RAMJET Racing’s Phonsy Mullan continued his winning streak in the Australian V8 Superboats Championship under lights at Allcott Hire Park in Temora, although he had to do things the hard way under mounting pressure from reigning world#4 Jamie Welch and the returning Tony Giustozzi, however it was a 400 Class driver who stole the show in front of the big local crowd, Mitch Roylance taking the round win on debut!
Mullan’s victory was perhaps no great surprise, but the three-time champion was playing things down ahead of the event, having been forced to rebuild his twin-turbo 445ci powerplant after a rare failure with a head gasket at Griffith. Replacement parts and a busy work schedule for the GM Motorsport boss meant that final works on the boat weren’t completed until just hours ahead of opening qualifying.
That opportunity forced both Jamie Welch and Tony Giustozzi to ‘step things up’ the duo actually going quicker than Mullan in qualifying, with former race winner Giustozzi actually top qualifying after the four sessions.
In Group A, the big revelation early was Kevin Laugesen, the veteran untouchable through most of qualifying to head into the finals as the fastest qualifier, some five tenths faster than the chasing pack.
Sadly he wasn’t able to find any more pace in the finals, as his rivals dropped him just outside the final three heading into the all important final, with rookie star Mitch Roylance delivering when it counted to take the top spot.
Day-night races always present a challenge, with the setting sun forcing organisers to call a ‘dinner’ break to allow twilight to settle in and the circuit lights to take full effect.
Despite the new white tyres placed at the edges of many of the islands, visibility was still difficult, yet with that challenge and the notorious nature of the Allcott Hire Park layout, there were few out of water excursions, just good fast, close racing.
Whilst Mullan took a cautious approach early, his rivals attacked, Jamie Welch in particular impressive, his #4 world ranking clearly raising his confidence, the West Australian becoming a real threat to the established stars with the fastest time of the opening session.
Tony Giustozzi and team-mate Mick Carroll too looked good, Giustozzi topping the final qualifying run by just over a tenth to become the number one qualifier, a situation which the sport had not seen too much in recent years, such has been Mullan’s domination.
Sadly the expected challenge from the Sygidus brothers never emerged. With their monstrous 680ci naturally-aspirated small-block back in ‘Frankenzstain’ for AFJSA President Ted Sygidus, and younger brother Darek man-handling the team’s ‘junior’ 510ci machine, there was an expectation the two would be right in the mix for a podium result, but that challenge never came.
Unfortunately for Ted, a mechanical issue traced to the fuel pump ended their night early, whilst an unusual steering issue in the second boat was deemed too risky for the brothers to continue, so both were reluctantly withdrawn.
“That’s how it works sometimes.” Darek Sygidus admitted with frustration. “The steering system was locking up, the cables clearly had a problem, and you can’t afford to drive one of these things without direct steering, it’s too great a risk, so we had no choice, but at least both boats were mechanically sound, just teething issues..”
With the Sygidus boys out, that elevated Mick Carroll up the order to just off the leading trio, whilst for former champion Daryl Hutton, his weekend sadly saw no opportunity to challenge for a podium as development of his jet unit continues.
Whilst the Unlimited Superboats were setting a cracking pace through the qualifiers, in Group A (400-Class), no-one seemed able to catch Kevin Laugesen.
Typically conservative in his opening run, the V8 Superboats veteran was uncatchable in sessions two to four, finishing half a second up on former 350-Class champions Brett Thornton and Brooke Lucas as the finals approached.
Behind the leaders the Roylance brothers were doing a great job, the recently re-liveried ‘Rampage’ campaigned by Justin Roylance and Jody Ely was again monstering the top three, whilst Mitch Roylance was gaining more and more confidence with each session, keeping the big Temora crowd entertained with every passing run.
Strangely off the pace all day were Griffith winner Brad Marsden, and the winner at Temora last time out during the closing round of the 2015 season, Greg Harriman, both teams struggling to find a race winning package.
Always unpredictable, Tony Giustozzi was in full focus mode for his first run of the year, and looking every bit the winner. His pace in the Top 12 final was just nine one-hundredths faster than his best qualifying lap which suggested he was wringing every ounce of power possible from Excalibur’s 510ci powerplant.
That forced Mullan to perhaps dig deeper than he had in a long while, eking out a 41.586 to raise the bar by just a tenth of a second, Giustozzi responding in the Top 6 to find an extra five one hundredths but it wasn’t enough, Mullan finding just a fraction more to extend the advantage to 15 one hundredths.
Behind them Jamie Welch was again in a watching brief, keeping his best till last to leap-frog Giustozzi in the final, the South Australian making a slight error in the testing conditions, dropping to a 42.282, Welch’s best of the night - a 42.108 - elevating him once again to the second step of the podium.
For Mullan, he again forced the issue, intent to show why he is classified as one of the best in the world, his 40.248 in the final putting any question about the performance of man and machine completely out of the equation.
Whilst the leaders battled over the podium, behind them Mick Carroll was poised for an assault, the second ‘Excalibur’ driver steadily picking up the pace as the final approached, but an error in navigation on a hot lap forced his instant retirement, allowing Cheryl Welch and local hero Scott Krause into the final six with Daryl Hutton.
Hutton held on to fourth to move in to third in the points, whilst Cheryl Welch and Krause closed out the final six for a strong haul of championship points.
In the 400 Class, all eyes were on the battle between Laugesen and Queenslanders Thornton and Lucas, but it was Justin Roylance who threatened to upstage the favourites, the Forbes-based driver coming to within four tenths of top-qualifier Laugesen in the Final 12, but sadly the emergence of ‘Rampage’ was about to come to a sudden stop, the team suffering another fuel-pump failure and a small fire.
The retirement of ‘Rampage’ saw the demise of one Roylance, but that paved the way for another, Mitch Roylance’s night was improving with every run, the rookie making the final on debut, then stunning the established stars after pulling out an impressive 46.044 to take the final.
For former 350-Class champion Brett Thornton, the final was a matter of what might have been, the Queenslander having topped the Top 6 final with a 45.083, but he was unable to replicate it in the final three, ultimately falling back to third behind title rival Brooke Lucas who also failed to improve on his Top 6 time.
With the demise of ‘Rampage’, the final results saw Laugesen claim fourth - a small consolation after topping four of the six sessions he contested - from Harriman in the ‘Pangaea Floors’ entry. Justin Roylance was awarded points for sixth, from Dave Moody and Jody Ely.
Rnd#1 - Colin Parish Memorial Trophy
Awarded to the most consistent driver across rounds two and three of the 2016 Australian V8 Superboats Championship, the award goes to the driver who is the most consistent across the finals - or in essence, the driver whose lap times across all three rounds are the closest to one another.
For the opening round of the Colin Parish Memorial, top points went to Natwel Racing’s Jamie Welch whose three laps were just 0.322-seconds apart. Second overall went to Brooke Lucas whose three laps were separated by just 0.601, from the consistent Tony Giustozzi with 0.645, a result which may have been very different of not for his slip in the top three.
The third round of the 2016 Australian V8 Superboats Championship will be another single-day event at Allcott Hire Park at Lake Centenary in Temora on 21 May, an event which will also see the running of the final round of the Colin Parish Memorial Trophy.
Rnd#2 2016 Australian V8 Superboats Championships
Lake Centenary, Temora, NSW
23 April, 2016
1. Phonsy Mullan (RAMJET) - 40.248
2. Jamie Welch (Natwel Racing) - 42.108
3. Tony Giustozzi (Excalibur) - 42.282
400 Class (Group A)
1. Mitch Roylance (Black Jack) - 46.044
2. Brooke Lucas (Trouble Maker) - 46.267
3. Brett Thornton (2Obsessed) - 46.281
TOP 6 FINAL
1. Phonsy Mullan (RAMJET) - 41.493
2. Tony Giustozzi (Excalibur) - 41.637
3. Jamie Welch (Natwel Racing) - 42.323
4. Daryl Hutton (American Automotive) - 44.028
5. Cheryl Welch (Natwel Racing) - 44.996
6. Scott Krause (Soak’n Fused) - 48.036
400 Class (Group A)
1. Brett Thornton (2Obsessed) - 45.083
2. Brooke Lucas (Trouble Maker) - 45.767
3. Mitch Roylance (Black Jack) - 45.776
4. Kevin Laugesen (SpaNET) - 46.558
5. Greg Harriman (Pangaea Floors) - 46.906
2016 Australian V8 Superboat Championships - Series points
Unlimited Superboat (after round two of seven)
1. Phonsy Mullan (RAMJET) - 72 points, 2. Jamie Welch (Natwel Racing) - 66, 3. Daryl Hutton (American Automotive) - 56, 4. Darek Sygidus (Frankenstein) - 48, 4. Cheryl Welch (Natwel Racing) - 48, 6. Paul Burgess (Daly Transport) - 42, 6. Scott Krause (Soak’n Fused) - 42, 8. Ted Sygidus (Frankenstein) - 40, 9. Tony Giustozzi (Excalibur) - 30, 10. Slade Stanley (Hazardous) - 26, 11. Mick Carroll (Excalibur) - 20
400-Class (Group A) (after round two of seven)
1. Brett Thornton (2Obsessed) - 63-points, 1. Brooke Lucas (Trouble Maker) - 63, 3. Brad Marsden (Allcott Transformer) - 54, 4. Kevin Laugesen (Spanet) - 22, 5. Jody Ely (Rampage) - 48, 5. Dave Moody (Jackhammer) - 48, 5. Justin Roylance (Rampage) - 48, 8. Mitch Roylance (Black Jack) - 36, 9. Greg Harriman (Pangaea Floors) - 26
Sportsman (after round two of seven)
1. Ben Hathaway (Weapon) - 72
For more information on the 2016 Australian V8 Superboat Championships, please visit www.v8superboats.com.au