Final showdown for 2016 lives up to expectations
The final round of the PSP New Zealand Jet Sprint Championship at Featherston over the weekend delivered on the hype as the teams across all three classes dealt with the drama of the day.
The rain throughout the night and early morning didn’t dampen the spirits or aspirations of the teams, for a lot of them were still in the hunt for a New Zealand Title. The Featherston Club set the most technical rotation we’ve seen at the venue, compounding the pressure on the teams to get it right.
The BIOLYTIX Group B made their way out for the first qualifier of the day under an overcast sky and a few drops of rain. Current points leader Patrick and Jay Haden (Enviroline NZ) were focused from the start on finishing the day with the points lead. Needing to finish in 5th place or better to claim the title for the first time. Ross and Shane Travers (RadioActive) had to find 7 points to bridge the gap and move ahead of Haden, a highly likely scenario given the fast and technical track that could see a boat get it wrong very easily. Equally as keen to see some points redemption come their way was Tim and Debbie Edhouse in the Owhango Motors entry, sitting in 3rd place in the Championship heading into the final.
Travers went out for a sighting lap and kept in conservative but that was the only time the Radio Active boat wasn’t full noise all day, from the team’s second qualifier they remained fastest all day by a clear margin in every session. The format of the day had to be changed to allow time for the clouds to lift and the sun made its way across the sky at a rapid pace. The top 8 would be the first elimination of the day. Travers top qualified and went on to record a 60.23 in the Top 8, more than 3 seconds faster than the dead heat of Haden and Edhouse both on a 63.35. Wilson/Hausman followed with a 63:97 and rounding out the group to move into the Top 5 was Pip Thompson and Megan Brodie in the Bitches Box with a 64:43. The time of Patrick and Jay Haden saw them not only move into the Top 5, but confirm them as the Biolytix Group B Champions for 2016.
Some stoppages during the Top 8 saw the loss of time and as the sun got lower in the sky the decision to run a Top 5 final in all classes was imminent as sun strike heading back towards the top end of the track was blinding. Travers finished the day in his RadioActive Stinger with the win on a faultless lap stopping the clock at 58:89 and the only team to record sub 60 second times for the class, second for the day was the Enviroline NZ Stinger machine of Patrick and Jay Haden with a no holds barred lap of 61:1 as the Edhouse team in Owhango Motors rounded out the podium with a 63:04.
BIOLYTIX GROUP B PLACINGS: 1NZ- Patrick and Jay Haden (Enviroline NZ), 2NZ Ross and Shane Travers (RadioActive), 3NZ Tim and Debbie Edhouse (Owhango Motors).
ALTHERM Group A was also going to be a battle at the front with the PSP Racing Team of Sam Newdick and Glen Mason taking the lead late in the Championship at the last round after Blake Briant and Kate Hoogerbrug had a navigational error ending their night early. Newdick needing to finish 3rd or better to claim the win and make it a 3-peat of PSP National Championships for the team. It was Briant/Hoogerbrug in the Harvest Transport boat that set the pace in the opening exchange. Briant looking confident in the boat and keen to mount as much pressure as possible to Newdick and the PSP Team. It was more of the same until the 3rd Qualifier when Newdick tipped Briant by 1 tenth over the line. The usual suspects filled the time sheets at the end of qualifying, Newdick/Mason (PSP) leading with the only sub 60 second time on a 58:92, Ric Burke and Alf Kil applying the heat to the Firewater Sprintec with a 60:66, Briant/Hoogerbrug (Harvest Transport) on a 60:70 and Simon Gibbon and Paul Thompson with a 60:92 in the Novus Auto Glass machine.
The Top 8 saw the second PSP Racing Team Sprintec of Ollie Silverton and Jess Sit up the ante with a 60:73, Ollie and Jess taking 3 seconds off their previous best time for the day. Briant hit back with the fastest lap of the session with a 58:02 just under 2 tenths ahead of Newdick. Burke sat in 3rd on a 59:51 closely followed by Gibbon with a 59:82.
The line up confirmed for the 5 boat final, not ideal for Newdick as this would be the eliminator that would decide the ALTHERM Group A Championship. It proved to be ideal for the fans and spectators on the banks surrounding the track though, was Sam able to get the PSP Stinger into 3rd spot to claim the title with Briant leading him into the final and the other 3 ready to take the points?
The sun was getting lower and from the far end of the track vision through the middle was limited to not much more than glare. Silverton/Sit first away in the black Sprintec of PSP Racing, Ollie leaving nothing to spare driving a spectacular lap stopping the clock at 58:88. Gibbon/Thompson next out in the Novus Auto Glass team clocking a 59:75 setting their fastest time of the day. The Firewater Sprintec of Ric Burke and Alf Kil left the trailer and like the others, didn’t leave much on the table setting their fastest lap of the day with a 59:1. Next up was Newdick and Mason and the job wasn’t made any easier by the teams that were out before him, Sam has had plenty of experience with high pressure situations previously and it was clear from the start of the run he wasn’t going to be distracted. Newdick seemed to have locked the PSP machine onto rails under the water line, a perfect lap with only the slight hint of his right foot coming off the throttle at the critical sections, the MouthFresh Bigscreen clicked over with a 57:25, the fastest run of the day with only one to go. The 3 in a row ALTHERM Group A Champions confirmed to be Sam Newdick and Glen Mason in the PSP Racing Team Stinger. Blake and Kate fired up the Harvest Transport Stinger and headed out on track with the only focus being to win the day. A particularly hard year for Briant/Hoogerbrug after the World Championship disaster, Briant drove a fast and smooth lap around the Featherston track and clicked the timers at 57:5, just 25 hundredths off Newdick’s time.
ALTHERM GROUP A PLACINGS: 1NZ – Sam Newdick and Glen Mason (PSP Building Brands), 2NZ Blake Briant and Kate Hoogerbrug (Harvest Transport), 3NZ – Ric Burke and Alf Kil (Firewater)
The SUZUKI Superboat class for the past fortnight has been the centre of some high drama activity. 5 teams separated by 5 points, have we seen it before? No. Will we see it again? We hope so!
Team Altherm has led the charge all year by Glen Head and Darryn Todd in their new generation Sprintec, and have claimed current World Champion status at the events held in January this year. Peter Caughey and Shama Putaranui started their 2016 campaign off in terrible fashion at the unforgiving Meremere track at round 1 after clipping a bank and sending the ENZED/Sprintec Racing Team Superboat flying through the air and crashing heavily, destroying one side of the boat. Leighton Minnell and Louise Blythe started the season off in a re vamped Stinger hull and Twin turbo’d chev combination. Showing through the season the Taranaki Hardcore package was a handful to get around the track didn’t upset Minnell’s determination to get the boat on the box as many times as he could against the best. Rob Coley and Kellie Minnell started the season off with a bang, or two…. The first MouthFresh Sprintec ended up at the neighbours place after trimming some overhang on the fence line, then the scramble on the next MouthFresh Sprintec to have it ready for the Worlds ended spectacularly in the middle of Baypark. All the determination Rob could muster up wouldn’t see him come back from that would it?
Richard Murray had a year off from racing and thought it would be good fun to learn how to drive a superboat after winning the Group A title previously. Pat Dillon’s “The Hulk” looks like a good place to start he thought. I thought he was kidding himself. Yes it would be great fun and good to be part of the premier class of our sport, but learning in that weapon of a Stinger? It’s bound to be a couple of years until he gets a handle on it…
After the ENZED World Championships in January, it looked like we may have a runaway leader on our hands in the Suzuki Superboat class for 2016. The Team ALTHERM machine could do no wrong, and had a very healthy lead over the competition. That was until Wiatara when Glen had spun the boat out of the track and recorded a DNF. Hastings the following round saw an engine failure with another DNF from the ALTHERM team, and Coley with navigator and Wife Ange in the hot seat for the first time land the MouthFresh Sprintec on the podium along with Superboat Rookie Richard Murray in the Meaner Machine (ex Hulk). The return of the Wanganui Night round saw Richard Murray sit in second position for most of the night until he parked into the catch fence, Team Altherm have it’s second engine blow up in as many rounds, and the ENZED Sprintec team suffer a $12 switch failure in the Top 12. All the while, Leighton and Kellie Minnell sneaking around in the back ground man-handling the Taranaki Hardcore rocket to podiums. Just to break things up and throw a spanner in the works, Richard Burt and the Stinger Race Team turn up the heat with their new twin turbo package taking the win at Wanganui.
Qualifying showed most of the teams were playing conservative to ensure the rotation was permanently burned into their memory ready to go fast later in the day. The 1st and 3rd qualifier didn’t go to plan for Team ALTHERM with a navigational error ending with the twin turbo Sprintec sitting up on the bank, and then a reverse bucket problem not letting them off the trailer. Rob and Ange Coley recorded a DNF in the MouthFresh Sprintec early in qualifying as did Scott Donald and Nicole Reesman while the Hydraulink entry of Robert and Nicole White clipped a bank and spectacularly ended up facing backwards on dry land. At the end of qualifying it looked like the pressure cooker lid was locked on for some teams. Caughey/Putaranui (ENZED SPRINTEC) sat on top of the time sheets with the Coley’s (MouthFresh) in second ahead of Burt/Roberts (STINGER RACING TEAM).
Into the Top 8 and it was the Meaner Machine with Richard Murray and Steve Edmonds off the trailer first, Steve coming back into the navigator seat of a boat he knows very well after Jo Rathbone was unable to return after suffering a broken leg at the Wanganui Night race. The green crowd pleasing monster having cleared the engine miss from an earlier run, was on a flyer until Murray went the wrong way. That was the first of the podium contenders out of play for the day. Dave Simmons and John Verry in the Blue Flame Stinger next out recorded a 59:3 taking a second off their previous best time. Donald/Reesman having one of their best day’s of the season in the white Sprintec posted a 59:84 and it was the Taranaki Hardcore twin turbo of Leighton and Kellie Minnell up next.
Minnell currently 1 point off the lead in the SUZUKI Superboat Championship had played conservative all day while sneaking through and just doing what they had to do. The Minnell’s posted a fast split then coming back through the middle towards the sun backed off drove a safe lap for the remainder. The first half of the lap was considered to have been enough to see them advance into the 5 thought Minnell, but the clock clicked over at 59:9 putting them into 3rd place with 4 hard chargers to come. Had he done enough?
Glen Head and Darryn Todd reversed the Team ALTHERM Sprintec off the trailer, Head needing to post his fastest time of the day to make the cut for the 5 boat final. The first half of the lap seemed to go to plan, the ALTHERM machine looking sharp and the driving combo of Head and Todd getting the business done. As they went down the front straight the boat seemed to slow and they missed a turn. At this point it was clear they had another engine issue with the boat coming to a stop. That was the championship gone for Glen Head and it remained to be seen if he was able to retain a podium position with the Stinger Racing Team, MouthFresh and ENZED to come.
Richard Burt bolted from the start line and drove the twin turbo package hard. Burt shows no sign of having been out of a SUZUKI Superboat for some years as he steers the Stinger hull through the technical Featherston rotation. The Stinger Racing Team stopped the clock at a blistering 54:58
The 705ci Sprintec of Rob and Ange Coley entered the chute and fired out. Coley drove smart and threw it all on the line, almost coming to grief on the front straight out of the esses after running it wide. The split wasn’t at the top of the timesheet but the second half of the lap saw some hard charging posting a 56:47 and sitting Leighton and Kellie Minnell on the bubble with one to go. Unfortunately for the Taranaki Hardcore team, the one to go was 9 time National Champion Peter Caughey.
Caughey pointed the ENZED Sprintec at the line and drove a tidy lap with a fast split. The pressure mounted at this stage as Caughey was fully aware that Head was out and Minnell was on the bubble, while Rob Coley was still in the hunt for the Championship equal on points with Caughey. The remainder of the ENZED’s boat’s lap was fast and the clock stopped at 55:78, advancing the team into the top 5 final and sending the Taranaki Hardcore Team back to pack up ending their Championship run.
With Head out, it left MouthFresh and ENZED tied up at the front with the Minnell’s holding on to a fighting chance that if both Caughey and Coley DNF’d and Burt took the win they’d still be in it.
Scott Donald and Nicole Reesman headed away first and went slower than previous with a 62:6. Dave Simmons and John Verry up next, now with the chance of getting a 3NZ for navigator Verry. The Blue Flame was on what it looked to be the fastest lap of their day before stopping the timer with a 59:53.
Rob and Ange Coley next to the line in the MouthFresh Sprintec. With it all on the line and a base of family and friends on the hill to cheer them on, Coley didn’t leave much on the table in the first half of the run. At this stage of the day, the sun was low and glare off the water was extreme heading back to the top end and Coley played it safe keeping the green monster off the banks and recording their fastest of the day with a 55:64 putting them into P1.
Caughey/Putaranui away next in the ENZED Sprintec and it was all or nothing. Although Richard Burt had still to come, It was all down to this run as Coley had put himself into P1 for the SUZUKI Superboat Championship. Peter Caughey lined the black ENZED machine up in the chute and didn’t hesitate in stomping the loud pedal. Putaranui guided the 9 time champ around the tricky race track to perfection. Caughey had thrown it down and left nothing on the table taking .6 out of Coley’s split time. Heading back towards the sun, Caughey seemed to know exactly where the black ENZED Sprintec needed to be and never bobbled. The MouthFresh Big screen clicked over with an impressive 54:45, to claim the fastest time of the day and his tenth National Title.
Richard Burt and Clare Roberts to go in the Stinger Racing Team entry. Out of the points and very keen to regain the fastest time of the day from Caughey and take the win for the round, they headed out and meant business from the get go. The Stinger hull was fast and going exactly where Burt willed it, however he had a navigational hiccup and went the wrong way. Correcting the mistake and getting back on track they managed to click the timer over for a 66:66, elevating David Simmons and John Verry in the Blue Flame Stinger into 3rd position for the day.
SUZUKI Superboat Placings: 1NZ – Peter Caughey/Shama Putaranui (ENZED/SPRINTEC), 2NZ – Rob and Ange Coley (MOUTHFRESH), 3NZ Leighton and Kellie Minnell (TARANAKI HARDCORE)
The Featherston final was the most fitting way to end the most exciting finish to the PSP New Zealand Jet Sprint Championship.
Our thanks goes to all our Championship partners for the continued success of New Zealand Jet Sprinting.
- PSP Building Brands
- Suzuki New Zealand
- Altherm Window Systems
- Biolytix Wastewater Treatment
- Drainage Systems
- Lincoln Automatics