The battle for supremacy in the Unlimited Superboat class of the Penrite V8 Superboats Championship has been a big focal point for the fans this season, but whilst that battle carried on, perhaps the greatest fight of all continued to unfold in the CTVS 400-Class where three-time Australian champion and veteran of the sport Mark Garlick, overcame perhaps the strongest field in the history of the category to claim victory and the championship points lead at Cabarita.
Garlick Senior battled son Jake, reigning champion Ben Hathaway and points leader coming into Cabarita - Paul Kelly - to top the timesheets when it mattered most, the finals, in the end taking the win over Hathaway by three tenths of a second, with former champion Brett Thornton back after missing the Temora round to claim third.
In the Unlimited class, Scott Krause’s outstanding run of victories ultimately came to a close at Cabarita, with reigning champion Phonsy Mullan claiming his first win of the year ahead of New Zealand’s Rob Coley who made a welcome addition to the field, Coley turning the tables on Krause in the final to drop the points leader to third with all three boats covered by just six tenths of a second.
With a season-high 35 entries at Cabarita, there was always going to be plenty going on, as experienced and rookie drivers negotiated the lengthy 50-odd second lap, whilst for some, preparing for the forthcoming World Series would see them contesting a glorified test-and-tune as they looked to the end of season onslaught against the world’s best.
The first to suffer setbacks were Temora podium finishers Ted and Darek Sygidus, the two former champions struggling to make their 510ci powerplant work, opting instead for their smaller 410ci naturally-aspirated unit which was clearly not suited to their jet unit, however by midday Sunday, they adopted the 510 and were quickly up to speed although lamenting the recent loss of their big-block 680.
The fans were also treated to the return of the big blue boat from WA, with Jamie and Cheryl Welch back behind the wheel of the Natwel Racing machine, now powered by a twin-turbo 427ci LSX V8, the Welch’s were finally able to begin their journey to the World Series, with Jamie widely tipped as one of the wildcards that could upset the podium later this year.
Frustratingly for the mother-and-son combination, they were plagued by more teething problems, although the engine ran faultlessly across the weekend, but Jamie showed he’d lost none of his ability to hustle a boat, despite the fact he couldn’t make use of it’s full range of power.
Ultimately reigning champion Phonsy Mullan had things all fall his way for arguably the first time this season ‘RAMJET’ running on song to be quickest in three of the five qualifiers, although ultimately he had to play second fiddle to the returning Rob Coley who smashed out a stunning 44.850 in the final qualifying session, the New Zealander a quarter of a second faster than Mullan’s best and four tenths quicker than third-placed Krause.
Mick Carroll was back at his best in ‘Excalibur’ the South Australian fourth quickest at the close of the qualifiers, but more than a second and a half down on Coley in his twin-turbo Nissan powered Sprintec.
Ted Sygidus (Frankenzstain) managed a 47.460 in the final qualifier to be classified fifth, but after that there were mere hundredths separating him, two-time champion Daryl Hutton (American Automotive), Tony Giustoizzi (Excalibur), Paul Gaston (Heatseeker) and brother Darek (Frankenzstain) - it was tight at the top..
With Glenn Roberts (Blown Budget), Michael Cunningham (AusPro Logistics), Daniel deVoigt (Devo Racing) all within reach of the top six, it was a desperate battle just to make the opening final, in the end the two teams to miss the bubble, were the Welch family operation who fell just short.
In 400-Class the action was even more intense with at times, thousandths of a second separating teams as 21 crews vied for a position in the first final [Top 12], and with seven former champions in the field, there would be no margin for error.. This was pressure at it’s greatest!
Ultimately experience was the key - experience in a Superboat, and experience around the challenging Cabarita venue, so it was no surprise that points leader Paul Kelly (4Zero Racing), Mark Garlick (Grumpy), Temora winner Jody Ely (Rampage) and the returning Jake Garlick (Grumpy) led the field through the qualifiers.
The big surprise of early qualifying was the misfortune of reigning champion Ben Hathaway, ‘Weapon’ struggling to record a time with a couple of out of water experiences thrown in, although ultimately the Victorian driver would qualify sixth for the finals, but a second shy of top qualifier and points leader, Paul Kelly.
In the end, Kelly’s impressive Q2 time on Saturday afternoon would be the benchmark, his 49.018 a quarter of a second faster than Mark Garlick, who was a similar distance clear of Ely and Jake Garlick, the latter two separated by just two one thousandths of a second..
Brett Thornton was fifth in ‘2Obsessed’ just six one hundredths faster than the man who beat him to the 2017 title - Ben Hathaway - with Mitch Roylance an impressive seventh in ‘Black Jack’, whilst brother Justin was not too far behind in the ‘Spitwater Team Outlaw’ machine, team-mate an ‘B’ driver Daniel James next in line. Sam Everingham (Arkham Asylum), Greg Harriman (Pink Boots Racing) and returning former 350-Class champion Brooke Lucas all made it through to the finals, but sadly for Lucas, ‘Trouble Maker’ was sidelined with mechanical issues ahead of the Top 12, forcing the local favourite to leave the boat on the trailer and watch from the sidelines.
Sadly the one downside of such a deep and talented field is that there are only 12 places in the finals, so that meant a number of early showers after qualifying. Hugh Gilchrist (Pink Boots Racing), Clint Ruby (Dirty Deeds), Peter Monger (Mongrel), Andrew Medlicott (Gone Nutz Again), Phil Weinthal, Ron O’Day (AGRO-Vation), Shane Brennan (Ynot), Darrin Kesper (Let’s Boogie) and Joshua Woodroofe-Lucas (Trouble Maker) forced to watch the finals unfold from the comfort of the bank.
The big question leading into qualifying was whether visiting New Zealander Rob Coley would be able to lower his 44.850 qualifying benchmark, as no other Unlimited boat had broken a 45..
Ultimately Coley himself answered the question, ‘Poison Ivy’ unable to go below a 45.3 in the first final, his quickest run of three heading to the final round of the day. Phonsy Mullan was another who was unable to improve, despite being his consistent self, the six-time national champion’s six Sunday rotations separated by just 37 one hundredths, his Q4 best of 45.100 remaining his benchmark, although his last run of the day - 45.356 was good enough to topple both Coley and points leader Scott Krause, both of whom fell short of their best in qualifying.
Mick Carroll lamented what might have been, the ‘Excalibur’ star a promising fourth, the South Australian falling an agonising 81 one thousandths of a second shy of a berth in the final, whilst Paul Gaston’s pace continues to improve in ‘Heatseeker’ giving him fifth outright ahead of Ted Sygidus.
Darek Sygidus again just shadowed older brother Ted for seventh, with Glenn Roberts, Michael Cunningham and Daniel deVoigt also carding solid points, whilst for former winner Tony Giustozzi, a tough weekend highlighted by a string of navigational errors ended with the steering wheel coming loose in the first final, preventing another run at the top step of the podium for ‘Mr Excitement’.
Whilst Unlimited Superboat has been the crowd pleaser over recent seasons, in 2018 the pace and tight racing between the 400-Class teams has really had everyone talking, with results as difficult to predict as the winning lotto numbers. Cabarita’s finals were to be no different.
Sadly, the result was made even more uncertain at the start of the first final, with points leader Paul Kelly coming to a stop mere metres from the start, his drive-shaft shattering under the load off the line, benching him for the remainder of the day, whilst Greg Harriman was also unable to make a start after team-mate Hugh Gilchrist suffered a race ending rollover in Q5, forcing the retirement of the boat.
With Sam Everingham’s great run into the finals coming to an end after banking ‘Arkham Asylum’ at the infamous ‘Benny’s’ corner, and Temora winner Jody Ely withdrawing with technical issues, the first final saw just seven boats record a time, former 350-Class champion Daniel James ultimately the next to sit out the second final with Jake Garlick holding the top spot.
With the two Garlick’s and Hathaway separated by three tenths of a second, the Roylance brothers and Brett Thornton knew they needed to step things up in the Top 6, Thornton the best finding three tenths, whilst despite finding more than half a second for his best of the weekend, Justin Roylance missed the cut despite falling just a tenth shy of Jake Garlick, who like Mitch Roylance, also missed the final run.
In the end, the consistency of Mark Garlick paid off, the veteran carding yet another 400-Class win, to not just claim the major silverware, but also the championship points lead after stopping the clocks three tenths faster than Ben Hathaway, with Brett Thornton making a welcome return to the podium with third.
The Penrite Australian V8 Superboats Championships enjoys a short winter break ahead of a return to the Tweed Coast Jetsprint Club for the penultimate round of the season, another two day event on 17-18 August before the final of the 2018 season at Temora on 22 September.
Rnd#4 2018 Penrite Australian V8 Superboats Championships
Tweed Coast Jet Sprint Club, Cabarita Beach
2-3 June, 2018
TOP 3 FINAL
1. 1. Phonsy Mullan/Kelsie Gill (RAMJET) - 45.356
2. 111. Rob Coley/Ange Coley (Poison Ivy) - 45.759
3. 37. Scott Krause/Rachel Parsons (KAOS/Penrite) - 45.995
TOP 3 FINAL
400-Class (Group A)
1. 95. Mark Garlick/Angel Brennan (Grumpy) - 49.543
2. 1. Ben Hathaway/Lisa Oppes (Weapon) - 49.856
3. 2. Brett Thornton/Lyn Thornton (2Obsessed) - 50.412
TOP 6 FINAL
1. 1. Phonsy Mullan/Kelsie Gill (RAMJET) - 45.293
2. 37. Scott Krause/Rachel Parsons (KAOS/Penrite) - 45.995
3. 111. Rob Coley/Ange Coley (Poison Ivy) - 46.009
4. 93B. Mick Carroll/Daniel Kelly (Excalibur) - 46.092
5. 48. Paul Gaston/Louise Blythe (Heatseeker) - 47.020
6. 666A. Ted Sygidus/Cody Munro (Frankenzstain) - 47.918
400-Class (Group A)
1. 95A. Mark Garlick/Angel Brennan (Grumpy) - 49.701
2. 1. Ben Hathaway/Lisa Oppes (Weapon) - 49.717
3. 2. Brett Thornton/Lyn Thornton (2Obsessed) - 49.825
4. 21. Mitch Roylance/Matt Cullen (Black Jack) - 50.454
5. 95B. Jake Garlick/Naomi Gow(Grumpy) - 50.632
6. 67A. Justin Roylance/Michelle Hodge (Spitwater Team Outlaw) - 50.799
2018 Penrite Australian V8 Superboat Championships - Series points
400-Class (Group A) (after round four of six)
1. Mark Garlick (Grumpy) - 127-points, 2. Ben Hathaway (Weapon) - 125, 3. Paul Kelly (4Zero Racing) - 122, 4. Mitch Roylance (Black Jack) - 102, 5. Jody Ely (Rampage) - 98, 6. Justin Roylance (Spitwater Team Outlaw) - 98, 7. Brett Thornton (2Obsessed) - 80, 8. Greg Harriman (Pink Boots Racing) - 60, 9. Hugh Gilchrist (Pink Boots Racing) - 58, 10. Brad Marsden (Allcott Transformer) - 52, 11. Shane Loughnan (Vicious) - 50, 12. Andrew Medlicott (Gone Nutz Again) - 46, 13. Sam Everingham (Arkham Asylum) - 42, 14. David Moodie (Jackhammer) - 32, 15. Darrin Kesper (Let’s Boogie) - 28, 16. Jake Garlick (Grumpy) - 26, 17. Daniel James (Spitwater Team Outlaw ) - 22, 18. Clint Ruby (Dirty Deeds) - 10, 19. Peter Monger (Mongrel) - 8, 2-. Ron O’Day (AGRO-Vation) - 4, 21. Shane Brennan (Ynot) - 2
LS-Class (after round three of six)
1. Ivan Safranek (Katana) - 36-points