After a strong start to the 2022 Australian V8 Superboats Championship at Cabarita in mid-July, the series returned to the popular coastal venue for round two, with one of the biggest fields of entries in many seasons, promising two more outstanding delays of competition – and the drivers didn’t fail to deliver.
Reigning World and Australian Unlimited Superboat Champion Phonsy Mullan came under fire from New Zealanders Daryl Hutton and Rob Coley, but again prevailed to claim his second win of the season, whilst his 19-year old son Bastian – the reigning LS-Class Champion – faced his own battle for victory, but again drove away from his rivals in the final for another convincing win.
Whilst the Mullan’s added to their victory tallies, in 400-Class, their team-mate and points leader Jody Ely faced his own reckoning, reigning champion Justin Roylance, and 2019 champion Paul Kelly firing broadsides at the points leader all weekend, but come finals time, Ely was the last man standing, again joined by Brendan Doyle and Danny Knappick on the podium. Meanwhile, 2021 Junior Development champion Koby Bourke again claimed top honours over Connor Smith.
A dramatic change to the navigation for the weekend caught a number of teams by surprise, the stop-start nature of the rotation very different to those used in the past causing a number of boats to lose direction mid run, but whilst it provided more directional miscues, the tricky navigation also provided some of the closest racing we’d seen in many seasons, a welcome change for the fans who had become accustomed to seeing wins measured in seconds rather than tenths.
Like the opening round, the weekend was not without incident, Justin Roylance and Darrin Kesper suffering big offs during the elimination finals, both clipping banks – and as a result earned themselves notoriety on Queensland news reports Sunday night – Roylance flipping the boat which rolled over in the channel but landed right side up, whilst Kesper clipped the entry to the spinout pool and sunk ‘Let’s Boogie’ as a result. Fortunately in both situations, neither crew was injured.
For the race teams, focus now turns south with the remaining five rounds of the season to be held between the New South Wales Riverina and Keith’s popular Spitwater Arena which will host the third round of the season on Saturday, October 8.
The big news ahead of the second round was the return of the mighty ‘Hazardous’ hull of 2019 champion Slade Stanley, and the appearance of Rob Coley’s stunning new twin-turbo Nissan V8 powered ‘Poison Ivy’, both teams threatening to take the fight to points leader Phonsy Mullan.
The second round saw teams facing a very different rotation to that they’d contested in July, and it was a rotation that caught many by surprise. Reactions were mixed, although one big criticism was that it didn’t flow, although the reality was each and every team was faced with the same navigation, and for a lot of the teams, it took a long while to commit to memory, in fact most drivers made navigational errors..
For many, the big question was just how quickly former champion Daryl Hutton would settle into ‘Hazardous’ a boat he’d battled against for a number of seasons, and whilst cautious to make predictions, the racer in him was dying to see whether it would help him take the fight to Mullan.. the answer was a resounding yes!
Fast from the outset, Hutton was staggered just how fast 800-horsepower would take him from point to point, the nimble ‘Stinger’ setting an impressive opening qualifying time, before Hutton found his mojo to really push the boat to see what it could do, getting to within nine tenths of a second of Mullan by Q2, before both pushed even harder ahead of the finals, Mullan setting the benchmark at a 40.589, Hutton’s best a 42.128.
Behind them Rob Coley was having an horrendous time just getting a lap on the board, and by the close of Saturday’s three qualifiers, he’d carded just a 55.604. Come Sunday morning though he’d settled into the rotation and jumped into the 45s alongside Scott Krause and Tremayne Jukes.
By the finals things got serious, Mullan faced with a storming Daryl Hutton, the expat Kiwi charging to the top spot with a best of 42.347, Mullan a 42.549, but perhaps the biggest surprise was Glenn ‘Spider’ Roberts who had overcome an oil pump issue on the eve of the event to be last to arrive at the circuit, his 45.043 moving him to third at the close of the opening elimination round ahead of Jukes, Krause and Coley.
Sadly for the new owner of the ‘Hazardous’ machine – Chris Edmonds – he suffered a tough weekend, a last-minute dash to bolt his LSA into his new ’Stinger’ hull leaving him with some question about how well the package would work, and in the end, it turns out that his fuel system had been compromised with debris in the fuel lines forcing him to run on as few as five cylinders during the later rounds, ultimately eliminating him from the finals. Some more homework on his return to base will see the boat ready for its next event, although for the coming round, Edmonds fully expects to make his own debut behind the wheel of ‘Hazardous’..
Mullan meanwhile found form in the second elimination final to top the timesheets, a 40.762 within a tenth of his best of the day, whilst Hutton went quicker again to card a 41.862. With elimination a very real threat, Rob Coley chose the perfect time to nail the rotation, the New Zealander finding four seconds to jump straight into the final with an impressive 42.159.
Behind them Scott Krause and Tremayne Jukes turned up the wick, both nailing a 44.05, Krause though six one thousandths of a second faster to claim P4, whilst for Glenn Roberts, he was the only one not to improve, a 46.0 dropping him back to sixth.
Rob Coley was first out in the final and he knew he’d need something special if he was going to take the fight to Mullan and Hutton, and his lap was impressive given the fact it was only his fifth lap all weekend on the correct rotation, a 41.807 putting his rivals on notice that they’d need to push that little bit harder.
Hutton was next out and whilst getting more and more comfortable in the ‘Hazardous’ hull, he was also playing with a level of caution, keen to ensure he didn’t put the package in any jeopardy as he went after Coley. Half a second down at the first split, he was closing the gap over the final rotation but rode the bank at the exit of the final 90-degree right-hander, losing valuable tenths to ultimately cross the line with a 43.524 – 1.7-seconds down on his Top 6 best.
Then it was down to points leader Phonsy Mullan, the reigning champion knowing just what he needed to do to take the win, and whilst admitting afterwards that he could have gone quicker, he played it safe with a 41.082, half a second down on his best, but eight tenths quicker than Coley to claim his second win of the season.
Phonsy Mullan; “This track direction was a bit treacherous, I was hoping to clock a 39 but played it safe in the end and got it home, but still good enough to take the win by eight tenths of a second which was a fair margin, but I think we could have gapped a fair bit more – realistically it wasn’t my best lap, but it got the job done.”
400-CLASS (GROUP A)
With 2019 champion Paul Kelly back in the saddle, 400-Class was poised to be a four-horse race for top honours with Brendan Doyle also looking to take the fight to 2021 title contenders Justin Roylance and Jody Ely.
It started perfectly for the returning Greg Harriman, the V8 Superboats veteran back in the seat after a long break and whilst many of his rivals failed to perfect the navigation, ‘Apache’ topped the unofficial practice lap times by more than seven seconds over Danny Knappick and Daniel Warburton, whilst Jody Ely messed up the rotation, and Justin Roylance failed to even make it into the boat after dislocating his back on the way to the circuit.. The discomfort so intense that the team needed to go looking for a physio..
Navigation continued to be the big issue throughout the qualifiers, but by the end of five rounds it was clear that it would again be a battle between 2021 title rivals Roylance and Ely, the pair more than half a second up on the next best – emerging contender, Brendan Doyle – who was all smiles after having out-qualified former champion Paul Kelly, albeit by just six one thousandths of a second.
Roylance had set the benchmark during Saturday afternoon’s final qualifier despite ongoing back pain with a best of 45.684, but had dropped his pace on Sunday morning. That opened the door for points leader Jody Ely who crept into the high 45s, whilst Brendan Doyle closed the qualifiers with the third fastest time from Paul Kelly, Danny Knappick, Greg Harriman, Darrin Kesper and Daniel Warburton.
The first final though became what could well be the key moment in the Championship, reigning champion Justin Roylance enduring a wild ride across the islands on the final run to the line after running wide on the final 90 degree right hander, which put him off line for the zig-zag home, clipping the first island as a result of being too wide, before heading straight across the second which pitched the ‘Spitwater’ machine sideways into the channel. A fast rollover doused both driver and navigator, before the boat righted itself to the cheers of the big Cabarita crowd, but for the Roylance team, it was game over and their exit in the first elimination final.
Unfortunately they weren’t to be the only ones to exit the Top 12 final, Darrin Kesper and new navigator Reece Meanwell suffering a scary moment in the pit pool after clipping the bank on the run in. The boat spun into the pool backwards causing a big wave of water which filled the back of the boat, immediately sinking it in chest deep water. Fortunately the safety crew were quickly on the scene to release driver and navigator, but not before a few anxious moments as they disappeared below the waterline. Both were okay, but the result of the incident also saw them forced to retire despite having qualified for the second final.
With Jody Ely leading the charge in the second final, all eyes were on Brendan Doyle and Paul Kelly to take the fight to the ‘Rampage’ machine. Doyle turned in a 47.19 to get within half a second, although he was seven tenths down on his best, whilst for Kelly, his return to the sport and debut with the new methanol injection system saw a setback on the ramp..
Unable to start the boat to complete his lap, the team returned to the tent to discover the gasket beneath the air filter had come apart and fallen into the throttle body, jamming it wide open – by that stage though it was all over. Despite the setback, Kelly was all smiles, pondering just why he hadn’t continued to compete over past seasons, such is the rush of circulating in a V8 Superboat..
With Kelly and Roylance eliminated, that allowed Danny Knappick and the ‘Tuff’n Up’ crew through to the final, and despite taking a more relaxed approach into the final they improved their best again to a 49.654, although they were faced with Jody Ely’s best of the weekend, a stellar 45.815.
Brendan Doyle emerged last of the contenders, the ‘PULSE’ team very happy with their performance after claiming third during the opening round, Doyle this time getting to within tenths of the outright contenders to flag his position in the title race, his 46.761 three tenths down on his best, but less than a second slower than Ely, promising an epic close to the season with four outright contenders fighting for championship victory.
Jody Ely; “That was a great weekend actually. Two on the trot, it’s looking good. Getting your head around the rotation was pretty tricky, even in the finals the shadows changed, the islands looked a little different, it forced you to second guess yourself sometimes but we had a few little issues with the boat, but others had their own issues – we don’t like to talk about that but it happens from time to time.”
The LS-Class has proven to be the perfect tonic for the growth of V8 Superboats, 18-entries pencilled in for the second round, 17 teams actually making the line after the late withdrawal of Darren Pollard’s ‘Disturbed’, and the big field – which included three rookie teams – didn’t fail to entertain.
Like the Unlimited and 400-Class fields, the rotation closed up the advantage the points leaders had enjoyed during the opening round, Bastian Mullan having to work very hard for the round win, with former champion Kyle Elphinstone, Matt Malthouse and West Australian Daniel Salter throwing their hats into the ring for the outright win.
In the end, it was Elphinstone who top qualified with a best of 44.232 in Sunday’s final session to Bastian Mullan’s 44.397. Daniel Salter’s Cabarita debut netted a best of 45.964 in Q4, whilst Matt Malthouse played his conservative best with a 46.316 in Q5 to comfortably qualify for the finals. Nate Mullan was fifth fastest at the close of qualifying with a best of 47.064, with Cabarita specialist Paul Hill rounding out the six with a 53.030, although despite his experience at the circuit he was struggling to put a time on the board after a string of ‘wrong ways’.
Lawrie Howlett was another that was battling to get a time on the board, ‘Drop Bear’ however taking the seventh fastest time heading into the finals, ahead Tyler O’Day and Jim Beaman with Noel Verning an impressive tenth in just his second ever V8 Superboats event, splitting the son-and-father ‘Agro-Vation’ team with Ron O’Day 11th.
Mike Hessell qualified 12th in ‘Borrowed Time’ ahead of Lance Edmonds on his debut with ‘Solid Gold’, whilst Rodney Norton grabbed 14th from Jade Atchison who made an impressive recovery from a testing crash at Temora earlier in the year, this event her first back behind the wheel and she drove with great maturity to focus on getting comfortable in her new ‘Twisted’ hull and recorded a string of correct navigations to be on the tail of the top ten.
Sadly for the new ‘The Spartan’ team of Luke Walters, they suffered the teething problems experienced by so many teams in their formative events, the crew working tirelessly throughout Saturday to overcome a starter issue, in the end firing the boat late on Saturday to be ready for Sunday’s final two qualifiers. The boat looked great on the water, and Walters settled into a comfortable rhythm, but four lost sessions on a testing rotation saw them fail to get the navigation right, although you’d never have known it with the broad smiles the team were wearing on Sunday night – another team bitten by the V8 Superboats bug!
With just 12 boats qualifying for the first elimination final, Hessell, Lance Edmonds, Norton, Atchison and Walters were forced to watch the finals from the bank.
Sadly for Jim Beaman – who was a top six contender throughout season 2021 – he suffered an issue in the pit pool with the engine flaming out, a quick return to the trailer and he was good to go for his run, but the setback had clearly upset his momentum, the ‘JB Racing’ machine suffering a ‘wrong way’ which ultimately dropped him outside the six, joining Mitch Curtis, Noel Verning, Ron O’Day, Tyler O’Day and Lawrie Howlett on the bank.
For Paul Hill, he was looking to find a return to form after a horror run through the qualifiers. A rebuilt boat after his contact with the barriers at ‘Bennies’ during the opening round had him full of confidence, but he’d struggled to card more than one competitive lap prior to his impressive Top 12 run, but no sooner had he found form than it departed, another navigational error in the Top 6 keeping him outside the final three.
That left Nate Mullan and West Australian Daniel Salter who was keen to make it through to the final, both falling just shy, Mullan carding a 45.817 – his best of the event – to Salter’s 45.561. The benchmark, Matt Malthouse’s 45.443..
By this stage it was tight between Bastian Mullan and Kyle Elphinstone – Elphinstone on top in the first elimination final with a 44.780 to Mullan’s 44.828, Mullan turning the tables in the second final to card a 44.085 to Elphinstone’s 44.994 which brought them to the final where they knew Malthouse was capable of finding just a little bit extra.
Malthouse was out first and as expected he kept his best till last but could only improve to a 45.364. Elphinstone was next out, and he found seven tenths over his Top 6 time to card a 44.293 and put Mullan on notice, but the teenager was ready, and as he had done through the closing rounds of the 2021 season, and the 2022 season opener, he stepped up another level again to record a stunning 43.746 to put the result completely out of question.
Bastian Mullan; “It was good competition, me and Kyle [Elphinstone] were going at it all day, so in the top three I just had to put down a lap and got a 43.7 so only four tenths up on him, but it was a good run.”
After making his junior Development debut last time out, Connor Smith was back into the action at Keith looking to close some ground on reigning champion Koby Bourke. Like their senior counterparts, they too had a challenging rotation (although shorter in length), but aside from having to right any wrongs during their runs, Smith suffered just a single DNF whilst Bourke completed every rotation.
In the end the experienced points leader set the mark in the qualifiers at a 50.412 to Smith’s 59.476, Smith improving by more than a second in the final to a 58.232 to Bourke’s 51.503.
For the Australian V8 Superboats Championship presented by Penrite the teams prepare to return to Keith – the scene of the 2021 final earlier this year, for the third round of the season on October 8.
For fans of the Penrite Australian V8 Superboats Championship, they can catch all the action on 7mate and 7+ (Rnd#1 airs on Saturday, 24 September on 7mate). We will also post updates on social media channels with respect to on air times.
Rnd#2 2022 Australian V8 Superboats Championship presented by Penrite
Tweed Valley Jet Sprint Club, Cabarita Beach, NSW
27-28 August, 2022
TOP 3 FINAL
1. 23. Phonsy Mullan/Leigh Stuart (RAMJET) – 41.082
2. 111. Rob Coley/Scott Munro (Poison Ivy) – 41.807
3. 28. Daryl Hutton/Mick Parry (Phoenix Lubricants) – 43.524
400-Class (Group A)
1. 33. Jody Ely/Olivia Parnis (Rampage) – 45.815
2. 4. Brendan Doyle/Rory Doyle (PULSE) – 46.761
3. 45. Danny Knappick/Darren Tickell (Tuff’n Up) – 49.654
1. 1A. Bastian Mullan/Tahleah James (RIPSHIFT) – 43.746
2. 219. Kyle Elphinstone/Jacob Bellamy (Blackout Racing) – 44.293
3. 69. Matt Malthouse/Leighton Collins (Nood Nutz) – 45.364
1. 97A. Koby Bourke (Lil Pyscho) – 51.503
2. 97B. Connor Smith (Lil Pyscho) – 58.232
* different circuit rotation to other classes
TOP 6 FINAL
1. 23. Phonsy Mullan/Leigh Stuart (RAMJET) – 40.762
2. 28. Daryl Hutton/Mick Parry (Phoenix Lubricants) – 41.862
3. 111. Rob Coley/Scott Munro (Poison Ivy) – 42.159
4. 37. Scott Krause/Rachel Parsons (KAOS) – 44.052
5. 214. Tremayne Jukes/Tracey Little (The Girlfriend) – 44.058
6. 888. Glenn Roberts/Tia McGifford (Blown Budget) – 46.023
400-Class (Group A)
1. 33. Jody Ely/Olivia Parnis (Rampage) – 46.619
2. 4. Brendan Doyle/Rory Doyle (PULSE) – 47.190
3. 45. Danny Knappick/Darren Tickell (Tuff’n Up) – 57.299
4. 360. Greg Harriman/Wendy Wheelhouse (Apache) – 71.245
5. 40. Paul Kelly/Naomi Gow (4Zero Racing) – DNS
6. 43. Darrin Kesper/Reece Meanwell (Let’s Boogie) – DNS
1. 1A. Bastian Mullan/Tahleah James (RIPSHIFT) – 44.085
2. 219. Kyle Elphinstone/Jacob Bellamy (Blackout Racing) – 44.994
3. 69. Matt Malthouse/Leighton Collins (Nood Nutz) – 45.443
4. 26. Daniel Salter/Mitchell Hade (The Hustler) – 45.561
5. 1B. Nate Mullan/Jayden Vella (RIPSHIFT) – 45.817
6. 512. Paul Hill/Alex Singleton (Slicer) – DNF
TOP 12 FINAL
1. 28. Daryl Hutton/Mick Parry (Phoenix Lubricants) – 42.347
2. 23. Phonsy Mullan/Leigh Stuart (RAMJET) – 42.549
3. 888. Glenn Roberts/Tia McGifford (Blown Budget) – 45.043
4. 214. Tremayne Jukes/Tracey Little (The Girlfriend) – 45.228
5. 37. Scott Krause/Rachel Parsons (KAOS) – 45.309
6. 111. Rob Coley/Scott Munro (Poison Ivy) – 46.993
7. 169. Chris Edmonds/Jamie Maroney (4PLAY) – ww
400-Class (Group A)
1. 40. Paul Kelly/Naomi Gow (4Zero Racing) – 45.812
2. 33. Jody Ely/Olivia Parnis (Rampage) – 45.917
3. 4. Brendan Doyle/Rory Doyle (PULSE) – 48.096
4. 360. Greg Harriman/Wendy Wheelhouse (Apache) – 50.370
5. 45. Danny Knappick/Darren Tickell (Tuff’n Up) – 50.881
6. 43. Darrin Kesper/Reece Meanwell (Let’s Boogie) – 52.792
7. 81. Daniel Warburton/Ryan Loft (Team Attitude) – 54.434
8. 67. Justin Roylance/Tracey Little (Outlaw67) – DNF
1. 219. Kyle Elphinstone/Jacob Bellamy (Blackout Racing) – 44.780
2. 1A. Bastian Mullan/Tahleah James (RIPSHIFT) – 44.828
3. 69. Matt Malthouse/Leighton Collins (Nood Nutz) – 45.642
4. 26. Daniel Salter/Mitchell Hade (The Hustler) – 45.960
5. 512. Paul Hill/Alex Singleton (Slicer) – 46.854
6. 1B. Nate Mullan/Jayden Vella (RIPSHIFT) – 46.868
7. 14. Lawrie Howlett/Karen Howlett (Drop Bear) – 47.799
8. 29B. Tyler O’Day/Xavier Jackson (Agro-Vation) – 49.356
9. 29A. Ron O’Day/Paris O’Day (Agro-Vation) – 50.541
10. 269. Noel Verning/Nathan Garrett (Quiet Time) – 50.868
11. 248. Mitch Curtis/Georgia Aungle (Smoke & Mirror) – 51.870
12. 46. Jim Beaman/Harrison Collins (JB Racing) – 55.619