If the opening round of the 2019 Penrite Australian V8 Superboats Championship was spellbinding, round two was out of this world with some of the most stunning performances seen in the category in recent years in front of a supportive Temora crowd under lights.
Ultimately it was local star Slade Stanley – a two-time [Group A] world champion who would go on to win in Unlimited Superboats by an incredible margin over recently crowned world title holder Phonsy Mullan, a man who has made the category his own over the last six years.
Campaigning an impressive JRE Race Engines built naturally-aspirated 480 cubic-inch small-block Chev, Stanley was the standout all day, Mullan trailing him as he sorted his impressive new 583-cubic-inch naturally aspirated alloy V8 powerplant, a package that will surely take the fight to Stanley in coming rounds.
Behind the two multiple title-holders, points leader Mick Carroll did everything he needed to, to hang on to the championship points lead, the South Australian the best of the rest although his margin over emerging star Michael Cunningham to get himself into the final three was just six one hundredths of a second..!
In 400-Class, Paul Kelly’s outstanding start to the season continued, the Queenslander holding station at the top of the timesheets in all but two qualifiers, in the end he weathered an assault from former champion Ben Hathaway – who enjoyed a great return to form in the Warren & Brown Tools entry that took him to the 2017 title – and Temora specialist Jody Ely.
Whilst the Unlimited and 400-Class regulars kept the fans on their feet, the new LS-Class gave them a taste of just how easy it is to get into the sport, a field of seven LS-powered Superboats turned in a fantastic display of racing. Many of the field were rookies who watched points leader Kyle Elphinstone lead the way, putting his 12-months of experience to good use and showing them just what the coming months have to offer. It was a fantastic first chapter to a new beginning for the sport!
After an outstanding battle at Spitwater Arena in Keith during the opening round of the season, the big question everyone was keen to have answered was whether or not Slade Stanley could take the fight to Phonsy Mullan for a second round, the two long-time rivals having laid the foundations for an epic season-long battle, and from Q1 it was clear, things had only just gotten started..
Straight out the gate Stanley (Hazardous) set a sub-40-second lap, a benchmark no-one else would breach until the second final. From that point on he kept lowering the mark all the way to the finals, his Q3 best of 38.067 ultimately more than two seconds clear of reigning champion Phonsy Mullan (RAMJET), who ended up seven tenths faster than the next best – two-time champion Daryl Hutton (Phoenix Lubricants) – making it one of the widest margins across a qualifying session in many years. The scene was set..
Hutton was reprogramming the old grey-matter into twin-turbo mode after re-fitting his World Series powerplant, the two-time Australian champion admitting he was having to change his driving style again to adapt, but he also showed the boat has the potential to mix it at the top of the timesheets. For Temora, he was also joined by one of the sport’s favourite daughters, with former Superboats race winner Teresa Parish jumping in alongside ‘Nutsy’ to guide the way in the annual ‘Colin Parish Memorial’ event named after her late father, a man who remains firmly in the hearts and minds of those that have been in the sport over the last decade.
In the end the pair were just 11 one thousandths faster than reigning AUS#1 Scott Krause (KAOS), and half a second up on points leader Mick Carroll (Excalibur).
Michael Cunningham was always expected to play a part and he proved the worth of a strong 2018 season, whilst a summer behind the wheel of a Sprintcar also paid dividends – to be shadowing the leading pack. By the close of the three qualifiers Cunningham was sixth and just three tenths off Carroll and sixth tenths up on race-winning New Zealander, Rob Coley.
Quick at home, Australia has proven a greater challenge for Coley, his twin-turbo Nissan powered package again causing him headaches, dramas which the team were ultimately unable to dial out before the finals.
Glenn ‘Spider’ Roberts was consistent again in ‘Blown Budget’ the Victorian never comfortable under lights, but he was within reach of the leaders and getting quicker with each run to be faster than Daniel de Voigt (Devo Racing) and the returning Paul Burgess (Daly Transport).
It’s always great to see new teams in the sport, so to have the ex-Krause supercharged machine return at the hands of Starr Kopa and Matt Foote gave the local fans another great focal point across the event, although the two rookies were forced to make their debut in ‘WIKID’ with just 70% throttle under the rules of the association, despite that they completed every run and turned in some respectable laps – in the end separated by just half a second..
Whilst the battle in Unlimited had the fans on their feet cheering, so too 400-Class where the championship has gone another level again in 2019.
Keith winner Paul Kelly (4Zero Racing) was keen to break his hoodoo at Temora, the Queenslander setting the top time in the opening session, but he would only qualify third behind former champion Ben Hathaway (Warren & Brown Tools Racing) and local favourite Justin Roylance.
Roylance was all smiles in his new ‘Outlaw67’ machine, having taken delivery of the ex-Peter Huijs Jetspeed hull – an identical unit to that which had taken Jody Ely to back-to-back wins at Temora in 2018. Four laps into his new mount and Roylance was the quickest man around Temora, his 43.100 three tenths faster than Hathaway, and an incredible seven tenths quicker than points leader Kelly – there looked to be a new outlaw in town..!
Behind the leading trio, two-time national champion Brett Thornton (2Obsessed) was nine tenths slower than Kelly, but faster than reigning champion Mark Garlick (Grumpy on Edge) and Temora specialist Ely (Rampage) who was struggling to find the sweet spot with his jet unit.
Seventh was Superboat veteran Greg Harriman (Pink Boots Racing), from Brendan Doyle (The Girlfriend), Hugh Gilchrist (Pink Boots Racing) and Ron O’Day (Agrovation), whilst Queenslanders Phil Weinthal and Peter Monger rounded out the 12 in Weinthal’s ‘Black Dog’.
With a season of competition under his belt and a strong run at Keith during the season-opener, Kyle Elphinstone (Blackout Racing) had a distinct advantage over his new LS-Class rivals at Temora, an advantage he pressed all day on his way to a comfortable top qualifying position – which in the end saw an advantage of more than four seconds.
The returning Graham Reynolds (Red Rum) was second, with former 400-Class driver and former 350-Class champion (2002) Andrew Medlicott (Gone Nutz Again) third in the ex-Justin Roylance Stingray. Rob Johnston (Almost There) set the fourth fastest time, from Robert Westerink (the Contractor), David Bray (Bear Necessities) and Lawrence Howlett (Drop Bear).
Photos: Russell Puckeridge, Pureart Creative Images
From the outset it was clear Stanley was the form boat in the Unlimited class, the local driver again went sub-40 seconds to set the bar in the opening final at 38.629, a full half second slower than his qualifying best, but still 1.8-seconds faster than Mullan much to the delight of the fans.
Daryl Hutton was keen to prove he had lost none of his race winning talent, the fire-breathing blue boat just a tenth slower than Mullan, but just half a second faster than Carroll, who had Cunningham close behind. Despite his challenge with the light, Glenn Roberts was next best, with a giant killing effort that dropped Rob Coley and local hero Scott Krause outside the top six, and into an early retirement.
Frustratingly for Coley, he missed the cut by just two tenths of a second, whilst he and Krause were joined on the bank by Burgess, de Voigt, Kopa (who turned in his best of the night) and Foote.
By Q2 Stanley had found his mojo again to break into the 37s, Mullan too going faster but sadly for the seven-time Australian champion, the margin changed by little, Stanley’s advantage still more than 1.5-seconds – light years in Superboat terms.
Looking like a new man in his role as sole-driver and team-boss of the ‘Excalibur’ operation, Mick Carroll also improved, and fortunately he did, as Michael Cunningham threw down a staggering final lap to improve by over a second to fall an agonising six one hundredths shy of a berth in the final three..
Sadly for Hutton and Teresa Parish though, despite having been faster than both Carroll and Cunningham heading into the second final, the ‘Phoenix Lubricants’ team found some extra for the Top 6, but despite setting a blistering opening split, Hutton clipped a corner too finely, spitting himself out of the track, and the final..
That left three, and after a dramatic conclusion to the opening round which saw both Stanley and Mullan strike trouble, the fans held their collective breaths as the final three set off for the last rotation.
Carroll was first out setting a safe and consistent 45.724 knowing he wasn’t able to take the fight to the top two. Mullan was next, but he too conceded that he wasn’t going to be able to break into the 37s and take the fight to Stanley, so he posted a time good enough for second, and sat to watch Stanley’s final run. And what a run it was.
Keen to impress upon Mullan and his rivals that he is the form driver of 2019, Stanley lowered the bar again in the JRE-powered machine to a 37.687 to close out the final with the fastest time of the night, a staggering 4.3-seconds faster than Mullan to take top points, and move into second in the championship, just four points behind the consistent Carroll.
Like the Unlimited class, the 400-Class battle was heating up, and straight out of the box Paul Kelly threw the gauntlet at his rivals, finding a staggering eight tenths of a second over his qualifying best to go P1.
Justin Roylance was unable to improve on his top qualifying effort, but fell only marginally short to be second in the opening final, seven tenths up on Hathaway who pipped Jody Ely for third by just six one hundredths of a second. Mark Garlick was not much further behind them showing strong pace in his new Stingray, whilst old foe Brett Thornton rounded out the six for the second final.
Sadly for Greg Harriman and Brendan Doyle, they both suffered navigational errors dropping them outside of the Top 6 alongside Hugh Gilchrist, Phil Weinthal, Ron O’Day and Peter Monger.
Whilst Kelly’s opening final time became the new benchmark, the points leader stepped things up in the Top 6 to lower the mark again by another three tenths of a second, tough news for his rivals, unless they could find wholesale time.
But that’s exactly what Jody Ely was able to achieve, finding a full second on his previous best to be just half a second shy of the Queenslander, but just half a second clear of Ben Hathaway who had also found some extra pace – the top three was set, and it was very much ‘game on’.
Sadly for reigning champion Mark Garlick, despite finding even more pace in his new mount, he fell two tenths shy of a position in the final three, but he managed to hold his advantage over Thornton, whilst for top qualifier Justin Roylance, he found the limits of grip with his new boat, which spat him out of the water briefly on one of the fastest parts of the circuit, prompting some serious head scratching post-run.
For Kelly, he put the top step out of question with another improvement in the final, the brilliant orange ‘4Zero Racing’ machine stopping the clocks with a stunning 42.038 to put his rivals on notice that this is his year, Ben Hathaway again finding great gains to be almost a full second faster than his Top 6 time, although frustratingly still half a second shy of Kelly, whilst Jody Ely came out of the throttle early, ending what had been a two-race winning streak at Temora.
The opening final of the LS-Class saw a repeat performance of qualifying, Kyle Elphinstone comfortably clear at the top, although slower than his qualifying best.
That allowed former 350-Class champion Andrew Medlicott a taste of a run at the top spot in the final having found an impressive 3.7-seconds during the dinner break. Graham Reynolds, Rob Johnston and Robert Westerink also carded a time, but only Medlicott and Reynolds would get a shot at the points leader in the final.
Ultimately neither were able to make an impression despite both setting their best times of the night, Elphinstone putting the top step of the podium out of reach with his 47.656 best to take his second win of the year over Medlicott (49.565) and Reynolds (51.212).
The Penrite Australian V8 Superboats Championships now returns to Cabarita Beach and the popular Tweed Coast Jet Sprint Club on the north coast of New South Wales for the third round of the season over two days on 15-16 June.
TOP 3 FINAL
1. 08. Slade Stanley/Vanessa Stanley (Hazardous) – 37.687
2. 1. Phonsy Mullan/Madeline Chorley (RAMJET) – 42.073
3. 41. Mick Carroll/Daniel Kelly (Excalibur) – 45.724
TOP 3 FINAL
400-Class (Group A)
1. 40. Paul Kelly/Naomi Gow (4Zero Racing) – 42.038
2. 2. Ben Hathaway/Lisa Oppes (Warren & Brown Tools Racing) – 42.459
3. 33. Jody Ely/Greg Blaz (Rampage) – 1:03.227
1. 219. Kyle Elphinstone/Ryan Burke (Blackout Racing) – 47.656
2. 62. Andrew Medlicott/Phil Shead (Gone Nutz Again) – 49.565
3. 17. Graham Reynolds/Chloe Reynolds (Red Rum) – 51.212
TOP 6 FINAL
1. 08. Slade Stanley/Vanessa Stanley (Hazardous) – 37.970
2. 1. Phonsy Mullan/Madeline Chorley (RAMJET) – 39.502
3. 41. Mick Carroll/Daniel Kelly (Excalibur) – 40.603
4. 10. Michael Cunningham/Narelle Grayland (True Blue) – 40.663
5. 888. Glenn Roberts/Tiarna McGifford (Blown Budget) – 43.190
6. 28. Daryl Hutton/Teresa Parish (Phoenix Lubricants) – DNF
400-Class (Group A)
1. 40. Paul Kelly/Naomi Gow (4Zero Racing) – 42.368
2. 33. Jody Ely/Greg Blaz (Rampage) – 42.935
3. 2. Ben Hathaway/Lisa Oppes (Warren & Brown Tools Racing) – 43.498
4. 1. Mark Garlick/Kerry Garlick (Grumpy On Edge) – 43.870
5. 53. Brett Thornton/Lyn Thornton (2Obsessed) – 44.135
6. 67. Justin Roylance/Tracey Little (Outlaw67) – 45.360
1. 219. Kyle Elphinstone/Ryan Burke (Blackout Racing) – 48.790
2. 62. Andrew Medlicott/Phil Shead (Gone Nutz Again) – 50.962
3. 17. Graham Reynolds/Chloe Reynolds (Red Rum) – 53.123
4. 114. Rob Johnston/Malakai Hia (Almost There) – 55.311
5. 64. Robert Westerink/Ben Gillespie (The Contractor) – 1:02.452
2019 Penrite Australian V8 Superboat Championships – Series Points
Unlimited Superboat (after round two of seven)
1. Mick Carroll (Excalibur) – 66-points, 2. Slade Stanley (Hazardous) – 62, 3. Phonsy Mullan (RAMJET) – 60, 4. Scott Krause (KAOS) – 53, 5. Rob Coley (Poison Ivy) – 50, 6. Michael Cunningham (True Blue) – 48, 6. Glenn Roberts (Blown Budget) – 48, 8. Daryl Hutton (Phoenix Lubricants) – 42, 9. Daniel deVoigt (Devo Racing) – 40, 10. Paul Burgess (Daly Transport) – 18, 11. Starr Kopa (Wikid) – 0, 11. Matt Foote (Wikid) – 0
400-Class (Group A) (after round two of seven)
1. Paul Kelly (4Zero Racing) – 72-points, 2. Jody Ely (Rampage) – 63, 3. Ben Hathaway (Warren & Brown Tools Racing) – 57, 4. Brett Thornton (2Obsessed) – 54, 5. Justin Roylance (Outlaw67) – 50, 6. Mark Garlick (Grumpy on Edge) – 42, 7. Greg Harriman (Pink Boots Racing) – 40, 8. Ron O’Day (Agrovation) – 38, 9. Brendan Doyle (The Girlfriend) – 34, 9. Hugh Gilchrist (Pink Boots Racing) – 34, 11. Daniel Salter (The Hustler) – 30, 12. Peter Monger (Black Dog) – 20, 13. Phil Weinthal (Black Dog) – 12, 13. Andrew Medlicott (Gone Nutz Again) – 12
LS-Class (after round two of seven)
1. Kyle Elphinstone (Blackout Racing) – 72-points, 2. Andrew Medlicott (Gone Nutz Again) – 33, 3. Graham Reynolds (Red Rum) – 30, 4. Rob Johnston (Almost There) – 28, 5. Robert Westerink (The Contractor) – 26, 6. David Bray (Bear Necessities) – 24, 7. Lawrence Howlett (Drop Bear) – 22