After a dramatic opening round to the return season of Penrite V8 Superboats at Keith at the end of March, the series returns to Temora in the New South Wales Riverina for the annual ‘Colin Parish Memorial’ this weekend with a record entry that will be sure to keep the fans on their feet.
A relatively subdued field arrived at Keith for the season-opener thanks to the effects of the ongoing pandemic and the record rainfall across Queensland and northern New South Wales, whilst the hangover from 12-months away from the circuit claimed a number of victims across the event, most notable of those, Unlimited Superboat veteran and two-time Australian champion, Daryl Hutton.
Campaigning his long-suffering ‘Phoenix Lubricants’ Stinger, the expat New Zealander suffered one of the biggest offs in recent memory during the first final at Keith, he and long-time navigator Mick Parry ending up inverted in the catch fence after grabbing a bank just two corners into the run.
Having ‘massaged’ the hull over many years in an unsuccessful attempt to return to the top step of the Unlimited Superboat podium, Hutton conceded post-event that the team had read the last-rights to the troublesome hull, with plans to replace it ahead of the second round.
Whilst details are sketchy and the team tight-lipped, the rumour is that Hutton may well have succeeded in replacing the damaged hull with news of an all-new hull to help him take the fight back to the title contenders..
He’s not the only one relishing the chance to make amends for a tough opening round, Kyle Elphinstone has had his engine repaired after damage incurred during the opening qualifier at Keith after a dry-sump belt let loose allowing the engine to run for as much as eight seconds without oil, whilst Brendan Doyle, whose stunning new 400-Class machine triggered an engine warning light, was given the great news that he had only suffered a sensor failure.
For LS-Class rookie sensations Bastian and Nate Mullan, they too will be back in action at Temora after both suffering crashes in the final at Keith, Nate’s high-speed rollover forcing a rebuild to the back of the boat, a project undertaken by current 400-Class World#3 Daniel James.
With a 32-strong field of competitors entered for the event, including a record 14 LS-Class teams, the Temora round promises to deliver some outstanding action, all of which can be caught on the V8 Superboats Facebook page LIVE stream starting from the opening qualifying session on Saturday afternoon.
With three dominant wins from his last three starts at Temora, it’s difficult to discount Slade Stanley from extending his winning run at his home circuit, with Keith proving that despite his rivals stepping things up to start season 2021, very little has changed at the top of the timesheets.
That said, you can never discount Phonsy Mullan, the reigning World Champion using Keith to gauge just how far he needed to push forward, whilst conceding that vital jet unit parts weren’t available to him for the first event, an issue he’d resolved to change ahead of round two.
As a winner at home back in his championship season, and a regular feature on the podium ever since, Scott Krause can always be relied on to step things up in front of his home fans, whilst Daryl Hutton – who could well be faced with developing a new hull this weekend – is always within reach of a podium, paving the way for a great battle at the top of the timesheets.
As for the remainder of the field – there could be a few surprises.. Ben Hathaway showed the value of his 400-Class championship winning abilities to put the cat amongst the pigeons at Keith in Matt Malthouse’s round winning LS-Class machine, using his driving ability and the lightweight package to battle the big boys despite a performance deficit in the hundreds of horsepower to grab fifth, just behind 2019 Unlimited round winner Mick Carroll.
With a tighter rotation this weekend, Hathaway could find himself shadowing the much more powerful machines and looking at a podium, but he too will have to watch his back..
Glenn ‘Spider’ Roberts tends to struggle under lights with his impaired vision, although despite that he also features in the results more often on circuits he knows well, and with almost 20 years experience in the sport on one of the series’ longest serving circuits, Roberts could well feature inside the top five but he’ll have to take the fight to Mitch Roylance to achieve that, Roylance another driver hoping to take the fight to the leading trio in a lighter package.
Whilst the Series regulars will feature at the top of the timesheets, one driver who is destined to attract plenty of attention is returning Unlimited driver Andrew Page. Campaigning his thunderous supercharged ‘Kamakazi’ machine, Page will be sure to light up the night sky in his methanol-fuelled monster, a boat that regularly threatens to throw him out of the water.
After 400-Class wins in the last three events we’ve contested, including last time out at Keith and the only round of 2020 at Temora, Justin Roylance would have to be favourite to continue that trend this weekend, although stepping back to 2018, it was Jody Ely who was the ‘King of Temora’ with back-to-back wins in the two visits there in that calendar year..
That said, they will both have additional competition this weekend with the return of 4-time Australian Champion (and 2018 champion) Mark Garlick, the Queenslander releasing himself from his work commitments after admitting that he found watching the season opener online just too much to bear!
Fellow Queenslander and 2016 400-Class champion Brett Thornton also returns, the ‘Still Obsessed’ driver likely to take the fight to Garlick and the two ‘Jetspeed’ drivers at the top of the points table, whilst Brendan Doyle will be hoping to be in the podium fight in his new ‘Pulse’ after his early setback at Keith.
Greg Harriman has seen plenty of Temora too over the years and could be expected to shake the top five, so too ‘Apache’ team-mate High Gilchrist, whilst rookies Tyler O’Day – campaigning father Ron’s ‘Agro-Vation’ and Danny Knappick will be keen to turn their first laps in anger in the Penrite Series.
The LS-Class juggernaut continues to build with 14 entries for the Temora round, including new Penrite Series entries for Mitch Curtis (Smoke & Mirrors), Matt Riley (Toe Cutter), Mike Hessell (Borrowed Time) and Nick Druery (Hazzmat) – who was forced to delay his debut after being caught by floodwaters from the recent heavy rains in northern New South Wales whilst on his way to Keith.
Whilst the new teams will have their work cut out at Temora, the battle for the podium will provide an entertaining aside to the title fights in the two international classes, with any number of boats capable of claiming the win.
Two big questions present themselves ahead of Temora.. One, what – if any – impact did the twin accidents for brothers Bastian and Nate Mullan have on their progression up the leaderboard, and two – will a change of hull for reigning champion Kyle Elphinstone have an impact on his ability to eke out another win at Temora..
Last time out at Keith it was Matt Malthouse who took the silverware, adding to the #1 trophy the ‘NoodNutz Racing’ team grabbed with Ben Hathaway at Temora during the 2020 round. The team have the equipment, and Malthouse showed the wealth of maturity to just creep up on the pace at his home venue, before launching an all-out assault on the final with a measured drive that ensured he completed the lap in the final – unlike the Mullan brothers.
They though can draw on their own extensive experience having grown up around the sport and listening to their 7-time championship winning father, so whilst a setback at Keith, they both claimed valuable points, and both learnt valuable lessons..
As to what Saturday night will bring under lights, well that’s a whole different element that many of these new teams will need to contend with, but you can expect plenty of fireworks with a reigning champion, a first-time round winner, two brothers and the 2019 season runner-up all in the mix promising three solid championship fights that will keep the fans entertained across what promises to be one hot night of competition..!
As for the younger fans of the sport, we will also have Koby Bourke back in his impressive Junior Development boat ‘Lil Psycho’ promoting an entry level to V8 Superboats for drivers in their early teens. Bourke is currently the only driver in the category, although there are more drivers expected to enter the class as the season unfolds.
Where & when
Round two of the 2021 Penrite Australian V8 Superboat Championships will be contested at the Kennards Hire Park at Temora’s Lake Centenary on Saturday 01 May, with opening qualifying at 3:15pm ahead of the finals which will begin under lights from 7:50pm.
The circuit is located at Lake Centenary, 3.0-kilometres north of Temora on Barmedman Road – diagonally opposite Temora Airport. Tickets are available at the gate (EFTPOS available on-site).