Fountain crew hail perfect weekend at Grand Prix de Marseille .
by Powerboat P1 media
The reigning Evolution class champion crew of James Sheppard and Craig Wilson have hailed their double win in the 99 Fountain 1st4boats.com in this weekend’s Grand Prix de Marseille as the perfect result of their team’s hard work.
Pilot James Sheppard and team boss and throttleman Craig Wilson proved dominant in both Sprint-length races held off the southern French Mediterranean coast this weekend. In Saturday's rSprint race, they led from the front to win by a comfortable 50-second margin, while they came from behind after some first-corner confusion in Sunday's shortened Endurance event to take a second victory and secure the overall French Grand Prix of the Sea win.
Sheppard once again praised the British-based Fountain Worldwide team’s mechanics, who spent much of last night repairing damage on the left-hand side of the Fountain hull from the collision with the 69 Honeyparty.com boat in Saturday’s Sprint race.
'When you've got a great team like we have, all we really have to do is turn up on the day,' Sheppard said. 'We did have some catching up to do after missing the start, but it was another great race. Our focus was to pick up points today, but it's even better to come away with another win.'
Honeyparty.com team rueing weekend of missed opportunities.
The 69 Honeyparty.com team have been left rueing a Grand Prix de Marseille weekend of missed opportunities after front-running performances in the PowerPole session and both the Sprint and shortened Endurance races turned to nothing as the team was hit by a series of technical glitches.
The team – which qualified second in the PowerPole session – was forced out of the opening Sprint race with battle damage from a collision with the 99 Fountain 1st4boats.com entry. The team recovered to lead the second, shortened Endurance race on Sunday, but was once again forced to a halt, this time with electrical problems.
'I'm not feeling down,' team boss and throttleman Richard Carr said. '[Chief engineer] Mark [Pascoe] has done a great job with the boat, and we showed real speed. We just need to iron out our electrical problems bit by bit. Today it was a common problem with the battery - with the plates coming away - but it all stems from our sinking in the River Itchen before the first race of the year.'
Lucas Oil lose Evolution Class lead.
The 77 Lucas Oil Nigel Hook Racing team experienced a marked change of fortunes in this weekend’s Grand Prix de Marseille, entering France’s first ever round of the Powerboat P1 series as championship leaders, and leaving it third in the standings after a pair of mechanical problems blighted potentially strong results.
Pilot Shelley Jory and team boss and throttleman Nigel Hook were running third in the Saturday Sprint race before they dropped back with drive failure problems and ultimately retired. The pair were once again in a solid points-scoring position in Sunday’s shortened Sprint race, but were forced out with engine failure.
Hook was able to keep one engine running, while Jory had to keep the boat on track as they completed the minimum 70 per cent lap distance to at least score 50 points to keep them in the championship hunt, 90 points behind the 99 Fountain 1st4boats.com team.
'It has been a frustrating weekend for us,' said Hook. 'We lost all our power due to problems with our electronics, so getting past those last few laps involved a lot of strategic planning in order to make sure we finished the race to collect our points – all without risking blowing the engine.'
Sunseeker Challenger team keen to recover from France.
The 11 Sunseeker Challenger team are resolving to come back fighting after their boat sunk during practice for this weekend’s Grand Prix de Marseille in France. The incident occurred during Saturday pre-race testing as pilot Andy Wilby and Pete Little tried out accelerated turns in the choppy waters.
'We went into this particular turn as we had with every other that had been practiced,' said Wilby. 'The waters were pretty lumpy and we were around 70mph as we picked up the wake from another boat. The Sunseeker started to dig in. Pete was thrown out whilst I was holding onto the wheel and went under with the boat as it turned, the momentum as it turned chucked me out.
'We are absolutely devastated. The boat was running as well, as it had all season. The setup was right and our expectations were high. Now all we can do is nurse our aches and pains and hope the boat is not too badly damaged.'
Sunseeker Sales Group Managing Director Dominic Byrne said he was pleased both crew members were able to escape the incident without serious injury, and is keen to recover the 11 Sunseeker Challenger boat so that the British-based team can get its championship bid back on track.
'It is a characteristic of motorsport at the highest level that boats and pilots are pushing to their boundaries,' Byrne said. 'Fortunately, these incidents are very rare and our primary concern in this case is for the pilots. Now they are both safe our focus is on the recovery of the boat, which will be taken back to Sunseeker Sales Group in Poole where we will be able to assess the damage.'
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2:33 AM Mon 26 May 2008 GMT
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