After much hype ahead of the opening round of the 2023/24 Penrite Australian V8 Superboats Championship, the Temora event more than delivered with some fantastic on-track action and more drama than we’d seen in over a year, as a number of pre-season favourites suffered setbacks during qualifying, before the finals were shortened to just a single run after a number of delays.
Ultimately it was situation normal in the Unlimited category despite some spirited competition, reigning Champion Phonsy Mullan emerging with the quickest time, his closest rival – New Zealand #1 Rob Coley – eliminated in the final qualifier after his throttle stuck wide open launching the boat off the track. Damage to the boat amounted to a towel off afterwards, but for navigator Scott Munro he suffered a back injury and was transported to hospital, fortunately in good spirits, although he is expected to be out of the seat for the foreseeable future.
The delay to extricate Munro safely from the boat followed by a second delay to remove a family of ducklings from the course saw the cancellation of the second and third finals, the round declared after the Top 12 with Mullan claiming the win from former Champions Scott Krause and Daryl Hutton, the pair separated by just four one thousandths of a second!
In 400-Class the expected battle between New Zealand’s reigning World Champion Ollie Silverton and the top two drivers in Australia – Brendan Doyle and Jody Ely – more than delivered, Doyle setting a cracking early pace to lay down an impressive benchmark before a technical issue sidelined the #1 boat, Ely joining him back on the trailer soon after having come out of the water hard in his stunning new ‘PULSE’ leaving Silverton to all but control the pace.. Although he hadn’t counted on Danny Knappick.
Knappick stayed his consistent best throughout the early qualifiers to just ease into things and by the close of the final emerged quickest as Silverton suffered issues under lights, the New Zealander forced to concede the win, Knappick taking a popular maiden victory with Ely third having jumped into Simon Doyle’s boat as ‘B’ driver in order to keep his title assault alive.
In LS-Class an outstanding field of entries delivered some of the best racing of the day, but by finals time there was very much a sense of deja-vu with the 2023 season starting the same way the 2022 season had closed – with a 1-2 finish for Bastian and Nate Mullan, the younger of the two ‘RIPSHIFT’ drivers putting in some impressive laps, but by the final his older brother and reigning Champion Bastian was far too good to maintain his winning streak.
The big news ahead of the opening round was the debut of Tyler Finch’s new hull, the ‘Loose Cannon’ team having moved away from the Australian-made ‘Stingray’ hull to one of multiple World Champion Peter Caughey’s ‘Sprintec’ packages.
So fresh was the new hull that the Finch team only had time to insert the engine and jet unit, the boat resplendent in raw aluminium, and from the outset it was clearly to Finch’s liking.
Not surprisingly though the battle for top honours was fought between the two reigning Champions, Australia’s own World Champion Phonsy Mullan, and reigning New Zealand Champion Rob Coley. Both were quick out the gate, but Mullan held point, Coley coming alive in the fourth qualifier to drop the bar to a 38.708, a full second faster than Mullan’s best to that point, Mullan though heading out soon after to go three tenths faster, the next best, Chris Edmonds in ‘Hazardous’ with a 40.0..
By the fifth qualifier though things changed significantly, Coley again on a charge suffered a jammed throttle throwing the boat off the circuit in the top corner of Kennards Hire Park, launching into a nearby paddock. Fortunately Coley was unhurt, whilst the boat was barely without a scratch, however for navigator Scott Munro, the incident saw him removed by medical professionals and transported to hospital with back pain, and whilst in good spirits the following day, he will likely sit out the coming rounds.
With Coley eliminated, that paved the way for Chris Edmonds to bring the iconic blue boat back into the fight with Mullan, but he wasn’t alone, Daryl Hutton stepping things up to card the fastest time in the final qualifier under lights to jump into the 39s, three tenths faster than Edmonds with Scott Krause third, Phonsy Mullan electing for a conservative lap to prepare ahead of the finals.
Frustratingly a further delay to remove wildlife from the circuit – a family of ducks landing in entirely the wrong place – saw the event dropped to just a single final, the Top 12 classifying the points positions for the opening round, and there was no shortage of action.
Edmonds was first out the gate, the expat New Zealander unable to find the form that he’d uncovered in the final qualifier to card just a 41.9. Hutton was next, and like Edmonds he was unable to improve on his Q5 time, but he went top with a 40.859, a time that was eclipsed by Scott Krause moments later, the local hero finding an extra four one thousandths of a second to go P1!
Tyler Finch emerged next to split the difference between Krause, Hutton and Edmonds to be third, Sam Everingham also unable to find improvement, whilst Glenn Roberts – who suffers a much greater challenge under lights, dropped significant time from his early qualifying pace which at one point saw him classified fourth in his ageing big-block powered ‘Blown Budget’.
Ultimately though Mullan was too good for his rivals, carding a conservative 39.809, a full second faster than Krause and Hutton, but 1.5-seconds slower than his best.
400-CLASS (GROUP A)
With the entry of reigning Group A World Champion Ollie Silverton, the battle for 400-Class honours provided an enticing prospect for the season ahead, and whilst there were a number of early indicators, the New Zealander ultimately emerged as the only favourite still standing, but that didn’t tell the whole story..
For reigning Australian Champion Brendan Doyle, he started the day at a cracking pace, setting the fastest time of the day in just the third qualifier, his 41.180 more than a second clear of Silverton and Ely, who by that stage was running as ‘B’ driver in the Doyle’s second boat run by Brendan’s brother Simon, the reigning AUS#2 having suffered a setback in the second qualifier.
Having arrived at Temora with his brand new ‘PULSE” resplendent in dark grey, Ely was settling in nicely and was all smiles heading into the second timed session, but a pressure wave as he came around to record a split time for the first sector saw him thrown out of the water, the impact with the bank on the way through damaging the side of the once pristine ‘RAMPAGE’ machine forcing his immediate retirement.
In typical Jetboat fashion, offers came in from a number of teams for Ely to continue his campaign, the ex-‘Girlfriend’ (no pun intended) ultimately seeing Ely continue alongside Simon Doyle, a result which may have a significant impact in the Championship battle.
Sadly for the Australian fans, Doyle was next to go, the title-winning 400-Class powerplant suffering a setback at the close of the fourth qualifier, Doyle crossing the line at reduced speed feeling he’d run short of methanol, but tell-tale oil in the back of the boat suggested otherwise, a bent pushrod ultimately sidelining the reigning title-holder to avoid creating any further damage, Doyle’s weekend coming to a premature end.
With two of the title contenders sidelined and the World Champion settling into a rhythm, reigning AUS#3 Danny Knappick was getting himself comfortable, settling into the low to mid 44s from Q2, a pace he continued into the final under lights as Silverton suffered a setback to cross the line second, a stunned Knappick handed his maiden victory in the sport to the applause of the fans and his rivals – it was a popular victory.
For Silverton it was valuable points and an opportunity to trial the new Australian 400-Class rules with aluminium heads and methanol fuel, and whilst comfortable in the 42s for much of the day, the lack of running in New Zealand under lights forced him to conserve and maintain a strong points position, a return to Keith as a day event for round two likely to see just what the popular Kiwi has up his sleeve!
For Hugh Gilchrist, his weekend had started on the back foot with the late decision not to debut his new ‘PULSE’ package, the Australian Moulding & Door Company boss electing to run the ‘MATTRIX’ package he debuted last season, and whilst settling in comfortably under the guidance of Jetboat whisperer Tremayne Jukes, Gilchrist became a victim of the setting sun, temporarily losing the apex of a corner to clip the bank and invert the boat, fortunately on the bank and not in the water.
Both he and navigator Narelle Pellow-Djukic were okay, although the boat suffered some damage to the left side, putting the team out of the finals, they will be working double time to debut the new package for round two.
With former podium finisher Gilchrist sidelined, that allowed recent 400-Class graduates Simon Doyle and Noel Verning to fight for a position alongside Knappick and Silverton, but despite being little more than tenths apart, it was Ely that snuck through for the position, Simon Doyle suffering a setback on rotation in the final whilst Verning fell just short of his best of the night dropping him back to fourth, Andrew Medlicott sadly unable to start the final.
A number of teams had put in some extensive work in the off-season, all looking to try and improve their Championship position across the new season, one of them, 2019 Champion Kyle Elphinstone was full of anticipation, looking for a return to form to be able to take the fight to the dual-title winning ‘RIPSHIFT’ team.
He wasn’t alone though, there were great stories up and down the field of teams that were debuting new and revised powerplants, some new boats, and some welcome new entries, the opening round providing the largest number of ‘A’ and ‘B’ driven boats we’d ever seen, promising an exciting inter-team battle across the six round season.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Bastian Mullan started the season just as he’d closed out 2022 – at the front. Immediately into the 41s, Mullan maintained his pace through the qualifiers, only stepping things up after his younger brother set his own lap in the 41s during the fourth qualifier, Bastian finding half a second in the final qualifier, then another half second in the final to claim the round win, Nate maintaining his 41s through to the final to be comfortably second.
Splitting the two Mullan brothers early, Kyle Elphinstone showed that he had made some improvements during the off-season, but whilst the ‘Blackout Racing’ driver was consistently in the low 42s from the opening qualifier, he was unable to find those valuable extra tenths to keep Nate Mullan at bay. He also had to keep one eye on long-time rival Matt Malthouse who was able to creep into the 41s, the South Australian grabbing the bottom step of the podium in the final – by 75 one thousandths of a second!
For Mitch Malthouse – who stunned the field with a podium finish at home in Keith to round out the 2022 season – he too was expected to apply pressure to the established front-runners and despite a conservative start was able to consistently lap in the 43s, a pace which handed him fifth for the day and a strong haul of championship points.
Lawrie Howlett – who started the 2022 season with some solid laps at Cabarita – the second half of his season was plagued by an untraceable electrical fault, a recent test the deciding factor as to whether he would continue in the sport, and despite suffering similar setbacks early, the ‘Drop Bear’ team were able to finally trace the problem to a throttle sensor, his return to form providing just the kind of result he was looking for with a sixth placed finish.
For Jade Atchison, she was another looking to rediscover the form she showed during the closing stages of the 2022 season, and despite a cautious start, she was quickly onto the tail of the top six in arguably her best result in the sport, buoyed by a surprise team-mate..
As the third of the New Zealand teams coming to Australia to test their pace against our best, Matt Hareb and Matt Nairn had sent a complete package across the Tasman for the assault, but after arriving in Melbourne to pick their boat up from customs, delays in releasing it saw the team without a ride.. Enter the ‘Disturbed Racing Team’ and Darren Pollard and Atchison soon had a team-mate, NZ Group A#4 Hareb joining her in ‘Twisted’, the results of which were immediate, the fact the ‘Moist As’ team had former New Zealand Champ Richard Burt in their camp also reaping beneits, the two teams finding significant pace in the boat. In the end Hareb may have set the fastest ‘Twisted’ lap of the day, but to highlight Atchison’s performance, her best was just 36 one thousandths slower, and she finished ahead of the experienced New Zealander in the final!
Roll on round two where Nairn is expected to debut alongside Hareb, whilst Atchison will take this weekend’s experience and apply it to the remainder of her 2023/24 campaign.
Sadly for their rivals, only the top eight LS-Class boats completed the final, Luke Walters (Borrowed Time), Darren Pollard (Disturbed) and Tyler O’Day (Agro-Vation) finishing up the bank, whilst ‘Borrowed Time’ boat owner Mike Hessell was unable to make a start after team-mate Walters sidelined the boat after his off, robbing the fans of a great inter-team rivalry that saw as much laughter and revelry as it did work on the boat..!
For Lance Edmonds, his off-season saw little time with the boat, the team only seeing it for the first time since Keith just days out from the season-opener, where despite a consistent run he was unable to break into the Top 12, a number of his 2022 rivals though able to transition into the finals. That said, he was also facing new competition, Adam Sulcs and Jodie Cottam rotating driving and navigating duties in their Penrite Series debut, Sulcs claiming a 14th placed finish on debut in the stunning black-and-pink liveried ‘Steady Eddie’ whilst Cottam too was impressive to place 17th.
For Rodney Norton, now in his new ‘Stinger’ hull, the organic garlic farmer spent time getting to grips with his ‘new’ hull and a new engine (he’d suffered a catastrophic failure in his primary engine during a recent Cabarita Club Day test), a 15th placed finish a solid start in what was effectively an extended test session, whilst for Ron O’Day, his return in ‘Agro-Vation’ perhaps wasn’t what he’d hoped despite the ongoing pace of son Tyler in the front half of the field.
And despite arriving at Temora with a thousand things to do to complete an update on his ‘Toxicity’ package, James Machan managed to prepare the boat in time for scrutineering and opening practice to find some performance from the boat, 18th though not where he wants to be and you can expect more updates across the course of the year as he looks to move further forward in the field, likewise with Karen Howlett who alongside husband Lawrie, enjoyed a solid return to form without electrical setbacks.
With the opening round now concluded attention turns West to Spitwater Arena in Keith for round two on October 14.
For fans of the Penrite Australian V8 Superboats Championship, they can catch all the action on 7mate and 7+ during the year (check local guides and search V8 Superboats). Updates will be posted on social media channels with respect to on air times. Episodes from the 2022 season are available ‘on-demand’ on 7+.
Rnd#1 2023/24 Penrite Australian V8 Superboats Championship
Kennards Hire Park, Lake Centenary, Temora, New South Wales
09 September, 2023
TOP 12 FINAL
1. 1. Phonsy Mullan/Leigh Stuart (RAMJET) – 39.809
2. 37. Scott Krause/James Parsons (KAOS) – 40.855
3. 28A. Daryl Hutton/Mick Parry (Victorian American Imports) – 40.859
4. 32. Tyler Finch/Jarrod Ballard (Loose Cannon) – 41.133
5. 08. Chris Edmonds/Ange Edmonds (Hazardous) – 41.956
6. 41. Sam Everingham/Zoe Loupatatzis (Excalibur) – 42.962
7. 888. Glenn Roberts/Jasmine Galambos (Blown Budget) – 48.255
400-Class (Group A)
1. 45. Danny Knappick/Cliff Bamford (Tuff’n Up) – 44.432
2. 31. Ollie Silverton/Jess Sitt (PSP Racing) – 44.533
3. 214B. Jody Ely/Brooke Tanner (The Mistress) – 48.013
4. 269. Noel Verning/Nathan Garrett (Quiet Time) – 49.192
5. 214A. Simon Doyle/Cael White (The Mistress) – 62.858
1. 1A. Bastian Mullan/Tahleah Mullan (RIPSHIFT) – 40.428
2. 1B. Nate Mullan/Cain Wallace (RIPSHIFT) – 41.593
3. 69A. Matt Malthouse/Leighton Collins (NoodNutz Racing) – 41.968
4. 219. Kyle Elphinstone/Jacob Bellamy (Blackout Racing) – 42.043
5. 69B. Mitch Malthouse/Harrison Collins (NoodNutz Racing) – 43.679
6. 14A. Lawrie Howlett/Karen Howlett (Drop Bear) – 44.027
7. 777A. Jade Atchison/Erin Kearney (Twisted) – 45.559
8. 777B. Matt Hareb/Matt Nairn (Twisted) – 53.645
9. 29B. Tyler O’Day/Todd McDowell (Agro-Vation) – DNF
10. 370A. Luke Walters/Matty Bruinsma (Borrowed Time) – DNF
11. 77. Darren Pollard/Steve Muhvich (Disturbed) – DNF
2023/24 Penrite Australian V8 Superboats Championship – Series Points
Unlimited Superboat (after round one of six)
1. Phonsy Mullan (RAMJET) – 36-points, 2. Scott Krause (KAOS) – 33, 3. Daryl Hutton (Victorian American Imports) – 30, 4. Tyler Finch (Loose Cannon) – 28, 5. Chris Edmonds (Hazardous) – 26, 6. Sam Everingham (Excalibur) – 24, 7. Glenn Roberts (Blown Budget) – 22, 8. Rob Coley (Poison Ivy) – 20
400-Class (Group A) (after round one of six)
1. Danny Knappick (Tuff’n’Up) – 36-points, 2. Ollie Silverton (PSP Racing) – 33, 3. Jody Ely (Rampage) – 30, 4. Noel Verning (Quiet Time) – 28, 5. Simon Doyle (The Mistress) – 26, 6. Brendan Doyle (The Girlfriend) – 24, 7. Hugh Gilchrist (Mattrix) – 22, 8. Andrew Medlicott (Gone Nutz) – 20
LS-Class (after round one of six)
1. Bastian Mullan (Ripshift) – 36-points, 2. Nate Mullan (Ripshift) – 33, 3. Matt Malthouse (NoodNutz Racing) – 30, 4. Kyle Elphinstone (Blackout Racing) – 28, 5. Mitch Malthouse (NoodNutz Racing) – 26, 6. Lawrie Howlett (Drop Bear) – 24, 7. Jade Atchison (Twisted) – 22, 8. Matt Hareb (Twisted) – 20, 9. Tyler O’Day (Agro-Vation) – 18, 10. Darren Pollard (Disturbed) – 16, 11. Luke Walters (Borrowed Time) – 14, 12. Mike Hessell (Borrowed Time) – 12, 13. Lance Edmonds (Solid Gold) – 10, 14. Adam Sulcs (Steady Eddie) – 8, 15. Rodney Norton (Crackers) – 6, 16. Ron O’Day (Agro-Vation) – 4, 17. Jodie Cottam (Steady Eddie) – 2, 18. James Machan (Twisted) – 0, 19. Karen Howlett (Drop Bear) – 0
2023/24 Penrite Australian V8 Superboats Championship
Rnd#1 – Temora, NSW – 09 September, 2023
Rnd#2 – Keith, SA – 14 October, 2023
Rnd#3 – Tweed Coast, NSW – 04 November, 2023
Rnd#4 – Temora, NSW – 03 February, 2024 (Colin Parish Memorial)
Rnd#5 – Griffith, NSW – 24 February, 2024
Rnd#6 [FINAL] – Keith, SA – 23 March, 2024
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For the 2023/24 season, the Penrite Australian V8 Superboats Championship is again aired free-to-air on 7mate, and ‘on-demand’ on affiliate 7plus providing fantastic access to the sport not just in Australia, but through networks all over the world, each program going to more than 1-billion homes in every corner of the world.
For more information on the Australian V8 Superboat Championships, please visit https://www.v8superboats.com.au