The 2017 Australian V8 Superboat Championships will come all the way down to the wire at the Tweed Coast Jet Sprint Club on 29 October thanks to another epic round of competition at Temora, where the title contenders failed to score enough points to put the season to rest ahead of the final event.
Reigning title-holder Phonsy Mullan has effectively earned himself a fifth-consecutive Unlimited Superboat crown after claiming his second win of the season after title rival Tremayne Jukes stumbled in the second final with a rare navigational error. Mullan holds the points advantage (on season adjusted points)* heading back to Cabarita and effectively needs only start qualifying to gain enough points to be champion a staggering sixth time (he was also the 2008 400-Class champion).
In the 400-Class, a return to his primary machine, which was reinstated after a complete engine overhaul, saw Ben Hathaway once again top the podium with his second win of the season to extend his championship points lead, but the consistency of reigning champion Brett Thornton has the Queenslander in front on adjusted points which is where the calculators will be working overtime at Cabarita.
For Hathaway to claim the title - like Jukes - he will have to rely on some kind of setback for his rival, and if V8 Superboats has shown one thing in season 2017, it’s that anything can happen..
The season long Unlimited Superboat title-battle continued immediately into the opening round of qualifying with Phonsy Mullan and Tremayne Jukes separated by just a tenth of a second - in the reigning champions favour. Jukes repaid the favour in Q2 by a similar margin (48.754 to 48.911), the remainder of the field virtually light years away, Glenn Roberts an impressive third, but at just a 51.613..
Mayhem then ensued at Lake Centenary with first an electrical glitch which took out electronics at the circuit, before a freak gust of wind tore down many of the team’s tents, forcing a lengthy break to settle things down again, the upshot of which was the elimination of one round of qualifying.
Mullan continued his impressive pace to top the times again in the final qualifier with a 48.690, Jukes dropping back to a 49.271 with round five winner Tony Giustozzi now third quickest with a 51.180 from Ted Sygidus and Giustozzi’s team-mate Mick Carroll.
Ultimately Mullan would qualify P1 in ‘RAMJET’ ahead of Jukes, Giustozzi, Roberts, Ted Sygidus, Mick Carroll and Darek Sygidus.
Whilst the title contenders were the main focus of the big Temora crowd, there was also a lot of anticipation for the returning ‘Natwel Racing’ machine of Jamie and Cheryl Welch, the West Australian team making their 2017 season debut with an all-new US-built 1600bhp twin-turbo 427LSX V8, although their return wasn’t quite going according to plan, the team confirming that jet unit issues were making the big blue beast a monster to drive.
In the 400-Class all eyes were on the return of Ben Hathaway’s ‘Weapon’, the championship points leader delivering in spades with a stunning 53.675 during his opening run to comfortably top the timesheets heading into the finals, leaving the battle for the minor positions to be fought out by title rivals Mark Garlick and Brett Thornton.
They though had another fight on their hands with round five winner Jody Ely and former AFJSA President Greg Harriman - who delivered his best run of the year in the #360 ‘Pink Boots Foundation’ machine to be third fastest in Q2 - providing additional pressure as Hathaway sat out the second session to watch the form of his rivals.
By Q3 he was back, although his 54.448 was much slower than his Q1 time allowing Jody Ely to top the timesheets with a stunning 53.642.. Game on!
In the end it was Ely who would qualify fastest by just three one hundredths of a second from Hathaway, with Thornton third ahead of Garlick and Harriman. Harriman’s team-mate Hugh Gilchrist turned in an impressive 58.403 in Q3 to be classified sixth ahead of Justin Roylance, rookie Sam Everingham and Queenslander Brad Marsden.
Ultimately Clint Ruby failed to make it through to the finals after a testing return to ‘Dirty Deeds’ although team-mate Shane Brennan made the cut, whilst Andrew Medlicott (Gone Nutz Again) was also relegated to the sidelines in what is becoming a very competitive 400-Class field.
If qualifying was tough, the finals would prove their equal with some real giant-killing runs and some poorly timed miss-steps providing the fans with plenty of entertainment.
The big news in the first final for the Unlimited class was the elimination of round five winner Tony Giustozzi and former 400-Class champion Ted Sygidus, both drivers making navigational errors, whilst Glenn ‘Spider’ Roberts came out of the water in ‘Blown Budget’ whilst comfortably within the margin to qualify for the second final.
Top spot though in the see-sawing battle for Unlimited Superboat supremacy went back to Tremayne Jukes, ‘Maniac’ punching out a round best of 48.640 a full second faster than Mullan with ‘Excalibur’ #2 Mick Carroll moving up to third less than a second behind ‘RAMJET’.
In the end Jamie Welch’s return in the ‘Natwel Racing’ machine came to an end in the Top 12, his best of 58.044 two and a half seconds slower than Daniel de Voigt (DEVO Racing), with former champion Daryl Hutton and Darek Sydgius also making it through to the second final. Paul Burgess’ solid season continued despite missing the cut, his strong haul of points pushed him further forward in the championship, whilst local hero Scott Krause again entertained the fans on his way to a ninth-placed finish.
Whilst the pace of the Unlimited class was impressive, the 400-Class teams too were pushing hard with valuable championship points on the line, and that provided plenty of action at the pointy end of the field.
First team to falter was round five winner and fastest 400-Class qualifier Jody Ely, the Victorian messing up his Top 12 run to cross the line with a disappointing 69.690, a time which was unlikely to see him make the Top 6.
‘Spitwater Team Outlaw’ driver Justin Roylance joined his former team-mate on the bank after a DNF thanks to hitting cross-wash at the wrong angle which spun him around - to add insult to injury he became lodged on an underwater shelf whilst motoring back to the ramp, much to the pleasure of the fans..
He wasn’t the only one to spin out, Hugh Gilchrist’s new found pace saw him running very strongly until an off during the final loop, ending his solid weekend, although he was able to enjoy team-mate Harriman’s impressive form, the #360 machine comfortably inside the top six.
Ultimately Mark Garlick would take ‘Grumpy’ to the top spot with a 52.928 with Hathaway and Thornton close behind. Harriman led the rest of the pack, with Brad Marsden in ‘Alcott Transformer’ and the returning Shane Brennan (Dirty Deeds) also making the cut, but only just after an impressive seventh placed finish by LS-Class points leader Ivan Safranek who took the fight to the faster boats in ‘Katana’.
In a review of season 2017, the Unlimited Superboat Top 6 final at Temora was the turning point for Tremayne Jukes’ title assault, a crowd-silencing navigational error delivering the three-time winner a disappointing 57.877-second lap and with it, the effective championship win for Mullan.
Sadly for Jukes, his five rivals all went faster including title rival Mullan who topped the session once again with a 48.927 to effectively put the title out of reach, forcing the early retirement of ‘Maniac’ from the penultimate round.
Mullan would be joined in the final by Carroll (49.569) and the resurgent Daryl Hutton (52.703), whilst Darek Sygidus just missed the cut for the final three by a frustrating nine one hundredths of a second.
The 400-Class Top 6 final saw plenty of jostling for position, but again the field could do nothing about the pace of Hathaway and ‘Weapon’ - their 53.924 returning the team to the top of the timesheets with Garlick again second (54.005) and Thornton (54.760) third. Greg Harriman finished his weekend with a well deserved fourth, ahead of Marsden and Brennan.
With a fifth-consecutive title in his sights, Phonsy Mullan wanted victory to ensure he held a title winning advantage in his hands heading to the final in Cabarita, but typically of the Victorian’s approach to the sport, he would be anything but conservative in the final, punching out an impressive 49.011 to put the win out of reach of Carroll and Hutton, the New Zealander in the end claiming his best result of the year for second.
Likewise with a 400-Class title on the line and a need for more valuable championship points, Hathaway turned in his best run of the day to put any question of his title winning credentials out of the equation, his 53.615 comfortably clear of Garlick (54.358) and Thornton (54.664) although despite the win Hathaway is still behind on adjusted points setting up what will surely be a battle royale in Cabarita at the end of October.
The final round of the Australian V8 Superboats Championship will be held at the Tweed Coast Jet Sprint Club’s facility at Cabarita Beach over two days on 28-29 October where the 2017 champions will be crowned. Despite holding the points lead outright after six rounds, the championship is recorded on adjusted points where teams can drop their worst point-scoring round of the year. In 400-Class that effectively gives reigning champion Brett Thornton the points lead by five points over Hathaway who effectively has to win at Cabarita with Thornton finishing no better than third.
In the Unlimited Superboat class, Mullan need only start the final round to get 10 valuable championship points, and he will be the 2017 Unlimited Superboat champion, for an unprecedented fifth time in a season which arguably stretched him further than ever before.
* the Australian V8 Superboat championship is recorded on adjusted points where teams can drop their worst point-scoring round of the year, scoring from six of their best seven results.
For more information on the 2017 Australian V8 Superboat Championships, please visit www.v8superboats.com.au
Rnd#6 2017 Australian V8 Superboat Championships
Lake Centenary, Temora, NSW (23 September, 2017)
1. Phonsy Mullan (RAMJET) - 49.011
2. Daryl Hutton (American Imports) - 51.184
3. Mick Carroll (Excalibur) - 54.512
400-Class (Group A)
1. Ben Hathaway (Weapon) - 53.615
2. Mark Garlick (Grumpy) - 54.358
3. Brett Thornton (2Obsessed) - 54.664
TOP 6 FINAL
1. Phonsy Mullan (RAMJET) - 48.927
2. Mick Carroll (Excalibur) - 49.569
3. Daryl Hutton (American Imports) - 52.073
4. Darek Sygidus (Frankensztain) - 52.167
5. Daniel de Voigt (Devo Racing) - 55.140
6. Tremayne Jukes (Maniac) - 57.877
400-Class (Group A)
1. Ben Hathaway (Weapon) - 53.924
2. Mark Garlick (Grumpy) - 54.005
3. Brett Thornton (2Obsessed) - 54.760
4. Greg Harriman (Pink Boots Foundation) - 56.263
5. Brad Marsden (Allcott Transformer) - 59.295
6. Shane Brennan (Dirty Deeds) - 61.440
2017 Australian V8 Superboat Championships - Series points
Unlimited Superboat (after round six of seven)
1. Phonsy Mullan (RAMJET) - 204-points, 2. Tremayne Jukes (Maniac) - 185, 3. Mick Carroll (Excalibur) - 150, 4. Daryl Hutton (Victorian American Imports) - 149, 5. Ted Sygidus (Frankensztain) - 136, 6. Tony Giustozzi (Excalibur) - 132, 7. Paul Burgess (Daly Transport) - 130, 8. Glenn Roberts (Blown Budget) - 126, 9. Darek Sygidus (Frankensztain) - 122, 10. Daniel deVoigt (DEVO Racing) - 106, 11. Jeremy Kincaid (Rogue) - 58, 12. Scott Krause (Soak’n Fused) - 44, 13. Aaron Hansen (Blown Budget) - 26, 14. Jamie Welch (22), 15. Cheryl Welch (10)
400-Class (Group A) (after round six of seven)
1. Ben Hathaway (Weapon) - 186-points, 2. Brett Thornton (2Obsessed) - 175, 3. Jody Ely (Rampage) - 171, 4. Mark Garlick (Grumpy) - 167, 5. Paul Kelly (4Zero Racing) - 144, 6. Justin Roylance (Spitwater Team Outlaw) - 135, 7. Brad Marsden (Allcott Transformer) - 134, 8. Greg Harriman (Pink Boots Foundation) - 122, 9. Hugh Gilchrist (Pink Boots Foundation) - 98, 10. Ivan Safranek (64), 11. Clint Ruby (Dirty Deeds) - 36
LS-Class (after round six of seven)
1. Ivan Safranek (Katana) - 108-points, 2. Kyle Reynolds (RedRum) - 63, 3. Graham Reynolds (RedRum) - 43