Heading into Cabarita for a return to Penrite V8 Superboats action after an enforced eight-month pandemic break, there was much uncertainty over whether the round would actually take place.
Unprecedented weather conditions bringing a huge coastal front into the Cabarita Beach, NSW region of Australia would ultimately deliver record rainfall, forcing the cancelation and then evacuation of the circuit.
Despite the weather forecast changing by the minute, the Australian Formula Jet Sprint Association (AFJSA) and the Tweed Valley Jet Sprint Club elected to press on with the event. Saturday provided a brief weather window that saw three rounds of qualifying contested allowing the event to be classified and points awarded.
One of the big talking points ahead of the round surrounded the debut of an all new Australian-made PULSE hull for points leader Phonsy Mullan. The seven-time champion took the bold move to change boats mid-season, and from the smile on his face after the opening qualifier the move had been more than justified. Mullan was now relishing the opportunity to close the performance gap to reigning champion Slade Stanley.
Stanley though was lamenting a lack of performance. The Hazardous team were not one hundred percent comfortable through the opening two qualifiers despite setting the pace in Q1 before missing the rotation in Q2 whilst chasing the setup. Mullan meanwhile came out swinging in Q2 to top the timesheets with a best of 50.555 (to Stanley’s Q1 best of 51.684). The pair then traded blows in the final session where Stanley returned to the top of the time sheets with a 49.535 whilst Mullan could only manage 49.912 as the rain set in on Saturday afternoon.
Whilst the championship points leaders continued their tousle, behind them the former title holder Daryl Hutton continued his own development with his twin-turbo American Automotive machine. In the end a 51.208 classified him third ahead of fellow former champion Scott Krause who produced a 53.033 in the final session after failing to record a time in the first two timed runs.
Fifth place went to the Unlimited Superboat debutante Chris Edmonds. The LS-Class graduate was running a 900-horespower LSA powerplant originally built by JRE Race Engines for Slade Stanley. For Edmonds though this engine was his backup plan, as he has a twin-turbo small block Chevy was still under development. His 64.171 opening lap time was his only recorded time, although experience showed him that any time on the board is important.
With rain fall as much as 150mm per six-hour window Sunday dawned wet, leaving the AFJSA and the Tweed Club conceding that there was no alternative other than cancelation. This saw teams racing to pack up their gear in torrential rain to move to higher ground as floodwaters slowly cut all access roads out of the region.
Unlimited Superboat (after round four of six)
- Slade Stanley (Hazardous) – 136-points
- Phonsy Mullan (RAMJET) – 135
- Scott Krause (KAOS) – 118
- Daryl Hutton (Phoenix Lubricants) – 107
- Glenn Roberts (Blown Budget) – 86
- Ben Hathaway (NoodNutz Racing) – 80
- Mitch Roylance (BlackJack) – 72
- Mick Carroll (Excalibur) – 28
- Chris Edmonds (Solid Gold) – 26
- Daniel de Voigt (DEVO Racing) – 24
The Penrite Australian V8 Superboats Championships season continues at the Spitwater Arena in Keith, South Australia on Saturday 26 March and the organisers will certainly be hoping for better weather.