Jelf Racing headed to Staffordshire’s Chasewater Sports Centre last weekend for the Powerboat GP Chasewater Grand Prix, where Ben Jelf made a return to the top spot of the podium but Colin Jelf suffered engine gremlins that cost him vital championship points.
First in action for the team was junior racers Jonathan Brewer and George Elmore in the junior GT15 class.
The junior racers took to the water to battle for pole position and as the results came in Jonathan had secured pole with George in 4th. 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.
Both Jonathan and George continued throughout heat 1 bearing down on the boats in front of them looking for every opportunity to pass.
Back in pole position Thomas Mantripp controlled the other two heats of the weekend Jonathan did everything he could to try to pass the championship leader but just couldn’t get past. Leaving him having to settle for the Silver medal podium spot.
George continued throughout heat’s 2 & 3 to chase Harvey Smith for the third podium position but Smith managed to keep the youngster at bay and Elmore was forced to settle for 4th at the Chasewater Grand Prix.
Next up in action was Ben Jelf in the GT30 class following the disappointment at the Kingsbury Grand Prix the youngster was ready to make amends. Poised and focussed he set about business once more securing pole position during qualifying. But Tiegen Goodfellow and Jack Pickles were hot in his wake and not going to give up without a strong fight.
3 straight heat wins despite being pushed every inch of the course saw Ben back to winning ways and return to the podium top spot claiming the Chasewater Grand Prix title.
No rest for the wicked it wasn’t long before Ben was back on the water this time in his F4 Catamaran. 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 the top 4 boats things were set for the closet racing of the season.
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. Leaving Ben Jelf, Rob Veares and Leon King to battle it out for the second and third podium places.
A strong placed third in heat 1 and Ben was gunning for more followed by a second place finish in heat 2 and it looked like Jelf was set to take the silver as they rounded the first turn buoy in the final heat with Ben in second place trying to catch Whittle.
Looking certain of a podium place things were going well for the youngster when disaster struck comfortably sat in second place after 6 laps his engine jumped out of gear into neutral. Leon King quickly took the opportunity to pass the stationery youngster with Rob Veares also making up a place as he passed Ben by. 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.
Within the results in 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 team member in action wasn’t to be as fortunate was team manager Colin Jelf as the F2 Catamarans made a return to the championship following a 6 week break. Heading into the Chasewater Grand Prix Colin and Lancashire’s Paul Balfour sat tied on points, pole position and a good result this weekend could prove vital in the championship campaign.
Qualifying results came in with Colin sitting in third closely behind Paul Balfour in pole position and reigning champion Steve Hoult.
As the F2’s lined up for the first heat of the weekend crowds lined the banks of Chasewater Water Sports Centre to watch the action unfold. 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 not for Colin who was seemed to be suffering from problems with his engine that 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.
Despite their best efforts the problem couldn’t be found and fixed in the short time they had so Colin was forced to do his best in the final heat and meet the minimum race distance to collect championship points.
Reflecting on the weekend the Team manager had this to say.
The team have put in a valiant effort once again this weekend. Ben, Jonathan and George raced hard and fair and we’re really pleased with the results. We couldn’t have done anymore.
There’s a problem with my engine and at the moment we’re not sure exactly so we’ll be spending the next few days trying to find the problem and rectify it before the Sprint Championships in three weeks’ time. There’s still two events to count towards the championship so we just need to make sure we come back fighting at those rounds.
The team would like to thank Powerboat GP, Chasewater Watersports Centre, All the officials, Osprey Rescue, all the volunteers, our team, sponsors and all our fellow competitors for a great weekend’s racing.
The team are back in action in 3 weeks’ time as the Team head to the Powerboat GP Stewartby Sprints Championships (6/7 August) and with the team eligible to compete for 4 Championship titles up for grabs that weekend they’ll come back fighting even harder than before.
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.