After a four month absence, the Australian V8 Superboats Championships will fire up a new season on March 4, with the opening round of 2017 – the Colin Parish Memorial – under lights at the popular Lake Centenary facility in Temora.
Leading the charge will be four-time Unlimited Superboat champion Phonsy Mullan, the Victorian looking to continue his record breaking winning-streak in the vibrant yellow ‘RAMJET’ machine complete with the naturally-aspirated Chevrolet LS527ci alloy V8 with which he dominated the final two rounds of the 2016 season – interestingly, at Temora.
“I’ve had a really busy off-season with GM Motorsport, so haven’t had the time I was hoping to develop our next twin-turbo machine, so for the first half of the season at least we’ll run with the 527,” Mullan confirmed.
“I expect the competition will be pretty tough this year, but the plan is to be the first team to rack up five consecutive titles, so we’ll be going all out to make sure that happens!”
With a winning-record the envy of competitors all over the world, there’s no question Mullan starts favourite, but he won’t have it all his own way. Amongst the challengers who can take the fight to Mullan is Tremayne Jukes. The popular Victorian has been instrumental in the development of many championship winning packages across the years, but it’s wasn’t until part way through season 2016 that he had a boat capable of running at the front consistently.
“I’d always been looking after boats for other people, and if business commitments got in the way I’d sit out an event or two, but I thought last year, it was time to actually get in and have a proper go myself, so I picked up a package which I felt could do the job!”
That package was none other than the multi-race winning powerhouse of Dean Finch – ‘Loose Canon’. In a new guise as ‘Maniac’ the twin-turbo Chevrolet V8 with awesome horsepower (think north 1000bhp) saw Jukes a regular on the Unlimited podium, and this year he has every chance of being a title contender, but he concedes that he’ll need plenty of laps under his belt to match the pace of Mullan.
Sadly the opening round at Temora will be without former Group A world champion Slade Stanley, the Wagga local still recovering from the incident which eliminated he and wife Vanessa at Temora’s 2016 final despite showing race winning pace – a busy off-season has meant that he too still needs time to effect repairs and update ‘Hazardous’ for a return in the middle of the year.
Tony Giustozzi and Mick Carroll though will return, the two Adelaide locals are always crowd pleasers at Temora, Carroll still recognised by the crowd as holding the mantel of the two best crashes the locals have ever seen at Lake Centenary. Always front runners, and never scared to push the limits, ‘Excalibur’ will once more be right in the battle for the podium, and are every chance to unseat Mullan for the top spot.
Dual Australian Unlimited champion Daryl Hutton is another who will be in the mix, the New Zealander another driver who is a great entertainer, and always on the limit, whilst Victorian brothers Ted and Darek Sygidus too are expected to be quick with the two former Australian Formula Jet Sprint Association [AFJSA] committee members stepping down to focus on their racing. With two V8 Superboat titles between them, and countless podiums, they could be the ‘dark horses’ in the field..
The talent though doesn’t end there.. Jeremy Kincaid will be back in his 302ci supercharged Ford, the Victorian doing impressive things last season to be right in the podium mix, whilst Canberra’s Paul Burgess and Queensland’s Daniel deVoigt also showed impressive pace last year.
The local fans will have plenty to cheer about with the return of Scott Krause in ‘Soak’n Fused’ – but wait, there’s more..
Glenn ‘Spider’ Roberts is another who will make a return, with his big-block V8 powered ‘Blown Budget’ but this time around he will have company, with reigning Unlimited Superboat world #3 and New Zealand ‘Rookie of the Year’ Aaron Hansen joining him as ‘B’ team, the New Zealander signalling that he will also complete the full season in the Australian Championships.
In the 400-Class there is also likely to be plenty of fireworks, with 2016 champion Brett Thornton likely to have lots of competition to contend with.
Former rival Brooke Lucas has stepped down for season 2017, but with the retirement of one former champion comes the return of another, with multiple V8 Superboat title holder Mark Garlick returning in ‘Grumpy’. The 2015 400-Class champion sat out much of the last 12-months after a relatively strong showing in the world championships in New Zealand, the Queenslander admitting that the experience had given him some great insight on how to improve his performances, signalling some tough battles for the top of the Group A standings.
Justin Roylance is another who is expected to challenge for the top spot in 2017, the boy from Forbes has been a regular contender over recent years, but has suffered at times from mechanical issues. With a brand new JRE powerplant and an all-new JRE hull for season 2017, Roylance and Outlaw Team Spitfire could be serious title contenders.
Throw in Queenslander Paul Kelly who is looking to contest the full program in 2017, Ben Hathway in the ex-True Blue Racing Sprintec that delivered multiple championship wins to Brooke Avenell, Victorian Jody Ely and ‘Pangaea Floors’ pilot Greg Harriman, and you have a strong field of drivers that will be sure to keep fans on the edge of their seats.
It’s great too to see a strong group of returning rookies who are looking to build on their maiden events in 2016, whilst fans will watch with interest the resurgent 350-Class which has now been combined with the new LS V8 class, a structure developed around cost-controlled budgets to keep racing affordable at an introductory level.
For the season opener, three teams are entered in the new category with Ivan Safranek (Katana) doing battle with Graham and Kyle Reynolds who will share driving duties in ‘RedRum/Spider Racing’.
For new AFJSA President Grant Bourke, the start of the 2017 season will see a welcome return to racing. “There is always plenty of action in the first round after a long break. It takes a while for the drivers to get their heads back into the game after the off season.”
The opening round of the 2017 Australian V8 Superboat Championships will be a day-night event at Lake Centenary in Temora, with gates opening at 3:00pm and qualifying rounds getting underway from 4:00pm. The circuit is located at Lake Centenary, 3-kilometres north of Temora on Barmedman Road – diagonally opposite Temora Airport.
For those of you unable to make the event, this weekend a range of interviews and videos will be made available via www.facebook.com/V8Superboats
where results and updates will also be posted, but if you live in the area, do yourself a big favour, and drop down to Lake Centenary to take in some of the action live, you certainly won’t be disappointed!
Rnd#1 2017 Australian V8 Superboats Championships
Lake Centenary, Temora NSW
(4 March, 2017)
1. Phonsy Mullan/Kelsie Gill (RAMJET)
15. Tremayne Jukes/Kianna Lucas (Maniac)
18. Paul Burgess/Matt Foote (Daly Transport)
28. Daryl Hutton/Mick Parry (American Importers)
37. Scott Krause/Narelle Pellow-Djukic (Soak’n Fused)
86. Daniel deVoigt/Vicki Burrell (Devo 2)
93A. Mick Carroll/Lochie Warner (Excalibur)
93B. Tony Giustozzi/Damian O’Leary (Excalibur)
302. Jeremy Kincaid/Miles Kincaid (Rogue Racing)
888A. Glenn Roberts/Paul Hill (Blown Budget)
888B. Aaron Hansen/Julia-Anne Shanks (Blown Budget)
999A. Darek Sygidus/Austin Gill (Frankensztain)
999B. Ted Sygidus/Braydon Munro (Frankensztain)
400 CLASS (GROUP A)
12. Ben Hathaway/Lisa Oppes (Weapon)
33. Jody Ely/Greg Blaz (Rampage)
40. Paul Kelly/Matthew Gow (PK Racing)
53. Brett Thornton/Lyn Thornton (2Obsessed)
66. Brad Marsden/Mark Oakley (Allcott Transformer)
67. Justin Roylance/Joel Duggan (Outlaw)
70. Clint Ruby/tbc (Dirty Deeds)
95. Mark Garlick/Kerry Garlick (Grumpy)
360A. Greg Harriman/Sammy Leonard (Pangaea Floors)
360B. Hugh Gilchrist/Jessica Gilchrist (Pangaea Floors)
7. Ivan Safranek/Scott Lane (Katana)
17A. Graham Reynolds/Kyle Reynolds (RedRum/Spider Racing)
17B. Kyle Reynolds/Graham Reynolds (RedRum/Spider Racing)
Saturday, 4 March;
3:00pm – Gates Open
4:00pm – Qualifying #1 (45-minutes)
4:45pm – Qualifying #2 (45-minutes)
5:30pm – Qualifying #3 (45-minutes)
6:15pm – Qualifying #4 (45-minutes)
7:00pm – Dinner break (sunset – 60-minutes)
8:00pm – Top 12 Finals (all classes)
8:50pm – Top 6 Finals (all classes)
9:40pm – FINALS (all classes)
2016 Australian V8 Superboat Championships
Unlimited Superboat (after round seven of seven)
1. Phonsy Mullan (RAMJET) – 216 points, 2. Daryl Hutton (American Automotive) – 185, 3. Darek Sygidus (Frankenzstain) – 161, 4. Ted Sygidus (Frankenzstain) – 146, 5. Paul Burgess (Daly Transport) – 132, 6. Tony Giustozzi (Excalibur) – 132, 7. Tremayne Jukes (Maniac) – 123, 8. Mick Carroll (Excalibur) – 112, 9. Jeremy Kincaid (Rogue) – 106, 10. Jamie Welch (Natwel Racing) – 100
400-Class (Group A) (adjusted points after round seven of seven)
1. Brett Thornton (2Obsessed) – 207-points, 2. Brooke Lucas (Trouble Maker) – 196, 3. Mitch Roylance (Black Jack) – 182, 4. Greg Harriman (Pangaea Floors) – 156, 5. Jody Ely (Rampage) – 152, 6. Ben Hathaway (Weapon) – 144, 7. Justin Roylance (Outlaw) – 135, 8. David Moodie (Jackhammer) – 126, 9. Brad Marsden (Allcott Transformer) – 88, 10. Kevin Laugesen (Spanet) – 80
2017 Australian V8 Superboat Championships
Rnd#1 – 4 March, Temora (NSW) – Colin Parish Memorial Trophy – day/night
Rnd#2 – 25 March, Keith (SA) – Diesel & Dirt Derby
Rnd#3 – 15 April, Griffith (NSW) – day/night
Rnd#4 – 27-28 May, Tweed Coast (NSW) – day
Rnd#5 – 26-27 August, Tweed Coast (NSW) – day
Rnd#6 – 23 September, Temora (NSW) – day/night
Rnd#7 – 28-29 October, Temora (NSW) [FINAL] – day
Photo: Russell Puckeridge, Pureart Creative Images