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RACE REPORT: Paul Balfour wins F2 National Championship at Carr Mill Dam

posted 4 Jun 2012, 07:43 by Lancashire Powerboat   [ updated 4 Jun 2012, 09:09 ]

On Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd June powerboat racers from across the UK descended on Carr Mill Dam in St Helens to compete for the 2nd round of the RYA British National Championships, now known as Powerboat GP.

The perfect summer time conditions failed to materialise but drivers did not let the wet weather conditions dampen their spirits as Lancashire Powerboat Racing Club drivers battled hard with drivers from all over the country to gain the top spots over the Jubilee Bank Holiday Weekend of racing action. It was a really successful event with many spectators watching a great weekend of racing; with lots of dramatic action and brilliant driving by all those taking part.

Lancashire Powerboat Racing Club’s (LPRC’s) very own Paul Balfour took the glory in the headline Formula 2 action, with a great show of speed and precision driving. In this type of specialist racing catamaran boat the drivers were reaching speeds of around 115mph as boats raced and skipped across the top of the water.

Paul made it look easy, as he set the pace for the weekend during practice to gain the all-important pole position. Paul then took full advantage of his first place on the starting grid to take control of the weekends racing from the very first turn buoy. Paul led from the front in every one of the three dramatic races that took place over the weekend and left all the other drivers to battle it our for the lower positions behind him. It was a great drive from Paul. LPRC’s Alan Marshall from Macclesfield in Cheshire, took second place while JPL Racing Teams’ Ian Andrews took third place in the overall weekends results. This now leaves Alan heading up the National points table and leading the race for the 2012 overall title.

In the first of the three heats, the man they were all talking about was boat number 1, Malcolm Goodman, from St Helens who at the end of the very first lap wiped out a turn buoy causing the race to be stopped for safety reasons. As Goodman caused the stoppage the rules prevent him from taking part in any re-started race, Goodman decided to challenge this decision and went out to join the rest of the field in the re-start.

Goodman said: “Its real tight course at Carr Mill and with such short straights and sharp turns I was always going to have my work cut out this weekend. My boat tends to be slower off the line than others competing. At the end of the first lap I was in the thick of the race and there was not much room for me so I took the step of hitting the buoy causing the race to be stopped. I then went out in the re-start as I felt there was a slim chance that the decision could be overturned due to other drivers not leaving room for me. Although the officials decided that the original decision stood so my second place in that race does not count.” Goodman’s bad luck then continued when technical problems preventing him joining the field for the second race, and finishing any chance of a place on the podium.

In the second heat, the crowds who stuck around despite the relentless rain saw some spectacular action on the water when once again the race was stopped due to drama on the water. This time, it was local driver Graham Palfreyman from Southport and visiting driver Sven Hammer from Holland in boat number 50, who both came together on the first turn with Sven’s boat being forced onto its side and then barrel-rolling over in one of the most dramatic crashes’ seen on the Dam in many years.

Graham said: “It was fast and we were all really close together battling for position on the first turn, it happened very quickly. Sven and I came together and our boats touched quite hard, the side of my boat cracked up and Sven went flying up into the air and barrel-rolled his boat. We are both fine and now have a lot of repairs to get done on our boats before the next race in Cardiff in a few weeks.”

Our victorious, winning F2 driver, Paul Balfour said: “I am really pleased with the win, it was a great result for me to kick start my racing season. This was my first time out in the boat this year, and to get a win on my home water of Carr Mill in front of the crowds was such a good feeling. The racing this weekend was full of incidents and this all adds to drama of the race and makes it even more exciting to watch. I am delighted to have this victory under the belt and it puts me in good stead for the rest of the season.”

The action packed powerboat weekend did not stop there. With lots more racing and yet further spectacular incidents in other classes.

Local LPRC driver Matthew Palfreyman also crashed out in extravagant fashion. Matt was driving his Formula 4 (S850) boat close to the edge and it was riding very high on the water, after getting a very respectable second position in the first race, he was in full racing mode in the second heat. But disaster struck when he pushed it a step too far and got too much air under the front of the boat causing him to flip the boat over backwards high up into the air, when it landed crashing back down onto the water on the front nose, it then barrel-rolled over sideways. Upon safely getting out and swimming out of the boat, Matt climbed on top of the sunken boat and stamped his feet and shook his fists in anger, as he knew he had then blown his chances for the weekend.

Matt said: “I had to go for it, I only got second place in the first race so if I stood any chance of winning I needed that first place in the second heat. I went all out to do what I could to challenge Scott Curtis who was in first place, but I pushed the boat too far. It was very annoying to crash out like that as I was making good progress and catching first place. But hey that’s racing!”

To show his fighting sprit Matt managed to do some temporary boat repairs and made it back out for his last race of the day to finish in another respectable second position. These results gave him an overall final position of 4th for the weekends’ results.

The GT30 boat was the class with the most competition in over the weekend, with eight boats battling it out for positions. These boats were all so closely matched by speed the drivers showed some great driving skill to see lots of overtaking and tough competition throughout all the races. Young driver Jessica Stoneman, aged 15 in Top Cat Racing’s number 7 boat, hit a rogue wave and after the boat nose shot up in the air it came back down hard and threw Jess out and into the water for a swim right in front of the crowds at ‘The Boathouse’. Jess was fine, although wet through after the incident she was keen to get straight back in the boat and wanted to go back out in the last heat, but the boat was damaged so it meant that she had to sit it out and watch from the sidelines.

Our local drivers just missed out in the GT30 top results and did not manage to get a podium place in the GT30 class with Jordan Muckles secured 4th place, Ben Morse took 5th, Natalie Craddock grabbed 6th and returning driver Jason Brewer in his specially ‘60th Diamond Jubillee’ designed hull took 7th place. The race was won by JPL Racing Teams’ Kevin Hill, with his very first National race win, with the experienced Mark Williams from Oulton Broad in a great second place in the first time out in the boat, followed by Thomas Yallop in third.

T850 monohull class saw our three local drivers up against Mark Williams from Lowestoft and Oulton Broad Motor Boat Club. Bill Owen from St Helens; chased Mark down in all three heats but couldn’t quite get close enough to pass him. So had to settle for second, while Mike Pillow took third and Dave James battled with the wake and waves caused by the other racers at the back of the field to be awarded fourth place.

The Junior GT15 class was dominated by Ben Jelf, the current World Champion 11 year old racer from Kent, and member of Stewartby Water Sports Centre in Bedfordshire. Ben led all three races from the start. LPRC member Tiegen Goodfellow from Staffordshire, battled hard and put up a good challenge showing some great driving promise, Tiegen managed to secure an overall second pace finish for the JPL Racing Team. Local driver Charlotte Newton from Lowton, Warrington showed great resolve although could not match the speed of the front-runners and finished the weekend in a disappointing 6th position. Charlotte and her Top Cat Racing Team will now go and work on her boat before the next race to hopefully gat some more top-end speed. Charlotte came behind Thomas Mantripp, Jessica Beaumont and new driver Bethany Stoneman who completed her first ever National race.

OSY 400 is a class we don’t see very often at Carr Mill Dam anymore, as there are currently no local drivers in this class in the area. Although the three drivers made the long 6-hour trip up north from Norfolk to take part in the National Championship round put on a great show. Top Cat racing Teams’ Luke Hugman took the overall victory by showing a strong display of skill, he was followed by Jamie Marr and Jason Mantripp.

Tiff Needell, ex-formula one and rally car racing driver, as well as an acclaimed TV presenter joined LPRC Commodore Brenda Goodman to present the awards to the winning drivers. Tiff and the team from Greenlight TV productions are making a series of programmes of the 2012 National Powerboat Racing Series that will feature on TV sports channels throughout the world. Watch out for all the full TV coverage of the action from Carr Mill on over the coming months. We will provide you with information as it becomes available.

Safety is really important at all powerboat events and with such an action packed weekend, we are pleased to announce that the specially trained rescue officers recovered all drivers and their boats safely with no driver injuries from any of the racing incidents.

The racing events held by Lancashire Powerboat Racing Club are free for spectators, the next powerboat racing action to take place at Carr Mill Dam will be on Sunday 17th June, with boats taking to the water at 2pm. You can see and watch the racing from anywhere around the banks of the Dam, or can you join the racers, their mechanics, pit crew and teams in ‘The Boathouse’. On a race day ‘The Boathouse’ bar is open from 12 noon and they are also serving both hot and cold food and snacks.

The next (third round) of the National Championship will take place in Cardiff Bay on 23 and 24th June.