by Bob Wonders
Tom Barry-Cotter (driver) and Pal Virik Nilsen (throttles) have overcome their shaky start to the 2011 Offshore Superboat Championships to pilot ‘Mustang’ to two convincing victories in the Townsville Grand Prix.
Starter sends the field away off Townsville in placid conditions following the rough water outing the previous week. - townsville offshore
'Mustang’ grabbed pole position following the shootout and was ‘on song’ to defeat arch-rival (and team mate) ‘Maritimo’, with current series leaders (and 2005 champions) Luke Durman (driver) and Ross Willaton (throttles) onboard.
The two wins at Townsville, following on the previous week’s DNF and a second placing, leaves ‘Mustang’ on 2000 series points, 775 shy of Class 1 leader ‘Maritimo’.
‘Mustang’ also trails ‘The Good Guys’ (Brendan and Christopher Frier) by just 25 points in the AUS 1 class.With three successive championship scalps to their credit, Barry-Cotter and Virik Nilsen were understandably keen to make it four in a row.
Sadly, with Melbourne entry ‘Jaeger Group’ a non-starter, believed to be due to sponsorship issues, there are only the two Maritimo team boats contesting Class1.
'It will make it very tough for us', Tom admitted.
'Even if we win every remaining race, if ‘Maritimo’ takes second every time we’re still in trouble.
'Still, the way I see it, all the pressure now is on Luke and Ross, we’re coming to get them, that’s for sure,' he added.
Conditions off Townsville were dead calm compared to the rough water affair off Mackay the week before.
Tom said winning pole had led to the team’s win, enabling it to corner hard and maintain a lead over ‘Maritimo’
'On the straights there was very little between us, it was only on the corners we managed to get a winning edge,' he explained.
‘Mustang’ topped out at a ‘healthy’ 134mph (215km/hr) at 7600rpm.
'We dropped off to 7200rpm towards the end when we losing a bit of oil, nothing serious, just a precaution,' he said.
With two thirds and two seconds from its five starts, ‘The Good Guys’ with the Frier brothers at the controls, is showing consistency and reliability.
There was some outstanding racing in Supercat Lite before ‘The Good Guys’ claimed the chequered flag just ahead of ‘Team 3’ (Steve Nugent and Travis Thompson).
‘Global Racing’ (Mike Beil and Steve Jellick) grabbed a third in the opening race, but failed to start race two with a trim failure.
‘The Good Guys’ now holds a commanding 450 points lead over ‘Team 3’ for the class championship with ‘Global Racing’ 475 points adrift in third.
Two other Supercat Lite entries, ‘Australian Vehicle Wholesalers’ and ‘Mazlin Electrical’ are both battling minor mechanical problems and trail the class.
‘B..B.C. Digital’ (Graham Fraser, driver, Scott Gehrman, throttles) have jumped out to a first class start to the Supercat Outboard season, with a double victory off Townsville to go with a win and a second at Mackay.
‘Saracen’, Antony deFina and Nigel Craven in he boat, came home second in both Townsville races and leads ‘SUV Dodge Ram’ on the championship standings by a bare 100 points.
‘SUV Dodge Ram’, Cameron Davis (driver) and Brett Luhrmann (throttles) aboard, claimed third place in race two, but suffered a DNF in the opening stanza.
It’s only early days, but the competition in Supercat Outboard Lite is so close the final result could go down to the wire.
Defending champions, Mick Walker (driver) and Gary Smith (throttles) have taken ‘FGI’ to a win and a second off Townsville to give the ultra reliable catamaran three wins and two seconds from its five starts.
‘Hog’s Breath’ Paul Gibbs at the wheel, Gryff Ethell on throttles, may well have hit the front only for a DNF in race two off Townsville.
'The Hog' now has a more than respectable tally of two wins and two seconds from its five starts.
‘It’s About Time’, with Mark Taylor (can he play cricket?) and Adam Nicolls aboard, is showing reliability, but seems a little off the pace, racking up three thirds and a second.
Three other Supercat Outboard Lite boats, ‘Shaken Not Stirred’, ‘Number 8’ and ‘Grumpy Mongrel’ failed to attend the North Queensland rounds.
Offshore Superboat Championships president, Adam Gilbert, was delighted with the staging of the Mackay and Townsville rounds.
'The conditions off Townsville were like chalk and cheese compared to Mackay,' he said.
'Nevertheless, racing was good and the spectator attendance outstanding.
‘Along The Strand, which runs parallel with the race circuit, Townsville City Council estimated 30,000 people or more watching the racing, it was a sight to see,' he added.
Adam is also owner of Team 3’ and was well pleased with the performance of the new boat, a former Victory rig from Dubai the team has been busily preparing for the 2011 season.
They did not make it to the start line off Newcastle for the opening rounds, but with a third, two seconds and a win have clearly shows they’ll be a force to contend with.
The Offshore Superboat Championships now focus on Redcliffe, in Brisbane’s east for the next two race-format even over the weekend of September 17-18.