Highs and lows for Caughey at semi-final

Peter Caughey and Karen Marshall hold second in the champs after four rounds (photo, Ian Thornton)Defending SuperBoat champion Peter Caughey was celebrating a win for a Sprintec boat at the penultimate round of the New Zealand Suzuki SuperBoat championships at Wanaka on April 4.

But it wasn’t his own craft – due out of the workshop next week over three months after its engine blew at the championship season’s opening round.

It was Rob Coley who won the round in a new Sprintec hull Caughey built, while he again raced a leased boat – painted in his ENZED, Trojan, and Total colours – which stretched his legendary driving skills to the limit.

But Caughey showed the class that’s taken him to five world and seven New Zealand SuperBoat titles. He wrestled the red rocket into second place for the round and the season, to climb one point closer to championship leader Pat Dillon.

“It’s frustrating we’re still in the leased boat, but what a privilege that Brent White has been so generous as to keep the boat available. We’ve strengthened our second place ready for the final in the black boat in three weeks time,” he said.

“That would have been the perfect boat to have raced at this track with this rotation today, which made the news it wouldn’t be out of the workshop in time doubly hard.”

Caughey says it’s tempting to speculate, “If we’d been out in the black boat, and Leighton Minnell hadn’t had gremlins earlier, it would have put more pressure on Pat and that’s when things happen.” But he admits, “you can never second guess what’ll happen.”

The Canterbury racer as well known for his boat tuning as his driving says at the lunch break he felt he’d be lucky to hit the top five. “My whole ENZED team was working hard, not least navigator Karen Marshall and myself.”

The dynamic duo had to be on the ball, “The boat was a handful and we had a couple of close calls – at one point we both thought we were headed for the safety fence after skimming dirt, but we kept it in the water – though we struggled to get the performance we want from it.”

But it was a demanding track for everyone, he said, “It was just a case of fine-tuning as we went. The team worked well and hard again today, it was full on and go, go, go, as we were looking after a few customer boats as well.”

Fortunately the weather played ball after early rain, and as the crowds arrived it cleared to 22 degrees, with the spectacular backdrop of the Alps beyond the track.

“The racing was good, there was action aplenty and there’s no doubt the spectators loved it. And with my roots so close, we had family and friends and old jetsprinters coming out of the woodwork, we’re seeing who can resist the temptation of getting back into the sport!”

With three weeks to go until the final round and trailing the leader by nine points, Caughey knows a season win is a long shot. “The championship looks like it’s walking away from us in terms of outright victory, but we’re looking forward to getting the motor bolted back into the black boat, putting it on the water and seeing how it compares to the front runners in the SuperBoat class at the moment.

“And if we can’t win, the next best option is for one of our customers to win and that was the case today with Rob Coley. The previous round was his first win in the SuperBoat class and today he was in a league of his own. He and his team have worked hard and deserve the result,” he said.

“It’s really good to see a young team, and relatively new to the sport, doing so well and enjoying their racing and getting the spoils. And it certainly mixes up the points a bit as well, so bring on the final in Featherston in three weeks.

New Zealand Jetsprint Championship season

4 April Wanaka Rd5
26 April Featherston/Wairarapa, Rd 6

Wanaka SuperBoat Champs results1 Rob Coley/Tony Coley
2 Peter Caughey/Karen Marshall
3 Pat Dillon/ Steve Edmonds
4 Leighton Minnell/ Kellie Minnell
5 Glen Head/Darren Todd
6 Graeme Hill/Ray Lawson
7 Richard Burt/ Katie Quantrell
8 David Simmons/ John Verry
9 Chris Munro/Brent ScammellSuzuki Grand Vitara SuperBoat class, provisional points, top 10, after four rounds1 Pat Dillon 145pts
2 Peter Caughey  136
3 Leighton Minnell  129
4 Glen Head  125
5 Rob Coley  124
6 Graeme Hill  116
7 Dave Simmons  103
8 Peter Huijs
9 Nick Berryman
10 Dave Hopkins