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Three National Sprint Champions crowned all from LPRC

posted 6 Aug 2012, 16:27 by Lancashire Powerboat   [ updated 7 Aug 2012, 12:58 ]

On the weekend of Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th August, Lancashire Powerboat Racing Club (LPRC) drivers headed south to Stewartby Water Sports Centre in Bedfordshire. A trio of titles were awarded to our local drivers after a weekend of gutsy competition, from forty powerboat teams all making their challenge for the titles.

The National Sprint Championship is a one-off event that crowns the winners with the glory of a National Title after just one-weekend of closely fought competitive racing.  This championship gives drivers who may not have had all the luck in the season so far, with the chance to claim some glory. They each take part in three races in a bid to gain the prestigious titles.

LPRC drivers were keen to step-up to the challenge with drivers taking part in five out the seven classes that had titles up for grabs. Regional success was achieved, when local drivers powered to victory in three classes, the GT30 and T850 monohulls and also in the headline show-stopping Formula 2 catamaran class, where they reach speeds of in excess of 115mph.

Sixteen year old, Natalie Craddock from Winstanley in Wigan, was the first to secure the win in her GT30. Natalie from the NG Powerboat Racing Team put in an impressive performance battling hard to keep her driving steady and consistent throughout the weekend. The first race saw Jordan Muckles from Sunderland storm into the lead and take a clear victory over the rest of the field. It was a nail biting close race, with Ben Morse, Natalie Craddock and Kevin Hill all battling hard with some really close racing with Ben putting in a great drive to secure second leaving Natalie having to settle for third.

In the second heat it was all change as Jordan suffered engine problems causing him to retire and Ben Morse not starting. This gave Natalie the break she needed as she put in a great challenge for the title. Natalie went on to impressively take the lead and claim the victory in the final two heats. This gave her the overall prize and awarded her with the 2012 RYA Powerboat GP GT30 National Sprint Title. A great achievement, and one that Natalie and her team should be rightly proud of.

After claiming her National Title a beaming Natalie said: “I had a disappointing start to the season while the team struggled to get the new boat performing at its best. Going into the Sprint Championship, we have been doing lots of testing and I knew the boat was now running and handling well. I hoped we had done enough to crack it, so then it was over to me to drive at the best of my ability.

“In the race, I knew I had to stay focused as the competition out there was tough. It was a great race and it was really good to get back to my winning ways. I am now really excited about the rest of the season and I’m looking forward to the next race.”

The second LPRC driver victory of the weekend was for Bill Owen, from St Helens who now lives in Ashton-in-Makerfield, Wigan. Bill is a member of the Last of the Summer Wine Racing Team and has been racing boats for over 39 years. He is a very skilled driver and never fails to entertain with his impressive driving ability. He managed to fend off Mike Pillow, from Welshpool who had to settle for second place and his Last of the Summer Wine teammate David James, who came in to take third place on the podium, and Jason Brewer from JPL Racing Team who took fourth place.

Bill Owen, said: “It was a really tough race. We were all determined to get the win this weekend as the Sprint Title is one that is notorious and can go anybody’s way. All of us wanted to get the best line to the first turn and get the advantage to help us in our quest to win. I felt like a target at times, as my boat was getting bashed by drivers on either side. It was a great exciting race to be involved in, as the adrenaline was pumping so fast it added to my determination to take the victory.

“We are all so closely matched by speed, it could have gone anybody’s way so I knew if I got out in front I had to do all that I could to stay there. I was really pleased to get the win in the first heat and this then spurred me on to keep up the challenge and stay ahead of the rest for the other races.”

The high octane Formula Two (F2) action was fast and furious with twelve boats on the water all battling for the glory. This is a large number of boats and the tension before the race was intense. With such a large field of boats reaching fast speeds, all in the mix and hungry for the win, the racing promised to be a sporting spectacle, and it did not disappoint.

It all started during practice on the Saturday as the drivers battled to get the fastest lap they could to secure pole position to gain the advantage of best line when heading into the first turn.

Thirty year old, Malcolm Goodman originally from Huyton, Liverpool now living in St Helens powered to victory in practice. He dominated proceedings by setting a lap time of almost two-seconds ahead of his nearest rival, and was successful at securing the all-important pole position for the first race on Sunday. Malcolm has been battling with technical problems so far this season, so he knew he had to hold his nerve and put in his best performance if he was going to win the title.

In the first two races in his JPL Racing Team boat, Malcolm demonstrated what a class-act he is by building up a clear lead over the competition and the rest of the field. His boat reached speeds in excess of 115mph as he powered around the course and extended his lead with every lap. An impressive performance of speed and precision driving. In the final heat Goodman knew he didn’t have anything more to prove, his priority was to finish the race intact and secure the National Title. And that’s what he did. He finished in 2nd place but this was enough to win the overall title, over his nearest rival Owen Jelf, from Poole.

After the race, Malcolm Goodman said: "This is a double victory for me, although I have tried hard at every race this season the luck has not been going my way as I have experienced technical problems. Not only does this win give me the F2 RYA Powerboat GP National Sprint Title, which I have never won before, it also helps me improve my position and move up the points table in the British National Championship which I would love to retain for a second year.

Malcolm was joined on the water by other LPRC F2 drivers, Paul Balfour who also put in a great performance to finish 3rd, Alan Marshall from Stockport who finished 7th and Graham Palfreyman, from Southport who managed 8th in his brand new boat.

The weekend of racing was not a total success for all LPRC drivers. Matthew Palfreyman, from Aughton was at the centre of the drama after almost flipping his Team 77 boat over backwards down the back straight. He managed to keep the boat upright on the water, but soon after he then experienced a serious steering problem, which caused the boat to stop abruptly in front of spectators. Matt once again managed to keep the boat upright although the big jolt was intense and shook Matt meaning he was out for the rest of the competition.

Also competing over the weekend was two of our junior drivers, Tiegen Goodfellow, age 11 from Staffordshire and Charlotte Newton, age 14 from Lowton. Both girls showed great resolve when all the luck didn’t always go their way. Tiegen had to retire from the first race with a fuel problem and she struggled to get a clean start and get the boat away from jetty at the start of the race leaving her with too much to do  not enough time to chase down the leaders, leaving her to settle for 6th position.

Charlotte put in her best performance of the season by securing a second place in the first heat. In her second race she was penalised for an early start and had to settle for last place, but this made Charlotte even more determined and in her final race she drove her socks off to work her way up through the field finishing in an impressive third place. Overall this gave Charlotte a 4th place position for the weekend. Both Charlotte and Tiegen are keen to get their next win and will be back out on the water at Carr Mill Dam very soon.

Next race day at Lancashire Powerboat Racing Club, at Carr Mill Dam is the ComCare Trophy, which takes place on Sunday 9th September. Hope to see you there.