Following two successful British Championship Grand Prix events that see him in a comfortable third place in the 2017 Powerboat GP F4 British Championship sixteen year old Ben Jelf and his team last weekend headed to Traben, Germany for his first international catamaran race on foreign waters.
A late decision for the team to travel provided the perfect opportunity for Ben to test his wits against some international competition before the opening round of the UIM World Championship in Finland this month.
Making the most of great racing conditions Ben set about getting down to business and during qualifying the youngster managed to secure pole position ahead of rivals from Germany, Slovakia and Lithuania.
Raring to go as the lights went out for the start of heat 1 Jelf got a storming start but disaster struck for the British hopeful as he went into the first turn in the lead his boat stalled causing him to stop, Ben quickly tried to restart his engine but to no avail, he had a fuel problem and was forced to retire from the race. Back ashore investigations showed that Ben’s fuel line had become detached causing the problem.
With the best three results out of four races to count Ben knew there was no room for error in the final three heats and with the fuel problem fixed the youngster remained focused on his task ahead.
Another blistering start in heat 2 and as the boats rounded the first turn mark Ben was in the lead cheers from his team as the problem was fixed and Ben was looking strong against his international competitors. Heat 2 saw him lead from start to finish to take his first international race win.
With one win under his belt the youngster remained cool and collected and went into heat 3 knowing if he could take another two heat wins he could reward the team with a gold medal. Germany’s Franz Philipp put pressure on the young Brit in Heat 3 but with another great start Jelf made sure the only view he got of the German was his reflection in his wing mirrors as he was forced to follow in the brits wake. Once more Jelf led from start to finish making it two out of two heat wins.
Just one heat to go and another heat win would see Jelf secure the German gold medal. Knowing the hard work his team had put into making the 800mile round trip could be rewarded if he could just keep his nerve. As the lights went out for the start of heat 3 Ben once more got a blistering start this time it was Lithuania’s Gedrimas Virgilijus that was piling on the pressure, by try as he might he just couldn’t find a way past Jelf.
On claiming his first international win in the F4 Class Ben Jelf had this to say;
It’s been a fantastic weekend’s racing at a great event.
It was a last minute decision to come to Traben to test the boat internationally before Finland in a couple of weeks but it was a decision that paid off through the hard work and dedication of the team.
Finland’s going to be tough their will be a lot of great racers there and having this opportunity to compete against racers from other countries this weekend has really helped me get focused for the World Championship campaign.
I have to say thank you to the organisers of the event and everyone at the event for making us so welcome, also a huge thank you to my team and sponsors for their hard work dedication and support that allows me to have these opportunities and to everyone back home for their support of my racing.
Nikki is the Sponsorship and PR Manager for the Jelf Racing Powerboat Team.
She was a Powerboat Racing Senior Administrator at the Royal Yachting Association for 6 years.
Nikki reports on the Jelf Racing Team and international F4 racing.