the greatest un-known to the weekend’s racing at the water track adjacent to state highway one. Still fine-tuning his 427 cubic inch powered boat, Munro says getting maximum efficiency from the Southern Jet 8.75 inch unit is his greatest handicap.
“We’re having a lot of trouble getting the jet unit to hook up so we’ve got to get that side of it sorted,” he said ahead of racing a water track he’s never seen. “Basically we’ve got to keep working on where we finished at Featherston.”
“There is a lot of development going on and that’ll take a while to sort out... But we’re there to push it along.”
Heading up a day early to test developments before the Sunday programme of four qualifying runs, the pressure mounts with eliminations cutting to sixteen, eight, four and then two for the final shoot-out.
While Burt, the defending champion, took an early points advantage, Minnell leap-frogged at the second round to currently lead the series by three points.
Also with a slight advantage, Auckland based Baden Gray and navigator Tanya Iremonger lead the Scott Waterjet international Group A class. Powered by a 405 cubic inch Chevrolet, Gray’s boat has performed faultlessly against defending class champion Bevin Muir and navigator Kathy Barker of Thames.
The largest field in the three category competition, the Scott Waterjet international Group A class is again expecting a field of 16 boats.
Bolstered by nine teams in the Jetpro Lites entry-level category, competition will be equally as intense. Defending champions David Stone and navigator Steve Greaves of Bulls had their domination matched by Whangamata’s Ray Thompson and David Toms at the Featherston round with the pair tied for points.
However the 30 teams expected to compete know the Meremere course is one of the most challenging with the water containing a higher concentration of mud that adds to the slip level of the water. Often the scene of the most dramatic water departing incidents, prudence is surpassed by the pressures of championship contention.
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2010 Jetpro Jetsprint championship points (after round two of six)
Suzuki Superboat Class - 2010 New Zealand Jetsprint Championships
Pos No. Name Points
1 47 Leighton Minnell, Wanganui, 59
2 97 Richard Burt, Palmerston North, 56
3 88 Jamie Cooper, Wanganui, 50
4 2NZ Duncan Wilson, Waitotara, 48
5 74 Pat Dillon, Wanganui, 47
6 89 Chris Munro, Queenstown, 29
7 94 Brent White, Lower Hutt, 27
8 98 Rob Coley, Wanganui, 22
Scott Water Jet Group A Class - 2010 New Zealand Jetsprint Championships
Pos No. Name Points
1 3NZ Baden Gray, Auckland, 60
2 30 Reg Smith, Taupo, 56
3 1NZ Bevin Muir, Thames, 50
4 15a Sam Newdick, Hamilton, 49
5 51 Ray Fergusson, Lower Hutt, 48
6 52 Blake Briant, Gisborne, 47
7 41 Garry Smith, Featherston, 46
8 30a Phil Wheelans, Wellington, 39
9 39 Andrew Guthrie, Levin, 39
10 43 Richard Murray, Wanganui, 38
11 111 Mark Newdick, Hamilton, 33
12 41a Mark Shirtliff, Lower Hutt, 32
13 18L Blair Gibbard, Levin, 30
14 40 Shane Wood, Lower Hutt, 30
15 36 Brian Donald, Nelson, 29
16 49 Jeff White, Wanganui, 14
Jetpro Lites Class - 2010 New Zealand Jetsprint Championships
Pos No. Name Rd 1 Rd 2 Points
1 24 Ray Tompson, Whangamata, 59
2 3NZ Dave Stone, Bulls, 59
3 13 Graeme Jones, New Plymouth, 54
4 11 Gerry Linklater, Wanganui, 52
5 14 Steve Fouhy, Turakina, 47
6 21 Bill Swan, Lower Hutt, 42
7 28 Karl Draper, Wellington, 24
8 27 Peter Huiys, Wanganui, 22
9 11a Bevan Linklater, Wanganui, 21
10 22 Phil Mulvay, Wanganui, 0