Round Three of the Australian Formula Powerboat Grand Prix, which took place at the rain soaked Fast & Loud Festival near Rathmines on Lake Macquarie will probably be remembered more as a ‘crash fest’ then anything else.
Fortunately, it’s not often you hear the rescue teams saying that they had an extremely busy weekend but many of them probably came off Lake Macquarie thinking that they had witness a season’s worth of incidents in just one weekend.
Prior to the Final on Sunday afternoon, they had already been called into action during the Group Two reverse grid heat when the local racer Kaine Casson (360) collected Greg Banks (49) as the pair exited the turn. Casson, who is running the only Moore hull in the series felt that it was a racing incident and just before going out to race he had mentioned to the TV crew that the lap times were so close
Everyone is right there on top of each other!
The heat was eventually restarted, and it wasn’t long before Rhys Coles, Damon Cohen and Joel Smith were all battling to the lead. Smith was passed by Simon Troy (88) and was soon snapping at the heels of Coles for second place. The time was soon up and Cohen, who had not been able to carry out much testing whilst he was waiting for some boat parts to arrive from BaBa Racing in Italy took the chequered flag and maximum points.
The Group One reverse grid heat had already been won by Brock Cohen, who was back competing after his recent ‘time-out.’ It had taken him a while to get past Dean Allison who had changed his power supply from an SST120 to the 2.5lt Mercury version. Allison who had enlisted the help of the highly experienced Craig Bailey was beginning to get more comfortable with their setup changes. Cohen was extremely fortunate to finish the heat as making his way back to the pit his flywheel fell off.
Once safely ashore Cohen said
I felt something was not right with four laps to go, I was so glad to see the chequered flag come out.
With a brief break from the torrential rain the teams lined up for the fifteen minutes plus one lap final. As the flags dropped Brock Cohen made a clean get away with Troy in hot pursuit. Damon Cohen and Coles followed them. Meanwhile back on the start pontoon was Sam Lucas who finally managed to get his engine to fire but had left himself a lot to do. As Lucas was charging through the field, he took a tight turn around the pit turn buoy with Allison on the inside, an impact was inevitable and out came the red flags to halt the proceedings.
In the rolling restart Brock Cohen made another great start but so did Coles who moved into third place just behind Troy. With scarcely a whole lap completed Coles took a tight line around the turn furthest away from the pit. He left just enough room for Damon Cohen, but the closing speed of Cohen’s BaBa meant he was unable to turn as tight as Coles and collected him in a massive impact remarkably like that of Lucas and Allison just minutes earlier.
With all the drivers safely ashore unhurt torrential rain arrived back on the scene leaving the race officials with little choice but to abandon any further racing.
It’s been a wild weekend of racing, I’m ok and many thanks to all the rescue crew you did a fantastic job. We will rebuild and come back..
Although picking up the maximum points haul race winner Brock Cohen said
Another bittersweet victory for the team as prior to Damon’s accident, the possibility of a one-two finish was highly likely. There is lots to be done before the final round of the championship at Moree Water-ski Park on July 23 -24.
Crash sequence images by Rooters & Co Photography
Troy & Cohen images by Michael Quinlan at Quinnos Quick Snaps