by Bob Wonders
Tom Barry-Cotter and Pal Virik Nilson
Four offshore race classes, including the current Australian champions in each, will be lining up for the opening round of the 2008/09 Australian Offshore Powerboat championships off Redcliffe, Queensland, on September 21.
Strong fields are expected in all classes for the event, sponsored by the City of Redcliffe.
The four classes involved comprise Class 1, Supercat Outboard, Supercat Outboard Lite and Super Vee.
Maritimo’s Tom Barry-Cotter (driver) and Pal Virik Nielsen (throttles), reigning Australian Class 1 champions, will start favourites, with strong opposition likely to come from team mates Luke Durman and Peter ‘Muddy’ McGrath aboard Simrad.
Team owner, Bill Barry-Cotter, a former seven-time Australian champion, has indicated he may make a comeback from his semi-retirement and join Ross Willaton aboard one of the new boats sporting the naturally-aspirated 790hp engines.
The new boats headline Barry-Cotter’s technical rule change proposal aimed at increasing competitiveness and reducing costs for Class 1 racing.
One new team scheduled to compete is that of former Victorian, now Gold Coaster Mark Gilbert.
Gilbert will run his new US-built MTI (Marine Technology Inc) boat powered by dual 525hp MerCruiser race engines.
Other national champions scheduled to contest the Redcliffe 100 include Anthony De Fina and Simon Thomas (Saracen), Supercat Outboard, Ian Harris and Graham Fraser (Ezy Does It), Supercat Outboard Lite and Peter Jack and James Calan (Grumpy Mongrel), Super Vee.
As was the case at least year’s Redcliffe 100, large crowds are expected to line the foreshores to catch the spectacular action.
The crews will test their boats on the Saturday prior to the Sunday competition and a street parade is currently being planned to heighten interest among local residents.
For further interest, telephone Race Director Paul Gibbs, 0414 371 122.