It had been more than three years since the Australian V8 Superboats Championship presented by Penrite had been at the challenging Lake Wyangan venue in the New South Wales Riverina, and it showed, experienced and rookie drivers alike finding the barriers on a night that crowned two back-to-back champions – father-and-son teams Phonsy and Bastian Mullan claiming both the round win, and repeat Australian titles.
For Phonsy Mullan, the eight-time Australian Champion delivered his ninth national crown, but it took some serious effort from the ‘RAMJET’ team to repair the iconic yellow boat after a big off in the third qualifier, Mullan backwards into the tyres after crossing the finishing line, highlighting just how treacherous the rotation was, few remembering the last time the reigning World Champion had been out of the water. Fortunately, damage was repairable leaving them clear to return to the circuit, the Victorian ultimately prevailing in the final over surprise returnee Sam Everingham and former Champion Daryl Hutton.
In 400-Class the title fight will now come down to the season finale at Keith [March 25], after early season points leader Jody Ely put himself to the top in the final, in the process claiming his maiden win at Griffith, the ‘Rampage’ driver taking the victory over arch-rival Brendan Doyle in the final by just on 1.2-seconds, Danny Knappick claiming third on the debut of his new ‘Sprintec’ package.
In LS-Class, it was perhaps no surprise that like his father, Bastian Mullan continued his winning streak, leading home younger brother Nate for a popular 1-2 finish, the two teenagers prevailing over 2019 Champion Kyle Elphinstone who was right in the outright battle until the final, coming unstuck on the same corner as Phonsy Mullan, the ‘Blackout Racing’ machine bouncing over an island before diving into the water in dramatic scenes that left Elphinstone with a swollen eye. Fortunately he and Jacob Bellamy weren’t badly hurt, but the damage to the boat may well see the reigning AUS#2 forced to miss the Keith final.
With the 2022 Unlimited Championship on the line, it was always expected that the battle for top honours would be hotly contested on the Series’ return to Griffith, but whilst reigning Champion Phonsy Mullan played down his chances in an effort to card maximum points and lock out any chance of failing to deliver the title ahead of the final round, history would suggest that he would do his very best to keep his winning streak alive, regardless of how much pressure his rivals applied.
As it played out, it was Mullan’s pace that caught him out in the end, the conditions seeing him back across his own wash sooner than most of his rivals, whilst the turbulent water he’d created from a previous rotation made waves that ultimately reduced his grip in the water, the ‘RAMJET’ machine thrown out of the circuit, hard across the island and backwards into the tyres surrounding the earth embankment around pit entry.
The initial contact silenced everyone, nobody really convinced they’d witnessed what had just unfolded, least of all Mullan himself who’d suffered a knock to the jaw in the incident, but he was otherwise okay, as was navigator Leigh Stuart, whilst Mullan’s ability to dodge the kind of bullet that would sideline most in the field remained intact, the boat surviving the impact, which was borne predominantly on the jet unit, the team though able to effect repairs ahead of the fourth qualifier.
Ultimately, despite the setback, it was Mullan who top qualified, his 37.329 set in the opening qualifier, putting him more than a second clear of arch-rival Daryl Hutton who took the ‘Hazardous’ machine to a best of 38.502 in Q2.
The big focus though was on the battle for third, Chris Edmonds (39.213), Sam Everingham (39.366) and Scott Krause (39.459) separated by very little heading into the finals, promising for a big close to the night.
Behind them Glenn ‘Spider’ Roberts was building on his confidence with every run, looking to learn as much as he could ahead of the night sessions, whilst Simon Doyle continued his development in the category to card a time in every session, his only setback, a navigational error in the second qualifier.
With his off in the third qualifier all but forgotten, Mullan continued to set the pace in the elimination finals, Hutton though getting to within seven one hundredths in the opening final, with Scott Krause making it three drivers inside 17 one hundredths – Chris Edmonds making it four drivers within a second of Mullan’s benchmark time promising for a dramatic fight for the podium.
In the end, the reigning champion put all question of a first-time season winner out of question to be back into the 37s in the second elimination final, before finding more than a second in the final to take his sixth consecutive win of the year and with it, his eighth Unlimited Superboat crown.
Whilst Mullan claimed what at one point looked like an almost uncertain victory, behind him the battle for the second step of the podium was heating up, Sam Everingham surprising many with his burst of form, although for the experienced pundits, few were surprised to see the ‘Excalibur’ package in the midst of a podium splurge, the boat itself enjoying a winning heritage. Just a quarter of a second behind Hutton in the Top 6, Everingham relegated Edmonds and Krause to the trailer ahead of the final, before punching out a stunning 37.684 in the Top 3 to force Hutton back to third.
The result sealed Mullan’s ninth Australian crown, whilst behind him, Hutton sealed second in the Championship, although the fight for third in the title race will come down to the wire, Scott Krause, Glenn Roberts and Chris Edmonds separated by just a handful of points heading to Keith on March 25.
400-CLASS (GROUP A)
After an epic battle between reigning AUS#2 Jody Ely and emerging star Brendan Doyle that has waged since the start of the season, the Griffith round became the deciding point of the year to date – a win to Doyle all but sealed the Championship, whilst a win to Ely, would even things up and take the decider into the Keith final.
Coming in there was plenty of discussion, and whilst both were outwardly confident, they both knew only too well just how treacherous the Griffith venue could be – Doyle having suffered what could well have been a career ending off at the venue in 2019, whilst Ely – who had never had a ‘big one’ at Griffith, had also not made the podium in 400-Class at Lake Wyangan, so whilst both were expected to feature, they also knew just how critical a round it would be.
They both started strongly, running at equivalent pace to the bulk of the Unlimited field, and more than five seconds clear of the returning Tremayne Jukes in Greg Harriman’s former ‘Apache’ machine.
Both pushed hard, but it was Doyle who was first to crack, clipping the tyres in Q2 on the run back up to the top island, ultimately spinning on top it – fortunately without damage.
That was all the motivation that Ely needed, the early season points leader pressing his advantage as Doyle focussed on finding a comfortable rhythm, and by the time he’d done that, Ely pushed just that little bit harder to put the final out of question, his 39.073 in the Top 3 just six tenths slower than Unlimited title contender Daryl Hutton, whilst Doyle carded an impressive 40.257, his best of the night by more than 1.4-seconds.
Campaigning his new ‘Sprintec’ hull at Griffith was not Danny Knappick’s ideal scenario when it came to debuting a new package, but the experienced ski-racer started with caution and impressed across the event. At some 130-kilograms lighter than his old boat package, the Peter Caughey built hull gave Knappick a first-hand experience of a world class boat, and he used that to great effect, ultimately turning in a best of 45.159 in the third qualifier to split the duelling points leaders and the experienced Tremayne Jukes.
By finals time, and with little to prove, the new look ‘Tuff’n’Up’ team stayed the course, comfortably out-pacing Jukes to put themselves back onto the podium, admitting they were very happy with the gains they’d made across the day.
Jukes held on for fourth, out-pacing Darrin Kesper is his repaired ‘Let’s Boogie’, whilst for Hugh Gilchrist, a solid start to the day ended early with ignition failure, sidelining the popular Victorian who elected to enjoy the racing from the bank rather than jump in alongside team-mate Jukes.
Heading into the final at Keith on March 25, it’s all to play for. On adjusted Championship points (you drop your points from your worst round of the year), the two title-contenders are tied and comfortably clear of third-placed Danny Knappick, making it a winner-takes-all season finale. For the record, Brendan Doyle claimed his maiden victory at Keith last October (by more than a second), whilst for Ely, he has never won at the South Australian venue – in fact he went into the same round last season with a chance to fight for the title, but suffered a torrid time with electrical issues – but that was before he took on an upgraded engine..
As they say in the classics, watch this space!
Whilst his father had to recover from a setback to claim his sixth consecutive win this season, there were no such setbacks for Bastian Mullan, the reigning LS-Class Champion not only outclassing the field, but in the process he maintained his 2022 season winning record to claim back-to-back titles. His run in the final was one of the most impressive of the day, a lap that saw him finish more than two seconds up on younger brother Nate, the ‘RIPSHIFT’ team closing out the round in dominant fashion.
The end result will show that it was a Mullan whitewash, but it doesn’t tell the whole story, nor does Kyle Elphinstone’s dramatic off in the final that saw the 2019 Champion nose-dive into the channel after clipping the same corner that caught many – including reigning World Champion Phonsy Mullan – by surprise.
At the point of retirement, it looked very much like Elphinstone would put Bastian Mullan under pressure after qualifying fastest then closing out the opening elimination final in P1. Knowing full well what Bastian Mullan was capable of in the final, Elphinstone charged off the line, and set a stunning opening split time before the boat came unstuck from the water in the treacherous right-hander leading back to the start line, forcing him across the bottom island before nose-diving at speed into the opposite channel.
Having warned navigator Jacob Bellamy before the round that there was every chance they’d find trouble at Griffith, Bellamy was quickly onto the safety harness release and out of the seat before the boat had come to rest having initially believed they were going under the water. That allowed him to come to Elphinstone’s aid, the driver having taken the brunt of the dive into the water to wear the full impact on his face, all but closing over his left eye. Aside from that initial impact, both were okay and able to extract themselves from the boat, the engine however not quite as lucky, a big injection of water into the intake locking it solid, the team faced with a lengthy rebuild, all but ruling them out of the season final.
With Elphinstone failing to record a time, that left Nate Mullan in a position to card a solid lap in the final, leaving little on the table to record his second quickest lap of the day, a 40.741 to Bastian’s stunning 38.569.
Behind them Tyler O’Day maintained his impressive pace from recent rounds to be comfortably fourth, the young Victorian driving alone, with father Ron sidelined after trying to rediscover his youth on water skis just ahead of the Griffith round, his body unable to deliver the goods, the team boss stumbling around on crutches all weekend but promising to make a return for season 2023..
For Jim Beaman – who had seen plenty of the Griffith circuit over the years – and fellow Griffith rookie Luke Walters, they turned in a string of impressive laps through qualifying to be right in the mix for a top six finish with Queenslander Lawrie Howlett. Beaman and Walters ultimately made it through to the second final, before both made almost carbon-copy errors on the main straight to pitch themselves out of the water and miss an opportunity to graduate to the final three, both teams though impressing with their performances on such a difficult stage.
For Lawrie Howlett, he lamented a missed opportunity to progress into the second final, falling just seven one hundredths of a second shy of Beaman in sixth place, whilst behind him, Lance Edmonds had made a solid recovery after an early off to be just half a second further back.
After missing a handful of rounds awaiting repairs to her ‘Twisted’ machine, Jade Atchison made a welcome return to the LS-Class to be one of a number of rookies facing a baptism of fire on the demanding Griffith layout. She showed great maturity after her big 2022 pre-season testing crash at Temora to focus on track rotation and position before firing in an impressive 46.9 in the opening elimination final to be pressuring the tail end of the top six – a lap that saw an improvement of more than 1.5-seconds on her previous best.
For Noel Verning, his debut at Griffith saw him in the wars despite a conservative start, the ‘Quiet Time’ machine falling foul of the final corner on his fifth rotation, the boat spinning backwards into the channel, sinking at the pit entry, sadly the impact also forcing a mouthful of water into the engine, locking it solid to eliminate any chance of a return, Verning and navigator Nathan Garrett though okay, and already planning an alternate option for the season finale.
For Rob Johnston and Karen Howlett, they both banked valuable laps of the Griffith circuit, Johnston ultimately classified tenth whilst Karen Howlett saw an improvement of almost 18 seconds across the course of the day, not surprisingly, nailing the rotation on every lap.
With all three Junior Development drivers back in the seat for the Griffith round, there was plenty to look forward to, especially as none had been on the Griffith layout previously.
Not surprisingly, reigning Champion Koby Bourke set the early pace before points leader Connor Smith started to work his way into the equation, the pair separated by just under two seconds at the close of the qualifiers, Eliza Roylance third fastest, but as she showed at Keith on her debut – cautiously sitting in position to pick up an opportunity if either of the boys made an error.
Bourke was out first in the final setting a 55.113, six tenths slower than his Q5 best, but still faster than Smith’s best lap of the day. Smith though applied all his past racing experiences to just focus on the job at hand and improving in his final lap, and he did just that, shaving 1.6-seconds of his best to cross the line with a 54.672 to claim his second consecutive outright win of the year, bringing the title fight all the way down to the final round at Keith.
And with all but one round of the 2022 Australian V8 Superboats Championship presented by Penrite season concluded, and two of the four Champions crowned, we turn our focus to a return to Keith in South Australia as we join the tenth (and final) Diesel & Dirt Derby for a big day on March 25.
For fans of the Penrite Australian V8 Superboats Championship, they can catch all the action on 7mate (check local guides) and 7+ (On Demand). Updates will be posted on social media channels with respect to on air times. Episodes one to five are available free-to-air on 7+ to enjoy any time you like (search V8 Superboats).
Rnd#6 2022 Australian V8 Superboats Championship presented by Penrite
Lake Wyangan, Griffith, New South Wales
11 February, 2023
TOP 3 FINAL
1. 1. Phonsy Mullan/Leigh Stuart (RAMJET) – 36.842
2. 41. Sam Everingham/Simon Williams (Excalibur) – 37.684
3. 28A. Daryl Hutton/Mick Parry (Phoenix Lubricants) – 38.451
400-Class (Group A)
1. 33. Jody Ely/Jessica Webb (Rampage) – 39.073
2. 4. Brendan Doyle/Rory Doyle (PULSE) – 40.257
3. 45. Danny Knappick/Darren Tickell (Tuff’n’Up) – 49.984
1. 1A. Bastian Mullan/Tahleah James (RIPSHIFT) – 38.569
2. 1B. Nate Mullan/Cain Wallace (RIPSHIFT) – 40.741
3. 219. Kyle Elphinstone/Jacob Bellamy (Blackout Racing) – DNF
1. 97B. Connor Smith (Lil Pyscho) – 54.672
2. 97A. Koby Bourke (Lil Pyscho) – 55.113
3. 97C. Eliza Roylance (Lil Pyscho) – 69.465
* different circuit rotation to other classes
TOP 6 FINAL
1. 1. Phonsy Mullan/Leigh Stuart (RAMJET) – 37.900
2. 28A. Daryl Hutton/Mick Parry (Phoenix Lubricants) – 38.166
3. 41. Sam Everingham/Simon Williams (Excalibur) – 38.583
4. 28B. Chris Edmonds/Jamie Maroney (Hazardous) – 39.078
5. 37. Scott Krause/Rachel Parsons (KAOS) – 40.282
6. 888. Glenn Roberts/James Parsons (Blown Budget) – 41.945
400-Class (Group A)
1. 33. Jody Ely/Jessica Webb (Rampage) – 40.750
2. 4. Brendan Doyle/Rory Doyle (PULSE) – 41.680
3. 45. Danny Knappick/Darren Tickell (Tuff’n Up) – 45.933
4. 360. Tremayne Jukes/Brad James (Apache) – 48.498
5. 43. Darrin Kesper/Matt Foote (Let’s Boogie) – 58.370
6. 863. Hugh Gilchrist/Narelle Pellow-Djukic (MATTRIX) – DNS
1. 1A. Bastian Mullan/Tahleah James (RIPSHIFT) – 39.213
2. 219. Kyle Elphinstone/Jacob Bellamy (Blackout Racing) – 39.603
3. 1B. Nate Mullan/Cain Wallace (RIPSHIFT) – 41.186
4. 29B. Tyler O’Day/Xavier Jackson (Agro-Vation) – 1:35.491
5. 300A. Luke Walters/Juzzi Calvert (The Spartan) – DNF
6. 46. Jim Beaman/Blair (JB Racing) – DNF
TOP 12 FINAL
1. 1. Phonsy Mullan/Leigh Stuart (RAMJET) – 39.301
2. 28A. Daryl Hutton/Mick Parry (Phoenix Lubricants) – 39.373
3. 37. Scott Krause/Rachel Parsons (KAOS) – 39.471
4. 28B. Chris Edmonds/Jamie Maroney (Hazardous) – 40.268
5. 41. Sam Everingham/Simon Williams (Excalibur) – 41.034
6. 888. Glenn Roberts/James Parsons (Blown Budget) – 42.413
7. 214. Simon Doyle/Xander Doyle (The Girlfriend) – 54.349
1. 219. Kyle Elphinstone/Jacob Bellamy (Blackout Racing) – 40.490
2. 1A. Bastian Mullan/Tahleah James (RIPSHIFT) – 40.913
3. 1B. Nate Mullan/Cain Wallace (RIPSHIFT) – 42.060
4. 29B. Tyler O’Day/Xavier Jackson (Agro-Vation) – 42.190
5. 300A. Luke Walters/Juzzi Calvert (The Spartan) – 44.100
6. 46. Jim Beaman/Blair (JB Racing) – 45.030
7. 14. Lawrie Howlett/Karen Howlett (Drop Bear) – 45.100
8. 212. Lance Edmonds/Peter Sendy (Solid Gold) – 45.656
9. 777. Jade Atchison/Erin Kearney (Twisted) – 46.945
10. 114. Rob Johnston/Grant Dodd (Almost There) – 48.250
11. 300B. Mike Hessell/Laura Stevens (The Spartan) – 48.292
12. 269. Noel Verning/Nathan Garrett (Quiet Time) – DNS
2022 Australian V8 Superboats Championships presented by Penrite – Series Points
Unlimited Superboat (after round six of seven)
1. Phonsy Mullan (RAMJET) – 216-points, 2. Daryl Hutton (Phoenix Lubricants) – 183, 3. Glenn Roberts (Blown Budget) – 160, 4. Chris Edmonds (Non-Hazardous) – 148, 5. Scott Krause (KAOS) – 135, 6. Rob Coley (Poison Ivy) – 109, 7. Simon Doyle (The Girlfriend) – 68, 8. Sam Everingham (Excalibur) – 61, 9. Tremayne Jukes (The Girlfriend) – 54, 10. Tyler Finch (Loose Cannon) – 30
400-Class (Group A) (after round six of seven)
1. Brendan Doyle (PULSE) – 204-points, 2. Jody Ely (Rampage) – 200, 3. Danny Knappick (Tuff’n Up) – 172, 4. Darrin Kesper (Let’s Boogie) – 128, 5. Hugh Gilchrist (Mattrix) – 83, 6. Justin Roylance (Outlaw67) – 81, 7. Daniel Warburton (Team Attitude) – 76, 8. Greg Harriman (Apache) – 56, 9. Paul Kelly (4Zero) – 52, 10. Tremayne Jukes (Apache) – 28, 11. Brett Thornton (Still Obsessed) – 24
LS-Class (after round six of seven)
1. Bastian Mullan (Ripshift) – 216-points, 2. Kyle Elphinstone (Blackout Racing) – 189, 3. Nate Mullan (Ripshift) – 161, 4. Tyler O’Day (Agro-Vation) – 152, 5. Matt Malthouse (NoodNutz Racing) – 138, 6. Lawrie Howlett (Drop Bear) – 134, 7. Paul Hill (Slicer) – 120, 8. Mike Hessell (Borrowed Time) – 106, 9. Jim Beaman (JB Racing) – 92, 10. Noel Verning (Quiet Time) – 90, 11. Ron O’Day (Agro-Vation) – 58, 12. Luke Walters (The Spartan) – 52, 13. Rob Johnston (Almost There) – 50, 14. Jade Atchison (Twisted) – 46, 15. Lance Edmonds (Solid Gold) – 40, 16. Matt Riley (Toe Cutter) – 18, 17. Darren Pollard (Disturbed) – 16, 17. Mitch Malthouse (NoodNutz Racing) – 16, 17. Karen Howlett (Drop Bear) – 16, 20. James Machan (Twisted) – 2
Junior Development (after round six of seven)
1. Connor Smith (Lil Psycho) – 204-points, 2. Koby Bourke (Lil Psycho) – 138, 3. Eliza Roylance (Lil Pyscho) – 99
2022 Australian V8 Superboats Championship
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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