by Bob Wonders
Australia’s fastest offshore racers gathered at Redcliffe, east of Brisbane (Queensland) for round four of the 2011 Offshore Superboat Championships, and with smooth water and light winds to contend with, racing was fast and furious in all classes.
'Maritimo', its 1800-plus horsepower 'purring', on its way to a double victory off Redcliffe. - Redcliffe Offshore Race
For the crew of ‘Mustang’, Tom Barry-Cotter (driver) and Pal Virik Nilsen (throttles), the reigning national champions, it was not a good meet.
After winning the pole position shoot out and taking the lead in the opening race of the two-race format event, ‘Mustang’ threw a valve and was a DNF, leaving its team mate ‘Maritimo’ to coast home to victory.
The DNF ends any chance of Barry-Cotter and Virik Nilsen of defending their title and making it four in a row.
They were unable to make it to the start line for race two.
‘Maritimo’ crew Luke Durman (driver) and Ross Willaton (throttles) is now ‘sitting pretty’, holding a commanding and title-wining lead for the Class 1 crown.
Durman and Willaton won the title in 2005.
The Maritimo team fielded another boat in Class1, a Maritimo hull crewed by Peter McGrath (throttles) and Darren Nicholson (driver), a former yachtsman taking to the offshore circuit ‘like a veteran’.
This entry carried the name ‘Mainlube Express’.
They finished second in both races.
Tom Barry-Cotter was philosophical when asked about his defeat.
'That’s the way it goes,' he said, 'It could have been worse, we nearly flipped going into a turn when we were perhaps a bit too quick and hit a couple of waves.
'So there was some good luck attached to us as well, 'he said.
In the smaller classes, several crews are involved in very close battles.
‘The Good Guys’ (Supercat Lite), with brothers Chris (driver) and Brendan (throttles) Frier on board, won both races defeating ‘Team 3’ (Travis Thompson/Steve Nugent) both times.
Mike Beil (driver) and Steve Jellick (throttles) piloted ‘Global Racing’ to third in each race.
The double victory has allowed ‘The Good Guys’ to open up a substantial 650 point lead over ‘Team 3’ and continues a remarkable season of reliability for the crew.
With seven race starts, ‘The Good Guys’ has claimed six wins and a lone DNF.
Reliability has also been evident in Supercat Outboard, where Graham Fraser (driver) and Scott Gehrman (throttles) aboard ‘B.B.C. Digital’ hold a narrow lead over ‘Saracen’.
‘Saracen’, driven by Antony De Fina with Nigel Craven on throttles, won both races at Redcliffe, relegating ‘B.B.C.Digital’ to second, but three wins and three seconds from seven starts leaves Graham and Scott leading the Supercat Outboard field by 450 points.
Failure to start in the Mackay event has cost ‘Saracen’ dearly.
Problems continued for ‘SUV Dodge Ram’ which failed to make it to the start for the Redcliffe round.
‘FGI’, Mick Walker (driver) and Gary Smith (throttles) in the cockpit, continued its outstanding form with a pair of victories relegating the improving ‘Hog’s Breath’ (Paul Gibbs/Gryff Ethell) to two second places.
‘FGI' now boasts the incredible record of five victories and two seconds from its seven starts!
Mark Taylor (driver) and Adam Nicolls (throttles) aboard ‘It’s About Time’ finished third in race one and failed to finish race two.
‘Shaken Not Stirred’, Brian Dale at the wheel and Brooke Ullrich, the only female contesting the championships, took fourth spot in race one and recorded a DNF in race two.
The leader board now comprises:
Class 1: ‘Maritimo’ (3725 points), ‘Mustang’ (2075), ‘Jaeger Group’ (675).
Supercat Lite: ‘The Good Guys’ (3525 points), ‘Team 3’ (2875), ‘Global Racing’ (2250), Australian Vehicle Wholesalers (919), Mazlin Electrical (750).
Supercat Outboard: ‘B.B.C.Digital (3225 points), ‘Saracen’ (2775), ‘SUV Dodge Ram’ (1725), ‘Kwozzy’ (1600).
Supercat Outboard Lite: ‘F.G.I.’ (3725 points), ‘Hog’s Breath (3125), ‘It’s About Time’ (1650), ‘Shaken Not Stirred’ (919), ‘Number 8’ (675).
The offshore superboats now head south to Victoria for the remainder of the championships with races scheduled for Geelong (November 26/27) and Williamstown (December 3/4).