The big news at the close of the Australian V8 Superboat Championships 2021 season was the retirement of former Unlimited Superboat champion Slade Stanley. The two-time World Champion had been the benchmark in the sport for much of the last three years, but business and family commitments forced him to call time on his racing, leaving a big void at the top of the timesheets.
Perhaps the most frustrating element of Stanley’s announcement was that we would never get to see a head-to-head fight between the man billed as the ‘fastest in the world’ and eight-time Australian Champion Phonsy Mullan.
Coming to Cabarita though, a repeat rotation gave teams an opportunity to gauge themselves against a known rotation, organisers choosing to adopt the very same navigation that was used during the third round of the 2021 season last June. The Unlimited benchmark at that event, Slade Stanley with a 41.108, a time he set in the opening elimination final before inverting the ‘Hazardous’ machine next time out – whether he would have improved that mark, we will never know, although he conceded that he was often at the limit of the boat, so it was certainly a mark to chase.
Not surprisingly, Mullan was intent on breaking that mark, turning in some stunning laps to ultimately improve it in the second qualifier, then break into the 40s the next time out. From that point on it was all about improving the setup of his ‘PULSE’ hull, before finishing with a flourish, his 40.253 in the final – a full three seconds faster than his June 2021 time – a statement that the reigning World Champion had finally returned to the throne.
With Mullan stepping up to fill the seat vacated by Stanley, teams now had a new benchmark to chase, but with little changing for any of his rivals, improvements over their last run at Cabarita on the same venue were always going to be incremental. That said, Daryl Hutton (#28) and Scott Krause (#37) both found wholesale improvement, Hutton improving to a 42.927 in the fourth qualifier after battling boost issues early, whilst Krause also found almost a second on his 2021 best, to card a 43.766 in the final qualifier.
Whilst the ‘usual contenders’ were vying for a position on the podium alongside Mullan, perhaps the greatest threat was former Unlimited race winner Tremayne Jukes (#214). Initially slated as Driver Coach for Brendan Doyle and the ‘Girlfriend’ team, Jukes found himself in the driver’s seat on Saturday morning after the boat’s original pilot Paul Gaston failed to make clearance with the specified distance between the top of his helmet and the roll cage.
Originally scheduled to play a part of the new 400-Class methanol development project, the ‘PULSE” team elected instead to enter Jukes in Unlimited to see how the new engine package shaped up, the alloy heads and methanol injection system powering the Victorian to the third fastest time at the close of the opening elimination final, his 44.018 slotting him in behind Mullan and Hutton, before a setback in the Top 6.
Running on a pace that would have seen him on the podium, Jukes was shaving millimetres off every bank to make up for his performance deficit before grabbing just a little too much mid run, his pirouette off an island now the stuff of legend, the boat spinning a full 360 degrees to land back in the water where Jukes kept the boot in to continue his rotation. The only setback.. the contact had thrown him off navigation, so he was forced to complete one part of the circuit again and right the wrong, but sadly, that put the clock against him.
All the while this was falling into the hands of Cabarita regular Glenn ‘Spider’ Roberts (#888). The ‘Blown Budget’ driver had arrived in the region some days ahead of the round to finalise work on his 632 cubic-inch big block to be fully prepared for the season, but early in the event he suffered a DNF, with a rocker arm issue forcing a hasty overnight rebuild at the track Saturday night, assisted by rivals Daryl Hutton and Scott Krause. By Sunday morning he was finally able to card a time, then maintain his pace into the final six, where he stepped things up to a 46.937 to qualify for the final alongside Mullan and Krause after the setbacks suffered by Edmonds, Hutton, Coley, and Jukes in the second elimination final, the Unlimited veteran carding a safe 49.831 to make a popular return to the Cabarita final.
No-one though could touch Mullan, his final lap one of the best you’ll see, whilst for Krause, his consistency saw him claim second and a strong haul of championship points, Roberts, Jukes, Coley, Hutton, and Edmonds completing the championship order.
All photographs; Russell Puckeridge, Pureart Creative Images.
2022 Australian V8 Superboat Championships
Rnd#1 – Tweed Coast, NSW – 23-24 July 2022
Rnd#2 – Tweed Coast, NSW – 27-28 August 2022
Rnd#3 – Keith, SA – 8 October 2022
Rnd#4 – Temora, NSW – 5 November 2022 (Colin Parish Memorial)
Rnd#5 – Temora, NSW – 3 December 2022
Rnd#6 – Griffith, NSW – 11 February 2023
Rnd#7 [FINAL] – Keith, SA – 25 March 2023