It’s hard to believe that it has been more than six months since the V8 Superboats were in Temora for the opening round of the 2015 season, however the series is returning to it’s ‘emotional’ home this weekend for an event that could well decide the 2015 championship, in at least one category.
Reigning Unlimited Superboat Champion Phonsy Mullan kicked off his season back in March with victory, and the two-time champion hasn’t stopped winning since, although he would concede that as the season has progressed, so too his competition has ‘stepped up’.
The fourth round at Cabarita saw a rare off-track excursion for the Victorian, although his off in the final qualifier was just one of many. Ultimately he prevailed to take the final, but not before former champion Greg Mercier, and New Zealand hot-shot Rob Coley had applied the blowtorch, forcing the RAMJET driver to push harder than he’d have liked to take the top spot.
Whilst it was victory number four for the season, the competition has been closing the gap, and this weekend there is every chance that Mullan’s perfect score may be in jeopardy.
His closest challenger in points is former 400 Class title holder Ted Sygidus who returns to Temora with his big-block 680ci, 1200-horsepower powerplant, giving Frankenzstain that little bit of extra push he needs to take the fight to his rival, but whilst Sygidus is second in points, and finished second to Mullan in March, the pack is snapping at his heels.
West Australian Jamie Welch has been consistent all season, and is just a solitary point behind Sygidus, whilst former champions Mercier and Daryl Hutton are not far behind.
Last time out Mercier took the fight right up to Mullan and looked to have the goods in the final before clipping a bank just metres out from the finish line, some observers suggesting that had he completed the lap, he may well have recorded his maiden win of the season.
Banks will be something which will play on the minds of the competitors too this time around with the Lake Centenary venue having been upgraded since March, with much of the work done to combat the erosion generated from a Superboat by adding tyres to the edges of many of the corners. Whilst the facelift has given the circuit a new lease of life, it will provide teams with a new challenge, as tyres as far less forgiving than a grassy verge.
Local hero Slade Stanley has made his own observations about the changes. “It will be a much more technical circuit than it has been in the past,” the former champion and local hero admitted. “Where in the past you could skim across the corners, now it will be very much about avoiding contact with the tyres. Personally I think the change will also make it a little slower, because you will actually be making bigger changes of direction around the islands to avoid contact, which will reduce the speed a little, but we’ll see, at 0-100kph in under two-seconds, they won’t be slow for long.”
Whilst the championship is under fire ahead of the season final in November, there is no shortage of stars looking for their maiden win of the season.
Mullan, Mercier and Ted Sygidus might start as early favourites, but don’t discount dual-Unlimited Superboat champion Darryl Hutton, nor his compatriot, New Zealander Rob Coley, both are more than capable of taking victory in their 1000 plus-horsepower machines.
The list of outright challengers though stretches further than that, such is the competitive nature of Unlimited Superboats, with the notorious ‘Excalibur’ from Adelaide also likely to figure in the result.
Both Tony Giustozzi and Mick Carroll are race winners in Unlimited Superboats, but both are more readily recognized for three of the biggest crashes in Superboat history, although for Giustozzi, his most recent out-of-water experience had more to do with his attitude afterwards than the severity of the accident.
At Cabarita during the qualifying heats for round four, the South Australian came out of the water on one of the fastest parts of the circuit, rolling upside down onto the bank.
The footage was caught by his onboard camera, and by fans in the crowd. That footage made two national television networks, and was viewed by more than 25-million people on the internet, although its success had more to do with Giustozzi’s reaction after the crash, the laconic driver laughing as he waited upside down in the boat for the safety crew to come and roll him over.
For Carroll, he has had little to laugh about during his two accidents at Temora, with the 900+ horsepower 510ci V8 powered Excalibur clearing the boundary fence at the end of the front straight both times to end up in a neighbouring paddock.
Fortunately none of these accidents have seen significant harm come to the crew, nor slowed the pace of the drivers, and having seen the limits of the Temora circuit, these two drivers could figure prominently in the end result.
Whilst Unlimited Superboat will be a hotly contested affair, an absence from the Temora round is the big feature of the 400 Class [Group A], with points leader Damian O’Leary expected to miss the penultimate round, all but handing the title to rival Mark Garlick.
A former 350-Class champion, Garlick - like O’Leary - has been a picture of consistency in 2015, finishing on the podium in all but one event to keep himself right in the picture, the Superboat veteran admitting that his goal for the year was to accept the champions trophy at the end of the year from outgoing champion, son Jake.
The fifth round of the Australian V8 Superboats Championship will be a single-day event at Allcott Hire Park at Lake Centenary, with gates opening at 3:00pm and qualifying rounds getting underway from 6:00pm. The circuit is located at Lake Centenary, 3-kilometres north of Temora on Barmedman Road - diagonally opposite Temora Airport.
Gates open 3:00pm (Saturday), entry $25 (adults), $5 (kids) per day - or, to buy tickets online, please visit http://www.afjsa.com/tickets/
Rnd#5 Australian V8 Superboats Championships presented by SIDS
Allcott Hire Park, Lake Centenary, Temora, NSW - 24 October, 2015
1. Phonsy Mullan/Kelsie Gill (RAMJET)
10A. Phil Dixon/Jeremy Ward (Hi-Tec Oils)
10B. Louise Dixon/Karen Symes (Hi-Tec Oils)
18. Paul Burgess/Liam Hayes (Daly Transport)
22A. Jamie Welch/Simone Craige (Natwel Racing)
22B. Cheryl Welch/Shauna Dean (Natwel Racing)
27. Greg Mercier/Dorinda Mercier (ACOL Racing)
28. Daryl Hutton/Scott Jones (Total Lubricants)
86. Daniel deVoigt/Vicki Burrell (Q-BEARS)
93A. Mick Carroll (Excalibur)
93B. Tony Giustozzi (Excalibur)
111. Rob Coley (Poison Ivy)
666A. Ted Sygidus/Jay Houston (Frankenstein)
666B. Darek Sygidus/Austin Gill (Frankenstein)
400 CLASS (GROUP A)
12A. Jesse Watkins/Brendon Greig (Kanaris Engines Racing)
12B. Mark Seddon/Mitch Scott (Kanaris Engines Racing)
37. Scott Krause/Carey Purcell (Soak’n Fused)
39. Kevin Laugesen/Jessica Winsley (spanet)
53. Brett Thornton/Lin Thornton (Obsession)
66A. Brad Marsden/Melinda McMullen (Allcott Transformer)
66B. Ben Hathaway/Lisa Oppes (Allcott Transformer)
95. Mark Garlick/Jamie Anderson (Grumpy)
333. David Moodie (Jackhammer)
360. Greg Harriman/Sammy Leonard (Pangaea Floors)
Saturday, 24 October;
3:00pm - Qualifying #1 (45-minutes)
3:45pm - Qualifying #2 (45-minutes)
4:30pm - Qualifying #3 (45-minutes)
5:15pm - Qualifying #4 (45-minutes)
7:00pm - lunch break
8:00pm - Top 12 (all classes)
9:00pm - Top 6 (all classes)
9:40pm - FINAL (all classes)
2015 Australian V8 Superboat Championships - Series points
Unlimited Superboat (after round four of six)
1. Phonsy Mullan (RAMJET) - 144 points, 2. Ted Sygidus (Frankenstein) - 99, 3. Jamie Welch (Natwel Racing) - 98, 4. Greg Mercier (ACOL Racing) - 94, 5. Daryl Hutton (Total Lubricants) - 89, 6. Rob Coley (Poison Ivy) - 81, 7. Tremayne Jukes (JRE Engines) - 79, 8. Darek Sygidus (Frankenstein) - 76, 9. Brooke Avenell (Hi-Tec Oils) - 74, 10. Paul Burgess (Daly Transport) - 70, 11. Cheryl Welch (Natwel Racing) - 68, 12. Mick Carroll (Excalibur) - 44, 13. Daniel deVoigt (Q-BEARS) - 42, 14. Paul Gaston (Frankenstein Jnr) - 36, 15. Tony Giustozzi (Excalibur) - 24, 16. Louise Dixon (Hi-Tec Oils) - 34, 17. Phil Dixon (Hi-Tec Oils) - 10.
400-Class (Group A) (after round four of six)
1. Damian O’Leary (Kryptonite) - 132 points, 1. Mark Garlick (Grumpy) - 132, 3. Kevin Laugesen (spanet) - 100, 4. Brad Marsden (Allcott Transformer) - 96, 5. Brooke Lucas (Trouble Maker) - 90, 6. Greg Harriman (Pangaea Floors) - 80, 7. Brett Thornton (Obsession) - 70, 8. Peter Monger (Mongrel) - 66, 9. Jesse Watkins (Kanaris Engines) - 58, 10. Paul Kelly (Anaconda) - 50, 11. Dave Moody (Jackhammer) - 28, 12. Mark Seddon (18)
350-Class (after round four of six)
1. Jake Garlick (Evil As) - 105, 2. Ben Hathaway (Allcott Transformer) - 102
2015 Australian Superboat Championships
Rnd#1 - 7 March, Temora (NSW)
Rnd#2/3 - 23-24 May, Tweed Coast (NSW)
Rnd#4 - 8-9 August, Tweed Coast (NSW)
Rnd#5 - 24 October, Temora (NSW)
Rnd#6 - 21-22 November, Tweed Coast (NSW)
For more information on the 2015 Australian V8 Superboat Championships, please visit www.v8superboats.com.au
For more information or high-resolution images, please contact;
AFJSA Media Manager; Sean Henshelwood Email: email@example.com
Mobile: 0419 143 267
All photographs supplied by Russell Puckeridge from Pureart Creative Images
Hi-res images available on request.