After four wins from four starts in defence of his 2013/2014 Unlimited Superboat crowns, reigning champion Phonsy Mullan only needed a consistent run under lights at Temora to wrap-up an historic third title, and despite some spirited competition from former 400 Class champion Brooke Avenell, the Victorian continued his winning streak, claiming the final and the 2015 championship.
Mullan’s win wasn’t the only reason for celebration at Temora though, with former Australian Formula Jet Sprint Association [AFJSA] President Greg Harriman claiming his first 400-Class victory to the applause of his long-time peers and the huge local crowd that had turned up to support the Australian Championship which was running in support of SIDS.
Sadly for current AFJSA President Ted Sygidus - Mullan’s closest challenger in the Unlimited class - his efforts to attack for a round win ended after just one session, with the 680ci 1300bhp ‘Frakenzstain’ eliminated after the opening qualifying session with steering failure.
“I put in the strongest steering cable I could find, but I was a bit hard on the wheel in that first session it seems and broke it. It was custom made so I don’t have a replacement, so sadly that’s it for me,” Sygidus explained.
Typically though of the camaraderie in V8 Superboats, Sygidus was soon offered an alternative ride, with Phil Dixon stepping out of the ‘Hi-Tec Oils’ boat to allow Sygidus to continue, the Victorian supporting Brooke Avenell, but failing to make the top six.
At the front of the Unlimited field though the action was typically intense.
Changes to the Allcott Hire Park venue between the opening round and the 24 October event saw tyres placed on the edges of the channels to reduce erosion from the huge wash generated by the superboat jet units, so corners which teams could once run the boat along the side of, suddenly became obstacles to avoid at all costs.
There were some high profile casualties though, former Unlimited champion Greg Mercier elected to step down during qualifying, having upset an old injury which saw him retire the ACOL Skylights ‘Shark’, whilst joint 400-Class points leader Mark Garlick suffered a similar fate in ‘Grumpy’ in the second final, ending his chances of another round win for the year.
Whilst season 2015 has seen a number of dramatic ‘offs’, some of which have been witnessed millions of times on social media around the world, Temora’s event was relatively uneventful, much to the surprise of the teams - especially with the huge changes to the circuit. Another surprise was the pace at the front, the new tyres on the islands suggesting that teams would drop the pace to ensure they avoided contact.. that theory latest all of a single session before the pace once more returned to what we’d expect from the world’s leading jetboaters..
There were a couple of minor offs, before one relatively big one in qualifying, with the new-look Kanaris Engines boat of Jesse Watkins coming unstuck at the top of the circuit, a situation which saw relatively minor damage, but a drop in pace from the Victorian who is enjoying his first full season in the series.
Ultimately the Unlimited qualifiers saw Mullan battling with fellow dual-Unlimited class champion Darryl Hutton, the two drivers separated by little during the four sessions, before New Zealander Rob Coley threw his hat into the ring with Brooke Avenell, the four drivers separated by an incredible two tenths of a second heading into the top six.
West Australian Jamie Welch who has had a fast and consistent year was also ejected during the top six after clipping the tyres at the top of the circuit, ending his chance of battling for the podium, although more valuable points see him as a contender for the second step of the podium heading into next month’s final at Cabarita.
Mullan then stepped things up again to top the timesheets ahead of the final, with Hutton the driver ejected at the end of the session, the Australian-based New Zealander missing the cut by just one tenth of a second..
Coley looked to be the man to beat early in the final, setting the fastest first sector before making a navigation error, which effectively eliminated him from contention. Brooke Avenell then charged setting an impressive 41.854 - her fastest time of the weekend - to lay down a benchmark for Mullan, but the RAMJET driver dug deep as he has so many times this year, dropping that mark by three quarters of a second to claim the win and the title.
“I guess from the outside this may have looked easy,” Mullan admitted about his 2015 championship victory post-race. “It has been a huge effort and a feat that has never been achieved before, making it a history changing moment.
“I would like to like to thank my wife, my children, my family, my friends and the sponsors that have supported me throughout the year, I couldn’t have done it without them.”
400-Class too saw some impressive racing, including a stunning debut from Scott Krause, the Temora local driver bringing the successful ‘Soak’n Fused’ out of retirement for his home event, impressing immediately by setting the second fastest time in Q2, hot on the heels of the experienced Mark Garlick.
Sadly though for the popular local team, they were forced into retirement after an engine issue in session three ended their run, although not before Krause had signaled his intentions for future events.
That paved the way for Greg Harriman to step up in the AQUA Bar and Café Lake Eildon supported Mackraft to take the challenge to Garlick. The two veterans worked their way through to the finals with Harriman finding a new lease of life after being a last-minute withdrawal from round four with a health issue.
He had no such dramas at Temora and drove perhaps better than at any time in the previous ten years to apply the blowtorch to Garlick who ultimately made an error looking for extra time in the Top 6, a result which saw him beached on an island and unable to proceed to the final.
He wasn’t the only one either, the returning Dave Moody in Jackhammer suffering a similar fate whilst also on podium pace, elevating former 350 Class champion Brett Thornton and fellow Queenslander Brad Marsden into the final.
Ultimately though neither could do anything about the rejuvenated Greg Harriman, the Pangaea Floors machine powering to a comfortable win to the cheers of rivals and fans alike.
Despite a less than ideal set of blades in his jet unit which forced him out of the throttle on a number of occasions, Thornton too put in an outstanding drive in his new boat to claim second, with Marsden classified third.
The series now turns north for the final round of the 2015 championship, with a two-day event scheduled for the Tweed Coast venue on 21-22 November.
Rnd#5 2015 Australian Superboat Championships presented by SIDS
Allcott Hire Park, Lake Centenary, Temora, NSW
1. Phonsy Mullan (RAMJET) - 41.188
2. Brooke Avenell (Hi-Tec Oils/AusPro Logistics) - 41.854
3. Rob Coley (Poison Ivy) - 52.436
400 Class (Group A)
1. Greg Harriman (Pangaea Floors) - 47.511
2. Brett Thornton (2 Obsessed) - 47.941
3. Brad Marsden (Allcott Transformer) - 49.413
TOP 6 FINAL
1. Phonsy Mullan (RAMJET) - 41.712
2. Rob Coley (Poison Ivy) - 42.120
3. Brooke Avenell (Hi-Tec Oils/AusPro Logistics) - 42.137
4. Daryl Hutton (Total Lubricants) - 42.235
5. Tony Giustozzi (Excalibur) - 43.271
6. Jamie Welch (Natwel Racing) - 43.848
400 Class (Group A)
1. Greg Harriman (Pangaea Floors) - 47.766
2. Brett Thornton (2 Obsessed) - 48.536
3. Brad Marsden (Allcott Transformer) - 50.070
4. Kevin Laugesen (Spanet) - 51.089
5. Mark Garlick (Grumpy) - DNF
6. David Moody (Jackhammer) - DNF
Qualifying (best from four rounds)
1. Phonsy Mullan (RAMJET) - 41.432 [Q3]
2. Rob Coley (Poison Ivy) - 42.520 [Q4]
3. Daryl Hutton (Total Lubricants) - 42.563 [Q4]
4. Brooke Avenell (Hi-Tec Oils/AusPro Logistics) - 42.573 [Q3]
5. Mick Carroll (Excalibur) - 42.789 [Q3]
6. Tony Giustozzi (Excalibur) - 42.789 [Q4]
7. Jamie Welch (Natwel Racing) - 43.836 [Q3]
8. Greg Mercier (ACOL Skylights) - 43.726 [Q4]
9. Ted Sygidus (Frankenstein) - 44.548 [Q3]
10. Cheryl Welch (Natwel Racing) - 45.902 [Q3]
11. Paul Burgess (Daly Transport) - 46.626 [Q4]
12. Phil Dixon (Hi-Tec Oils/AusPro Logistics) - 46.840 [Q1]
13. Daniel deVoigt (Q-Bears) - 53.120 [Q4]
400 Class (Group A)
1. Mark Garlick (Grumpy) - 46.845 [Q3]
2. Scott Krause (Soak’n Fused) - 47.710 [Q2]
3. Brett Thornton (2 Obsessed) - 47.759
4. Greg Harriman (Pangaea Floors) - 47.914 [Q3]
5. David Moody (Jackhammer) - 48.355 [Q2]
6. Jesse Watkins (Kanaris Engines) - 48.427 [Q3]
7. Brad Marsden (Allcott Transformer) - 49.539 [Q3]
8. Kevin Laugesen (Spanet) - 52.261 [Q4]
9. Ben Hathaway (Allcott Transformer) - 52.971 [Q2]
2015 Australian V8 Superboat Championships - Series points
Unlimited Superboat (after round five of six)
1. Phonsy Mullan (RAMJET) - 180 points, 2. Jamie Welch (Natwel Racing) - 122, 3. Ted Sygidus (Frankenstein) - 119, 4. Daryl Hutton (Total Lubricants) - 117, 10. Rob Coley (Poison Ivy) - 111, 6. Brooke Avenell (Hi-Tec Oils) - 107, 7. Greg Mercier (ACOL Racing) - 106, 8. Paul Burgess (Daly Transport) - 86, 8. Cheryl Welch (Natwel Racing) - 86, 10. Tremayne Jukes (JRE Engines) - 79, 11. Darek Sygidus (Frankenstein) - 76, 12. Mick Carroll (Excalibur) - 66, 13. Tony Giustozzi (Excalibur) - 24, 14. Daniel deVoigt (Q-BEARS) - 56, 15. Paul Gaston (Frankenstein Jnr) - 36, 16. Louise Dixon (Hi-Tec Oils) - 24, 17. Phil Dixon (Hi-Tec Oils) – 20.
400-Class (Group A) (after round five of six)
1. Mark Garlick (Grumpy) - 158 points, 2. Damian O’Leary (Kryptonite) - 132, 3. Kevin Laugesen (spanet) - 128, 4. Brad Marsden (Allcott Transformer) - 126, 5. Greg Harriman (Pangaea Floors) - 116, 6. Brett Thornton (2 Obsessed) - 103, 7. Brooke Lucas (Trouble Maker) - 90, 8. Jesse Watkins (Kanaris Engines) - 78, 9. Peter Monger (Mongrel) - 66, 10. Dave Moody (Jackhammer) - 52, 11. Paul Kelly (Anaconda) - 50, 12. Ben Hathaway (Allcott Transformer) - 22, 13. Mark Seddon (Kanaris Engines) - 18, 14. Scott Krause (Soak’n Fused) - 18
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