This Sunday’s (14 March) fourth round of the 2010 Jetpro Jetsprint Championship in the Hawke’s Bay will be a defining event in the chase for title honours between class leaders Richard Burt (Suzuki Superboat), Baden Gray (Scott Waterjet international Group A) and David Stone (Jetpro Lites).
All three drivers and their respective navigators need maximum points from the Sunday series of elimination runs to secure a points buffer for their title aspirations in the run to the final being held in late April.
Of the six rounds, the spring fed lagoon location at Crownthorpe near Hastings is the newest on the calendar. Its third time hosting the New Zealand title series will offer no favourites for the 30 teams contesting the sprint event for vee-eight powered water jet propelled boats.
With the largest lead, of seven points, Scott Waterjet Group A competitor Baden Gray and navigator Tanya Iremonger (Auckland) have the benefit of three consecutive round wins. Six points clear, Suzuki super boat team of Richard Burt and Roger Maunder of Palmerston North have two round wins, while Bulls based Jetpro Lites team David Stone and Steve Greaves have a slender one point lead, also with two round wins.
Illustrating the need for consistency, the 30 points for a round win is almost matched by 29 points for coming second – regardless of the time differential.
That leaves fifth placed Waitotara farmer Duncan Wilson and navigator Jamie-Lee Lupton still within striking distance of Richard Burt’s Suzuki Superboat category lead.
“We’re not too phased; we’re always out there to win, but we’ve had navigator changes and a few things with the boat we’ve been trying to sort out. But we can still chase and hunt him down,” said Wilson, who was title runner-up to Burt in 2009.
“We had a good run at Hastings last year, so just a case of sorting the electrical problem that slowed us at Meremere and we should be right back there.”
While Burt has been the fastest outright, the one point differential between finishing first and second provides plenty of incentive to first finish for the top-five who could easily leap-frog the leader should he be eliminated early. Another pressuring the defending champion, Wanganui’s Leighton and Kellie Minnell make a competitive return following the explosion of their Chevrolet engine during testing prior to the last round.
The fresh water aspect of the course adds another technical dimension to success. With the water ‘slip’ having to be judged by drivers, hull skeg placement and blade pitch in the water jet make significant difference to the ‘traction’ the boat has on the water surface. Additionally, atmospheric compensations will alter the air/fuel ratio setup to create maximum horsepower from the fuel supply – particularly in the methanol fuelled super boat class.
Having to wait until the Sunday morning to make that final assessment, four qualifying runs allow for fine-tuning before the top-16 elimination cut that reduces to a final top-two shoot-out.
With the warmed-up action starting from 11am, spectator entry is $15 for adults, $5 for children 5-15 years. The pit area is open to the public during the lunch break from 12-12:30pm, before returning to run the final qualifying and eliminations.
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Travel directions: Get on to the TAIHAPE ROAD at Fernhill (SH50). Go 10 kilometres, then left onto MATAPIRO ROAD, go a further 12 kilometres and turn left on to farm track (about 1 km past OMAPERE ROAD). There will be signs on the gate.
2010 Jetpro New Zealand Jetsprint Championships Standings - Drivers (after round three of six) - top four.
Suzuki Superboat Class
Pos No. Name Points
1 1NZ Richard Burt, Palmerston North, 86
2 3NZ Leighton Minnell, Wanganui, 80
3 88 Jamie Cooper, Wanganui, 77
4 74 Pat Dillon, Wanganui, 76
Scott Water Jet Group A Class
Pos No. Name Points
1 3NZ Baden Gray, Auckland, 90
2 30 Reg Smith, Taupo, 83
3 1NZ Bevin Muir, Thames, 79
4 15a Sam Newdick, Hamilton, 75
Jetpro Lites Class
Pos No. Name Points
1 1NZ Dave Stone, Bulls, 89
2 24 Ray Thompson, Whangamata, 88
3 13 Graeme Jones, New Plymouth, 81
4 11 Gerry Linklater, Wanganui, 73