by Bob Wonders
Sydney’s Shane Vella has been confirmed as the 2008 Australian Formula 1 champion after the final round was fought out at Southport’s Marine Stadium on the Gold Coast.
A winner’s smile from Shane Vella after a taking out the Australian Formula 1 championship on the Gold Coast. - F1 Gold Coast
Vella had actually gathered enough points to win the title without competing at the Gold Coast, but to his credit (and that of his crew) he wanted to go out on top.
Taking it relatively easy at times, Vella’s bright yellow Seebold hull carrying the #61 scored two seconds and a fourth before starting celebrations on the title win.
It was Vella’s second national crown; he won the Australian Formula 1 title in 2003, in his first year of F1 racing.
A big crowd lined the shores to catch an exciting weekend of racing involving Formula 1, Formula 2000 and various Unlimited Displacement classes.
The weekend’s Formula 1 racing belonged to Rhys Coles (Byron Bay Premium Ale) who led the field home to the chequered flag in all three races.
Consistent driver Damien McKenzie (McKenzie Constructions) showed his reliability to register three thirds.
Bob Trask, in one of the immaculately-prepared Trask Development Corporation boats returned two fourths and a second.
Vella was quick to praise the contributions of his crew after his victory. 'Everyone involved in powerboat racing knows the importance of a good crew and in my crew chief, Jason Draeger and head mechanic (and ex-Formula 1 driver) Matt Gardner and their support I’ve got the best,' Vella declared.
Shane Vella's 'championship chariot' after a fourth and two seconds secured the national crown. - F1 Gold Coast
The final point score for the F1 Superboat Series left Vella sitting clearly on top with 490 points, 155 points clear of second-placed Rhys Coles.
Craig Truslove (321 points), Damien McKenzie (278) and Anthony McEnnally (260) all ‘fought the good fight’ throughout the series.
Spectators were also treated to some exciting racing in the Formula 2000, with Grant Trask (Trask Development Corporation) proving the man to beat, claiming two wins and a third from his three starts.
The superbly-prepared boats of the Trask Development Corporation ready to go at Southport. - F1 superboats
His performance earned enough points (507) to take out the national Formula 2000 crown.
Michael Page, in the Page Racing boat, pushed Trask hard in every encounter, his win and two seconds confirming his status at second spot on the final point score with 349 points.
David Wedlock, with two thirds and a second at Southport, earned third place on the final tally with 225 points.
Perhaps one of the lead stories to come out of the weekend racing involved Mono Series driver Greg Adams.
Adams not only survived a spectacular roll-over, but walked (swam?) away uninjured and his boat sustained such minor damage that it was repaired on site and continued racing to win the Mono Series.
The big crowd lining the shores was also treated to plenty of action (and noise!) when the thundering Unlimited Displacement boats went into action.
Brian McCosker's 'Libert' at full noise during a round of the Unlimited Displacement races on the Gold Coast. - F1 Gold Coast
Brian Jeffery (‘Bondage’) took out the 6.0-litre Displacement classes from ‘Image’ (Craig Lewis) and ‘Sacrifice’ (Chris Whalen).
In Unlimited Displacement, ‘Haier Madness’, Troy Marland at the wheel, was first to greet the chequered flag from Brett Sheppard (‘Unleashed’) and Rod Mackey (‘Bad Intent’).
Spectators gathered along the beach front at the Marine Stadium to catch all the action. - F1 superboats
Time to celebrate - Shane Vella and his crew at Southport after taking out the national F1 title. - F1 Gold Coast
As Kirk Tsaccounis, Formula 1 Superboat Series director said 'All in all it was a great weekend of quality powerboat racing across a range of classes.'
Kirk Tsaccounis, Formula 1 Superboat Series director at Southport. - F1 superboats
What do we say? 'Great racing but the downside is we’re no longer wanted on the Gold Coast, with bumbling bureaucracy intent on ‘skittling’ any further similar events.'