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Three local drivers claim victory in opening round of 2013 British Powerboat GP Championship

posted 8 May 2013, 13:55 by Lancashire Powerboat
On Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th May powerboat racers from across the UK arrived at Carr Mill Dam in St Helens to compete in the first round of the 2013 RYA Powerboat GP British Championship. The weather was kind although a blustery cross wind added to the challenge that drivers faced on the day, and the spectacle of the racing for the crowds to see. 

Lancashire Powerboat Racing Club (LPRC) drivers missed out on the top spot in the headline Formula 2 (F2) action, with Owen Jelf from Kent claiming the victory. Although our local powerboat stars did not disappoint with Bill Owen, Ben Morse and Jordan Muckles all claiming their wins in their respective classes.

The F2 action on the water was fierce and the atmosphere was tense with the loud roars heard from the firing of ten 2-litre engines. With ten boats all battling for the top spot it was a phenomenal sight with little room for drivers to maneuver as the specialist racing catamaran boats raced and skipped across the top of the water reaching speeds of up to 120mph,

Added to the mix was a wealth of experienced drivers alongside a host of newcomers to this class of racing. Every driver wanted to get the season off to a flying start and be at the front of the pack at the first turn buoy.

During qualifying, Owen Jelf was the one setting the pace claiming the top spot by completing the course in the fastest time. Although when it came to heat one he lost out to newcomer Steve Hoult, from Newcastle who got an amazing start and grabbed the glory for the very first race of the year closely followed by Owen in second and local driver Paul Balfour, from Wigan who claimed third.

Race two, saw it change at the front with Owen this time getting out in front and holding onto the first position ahead of Steve who had to settle for second and Paul Balfour once again claiming third.

The third and final F2 race of the day on Sunday was full of action, thrills and spills. With collisions a-plenty and all three new drivers to this class involved. A collision in the second lap between new F2 racers Steve Hoult and Scott Curtis, on the right hand turn very near to the rocks caused the race to be stopped, and Scott to retire with a damaged boat. In the re-start there was yet another collision, this time involving Steve as he got caught up with Matt Palfreyman in lap three.

The overall race results saw Owen Jelf in first, Steve Hoult take second and Paul Balfour take the third spot on the podium (photo credit of Owen Jelf above: Anthony Stuchbury)

Malcolm Goodman, from St Helens, the reigning British F2 champion from JPL racing team, did not have luck on his side throughout the weekend. He finished in a disappointing seventh place overall after having to withdraw from the final race before the re-start, due to technical steering problems. Brother’s Matt and Graham Palfreyman finished fourth and sixth respectively, great results for their newly formed Mclaren H2o racing team and Alan Marshall from Macclesfield finished in fifth.

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

Local driver Ben Morse, age 19 from Ashton-in-makerfield, Wigan dominated the action in the brand new F4-s class that has reached the UK for the first time this season. These ‘green’ racing outfits are also catamaran tunnel boats in their design, and can be flightly and flip over with the slightest of mistakes. Ben not only set the pace in this class during qualifying he won all three of his races over the weekend. Leaving another LPRC driver and new recruit to JPL Racing Team Mike Pillow to take second and Sam Whittle to settle for third.

Ben said: “I am really pleased to be leading the way in the very first British championship for the F4-s class, this is a new style boat for me, but I am getting to grips with it quickly and the boat is handling really well. I hope that this will be a growing class over the coming months as new competitors join us as the season progresses.”

Top Cat racing team who were also local sponsors of the weekend saw some outstanding driving from their drivers. LPRC driver Jordan Muckles, from Newcastle dominated the GT30 class over the weekend by not only setting the pace in qualifying and taking pole position, he then claimed first place in all three of his heats to take the overall victory in the GT30 class. Second place went to the reigning champion Kevin Hill and third spot went to local driver Natalie Craddock, from Wigan.

Also in the thick of the action was Top Cat’s Jessica Stoneman, age 16 from Kent who battled hard to claim fourth place and showed great resolve. She faced the vast powerboat experience of Windermere Motor Boat Racing Club’s, Will Wood. Jess kept up the pressure on him and her persistence paid off as she came out on top and passed him in two out of the three races, leaving Will in her wake.

T850 monohull class is often a closely fought race with three local drivers Bill Owen from St Helens, Dave James from Warrington and Jason Brewer from Lincoln all competing. This weekend they were up against Mark Williams from Lowestoft and Oulton Broad Motor Boat Club.

Dave James seemed set to win the weekend after setting pole position and winning the first heat with ease, but when it came to the next race it was all change. Bill Owen rose to the challenge, got a great start and nudged in-front to take the lead ahead of Mark Williams who was close behind, leaving Dave in third and Jason in fourth, and this is how it continued to the final chequered flag in heat three.

Winning two heats was enough for Bill Owen to clinch the overall top spot and take first place on the podium, and the vital championship points.

The Junior GT15 class, which sees racers aged between 9 and 16 years old was great to watch with a strong fleet of twelve drivers. The top spot in the race results was dominated by Ben Jelf, the current British Champion 12 year old racer from Kent, and member of Stewartby Water Sports Centre in Bedfordshire. Ben led all three races from the start. Although Thomas Mantripp, from Lowestoft in Suffolk seemed to be making up ground on him and was hot on his heels just waiting for Jelf to make a mistake.

The third place on the podium was secured by Top Cat racing team’s local driver Charlotte Newton from Lowton. Charlotte didn’t always get the best start but she drove her way through the field to claim her third position. JPL racer Jonathan Brewer took fourth, Tiegen Goodfellow from Staffordshire finished seventh ahead Lucy Brewer from Lincoln.

New driver Jack Pickles, who is also a part of Top Cat, finished the day in a respectable ninth position for his very first national race. It all started to come together for Jack in the final GT15 race of the day, as he showed some great driving skill and passed three boats in some great maneuvers.

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 2013 Powerboat GP British Championship to feature on TV sports channels throughout the world – including Sky. 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.

Lancashire Powerboat Racing Club Commodore, Brenda Goodman said: “This was the most successful event seen at Carr Mill over many recent years with forty teams taking part there was lots of action for the thousands of spectators who lined the banks of the dam to see. A great spectacle that we must thank all drivers, teams, sponsors and especially our volunteers for all their help and support that made our event such a huge success. LPRC now has three championship leaders in Bill Owen, Ben Morse and Jordan Muckles who are all out in front for each of their classes, we are proud of our local drivers.”

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 were on hand and 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 19th May, 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 round of the Powerboat GP British Championship will take place at Oulton Broad in Suffolk on 26 and 27 May.