In a triumphant return, cancer survivor Dean Stoneman (Southampton) made a winning start by scoring three dominant race wins in his Pickfords-sponsored P1 Panther 250 powerboat to claim the Plymouth Cup.
The 21-year old and his navigator Dean Paling (Southampton) led all but one lap of the three races held in Plymouth Sound to complete a perfect weekend. Professional racing driver Dean won the 2010 FIA Formula 2 Championship in 2012 and tested with the Williams F1 team but then spent last year battling cancer.
'It’s a great feeling to be back racing and I’m delighted we won as I really didn’t know what to expect coming into the race weekend as both Dean (Paling) and I are making our powerboat racing debuts', said Dean. 'I am sure now that it was the right move to race powerboats this year to help build my fitness again as I still have unfinished business in car racing.'
The Pickfords crew convincingly won the first two races, held on a three nautical miles course in Plymouth Sound, but had a close fight at the start of the third race where Peters & May Racing with Brookspeed crew Mike Lovell/Luke Elkins (both Southampton) made a better start and led the first lap. Dean then steered Pickfords into Peters & May Racing’s wake and then swept along side on the straight in front of spectators watching from the Hoe and look the led at the second mark. Once he had clean water the Pickfords crew were able to build a comfortable 10 second lead by the end of the 30 minute race.
Second place was still a very good performance by the new Peters & May Racing with Brookspeed crew on their powerboat racing debut having finished second in both of today’s races and third in their first ever race yesterday. 'The weekend has gone really well and much better than we thought. Luke and I improved every time we got into the boat and have started to develop a really good partnership', commented Mike. Brookspeed Team Manager Martin Braybrook was delighted with his switch into powerboat racing from campaigning Porsche Boxsters. 'The atmosphere here today was fantastic and the Panthers looked great racing and I really liked the fact we could see the whole course.'
PaLu crew of Simon Bayles (Battersea)/Philippa Baker (Kensington) were another crew happy with their performance in Plymouth, where they finished second, fifth and sixth in the three races and were awarded the final place on the podium on aggregated scores. They might have challenged Peters & May Racing in the final race of the day having made a cracking start to run in the chasing pack until a spin dropped PaLu back to last place. 'The rear of the boat was lifted by the wash as we turned and we couldn’t help but spin to a complete stop', said Simon. 'But we were able to fight our way back and pick up a couple of places, which in the end of the day helped us secure third place overall.'
Reigning P1 SuperStock UK Champions Pertemps crewed by John Wilson (Coleshill)/Neil Scarborough (Monks Risborough) finished fourth in the Plymouth Cup standings after scoring a fifth place and two fourth place finishes. Unable to match the pace of the top three boats, Pertemps enjoyed a couple of close fought battles with the Typhoo crew of Miles Jennings (Exeter)/Andy Wilby (Fleet).
Behind Typhoo in sixth place were another rookie crew of Nick Williams (Amersham)/Aaron Emmett (Farnham Common), who capped a solid weekend performance in their IFX Racing boat with a superb third place in the final race. 'Our aim in first was to stay out of trouble and follow the more experienced crews but as we spent more and more time in the boat we got quicker and quicker', Nick said. 'Aaron did a really good job and I’m pleased we have now raced together as we are really looking forward to the race in Hull.'
The remaining two places were filled by Edox Swiss Watches crew of Ian Brusby (Doncaster)/Simon Wing (Newark) and the Oval Insurance-backed Panther 250 of James Norvil/Jon Collingbourne (both Newport, south Wales).
The opening round of the P1 SuperStock UK Championship was made into the Plymouth Cup competition rather than a full points scoring encounter after the late arrival of boats into the country meant officials had insufficient time to guarantee parity of weight. A joint decision was made with the full agreement of the competitors to race but not score points in Plymouth.
'For a number of reasons we could not be sure all the boats had identical weight which is vital for one-make racing such as SuperStock and the fact is we needed more time to be certain there is technical equality', said Championship Manager, Paolo Callea. 'Work will now begin in earnest to ensure the boats achieve this ahead of the next event in one month’s time in Hull.'
The 2012 SuperStock UK Championship for the P1 Panther 250 class will now be run over 12 rounds at the four remaining Grands Prix of the Sea, starting in Hull on 16/17th June.
Plymouth Cup result : 1. Pickfords (Dean Stoneman/Dean Paling) 60 points; 2. Peters & May Racing with Brookspeed (Mike Lovell/Luke Elkin) 49; 3. PaLu (Simon Bayles/Philippa Baker) 42; 4. Pertemps (John Wilson/Neil Scarborough) 42; 5. Typhoo (Miles Jennings/Andy Wilby/Jonny Allbut) 41; 6. IFX Racing (Nick Williams/Aaron Emmett) 38; 7. Edox Swiss Watches ((Ian Brusby/Simon Wing) 33; 8. Oval Insurance (James Norvil/Jon Collingbourne) 31. Note: PaLu was awarded third overall having finished second in race one. P1 Superstock website