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RACE REPORT: Returning racers just miss out on victory

posted 18 Jun 2012, 08:26 by Lancashire Powerboat
With five fast monohull drivers who all hold no fear, it was clear that the Senior racing at Carr Mill Dam yesterday, was going to be closely fought and one to watch. The spectators around the Dam were not only treated to the sun coming out to join us on a race day, but they also saw all five drivers put their boats through their paces to challenge each other to set the fastest times and get the clear water ahead of their competition.

The race brought the valiant return of veteran and vastly experienced powerboat racer Stuart Williams, from Warrington. His return saw him get straight back into the thick of the action. When asked his age, Stuart shyly confessed that his age had remained static for a while now, and he proudly stated that he remained 21 at heart. Although, our official sources say that he was born in 1941, which means Stuart is still racing now in his 70’s, what a great achievement.

Stuart has been involved with Lancashire Powerboat Racing Club in many capacities both on and off the water. He started his career as the official timekeeper back in 1968. But not long after that, he got the racing bug and has been on the water ever since. He has stepped up and embarked on many roles including taking on the responsibility of officer of the day (OOD), boat measurer, boat scrutineer, a role which checks race-boat worthiness before they go out on the water, as well as an engine inspector. His racing began in 1969, with a 40hp engine. Stuart has won many club championships and titles throughout his racing career and hopes to continue to put up a challenge for the Trophy’s in the remaining races of the 2012 season.

As well as Stuart's return to club racing, we also saw Jason Brewer back in a T850 monohull and ready to join in the fun and brave the challenge. Jason took to the water in his first club race at Carr Mill Dam, after a gap of almost 22 years away from racing. He was keen to make a strong return to get straight back to his winning ways.  

Jason, aged 40 from Lincolnshire has re-joined LPRC and is making real positive waves and having great influence. He is supporting many drivers as well as heading-up new investments. He brings with him his uncompromising enthusiasm and is successfully instilling new confidence in the sport and providing pioneering new schemes to attract more racing drivers.

The race

The first heat saw some real close racing, but Stuart’s vast experience in the race boat paid off. He fought off tough competition from Mike Pillow and Dave James, to set the pace and take the victory.

Although this triumph was short lived, as heat two saw everything change. Reigning club champion Mike Pillow stepped up his pace  once more and came back from behind to win both of the next two heats. Leaving Stuart Williams, Jason Brewer, Bill Owen and Dave James to battle it out for the lower podium places.

In heat two, Stuart secured second and Jason third, while heat three saw Jason regain his confidence and battled hard to be awarded second place, leaving Stuart to settle for third.

The two wins and the second position, gave Mike what he needed to take the overall glory and the all-important first place to win the Dunlop Hiflex Trophy. This win, also gives him the valuable club championship points, and extends his lead in the quest of the club title.

When asked about the race, Stuart said: “ It was very good out there today, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was really good to know that I am still in with a chance this season as I was awarded the top spot in the first heat. My best propeller is still being race-prepared so all in all I am really pleased with my overall performance. With my best equipment hopefully back for the next race club-race on 22nd July, I hope to able to improve on the second position I gained from the other races today, and put up a real challenge for the overall top spot.”

Taking the overall third place was Jason Brewer. Jason said: “It was great out there. It brought back many fond memories of club racing at Carr Mill Dam when I was younger. To be given the chance to drive a T850 monohull again was great pleasure, and I must thank Bill and Joe Owen for giving me the chance to join in the fun today. I felt my confidence grow throughout the afternoon as I got to grips with the boat. I hope to build on this, and to compete in more races over the coming months.”

The Junior and GT30 competition

Rather than use the usual timed handicap club racing system the junior and GT30 drivers opted for a mini-race testing sessions. They participated in eight mini race heats, enabling them all to get good experience and important practice of race-starts.

At first Ben Morse, age 18 from Ashton-in-Makerfield, seemed to be way ahead of his rival Natalie Craddock, age 16 from Wigan, in their GT30 boats. Although as the short races progressed Natalie pushed the boat hard and made great progress improving on her fastest time with every lap. Natalie’s boat was right on the limit and she did all that she could to get the extra speed that she needed out of her boat. On a few occasions she was close to spinning the boat out of control but her focus and driving skill kept the boat on the water and pointing the right way. In the penultimate race, the boat set up was complete as she gave real challenge to Ben.

Tiegen Goodfellow, age 10 from Stafforshire was the only junior driver on the water, and she took full advantage of this to use valuable time on the water to test some new equipment.

When asked about Tiegen’s progress, her father and boat builder Andy Goodfellow said: "I am really proud. Tiegen's driving ability has progressed beyond belief in the last 12 months. She is showing real racing spirit and battling hard. In all of her recent races she has challenged for and won many positions. Today we had the opportunity to test some new equipment and get some good practice of a clean start from the jetty. Her lap times got better and better today and all being well we hope that she can put up a good challenge for the top spot at Cardiff next weekend."

Next weekend, LPRC drivers will be heading to Cardiff Bay in Wales, where they will be racing in Round 3 of the National Powerboat championships on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th June.

The next race back at Carr Mill Dam is on Sunday 22nd July where the racers will be battling it out for the Mortgage Option Trophy from 2pm. On race days the facilities at ‘The Boathouse’ are open from 12 noon. Everybody is welcome and can come down to watch or photograph the action, join in the fun, meet the drivers and their mechanics or simply enjoy a tasty snack or a drink at the bar.