Heading into Cabarita for a return to Penrite V8 Superboats action after an enforced eight-month pandemic break, there was much uncertainty over whether the event would actually take place, unprecedented weather conditions bringing a huge coastal front into the region as southern-based teams started the journey north, a front which would ultimately deliver record rainfall, forcing the cancelation and then evacuation of the circuit ahead of round five.
Despite weather forecasts changing by the minute, the Australian Formula Jet Sprint Association [AFJSA] and the Tweed Valley Jet Sprint Club elected to press on with the event, with Saturday providing a window that saw three rounds of qualifying contested allowing an event to be classified and points awarded, before the weather changed once again with heavy rain settling in on Saturday afternoon.
With falls of as much as 150mm per six-hour window, Sunday dawned wet, the AFJSA and the Tweed Club conceding that there was no alternative other than cancelation, teams racing to pack up their gear in torrential rain to move to higher ground as floodwaters slowly cut all access roads to the region.
Ultimately the conservative crowd – impacted by the ever-changing forecasts and flooding rains less than half an hour north – was treated to more great Penrite V8 Superboats action, with great battles across all three senior classes; Slade Stanley, Justin Roylance and Kyle Elphinstone all emerging as fastest across the three qualifiers to claim top points for the round.
One of the big talking points ahead of the round surrounded the debut of an all new Australian-made ‘PULSE’ hull for points leader Phonsy Mullan. The seven-time champion took the bold move to change boats mid-season, a test run at Cabarita a couple of weeks out from the round providing enough confidence for Mullan to make the transition, and from the look of the smile on his face after the opening qualifier, the move had been more than justified.
Whilst Mullan was relishing the opportunity to close the performance gap to reigning champion Slade Stanley, Stanley was lamenting a lack of performance, the ‘Hazardous’ team not 100% comfortable through the opening two qualifiers despite setting the pace in Q1 before missing the rotation in Q2 whilst chasing the setup.
Mullan meanwhile came out swinging in Q2 to top the timesheets with a best of 50.555 (to Stanley’s Q1 best of 51.684), before the pair traded blows in the final session where Stanley returned to the top of the time sheets with a 49.535, Mullan returning fire with a 49.912 to set the top two steps of the podium as the rain set in on Saturday afternoon.
Whilst the points leaders continued their championship stoush, behind them, former title holder Daryl Hutton continued his own development, the twin-turbo ‘American Automotive’ machine shadowing Stanley and Mullan, in the end a 51.208 classifying him third ahead of fellow former champion Scott Krause who punched out a 53.033 in the final session after failing to record a time in the first two timed runs.
Fifth in the end was Unlimited Superboat debutante Chris Edmonds, the LS-Class graduate campaigning a 900-horespower LSA powerplant originally built by ‘JRE Race Engines’ for Slade Stanley although for Edmonds, the new engine was actually his backup plan, with a twin-turbo small block Chev under development, the new engine not ready though for its Cabarita debut.
With little time to sort the new package, Edmonds used the event to shake things down and get to grips with the change in his ‘Solid Gold’ package and the modifications he’d been doing to both his ‘Aitchison’ hull and the ‘Aitchison’ jet unit. His 64.171 opening lap, in the end, his single recorded time, although experience showed him that any time on the board is important, something some of his high profile rivals were unable to achieve..
Whilst Mullan’s new hull provided plenty of discussion ahead of the Cabarita event, one of the biggest news stories was the return of second-generation driver Tyler Finch, in the much anticipated ‘Loose Cannon’.
Whilst a throwback to his father Dean’s multiple title winning boat, the ‘new’ ‘Loose Cannon’ – powered by a 1500-horsepower twin-turbo 445ci LS Chev – used a sister ‘Stingray’ hull to that which the family developed over many years, and with Tyler’s own abilities in modifying jet units, the bright orange Unlimited machine has already signalled that it will be a challenger in races to come, although they were honest about the fact that their first events back will be used as a shakedown for the 2022 season.
With that in mind, the team suffered from a number of small teething issues, but in the end, despite the shortened event, they were all smiles that they were heading in the right direction, and are already planning to ramp up the pressure once they get to Keith in a month’s time.
Another team that failed to record a timed lap in what was in the end a challenging and lengthy rotation, was AJ Fairbairn in his maiden run in the championship, the ‘A.C.E.’ driver though gaining valuable experience and importantly, time on the water, the motorsport journeyman who has been involved in many different race disciplines admitting that despite the setbacks, that he’d had the time of his life.
Whilst the title contenders attracted plenty of attention, perhaps the biggest story of the weekend, was the mammoth effort of long-time campaigner Glenn ‘Spider’ Roberts to not only record a lap time, but to actually make the event in the first place after a string of setbacks in the week leading up to the event.
With the enforced mid-season break to address the pandemic, Roberts elected to rebuild his big-block powerplant, a process which ultimately led to a string of delays, the upshot of which was the return of his beloved 632ci block on the Thursday night ahead of the event. Thanks to a small group of friends, he was able to assemble the engine and put it in the boat during the small hours of Friday morning, before driving non-stop to Cabarita, a 1500-kilometre journey which saw him arrive at the circuit at 3:30am Saturday morning.
Typically, the V8 Superboat ‘family’ rallied around the series veteran to help him finish off the final install of the engine, before he fired it up to make a start for the third – and ultimately final – qualifier, in the end running on just seven cylinders after a plug lead issue. Frustratingly for the Victorian, who suffers from a rare hearing and vision disorder, the rush to complete the boat meant he had no time to study the track rotation, navigator Tia McGifford stepping in to help him, and despite a couple of directional errors, he ultimately righted those errors to record a 90-second lap, and ultimately card sixth for the weekend. The smile on his face post event was priceless and for him, worth every minute of heartache in the week leading up to the round.
400-CLASS (GROUP A)
Like the Unlimited category, the battle for top honours in 400-Class was a big focal point, ‘Outlaw67’ driver Justin Roylance fighting hard with fellow ‘Jetspeed’ driver Jody Ely for the title, the pair sharing all three wins for the 2021 season, with Roylance holding the upper hand up until the Penrite series returned to Cabarita last June, where Ely dished out a big hiding to his rival.
With that memory still fresh, Roylance and his team worked tirelessly to be ready for the double-header weekend, and it showed, the points leader just too good in the end, turning the tables on Ely to take a dominant win, almost two seconds clear at the top of the timesheets.
Third was the returning Tremayne Jukes, the experienced campaigner getting to within one, one thousandth of a second of Ely in the process of working on developing the new ‘PULSE’ hull alongside Daniel James, providing great promise for team-owner Brendan Doyle who is expected to take the reigns of the new machine for the 2022 season.
Sadly for Doyle, he was an early victim after being blinded during his practice lap, a journey up the grass and into the tyres fortunately less dramatic than it looked, ‘The Girlfriend’ quickly back on the water and up to speed, although the weather setback didn’t allow him to challenge the leading trio, instead he became embroiled in a battle for position with veterans Mark Garlick and Greg Harriman over a place inside the top six.
Consistent as always, multiple champion Mark Garlick was shadowing the leaders and waiting for his chance to pounce, although he conceded that unless one of them suffered a problem, he’d struggle to make the final three, although in the end he was comfortably fourth and almost two seconds clear of Doyle, with Harriman rounding out the six.
Daniel Warburton on his return to the sport was seventh ahead of Danny Knappick, with Darren Kesper and Hugh Gilchrist rounding out the top ten, whilst for former champion Brett Thornton, he was a no show after being trapped by rising floodwaters north of Brisbane.
With Keith’s Matt Malthouse sidelined due to delayed engine parts, that freed two-time 2021 winner Bastian Mullan to extend his advantage at the top of the championship, although he may not have expected to play second-fiddle to the reigning champion, Kyle Elphinstone finally finding form after a challenging start to his title defence.
In the end, Elphinstone topped every timed session, although rookie Bastian Mullan – who stunned the field with his pace the last time the series competed at Cabarita – was improving with every session, the margin in the end just 42 one thousandths of a second, setting up what promises to be a tantalising final at Keith once Malthouse returns to the fold.
Third fastest in the end was local driver Paul Hill, although like his rivals, he couldn’t get to within four seconds of the leaders.
The battle for fourth position was the closest of the day, with the ever-improving Matt Riley getting the nod ahead of Jim Beaman and Mike Hessell, Riley at one stage running third, although on countback Hill was more than a second faster overall to take the final step on the podium.
As he did last time out at Cabarita, Nate Mullan very much played second fiddle to his older brother in order to support Bastian’s championship bid, but he was improving with every session and expected to make a challenge in the finals, the weather though impacting that opportunity as it did for Robert Westerink, a driver with solid LS-Class credentials who just couldn’t perfect the challenging rotation, in the end he was unable to record an official time.
Koby Bourke had a solid weekend in ‘Lil Psycho’, the Junior Development driver though not without his own challenges after the long break, the teenager growing so much (vertically) since he was last in the boat, that he may well need to relocate the seat for the coming ’22 season.
Despite that he turned in progressively faster laps through qualifying and actually managed to card a time for a final ahead of the onset of the rain.
For the Penrite Australian V8 Superboats Championships the season continues at ‘Spitwater Arena’ in Keith in regional South Australia on Saturday, March 26.
For fans of the Penrite Australian V8 Superboats Championship, they can catch all the action on Fox Sports Australia and Kayo Sports (check local guides for dates and times). We will also post updates on social media channels once the on-air dates have been released.
Rnd#4 2021 Penrite Australian V8 Superboats Championship
Tweed Valley Jet Sprint Club, Cabarita Beach, NSW
26 February, 2022
1. 1. Slade Stanley/Vanessa Stanley (Hazardous) – 49.535
2. 23. Phonsy Mullan/Leigh Stuart (RAMJET) – 49.912
3. 28A. Daryl Hutton/Mick Parry (Phoenix Lubricants) – 51.208
4. 37. Scott Krause/Jess Tassell (KAOS) – 53.033
5. 212. Chris Edmonds/Jamie Maroney (Solid Gold) – 1:04.171
6. 888. Glenn Roberts/Tia McGifford (Blown Budget) – 1:30.032
7. 32. Tyler Finch/Jarrod Ballard (Loose Cannon) – NTR
8. 66. AJ Fairbairn/Jade Atchison (A.C.E.) – NTR
400-Class (Group A)
1. 67. Justin Roylance/Michelle Hodge (Outlaw67) – 54.143
2. 33. Jody Ely/Angel Brennan (Rampage) – 56.099
3. 4. Tremayne Jukes/Erin Thomas (PULSE) – 56.100
4. 95. Mark Garlick/Kerry Garlick (Grumpy on Edge) – 56.888
5. 214. Brendan Doyle/Rory Doyle (The Girlfriend) – 58.765
6. 360A. Greg Harriman/Wendy Wheelhouse (Apache) – 59.966
7. 81. Daniel Warburton/Ryan Loft (Team Attitude) – 1:03.987
8. 45. Danny Knappick/Darren Tickell (Tuff N Up) – 1:05.473
9. 43. Darrin Kesper/William Phillips (Let’s Boogie) – 1:08.364
10. 360B. Hugh Gilchrist/Narelle Pellow-Djukic (Apache) – 1:13.882
1. 219. Kyle Elphinstone/Jacob Bellamy (Blackout Racing) – 55.738
2. 24A. Bastian Mullan/Kelsie Gill (RIPSHIFT) – 55.780
3. 512. Paul Hill/Alex Singleton (Slicer) – 1:01.019
4. 82A. Matt Riley/James McCarron (Toe Cutter) – 1:02.206
5. 46. Jim Beaman/Ella Simpson (JB Racing) – 1:02.464
6. 370. Mike Hessell/Ruairi Crilly (Borrowed Time) – 1:03.670
7. 24B. Nate Mullan/Jayden Vella (RIPSHIFT) – 1:08.043
8. 64. Robert Westerink/Tyler O’Day (The Contractor) – NTR
2021 Penrite Australian V8 Superboat Championships – Series Points
Unlimited Superboat (after round four of six)
1. Slade Stanley (Hazardous) – 136-points, 2. Phonsy Mullan (RAMJET) – 135, 3. Scott Krause (KAOS) – 118, 4. Daryl Hutton (Phoenix Lubricants) – 107, 5. Glenn Roberts (Blown Budget) – 86, 6. Ben Hathaway (NoodNutz Racing) – 80, 7. Mitch Roylance (BlackJack) – 72, 8. Mick Carroll (Excalibur) – 28, 9. Chris Edmonds (Solid Gold) – 26, 10. Daniel de Voigt (DEVO Racing) – 24, 11. Sam Everingham (Thirsty Merc) – 20, 12. Andrew Page (Kamakazi) – 16, 13. Adam Fairbairn (A.C.E.) – 0, 13. Tyler Finch (Loose Cannon) – 0
400-Class (Group A) (after round four of six)
1. Justin Roylance (Outlaw67) – 141-points, 2. Jody Ely (Rampage) – 135, 3. Brendan Doyle (The Girlfriend) – 104, 4. Greg Harriman (Apache) – 98, 5. Hugh Gilchrist (Apache) – 84, 6. Mark Garlick (Grumpy) – 82, 7. Danny Knappick (Tuff N Up) – 64, 8. Brett Thornton (Still Obsessed) – 58, 9. Tremayne Jukes (PULSE) – 30, 10. Ron O’Day (Agro-Vation) – 26, 11. Daniel Warburton (Team Attitude) – 22. 11. Daniel James (The Girlfriend) – 22, 13. Tyler O’Day (Agro-Vation) – 20, 14. Darrin Kesper (18)
LS-Class (after round four of six)
1. Bastian Mullan (Ripshift) – 135-points, 2. Kyle Elphinstone (Blackout Racing) – 108, 3. Nate Mullan (Ripshift) – 103, 4. Matt Malthouse (NoodNutz Racing) – 102, 5. Jim Beaman (JB Racing) – 90, 6. Chris Edmonds (Solid Gold) – 76, 7. Paul Hill (Slicer) – 60, 7. Matt Riley (Toe Cutter) – 60, 9. Dwayne Mezzadri (Unleashed) – 42, 9. Robert Westerink (The Contractor) – 42, 9. Mike Hessell (42), 12. Nick Druery (Hazzmat) – 40, 13. Mitch Curtis (Smoke & Mirror) – 38, 14. Bill Biggin (JB Racing) – 30, 15. Darren Pollard (Toe Cutter) – 28, 16. Rob Johnston (Almost There) – 22
Junior Development (after round four of six)
1. Koby Bourke (Lil Psycho) – 144-points
2021 Australian V8 Superboat Championships
Rnd#1 – Spitwater Arena, Keith, SA – 27 March
Rnd#2 – Temora, NSW – 01 May (Colin Parish Memorial)
Rnd#3 – Tweed Valley, NSW – 19-20 June
Rnd#4 – Tweed Valley, NSW – 26 February
Rnd#5 – Spitwater Arena, Keith, SA – 26 March
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
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