The 2017 Powerboat GP RYA British Powerboat championships headed to Oulton Broad over the bank holiday for an action packed weekend as competitors battled for the Lowestoft Grand Prix title.
Six championship classes lined up at the start of the weekend to compete through qualifying and then three heats to see he would reign victorious.
Following a clean sweep of heat wins on home water for Ben Morse at the Lancashire Grand Prix, cool and collected Rob Veares was ready to up the pressure on the returning former champion. However continuing his recent fine racing form, Morse cruised round the course claiming an early pole position a full clear second faster than Veares in second.
With pole position secured Morse set about quickly getting to work in the heats leading heat 1 from start to finish in a formidable performance, Veares took second with Ben Jelf following up in third after he failed to start and battled with Mike Pillow for the whole race to regain position. A final drag race to the finish between Jelf & Pillow saw Jelf taking 3rd by a nose.
Heat 2 saw Morse and Veares launch off of the start jetty neck and neck, but as they headed into the far turn Morse started to pull away. Veares piled on the pressure throughout the 8 lap race but just couldn’t catch the on form Morse. Jelf battled hard with returning racer Mike Pillow and managed to squeeze past him heading out of the top turn to take another third place finish.
Heat 3 and again Veares piled on the pressure but once more Morse was just too strong taking another clean win and his second Grand Prix title of the season. Rob Veares claimed the silver medal spot no Ben Jelf completed the podium line up taking three 3rd place finishes to claim the bronze medal. Some really competitive racing was seen from all of the competitors with some great battles between Leon King & Martin Wood.
Harvey Smith was defending his early championship lead from George Elmore and Aidan Fleet, whilst brother and Sister Jessica and Joseph Haylock entered into battle against each other on home waters in their first season.
However following a strong finish at the Lancashire Grand Prix it was George Elmore that they down the gauntlet to the other junior racers with a 1.5 second faster than his closest rival Smith.
Securing his first ever pole position Elmore was ready for the mammoth task ahead of him knowing that Smith was going to put up a strong fight. Heat 1 saw Elmore getting a flying start and in the led the youngster kept his head choosing his lines in and out of the turns to see him claim the first heat of the weekend ahead of Smith in second who in turn was ahead of Aidan Fleet and Ethan Goodfellow who were battling it out for the 3rd and 4th spots respectively.
George put in a sterling performance securing three clean heats, while Smith put in a strong performance to secure second place in the Lowestoft Grand Prix and retain his championship lead.
Meanwhile Aidan Fleet and Ethan Goodfellow went head to head for the bronze medal position pushing each other every inch of the course with Aidan Fleet completing the podium line up finishing in third.
Lowestoft youngster Thomas Mantripp had taken the early lead following the Lancashire Grand Prix but with Jack Pickles, Tiegen Goodfellow and Jonathan Brewer all gunning for glory amongst the fleet the pressure was on.
It was ‘girl racer’ Tiegen Goodfellow that turned on the gas during qualifying but with less than 0.5 of a second separating the top 4 the heat battles was about to be intense.
From second in the line-up Mantripp broke away in the first heat and started taking a strong lead and choosing the best lines in and out of the turns as he soared around the course to take the first heat win of the weekends competition.
Jonathan Brewer battled hard with Tiegen and Jack Pickles with Brewer managing to secure second place ahead of the plucky girl racer.
Heat 2 saw a strong battle develop between Brewer and Mantripp as they fought for the second heat win they went head to head for every lap of the course until Mantripp’s tighter turns into the corners saw him manage to edge past Brewer to take the second heat win.
Heat 3 would go down to the wire with Mantripp and Brewer once more going head to head looking for the final win every lap both of them adjusted their lines and turns trying to put space between them and as they headed towards the closing stages of the race.
Brewer managed to get the edge on Mantripp and take the final heat win. Meanwhile a huge battle developed in third place with Goodfellow, Pickles and Elliot Fleet all looking to get the jump on each other.
Thomas Mantripp claimed the Lowestoft GP title with Jonathan Brewer securing silver and the bronze medal podium spot was clinched by Jack Pickles to complete the line-up.
With less than a second separating the top three boats in this class the Racing was sure to be as close and exhilarating as always! All eyes were on the result board to see who had done enough to secure pole position, pipping Bill Owen to the post was Nigel Edwards and he was set make his mark on the Lowestoft Grand Prix.
Heat 1 saw Jason Brewer forced to retire from the weekend’s proceedings and Bill Owen claim and early lead. He battled hard with Steve Cash and Nigel Edwards through the 8 lap course and managed to secure the first heat win of the weekend.
Heat 2 saw a second heat win for Bill Owen once more leading from start to finish meanwhile Edwards and Steve Cash went head to head for second place with Edwards just holding Cash back.
The third heat would see another win for Owen and in doing so he secured the Lowestoft GP crown, whilst tied on points heading into the final heat the battle for the silver medal would go down to the chequered flag.
Despite Steve Cash’s best efforts he couldn’t get past Nigel Edwards who held on to second place in the final heat and with it secure the silver medal position with Cash completing the line up in Bronze.
7 local racers lined up to battle for the second Grand Prix title of the season.
Reigning champion and Lancashire Grand Prix winner Jason Mantripp was hoping that recent luck would be on his side on home waters but former champion Jamie Marr and Wayne Moyse were lining up to stop him in his tracks.
Following a disastrous qualifying session at Lancashire that saw him take an early bath, Jamie Marr was back to show he meant business.
Marr posted the fastest time in qualifying securing the all-important pole position over his rivals.
From Pole position Marr drifted round his home course to three straight heat wins at his first home Grand Prix in his 9 year Racing career.
Moyse put in strong fight in each heat trying to catch Marr but he was untouchable throughout the weekend forcing Moyse to settle for second in each heat and the silver medal podium spot. Two third place finishes and a third place behind Tony Knights in the final heat saw Jason Mantripp complete the OSY400 Lowestoft GP podium.
The fleet was somewhat depleted with some boats preparing for the opening round of the F2 UIM World Championship in Lithuania.
Following a flawless performance at the Lancashire Grand Prix former F2 World champion Colin Jelf was ready to carry on where he left off earlier in the month.
Just 2 seconds separated the top five boats in the F2 class with Jelf being the only driver to set a sub 30 second lap time paving the way for the rest of the weekend.
Heat 1 saw Jelf launch off the start pontoon in a blazing performance leading the way all to the chequered flag.
Paul Balfour followed hot on his wake into the second place finish and despite a strong 3rd place finish in heat 1 Steve Hoult suffered critical damage to his gearbox was forced to pull out of the rest of the weekends proceedings.
Jelf was more was infallible throughout heats two and three taking clean heat wins to secure the Lowestoft Grand Prix in front of huge bank holiday crowds that lined the banks.
Local racer Mark Williams went head to head with reigning champion Paul Balfour to claim the silver podium spot.
Williams had suffered engine problems at the Lancashire GP but on home water was determined to make amends.
Second place finishes in the two final heats of the weekend saw Williams steal the silver medal podium spot from Paul Balfour who was forced to settle for third.
Powerboat GP Promoter Luke Jones summed up the weekend of racing;
Once more we’ve seen some fantastic Racing that’s been exhilarating to watch especially for the spectators that have joined us this Bank holiday weekend.
Lots of hard work and dedication goes into every event from the teams, their support crews, our officials and the volunteers, every successful event is down to the dedication from each and every person and this weekend was no exception.
The Lowestoft Grand Prix puts extra pressure on the teams as the pit area to the race course is quite spread out but the crowds that join us and cheer the teams on makes up for the extra effort put in.
Some of the championship leaders from Lancashire have once more stamped their authority on the season’s campaign but we also saw many of the teams throughout the classes raise their games.
We take a break now whilst many of our drivers head to international competition.
Many will use this time for training and testing and any repairs required to come back even stronger for the Chasewater Grand Prix in July.
To all our competitors heading to international events good luck and safe Racing.
Photos: Bryan Scott