After another fantastic V8 Superboats event at Keith in South Australia where a big local crowd was treated to some outstanding action – both in and out of the water – the Penrite V8 Superboats Championship turns to it’s emotional home this weekend, with the running of the third round of the season at Kennards Hire Park in Temora with a huge title fight brewing in both Unlimited Superboat and 400-Class.
For local fans, the Temora round will be a chance to support and cheer on local hero Scott Krause, the KAOS pilot coming into the event as the points leader in the Unlimited Superboat class having taken back-to-back wins in the category against the might of six-time Australian champion Phonsy Mullan.
Mullan has been plagued by a series of technical issues across the opening two events, but even despite the slow start to the season, Krause has been the revelation of the year, matching Mullan for pace at every challenge, and if the man responsible for putting Krause’s new package together – Wagga’s former world champion Slade Stanley – is any indication, Krause still has plenty left in reserve..
Whilst the title fight in the Unlimited class has everyone talking, in the CTVS 400 Class the battle is no less intense, in fact it is shaping up to be the battle of the year with a great fight brewing between reigning champion Ben Hathaway and a number of title challengers including new points leader and Keith winner, Paul Kelly. Joined by former champions Mark Garlick and Brett Thornton, brothers Justin and Mitch Roylance, and emerging star Jody Ely, there is as many as seven teams in contention for the title.
Crowd favourite Scott Krause will be looking to make his home round a three-peat and extend his championship points advantage over reigning title holder Phonsy Mullan, and there’s every chance he could achieve the trifecta.
Mullan is juggling two packages at present, and development limitations – mostly time related – are creating consistency challenges, something which the renowned engine builder has been able to avoid in past seasons. Coming into Temora, Mullan was yet to decide whether to campaign his ‘new’ naturally-aspirated 527ci LS powered package, or his 2017 title winning hull with his new twin-turbo LS unit, both of which he has campaigned this year, and both of which are capable of taking the fight to Krause.
So too Ted and Darek Sygidus, with their mighty 680ci big-block powered ‘Frankensztain’ the former national champions are looking to get their 2018 program on track ahead of the season ending World Series and despite the setback at Keith, are convinced the new New Zealand podium finishing package is capable of taking the fight to the points leaders.
Daryl Hutton is another one looking to step things up ahead of the Worlds, the two-time Australian champion finally found some pace from in his troublesome Stinger hull after another dramatic relocation of weight, the Keith event providing some light in what has been a lengthy and dark tunnel of development across more than two seasons.
Whilst Krause and Mullan are expected to trade blows at the top of the timesheets, there will be no shortage of challengers with the Sygidus brothers and Hutton expected to make their presence felt, but so too Paul Gaston – who like the Sygidus boys, suffered a setback at Keith and was an early retirement, with a package that was capable of the outright win at Temora late last year, Gaston could be one to watch this weekend.
Keep an eye on Glenn ‘Spider’ Roberts too in ‘Blown Budget’, the Victorian showing at Griffith that he is also a contender and he will certainly be amongst the drivers pushing for a place on the podium. New V8 Superboats recruit Michael Cunningham will make his Temora debut in the AusPro Logistics machine that served former champion Phil Dixon so well and could surprise a few with a package renowned for it’s handling and ability to negotiate the Temora circuit as well or better than many of it’s rivals, some of which have twice the horsepower..
Sadly the new Natwel package of Jamie and Cheryl Welch is again a non-starter at Temora, although the team are confident of an appearance across the second half of the season, whilst for ‘Mr Excitement’ Tony Giustozzi and team-mate Mick Carroll – arguably the most famous team in Superboats, they too will sit out Temora due to a date clash, whilst Devo Racing’s Daniel deVoigt too will miss the event, he and AFJSA Secretary Kaleena, celebrating the birth of their new son Drew just days out from the Temora round.
CTVS 400-CLASS (International Group A)
After threatening to take the top spot during the season opener at Griffith, Paul Kelly carried through at Keith to claim his second ever 400-Class victory, in the process taking the championship points lead.
He comes into Temora having failed to previously make the podium, whilst title rivals Ben Hathaway and Mark Garlick have been regular podium finishers at Kennards Hire Park, which will certainly mix things up, especially as another former winner at Temora – 2016 champion Brett Thornton – will be sitting out the third round.
With Justin Roylance finally getting his 2018 campaign underway with a fantastic podium finish at Keith in the Spitwater Team Outlaw entry, and brother Mitch having won the opening round of the 2016 season at Temora ahead of a string of podium finishes at his ‘local’ circuit, there is no shortage of challengers for the top step, and no real standout favourite.
Throw in multiple Australian champion Mark Garlick (Grumpy) – who currently sits comfortably third in points – and Keith pace-setter Jody Ely (Rampage) and you have the potential for one of the best – and closest – 400-Class fields in the history of the sport.
With Shane Loughnan (Vicious), former national champion Andrew Medlicott (Gone Nutz Again), Brad Marsden (Allcott Transformer), the returning David Moodie (Jackhammer) and the ‘Pink Boots Racing’ pairing of Greg Harriman and Hugh Gilchrist also in the field, there will be no shortage of podium contenders to keep the crowd on their feet.
With the new LS Class slowly gaining momentum, reigning champion and Keith Unlimited Superboat guest driver (he finished incredibly on the podium in the elite class) Ivan Safranek leads the charge at Temora with new recruit Kyle Elphinstone looking to push the West Australian throughout the event.
The third round of the 2018 Penrite Australian V8 Superboat Championships will be contested at Kennards Hire Park in Temora, with gates opening at 3:00pm and qualifying rounds underway from 4:00pm. 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.
Photo: Russell Puckeridge, Pureart Creative Images