The 2016 RYA Powerboat GP Championship campaign headed to Chasewater Water Sports Park for the Chasewater Grand Prix last weekend (16/17 July) for the penultimate weekend in the British Championship. Four of the championship classes made the journey to the Staffordshire country park to battle it out for vital points in the championship as scores of spectators looked on.
First up were the junior racers who took to the water to battle for pole position the 9-16 year olds battled it out with Jonathan Brewer taking Pole position. As the lights went out for the first heat all eyes were on the first turn mark to see who would make it first round the turn. As the spray settled it was championship leader Thomas Mantripp who had started from the back of the grid that led the way. Brewer followed in second with Harvey Smith and George Elmore battling it out for third. With clean water Mantripp remained cool and calm and raced his way home to the first heat win of the weekend.
Back on Pole position Thomas once more led the way through heats two and three to claim the Powerboat GP Chasewater Grand Prix crown and all important championship points. Jonathan Brewer took three out of three silver medal places to secure himself the second place on the podium with Harvey Smith holding George Elmore at bay to take the bronze medal.
In the GT30 Class local girl racer Tiegen Goodfellow was set to make another challenge against championship leader Ben Jelf. The youngster was poised and ready to race and as qualification times came in just half a second separated her from Jelf who’d claimed pole but putting on even more pressure Jack Pickles was hot on Tiegen’s wake giving her no room for error.
Heat 1 got underway and once more it was Ben Jelf that led the way to the first turn mark, however pushing him every inch of the course the girl racer was ready to capitalise on any error from Jelf.
Jelf took the heat win with Goodfellow in second and putting in a strong performance Jack Pickles secured the third place in the first heat.
As the boats lined up for heat 2 disaster struck for Pickles as his engine didn’t fire and he was left on the dock as the boats hurtled towards the first turn. A second attempt at starting was made and this time he got-going and the youngster set about chasing down the leading pack. He made quick work of passing back markers Tony Judge and Nigel Edwards and sethis eyes on another third place finish bearing down on Thomas Mantripp waiting for the opportunity to pass the youngster into the third spot.
Jelf took three heat wins to secure the Chasewater Grand Prix Crown Tiegen secured silver and Jack made it three third places to secure his first podium finish in the GT30 class.
It wasn’t long before Ben Jelf was back in action this time in the F4 catamaran class. Sam Whittle once more led the proceedings for the weekend securing the pole position for the weekend with the fastest lap of the weekend but with less than 2 seconds separating he top 4 boats things were set for some really close racing.
Whittle was untouchable from Pole position he led his way from start to finish through all three heats riding the clean water to the chequered flag to secure the Chasewater Grand Prix title.
Meanwhile, there was misfortune for Matt Wood who in the broke down in the second heat and would not make the third seeing him forced out of podium contention leaving Rob Veares, Ben Jelf and newcomer Leon King to battle it out for the second and third podium places. Veares also seemed to be suffering from gremlins over the weekend and couldn’t keep up with Whittle’s pace.
With a third and a second place finish in heats 1 and 2 it looked like Jelf was set to take the silver medal podium place as he was comfortably sat in second place after 6 laps until disaster for the youngster as his engine jumped out of gear into neutral. Leon King took the opportunity to pass the stationery youngster with Rob Veares also making up a place as he passed. Ben quickly started his engine again but was left chasing the fleet trying to make up valuable places but had to settle for fourth with the damage already done.
All three racers were tied on points each having taken a 2nd, 3rd and 4th place finish which meant it was time for the timing team to look back at the results. Second and third podium places would be decided by fastest race time. As the times came in, Ben Jelf secured the silver medal and Rob Veares completed the podium for the F4 Chasewater Grand Prix.
The final class of the weekend saw set for an immense battle as Lancashire’s Paul Balfour and Kent’s Colin Jelf went into the weekend tied on points with the class still having three events to run. Paul Balfour laid down the first gauntlet to Jelf taking Pole position with a 44.56 second fastest lap, as the rest of the qualifying times came in Steve Hoult looked back on form as he stole second on the grid from Jelf who took third over elder brother Owen Jelf who matched his brother’s fastest lap time, but had to settle for 4th securing the lap time later in the session.
As the crowds lined the banks at Chasewater Water Park the F2’s lined up for the first heat of the weekend. From pole position Paul was sitting pretty a good start would mean he could control the race from the front and watch for any of his competitors in his mirrors. The engines roared into life and the fleet hurtled towards the first turn. Balfour cleared the turn first and in his spray it was unclear who sat in second, third and fourth. As the spray settled and the fleet started to spread out Steve Hoult sat in second with Colin Jelf in third.
Heat 2 saw a repeat performance from the top two boats but a welcome sight in third was Mark Williams who had been plagued by problems at both earlier championship events. Suffering from problems this weekend was Colin Jelf who’s engine seemed to not be firing on all cylinders. Forced to finish in 5th in heat 2 the team quickly recovered the boat to try to fix any problem for the third and final heat of the weekend.
Paul Balfour was back on top taking three heat wins to secure the Chasewater Grand Prix Crown and with it the Championship campaign leader board top spot.
Steve Hoult returned to the podium with three strong second places finishes to secure silver and through teamwork and dedication, Mark Williams finished the final race in third place to secure him the final podium spot.
Powerboat GP promoter Jason Brewer reflected on a fantastic weekend’s racing.
We knew this weekend was going to see some fantastic action on the water and it hasn’t disappointed! Each and every racer had to fight for their position this weekend and there’s been a great atmosphere around the pits.
The competition is getting closer every race and one mistake or problem leaves the rest of the fleet the opportunity to capitalise. Thank you to Chasewater Sports Centre, all the officials, Osprey Rescue team all the volunteers, the Competitors and teams and all the spectators that made the event this weekend a success. We now head to the Stewartby Sprint Championship’s in 3 weeks time and if this weekend’s racing is anything to go by there’s no way of knowing who will win the Sprint championships.
Photo: Bryan Scott