Sunday 27 February’s third round of the 2011 Jetpro Jetsprint championship held at Meremere provided more upsets to the points table with two teams from Wanganui and one from Hamilton taking the day’s prize offerings.
Held on a permanent water-course behind the renowned drag racing venue, the water jet propelled six round sprint boat series drew a large crowd – basking in late summer weather. Thrilled by a V8 engine dominated sport that doesn’t always stick to the water track, fans were generous in acknowledging their contrasting position with those affected by Christchurch’s earthquake. Counting the contents of the cash donation bucket passed $1700, with a minute’s silence included in the day of competition.
Fastest overall time and winning the Suzuki Superboat category for the second time, Wanganui’s Leighton and Kellie Minnell were thrilled to be back at the top. Trading times with fellow Wanganui team of Duncan Wilson and Jamiee-Lee Lupton, Minnell had been working on reliability to ensure they’d firstly finish.
“She was a hard battle today – we had to work for everything. Which I think it was always going to be – we saw that at the first round at Wanganui when the times were so close. I know Duncan Wilson is as hungry as I am for the win – it’s going to be a hell of a battle all the way to the finish,” said the Wanganui businessman.
Sitting just beneath the radar in third and noted by Minnell as one to keep tabs on, Wanganui’s Rob Coley and navigator Reece Townend were exactly a second behind in the final: 48.22 seconds to Minnell’s 47.23.
After his surprise upset win recently at Gisborne, the quad-rotary engine turbo-charged boat of Wanganui’s Peter and Gary Huijs finished fourth.
The results now put Wilson at the top of the points table on 84, with Minnell on 83 and Huijs with 82.
Setting times more aligned with the Suzuki Superboat category, Hamilton’s Sam Newdick and navigator Nic McIndoe took a comfortable win in the Scott Waterjet Group A class. Posting a time of 48.86 seconds in the final, the pair held the advantage for most of the day, with Taupo’s Reg and Julie Smith the only team close to their scorching form. Third in the final after a navigational error, Auckland’s Baden Gray and Tanya Iremonger held out defending class champion’s Bevan Muir and Kathy Barker.
“It was just one of those perfect runs really,” Newdick said of his final attempt. “It was all I had – and it paid off.”
While thrilled with the effort, Newdick acknowledged the benefit of listening to experienced opinion: “The first time I broke through the 49 second mark I was very surprised. After a few changes and listening to technique from Rex Briant, did even better.”
Newdick trails new point’s leader Reg Smith, who has a one point lead over second placed Baden Gray on 85.
Dropping from the winners circle after winning the previous two rounds, Opiki’s Simon Campbell and navigator Gareth Cox were one of the early eliminations from the Scott Waterjet Group A field. Making an uncharacteristic steering mistake in an early heat, Campbell missed the water track and slid across a grass island, projecting the boat in to the air, before landing heavily.
Having taken the points lead in the entry level Jetpro Lites category at the series second round earlier in the month, Wanganui’s Bevan Linklater and navigator Malcolm Ward finally put the opposition to rest with an outright win.
Fastest in the top-three final, Linklater’s consistency was further rewarded, finishing over a second ahead of Whangamata’s Ray and Brett Thompson. Now with 88 points, Linklater is the only driver to have more than a one-point lead in the best of five from six rounds, four ahead of New Plymouth’s Graeme and Scott Jones, who finished third for the day. Thompson is placed third on 82 points.
With two weeks until the fourth event on the six round 2011 calendar, the Riverside jet track at Crownthorpe in the Hawke’s Bay will be held on Sunday 13 March.