The 2019 Penrite Australian V8 Superboats Championship came to its conclusion at the Tweed Coast Jet Sprint Club on the north-coast of New South Wales in front of a passionate vocal crowd who were treated to some of the most dramatic action of the season.
Again the points leaders figured prominently, but whilst they would all go on to conclude their seasons with the coveted perpetual trophies as Australian Champions, there were some surprises, and some seriously big offs.
Ultimately Slade Stanley would conclude his year with his sixth consecutive win to take his maiden Unlimited Superboat crown, whilst Kyle Elphinstone would recover from an early setback on Saturday, to record his fifth LS-Class win of 2019.
The biggest upset though was saved for 400-Class where runaway points leader Paul Kelly was on task for an unprecedented seventh straight win, but at the final hurdle, Justin Roylance delivered a stunning drive in the Top 3 to find eight tenths of a second to put an end to Kelly’s season-long domination, to take his maiden V8 Superboats win.
With the 2019 titles all but decided ahead of the Cabarita final, the big news ahead of the round was the appearance of Phonsy Mullan’s brand new JetSpeed hull, the reigning World Champion debuting a new package complete with his thunderous 583ci naturally-aspirated powerplant.
A few early setbacks held the seven-time Australian champion back before he let loose in the third qualifier.
Sadly as he negotiated the final stages of the lap an engine detonation saw him lose power and with no steering, he finished in the barriers. Fortunately neither driver nor navigator were injured, and the boat survived relatively unscathed – but his season was over.
He wasn’t alone in retirement, a sequence of boats coming out of the water across the weekend, perhaps the worst of those being crowd-favourite Glenn ‘Spider’ Roberts who came unstuck during the final qualifier after running wide on the entry to the infamous ‘Hardy’s’ corner, ‘Blown Budget’ out of the water and hard into the earth embankment, bending the nose of the boat and knocking the crew around, although both emerged unharmed.
Ultimately the fans were the big winners across the weekend, a big local crowd attending the event across the two days, whilst more than a quarter of a million fans kept across proceedings online through social media.
Unlimited Superboat qualifying started much in the same way the season had unfolded to date with Slade Stanley immediately setting a benchmark which nobody could match, although he did admit that the team were starting to suffer some minor niggling issues with the jet unit as they continued to set laps out of reach for their rivals.
Daryl Hutton did get close, although he was enduring his own gremlins, notably an engine that was shutting down at the end of each run due to the high ambient temperatures (low 30s and high humidity), the ECU cutting the engine out to save the cylinders before refiring just as Hutton and navigator Mick Parry came to the line, giving the pair a few anxious moments contemplating life without any way of stopping the boat.
Phonsy Mullan’s first laps in the new JetSpeed ‘RAMJET’ saw his own setbacks, the seven-time AUS#1 suffering steering issues and a reverse bucket problem in the opening qualifier which saw him uncharacteristically out of the water, whilst Q2 saw another rare error, a navigational miscue whilst monitoring the boats performance.
The final qualifier though saw Mullan open things up in true RAMJET style to give the new hull a chance to show what it had, and it looked the goods, but within sight of the end of the run, an engine detonation saw the boat lose power, the pristine new yellow hull nosing into the tyres, incredibly with hardly a scratch, but the same couldn’t be said for the bespoke 583ci powerplant..
Sadly the detonation which saw a brief oil fire and a shockwave so powerful it knocked the GoPro mounted to the rollcage out of position, came as a result of an internal failure which ultimately saw two titanium conrods punched through the engine block AND the bottom of the boat.
Game over after a very short run, but Mullan had seen enough to know he’d be making up some ground on Stanley in the coming season with data showing that with very little development the JetSpeed hull was already up to five kilometres per hour faster in a straight line!
With Mullan out the fight for a podium finish continued between crowd favourites Glenn ‘Spider’ Roberts and Daniel deVoigt, the two going blow-for-blow over the qualifiers, with Roberts ultimately emerging third fastest behind Hutton with the more powerful ‘Blown Budget’ but deVoigt wasn’t far behind (0.18) and improving with every run.
Sadly for Glenn Roberts, his season would come to an end though during the final qualifier whilst on a flyer.
Locked in a battle for third in the championship, ‘Spider’ was charging hard and hit the infamous ‘Hardy’s’ corner slightly offline. That saw him slide along the bank and straight towards the tyres on the earth embankment on the outside of the corner.
Fortunately his momentum saw the boat get some air as it approached the sudden stop, which put much of the force of the impact under the point of the nose, bending it at 45 degrees about two feet in and pushing the nose skywards.
Fortunately despite Robert’s six foot plus frame and the solid landing on top of the bank below the spectators, both he and navigator Tia McGifford were shaken but otherwise unhurt, the low budget team though reeling from the impact that will see some serious expense needed to repair ‘Blown Budget’ for the coming season.
400-Class was again where the main action was during qualifying, a 14-boat field delivering some great runs and a few off-track excursions on the challenging rotation which throughout Saturday was plagued by low water conditions due to the dry nature of the Australian winter, a scenario which caught out the unwary..
Ultimately Justin Roylance would deliver on the promise he’d shown during the season to set the top qualifying time in Sunday’s final session, his 49.296 more than a second up on the times the category was doing in 2017 on an identical rotation. Typically though there was little separating the protagonists, former champion Ben Hathaway – who led the times early – just two tenths slower than Roylance with Brett Thornton third fastest overall ahead of new champion Paul Kelly, Jody Ely and Mark Garlick who ended Q4 partly submerged after grabbing a bank mid run.
Greg Harriman and fellow ‘Pink Boots Racing’ driver Hugh Gilchrist were embroiled in their own battle, setting the seventh and eight fastest times ahead of Sam Everingham (driving alongside Ron O’Day), Phil Weinthal, Peter Monger – who again kept the crowd entertained with his out of water exploits – O’Day, Darrin Kesper and Mark Connolly.
After claiming four consecutive runner-up finishes in the LS-Class in the four more recent rounds, it was clear that Dwayne Mezzadri wanted more than the second step of the podium, the local star setting the top qualifying time at the end of five rounds, aided in part by a big off into the barriers for points leader Kyle Elphinstone in Q2.
For Elphinstone – who needed just a start at Cabarita to put the title out of reach – the impact did little to damage the boat, but the engine mounts suffered some damage as a result of the sudden stop forcing the team to head to Sam Everingham’s nearby workshop to effect repairs, leaving the ‘Blackout Racing’ team to sit out Saturday’s third qualifier.
On his return though Sunday morning he quickly dialled himself in, but fell two tenths of a second shy of Mezzadri’s time, the ‘Unleashed’ driver showing great consistency with his times between Q2 and Q5 separated by just six tenths of a second.
Robert Westerink’s continuing improvements saw him classified third by the close of qualifying ahead of birthday boy Kyle Reynolds, Lawrence Howlett, Paul Hill and Graham Reynolds who was locked in a titanic battle for third in the season points with Westerink and Howlett.
FINAL – TOP 12
With just three Unlimited boats left in the field after a challenging qualifying run, the remaining trio elected to progress straight to the final three, leaving 400-Class and LS-Class as the only teams contesting the first two finals.
The action started immediately with the top three 400-Class boats giving it everything, Roylance again claiming the top spot, but just two tenths quicker than Kelly and 35 one hundredths faster than Hathaway – it was getting tight at the top.
Behind the leading trio Mark Garlick found something a little extra, showing no sign of any setbacks after his Q4 off to be four tenths up on Brett Thornton who had dropped more than two seconds off his best, whilst Hugh Gilchrist got the better of team-mate Greg Harriman to be sixth, Harriman joining Everingham, Monger, Weinthal and Jody Ely on the trailer – Ely sadly suffering a water leak inside the boat which ended his weekend with a wet ECU.
Dwayne Mezzadri continued to lead the way in LS-Class, although he’d dropped seven tenths of a second on his consistent qualifying times, but it was still good enough for the top spot with Kyle Elphinstone six tenths slower.
Lawrence Howlett was third ahead of Robert Westerink, with Paul Hill fifth. Sadly for the ‘Red Rum’ father-and-son pairing of Graham and Kyle Reynolds, they suffered a setback with another out-of-water experience effectively ending Graham’s run at third in the Championship, the popular Wagga-based driver forced to settle for equal fourth in the championship an agonising six points off a season podium finish.
FINAL – TOP 6
As he had done for much of the season, Paul Kelly used the second final to show the field what he really had in reserve, punching out the best time of the day, a full half second faster than Roylance who got to within three one hundredths of a second of his Top 12 time, but that put him third behind Hathaway, who too found some time to be 35 one hundredths faster, but only three one hundredths quicker than Roylance.
Brett Thornton too returned to the pace that had seen some of his best runs of the year, but it wasn’t quite enough to return him to the top three, his 50.616 keeping him fourth, although a second up on long-time rival Mark Garlick, with Hugh Gilchrist improving again to complete the top six.
Likewise the LS-Class saw a close fight between the two drivers vying for the top step of the podium, although it was points-leader and champion-elect Kyle Elphinstone who emerged with the quickest time of the weekend, his 56.230 up two tenths on Mezzadri who turned in yet another 56-second lap for second.
Lawrence Howlett grabbed third just a hundredth of a second faster than Robert Westerink, with Paul Hill finding almost two seconds to be just 15 one hundredths off a podium place, although despite his impressive effort he would join Westerink back on the trailer to watch the final.
FINAL – TOP 3
Daniel deVoigt was first out in the final, the Brisbane-based driver storming around to a consistent 49.452 – his final three laps covered by just two tenths of a second, highlighting his experience at the Cabarita venue.
Daryl Hutton was next out, with full power under his right foot after having had to dial things back after the ECU kept cutting the engine out in the warmer ambient temperatures, but whilst it gave him great pace, across the final stages of the lap, he came out of the water backwards and parked the boat in the trees, lamenting a final run at the top spot as his undoing.
That left Slade Stanley who wanted to close out his season with a sixth consecutive win, the former Group A world champion charging to a best of 43.652 to claim the win to the cheers of the fans and many of his rivals who applauded what had been an epic season in the naturally-aspirated JRE-built 480ci ‘Hazardous’.
The cheers though continued for Daniel deVoigt who alongside mother-in-law Vicki Burrell secured their first ever podium finish in the Unlimited category with second, Hutton taking third and overall third in the championship having displaced Glenn Roberts after ‘Blown Budget’s’ Q5 retirement.
Testament to the competitor that two-time AUS#1 Hutton is, he was the first to offer Roberts a seat in the ‘Phoenix Lubricants’ machine to continue his title fight, but given it was the end of qualifying when the incident occurred the rules didn’t allow it, ending ‘Spider’s’ season then and there.
As fastest man of the day and a chance to be the first driver on record to claim a full season of victories, Paul Kelly went out for his final lap of the season looking to put any challenge out of reach, showing just how perfect a season it had been with another lap in the low 49s, and just four one hundredths off his Top 6 time.
But then came Justin Roylance.
As the driver tipped most likely by his rivals to usurp Kelly at some point during the season, Roylance left it until the very last rotation to show the field what he was capable off, slashing an incredible eight tenths of a second off his previous best to be the only 400-Class boat in the 48s, his 48.762 more than three tenths faster than Kelly to break the drought of ‘4Zero Racing’ wins and claim the first ever victory for the ‘Outlaw 67’ team.
There was much celebration in the paddock, the close-knit family oriented team always on hand to assist the sport and its competitors, bringing much congratulations from all present, overshadowing perhaps what had been an otherwise perfect season for Paul ‘Hollywood’ Kelly, whilst the win perhaps also impacted the result of Ben Hathaway who was just three tenths slower than Kelly with his best run of the weekend, signalling his return to the outright fight.
Needing his own epic-drive in the LS-Class final, Dwayne Mezzadri threw everything at the final rotation of the season to all but match his Top 6 time, but sadly Kyle Elphinstone lowered the bar again to break into the 55s for the first time, his margin of victory more than a second for his fifth win of the season, whilst Lawrence Howlett was overjoyed to claim his first podium finish of the year, although for the outright podium Robert Westerink’s strong close to the season saw him awarded third in the overall championship.
That’s it for the 2019 Penrite Australian V8 Superboats Championships with a much needed off-season break for teams to prepare for the opening round of the 2020 season at Temora in New South Wales for the annual Colin Parish Memorial.
Round #7 [FINAL]
2019 Penrite Australian V8 Superboat Championships
Tweed Coast Jet Sprint Club, Cabarita Beach, NSW 16-17 November, 2019
TOP 3 FINAL
1. 08. Slade Stanley/Vanessa Stanley (Hazardous) – 43.652
2. 86. Daniel deVoigt/Vicki Burrell (DEVO Racing) – 49.452
3. 28. Daryl Hutton/Mick Parry (Phoenix Lubricants) – DNF
400-Class (Group A)
1. 67. Justin Roylance/Michelle Hodge (Outlaw67) – 48.762
2. 40. Paul Kelly/Naomi Gow (4Zero Racing) – 49.084
3. 2. Ben Hathaway/Lisa Oppes (Warren & Brown Tools Racing) – 49.357
1. 219. Kyle Elphinstone/Ben Ryan (Blackout racing) – 55.380
2. 380. Dwayne Mezzadri/Mitch Curtis (Unleashed) – 56.462
3. 14. Lawrence Howlett/Karen Howlett (Drop Bear) – 58.603
TOP 6 FINAL
400-Class (Group A)
1. 40. Paul Kelly/Naomi Gow (4Zero Racing) – 49.041
2. 2. Ben Hathaway/Lisa Oppes (Warren & Brown Tools Racing) – 49.561
3. 67. Justin Roylance/Michelle Hodge (Outlaw67) – 49.592
4. 53. Brett Thornton/Lyn Thornton (2Obsessed) – 50.616
5. 1. Mark Garlick/Kerry Garlick (Grumpy On Edge) – 51.773
6. 360B. Hugh Gilchrist/Narelle Pellow (Pink Boots Racing) – 53.385
1. 219. Kyle Elphinstone/Ben Ryan (Blackout Racing) – 56.230
2. 380. Dwayne Mezzadri/Mitch Curtis (Unleashed) – 56.434
3. 14. Lawrence Howlett/Karen Howlett (Drop Bear) – 58.357
4. 64. Robert Westerink/Ben Gillespie (The Contractor) – 58.367
5. 512. Paul Hill/Kiri Marshall (Slicer) – 58.502
2019 Penrite Australian V8 Superboat Championships – Series Points
Unlimited Superboat (adjusted after round seven of seven)
1. Slade Stanley (Hazardous) – 216-points, 2. Phonsy Mullan (RAMJET) – 179, 3. Daryl Hutton (Phoenix Lubricants) – 165, 4. Glenn Roberts (Blown Budget) – 163, 5. Daniel deVoigt (Devo Racing) – 153, 6. Mick Carroll (Excalibur) – 120, 7. Scott Krause (KAOS) – 116, 8. Rob Coley (Poison Ivy) – 107, 9. Michael Cunningham (True Blue) – 70, 10. Starr Kopa (Wikid) – 52, 11. Paul Burgess (Daly Transport) – 40, 12. Matt Foote (Wikid) – 0
400-Class (Group A) (adjusted after round seven of seven)
1. Paul Kelly (4Zero Racing) – 216-points, 2. Ben Hathaway (Warren & Brown Tools Racing) – 180, 3. Justin Roylance (Outlaw67) – 178, 4. Brett Thornton (2Obsessed) – 168, 5. Mark Garlick (Grumpy on Edge) – 165, 6. Jody Ely (Rampage) – 163, 7. Greg Harriman (Pink Boots Racing) – 120, 8. Ron O’Day (Agro-vation) – 110, 9. Hugh Gilchrist (Pink Boots Racing) – 106, 10. Brendan Doyle (The Girlfriend) – 86, 11. Darrin Kesper (Let’s Boogie) – 80, 11. Peter Monger (Mongrel) – 80, 13. Phil Weinthal (Black Dog) – 74, 14. Daniel Salter (The Hustler) – 30, 14. Mark Connolly (G Force) – 30, 16. Andrew Medlicott (Gone Nutz Again) – 12
LS-Class (adjusted after round seven of seven)
1. Kyle Elphinstone (Blackout Racing) – 226-points, 2. Dwayne Mezzadri (Unleashed) – 165, 2. Robert Westerink (The Contractor) – 162, 4. Graham Reynolds (Red Rum) – 156, 5. Lawrence Howlett (Drop Bear) – 152, 6. Andrew Medlicott (Gone Nutz Again) – 125, 7. Kyle Reynolds (Red Rum) – 118, 8. David Bray (Bear Necessities) – 110, 9. Paul Hill (Slicer) – 70, 10. Rob Johnston (Almost There) – 48
2020 Australian V8 Superboat Championships
Rnd#1 – Temora, NSW – 29 February (Colin Parish Memorial)
Rnd#2 – Spitwater Arena, Keith, SA – 28 March
Rnd#3 – Griffith, NSW – 2 May
Rnd#4 – Tweed Coast, NSW – 13-14 June
Rnd#5 – Tweed Coast, NSW – 8-9 August
Rnd#6 – Temora, NSW – 12 September
Rnd#7 – [FINAL] Spitwater Arena, Keith, SA – 10 October