Former New Zealand SuperBoat champion Peter Caughey has returned to the New Zealand series with a bang, taking a brand-new boat and motor to first on the podium at the opening round in Wanganui today.
But it wasn’t an easy win for the Canterbury racer and his ENZED team. “We’ve had a hard day in the office,” Caughey said as he loaded the boat onto his Trojan trailer.
“A new boat and a new motor – either is a fair test of endurance, patience and team, and it took all day to sort it out.”
Caughey says all through qualifying the crew were making changes to the mighty 570 MegaMonster motor, to the trim and jet unit, and it wasn’t until lunchtime that they realised they might be in with a chance of going through, “though it didn’t look like we’d get near the final.”
By then defending champion Leighton Minnell in Caughey’s old boat was hot favourite, with Wanganui local Pat Dillon and the green supercharged Ford V8-powered boat he’s tagged ‘The Hulk’ also on the pace.
As the rounds progressed Caughey’s ENZED team remained behind the eight-ball, making constant changes, and worse, “We had multiple navigational issues. Karen [Marshall] and I had to keep persevering at getting our heads around the track rotation.”
“I know what the problem was,” Caughey says, “I was concentrating on the motor with half my mind on how the boat was going instead of being able to trust the boat and focus on the track. Attacking the track became secondary and it has to be your prime target.”
Yet it was a navigational error that underlined just how quick this Sprintec boat can be with Caughey at the helm. “I took a wrong turn in the top eight elimination, as soon as I turned the wheel I knew it was wrong, but didn’t give up. We charged back round to correct and complete the run as hard and fast as I could. Despite that extra island we snuck in by a quarter-second to get in the top five…”
It came down to Dillon, Minnell and Caughey in the final; Minnell’s boat blew a driveshaft and Dillon couldn’t beat his 45.3 best time, completing the circuit in 46.24 seconds. “And we cracked 44, the only boat to manage it with a 44.95 in the final.”
Caughey says Wanganui presents a great track, “It’s an exciting rotation to race, a bit of everything with some fast stuff, some tight switchbacks, and a double chicane which didn’t need much turn but if you didn’t get the bend right… Wanganui’s Rob Coley rolled his boat there yet only got an eyeful of mud – it was incredible!”
What next for Caughey’s ENZED team? “We don’t need too many days like this. We’ll relax tonight, head home and then pull out the tools and the Total oil to work on better performance for the boat and motor leading into round two at Featherston.”
“Right now the engine’s only pulling 5400rpm, it’s on holiday and it managed first; this Sprintec boat’s a honey, it’s so responsive it’s unbelievable and after that final trim change it all came together for the last run.”
“Mind you I could do with an hour at the physio, I need to spend less time working on this boat and more time at the gym,” Caughey cracks.
Still, “As the commentator said, what an awesome way to return to the NZ champs, to turn up with an all-new package and come away with a win. The series will be hard-fought but we’re looking forward to the second round at Featherston,”
“It’s great to be back racing.”
Provisional results, top five after round One
1 Peter Caughey – Canterbury – 30 points
2 Pat Dillon – Wanganui – 29 points
3 Leighton Minnell – Wanganui – 28 points
4 Steve Bron – Feilding – 26 points
5 Ray Ferguson – Lower Hutt – 25 points
2013 Jetsprint calendar
Round 2, January 20, 2013 – Featherston
Round 3, February 24, 2013 – Meremere
Round 4, March 3, 2013 – Hastings
Round 5, March 30, 2013 – Wanaka
Round 6, April 13, 2013 – Wanganui
Peter Caughey and navigator Karen Marshall on their way to the win (photo Ian Thornton)
(note, additional race photos, high res photos and photos of the engine and of Caughey and his navigator are available on request)