This weekend’s final round of the 2010 Jetpro Jetsprint Championship has it all on the line for each of the three competition classes – needing to survive the pressure of their rivals on Saturday 24 April at Featherston’s Tauherinikau venue.
Headed by category leaders Richard Burt and Roger Maunder (Palmerston North) in the Suzuki super boat’s, Baden Gray and Tanya Iremonger (Auckland) – Scott Waterjet Group A, plus David Stone and Steve Greaves (Bulls) - Jetpro Lites, the shoot-out style event puts it all on the line for each of the 30 teams.
Returning to a daylight format following the crowd thrilling night meet mid-April at Wanganui, the Oldfields Featherston Aquatrack often serves up surprises for the V8 powered, water-jet propelled boats. Reaching speeds of 100 km/h in less than three seconds, lack of mechanical reliability or driver accuracy are catalysts for spectator climax.
Holding an eleven point lead over second place, Baden Gray and navigator Tanya Iremonger have a measured plan to take the Scott Waterjet international Group A title from defending champions Bevin Muir and Kathy Barker.
Needing to start in the top-eight to point-score enough for victory, Auckland mortgage broker Gray says it’s going to be a nervous start to the day: “I’ve got to make sure I get through that top-16 and qualify for the top-eight. Once I’ve got the title I can go for it.”
Sharing the boat with Muir and Barker from Thames, Gray adds barring a major upset, it’ll be a conservative approach toward the ultimate season result: “We’re looking for the one-two. It’d be fantastic - we’ll call it the double for Teng Tools Racing – which’d be great for our team and sponsors.”
Sure to secure his second title in the methanol fuelled Suzuki super boat category, Palmerston North’s Richard Burt says it’s an event of mixed emotion. Securing his first title there in March of 2009, Burt’s current lead means he can mathematically take the title in the first qualifying run of Saturday morning for the double.
“Technically all I need to do is cross the start line and I will earn enough points for the title, but that’s not us,” says Burt, who has a history of setting fastest time in the final shoot-out.
“Basically we’ve used this as a development season; we’ve tried things, taken things off and put some back on. Believe it or not we’ve gone from Hastings where it was going quite well, to stepping backwards at the Wanganui night meeting with some of the changes we made. To learn, occasionally you’ve got to take a step back to take two forward. So now we’ll put our Hastings setup back together for Featherston. Although I’ve not had a good run there – I’ve been beaten the last three times.”
Faring better than his opposition, the Palmerston North funeral director’s total of 149 points leaves the chasing pack to fight amongst themselves. Currently placed second equal on 132 points, Wanganui’s Leighton and Waitotara’s Duncan Wilson have Pat Dillon (Wanganui) laying in wait for a chance of the same runner-up position. Minnell, with navigating wife Kellie, will be on his third engine for the season with Dillon and Wilson having a mixture of mechanical and navigation woes.
Without the benefit of the same point’s buffer in the six round series, defending Jetpro Lites champions David Stone and Steve Greaves hold a six point lead over Whangamata’s Ray Thompson and navigator David Toms. Accumulating three wins for the season, Stone missed out to Thompson last time the pair raced at Featherston.
In the aptly painted Tuicraft designed package using the Scott Waterjet 8.25 inch propulsion nozzle, Stone’s previous season of domination has been shaken by Thompson – fuelling odd’s for Saturday’s championship chase.
Following rotation familiarisation early in the morning, the season finale kicks off from 11am with the 30-strong ensemble progressing through qualifying to the early afternoon top-16 cut. Whittled to the top-two for the shoot-out, each of the winners will be awarded their provisional titles track-side pending technical clearance.
Gate entry costs $20, with access off SH2 to the Tauherinikau race course 4.5 kilometres north of Featherston.
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2010 Jetpro Jetsprint championship – standings after five of six rounds (top-three)
Suzuki super boat
1, Richard Burt/Roger Maunder, Palmerston North, 146
2= Leighton/Kellie Minnell, Wanganui, 132
2= Duncan Wilson/Jamie Lupton, Wanganui, 132
Scott Waterjet Group A
1, Baden Gray/Tanya Iremonger, Auckland, 149
2, Bevin Muir/Kathy Barker, Thames, 138
3, Reg Smith/Julie Smith, Taupo, 134
1, David Stone/Steve Greaves, Bulls, 146
2, Ray Thompson, David Toms, Whangamata, 140
3, Graeme Jones, Scott Jones, 127
For full results/points: http://www.jetpro.co.nz/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=184&Itemid=292