Last weekend (15/16 July) saw the third round of the Powerboat GP British RYA Championship held at Chasewater Water Park. Four championship classes were in action competing for vital points in the 2017 championship campaign.
First up in action where the junior racers in the GT15 class aged from 9-16 years old. These youngsters where showing experience beyond their years as they raced at speeds in excess of 40mph twisting and turning their way around the course. Over the previous two rounds there has been an epic battle developing between local boy racer Harvey Smith and Kent’s George Elmore, and this weekend was set to be even closer as both boys contended for their first British crown.
Harvey Smith took victory in the GT15 class
The fleet of 6 got quickly down to business in qualifying, with George Elmore taking an early lead with just a second over his nearest rival Harvey Smith. Meanwhile Ethan Goodfellow and Aidan Fleet both went head to head for third place with Fleet just pipping Goodfellow to the post for third on the grid.
Heat 1 got underway and Smith managed to find some extra speed beating George to the first mark and taking the lead. Once in front Smith kept his head managing to keep Elmore in his wake for the 6-lap race despite George’s best attempts to pass him several times throughout the race. Fleet took third place with Goodfellow secured 4th ahead of Rookie racers Jamie Atlee and Jessica Haylock in 5th & 6th respectively.
Heat 2 and from pole position Harvey got a clean start away to the first turn, but Elmore was once more hot on his wake looking for an opportunity to pass his rival and changing his lines into the corners. George did everything he could to find that extra speed and room to get past, but once more Harvey held him at bay. Fleet once more held Goodfellow off to take third.
The third and final heat once more saw Smith take the lead from the lights to the first turn again out in front. He was not going to let Elmore past him and held his lead to the chequered flag and the Chasewater GP Crown. Elmore took the silver medal with Aidan Fleet following up into Bronze.
Next in action was a class that has kept spectators on the edge of their seats all season so far in the GT30 Class and this week was set not to disappoint. In qualifying 0.12 of a second separated Jonathan Brewer, Jack Pickles and Championship leader Thomas Mantripp with Brewer taking the all-important pole position. From pole position Brewer focused on the job ahead of him and as the lights went out, despite immense pressure from Thomas Mantripp, Brewer cleared the first mark in the lead and once in front he remained calm and collected keeping his head to keep Mantripp in his wake until the chequered flag. Mantripp stormed home in second and lady racer Tiegen Goodfellow took the third placed finish ahead of Pickles.
The battle raged all weekend long between Joni Brewer and Thomas Mantripp but in the end it was Jono who came out on top
Heat two and once more from pole Jonathan chose his line and powered towards the first turn with little separating them. Thomas was riding his wake looking for a mistake from Jonathan or the smallest opportunity to slip past him. 8 laps of the course passed in a flash with both drivers pushing their boats every inch of the course looking for the second heat win, but Brewer managed to hold on to his lead and take another heat win. Tiegen once more took third ahead of Pickles with Elliot Fleet, Ralph White and Tony Judge completing the line-up heading in to the final race of the weekend.
The final heat and all eyes were on the water as the lights went out and Brewer and Mantripp left the jetty simultaneously both powering into the first turn with Tiegen bearing down on them both ahead of the chasing pack. Once more Jonathan claimed the lead, but as the 8 laps dwindled down towards the chequered flag nothing separated the two racers and in by far the closet battle of the season, the race went down to an almost photo finish with Jonathan Brewer just pipping Mantripp to the chequered flag and his first Grand Prix win of the season.
Next in action were the T850 Monohulls where just two seconds separated the top three boats in Qualifying with championship leader Bill Owen once more laying claim to the coveted Pole Position. Nigel Edwards took second with Steve Cash claiming third on the grid.
Heat 1 and with the best starting line Bill Owen made a fantastic start as the trio powered away from the start pontoon and into the first turn. Following qualifying Jason Brewer was forced to retire through mechanical failure so the other three drivers went into battle all looking for the first win of the weekend. Bill Owen stayed strong and soared home to take the first chequered flag of the Grand Prix, with Edwards in a strong second and Cash completing the line-up.
Bill Owen showed the T850 class a clean pair of heels.
The second heat of the weekend and once more Brewer failed to make the start. Bill Owen once more got a storming start and held his lead throughout the 8-lap race to the chequered flag making it two out of two for the Lancashire racer. But this time Steve Cash got the lead on Nigel Edwards and although a battle ensued Steve managed to hold on to his second place, meaning that the fight for the silver grand prix medal would make a sensational finale in heat 3 of the weekend.
Bill Owen made it three out of three wins for the weekend claiming the Chasewater Grand Prix title and meaning he has now won 6 races back to back unbeaten, despite the best efforts of Steve Cash and Nigel Edwards. As predicted the race for second was a fantastic battle between Cash and Edwards, with Edwards claiming second and seeing him now joint with Steve Cash for second place in the British Championship with a tied 124 points each. Steve Cash completed the podium on the bronze medal podium spot and we’ll continue to watch this battle unfold at the next round in September.
The final Class racing for Powerboat GP British Championship points this weekend was the F4 Catamarans fresh from rounds 3 & 4 of the UIM World Championships at Stewartby in Bedford two weeks ago. The British racers were looking to reaffirm championship places and eager to get back out on the water. Continuing his qualification domination was Championship leader Ben Morse and at speeds around 70mph he cruised once more into pole position for the third time this season. Taking second on the grid was Ben Jelf less than half a second behind just ahead of Rob Veares in third.
Heading into Heat 1 it was a youngster who got the best start of the fleet, and as the 6 boats headed into turn 1 Morse found himself off the pace. Further disaster came as he was pushing hard and spun out on the first turn finding himself at the back of the fleet. Recovering well he began to work his way through the fleet and managed to make up three places to finish the race in third. With a clear course in front of him Ben Jelf set his mind on one thing and that was claiming his first chequered flag of the season and holding Rob Veares at ba. 8 laps later the youngster had done just that and now focussed on heat 2.
Ben Morse took the fight to Ben Jelf with some impressing driving in his Molgaard F4
Heat 2 and from pole position Jelf got a fantastic start although Morse was bearing down on the youngster and waiting for the chance to sail past him. With both pushing hard this time it was Jelf that hooked on the bottom turn leaving the door open for Morse to squeeze past into the lead to take the heat win. Jelf managed to recover quickly and take second ahead of Rob Veares who was chased into third by Mike Pillow in 4th.
In what was turning out to be a fantastic battle for the Chasewater crown both Bens were set to go head to head for the crown, however, with both racers having spun out in the previous two heats Rob Veares was also looking for his opportunity to take the win.
The final heat of the weekend and the fleet powered away from the start with Ben Jelf just edging out Ben Morse into the first turn and Rob Veares chasing hard in third. The 8-lap race continued with nothing separating the two boats, with both racers pushing themselves and their boats to the limit. Jelf managed to hold his nerve and take the win securing his first ever catamaran Grand Prix win and the Chasewater Crown. Ben Morse claimed the silver medal and Rob Veares completed the line up with Bronze.
With the required number of entries for the national championship round for the F2 Catamarans not met for the weekend three F2 drivers still made the journey to battle for the Chasewater F2 Catamaran, and to entertain the crowds that had formed over the weekend as they went head to head in a match racing competition. With two boats taking to the water at a time to battle it out on separate courses the winner would be found through an elimination process with each boat competing 2 laps of the course with the first to finish line to progress to the next round.
The F2 drivers thoroughly enjoyed their match racing, but it was Paul Balfour who took the ultimate spoils.
The teams battled hard and fast entertaining the spectators, but it was reigning British Champion Paul Balfour who dominated and claimed the Chasewater crown. Steve Hoult claimed second and Mark Williams completed the podium line up.
Powerboat GP Promoter Luke Jones reflected on a fantastic weekend’s racing, “This weekend there’s been some hard but fair racing throughout the different levels of competition. We’re at what can be a critical point in the season and the racers have realised this and have really pushed themselves this weekend and pushed each other, providing some really close racing that’s been fantastic to watch.”
Report by Nikki Drummond – Photos by Bryan Scott