The New Zealand Jetsprint Championship season opened with plenty of drama, and a tricky track that saw some of the world’s top racers crash out of contention, or drop out after navigational errors – with the headliner Suzuki SuperBoat class opener going to an Australian.
Defending champion Peter Caughey had been swapping fastest times all day with current Australian SuperBoat champion Phonsy Mullan – both in NZ-built Sprintec boats.
“The track proved relatively quick but very difficult to navigate, we both struggled with it all day as did many other teams. There were a couple of high-risk corners, and lots of delays while post-crash carnage was cleared up,” Caughey says, “But fortunately only one pair – Pat Dillon and his passenger – had to head to hospital for a checkup, and luckily they’re okay.”
Most spectacular off of the day? “Undoubtedly Tauranga’s Tristan Hynds, another who clipped the hairpin but it launched him into the air, spat him across the track into two barrel rolls before he landed 15 metres away, in the water – and still walked away unharmed.”
Even eventual winner Phonsy Mullan wasn’t immune. “His first run was a good one,” Caughey says, “but he got on the tyres and spun out at the finish, then had to repair his boat. Meantime my navigator Karen Marshall and I got our track rotation under control and really started to push those times down.”
Caughey’s ENZED team also made small changes to the boat, “We’ve made so much headway with it you can put it pretty much wherever you want and trust it to a greater level than ever before.”
Caughey hit a 45.3 time in the top eight elimination round and says this new boat could be good for an unbelievably fast mid 44-second run, “but we took a wrong turn in the top-five elimination round and we were out.”
The top three went to the wire with current world champ Leighton Minnell hitting the tyres and grounding at the hairpin, Dave Hopkins (Milton, Otago) coming second, “And Phonsy on a blinder when he clipped the hairpin, then ran up on the edge of an island, but got away with it by the skin of his teeth to take the win.”
But there was a bright side for Caughey, “My ENZED, Trojan, Total team did a great job and our Sprintec boats won both Group A and the SuperBoat class.”
Caughey’s now focused on round two of the championship, the ENZED V8 Jetsprints at Baypark, in Mt Maunganui, on January 25.
“A stadium jetsprint event is a world first, and this smaller, more compact track could suit our boat more than Phonsy’s mighty twin turbo.”
“We’re hungry to put today’s result right, if nothing else just to prove to ourselves what lap times we can do with the boat. Roll on Tauranga on January 25.”
New Zealand jetsprint championship calendar
Round 2,January 25, Baypark Tauranga
Round 3, February 9, Meremere Auckland
Round 4, March 16, Hastings
Round 5, April 5 (under lights) Wanganui
Round 6, Final, April 18, Wanaka (ends under lights)