It’s tight at the top in the Suzuki SuperBoat championship this year, with Peter Caughey and Leighton Minnell just six points from the leader, and Richard Murray and Rob Coley trailing by the same amount.
“At this point in the championship, that means anyone could take the season,” Caughey says, “And the ENZED team is heading to Hastings and the fourth round on March 13 ready to come out fighting.”
With the track rotation just released, Caughey and navigator Shama Putaranui are learning the 26-turn sequence and the race lines they must take — with these 1000hp boats hitting 140kph on a track so tight that three circuits of the islands can take under 50 seconds, there’s no time for error.
And with no brakes, a mistake can be costly.
Caughey says the Riverside jet track near Hastings is not a big venue, “It’s a special little location and it’s great for spectators, but it’s the track itself is quite a fast, flowing style of track and deceptively so. That means it’s likely to favour the turbo motors, though there’s the infamous hairpin in there, a couple of little switchbacks and wakes to contend with that could make things interesting.”
Caughey’s ENZED team secured victory at the Naki 500 two weeks ago, but he’d had some concerns about the motor. “It wasn’t performing at its best. The motor and jet tune were spot on, the new fuel pump was working great, we couldn’t put a finger on it.”
But back in the workshop the crew found that, “The valve springs ‘had the ferret’ – they’re stuffed.”
Luckily the team carries a spare set, “although they almost cost their weight in gold,” and Phil from Tracksport Engines will fit the new springs by the weekend.
“Valve springs are a common consumable with this style of high-performance motor, and we’ve been watching and gauging the life of these springs to see how long they would go. We’ve found their limit and no harm done to the motor, so happy days.”
Caughey’s the creator of Sprintec SuperBoats and his workshop was a hive of activity for six months leading up to the world championship period, “but it’s close to normal now, and it’s been great to have some extra time to do a bit more testing and development.”
He’s looking forward to getting out on the track now, “We expect our motor to be at peak performance by Sunday, and we’re looking forward to racing.”
“We’re only half way through the championship and look at the points, anything could happen. Given half the SuperBoat class are turbo or supercharged and some are capable of winning times, the championship could open up further – or get blown wide open,” he says.
“It will be really interesting to see how the results fall by Sunday night.”
NZ Jet Sprint Championship Suzuki SuperBoat points
Top 10 only, after three of six rounds
1 Glen Head 85
2= Peter Caughey 79
2= Leighton Minnell 79
4 Richard Murray 73
5 Rob Coley 72
6 David Simmons 71
7 Garry Stephen 58
8 Graeme Hill 49
9 Nick Berryman 48
10 Scott Donald 39
New Zealand Jetsprint Championship season
13 March 2016 Hastings, round 4
9 April 2016, Wanganui (under lights) round 5
24 April, Featherston, round 6 (final)