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Mullan returns to the top step after epic Cabarita battle

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Rnd#5 2016 Australian V8 Superboat Championships

Tweed Valley Jet Sprint Club, Cabarita Beach, NSW (3-4 September, 2016)

Four weeks ago one of the biggest fields in recent years descended upon the Cabarita Beach circuit for round four of the 2016 Australian V8 Superboat Championships, and whilst that event forced a number of premature retirements for which round five paid a hefty price, the competition was no less fierce this time around..

Ultimately, despite a brand-new and untried powerplant, three-time Australian Unlimited champion Phonsy Mullan proved all but unstoppable, although Tremayne Jukes did everything he could despite limited experience in his new boat to force the issue all the way down to the final run of the day. In the end it was Mullan who had to dig deeper than perhaps any time in the last few seasons to claim the win, with round four winner Daryl Hutton completing the podium.

In the 400-Class, the expected fight between local stars Brett Thornton and Brooke Lucas saw a terrific battle through the heats with emerging stars Paul Kelly and Mitch Roylance in the mix, but ultimately Thornton was too good, claiming his third successive win to open up a big points lead heading into the final two rounds of the season.

QUALIFYING
With six rounds of qualifying over the two day event there was plenty of time for teams to dial themselves in, but almost immediately it appeared that drivers were a little rusty, with the first three runs of the weekend ending in retirement, a number of drivers admitting that the Father’s Day weekend rotation was one of the most challenging in recent years.

Campaigning his brand new naturally-aspirated 527ci alloy LS powerplant for ‘Ramjet’, four-time Australian champion Phonsy Mullan set the early pace, leading Daryl Hutton and Tremayne Jukes through the opening qualifier in the Unlimited class, whilst 400-Class points leader Brett Thornton was sixth tenths down on the impressive Paul Kelly in the opening run, a run which saw six boats fail to complete a full lap..!

Q2 saw a surprise retirement from crowd favourite Tremayne Jukes, the Victorian still getting used to the iconic ‘Loose Cannon’, however a technical issue and a loose turbo pipe prevented him from recording a competitive time in both opening sessions, but by Q3 on Saturday afternoon he was second fastest and within a second of Mullan.

By that stage Thornton too had assumed his position at the top of the 400-Class standings, his third run of the day a full two and a half seconds faster than second placed Greg Harriman in another session that saw inverted boats and a number of really impressive submarine impressions, although whilst crowd-pleasers, they weren’t providing competitive lap times.. Three 400 boats failed to complete a lap in Q2, whilst in Q3, five boats failed to get around.

By Sunday morning most of the teams had enjoyed a night to reflect on their opening day nerves and almost all stayed in the water through to the completion of the sixth round, although there were some anxious moments for the brothers Roylance and for Hugh Gilchrist who was doing a brilliant job of finding his feet under immense pressure in just his second event.

Ultimately just Gilchrist completed just one run in the final two qualifiers as the pace at the top of the timesheets continued to fall, Mullan’s best in Q5 just two tenths faster than Jukes, whilst in 400s Paul Kelly had thrown down the gauntlet to Thornton to be just over a tenth slower than the points leader.. the finals looked promising!

FINALS
The big questions heading into the finals was about just how much Mullan had in reserve approaching the last run of the day, and whether anybody could catch runaway pace-setter Thornton in 400s..

By the close of the Top 12, a number of those questions had been answered.

Jukes found a little extra to stop the clocks with a best of 43.081 a full second faster than Mullan who was down more than a second on his best of the day, whilst the impressive Jeremy Kincaid was less than a tenth off Darek Sygidus in the battle for fourth, Hutton continuing to split the two groups.

Thornton too had a slip in the opening final, dropping more than a second off his best time, whilst rival Brooke Lucas in contrast used the extra pressure as motivation, finding three tenths of a second to finish almost a second clear on top with Mitch Roylance moving into second.. the cream was starting to rise!

By the close of the top six it was situation normal at the front, Mullan taking back the top spot – negating the opening final hiccup, his three most recent runs were 42.742, 42.747 and 42.746.. it doesn’t getting any more consistent than that. Jukes too was finding the limits of his new mount, although admitting it had plenty in reserve, his consistency too showing two final runs separated by just 18 one thousandths of a second.. it was tight at the top!

Hutton too improved, but he was also nursing a new powerplant and coming to grips with the intricacies of the package whilst Kincaid continued to push the top three, promising to move into the final if any of them faltered.

And falter they did, however it wasn’t the top three.. Sadly ‘Frankenzstain Jnr’ of Ted and Darek Sygidus which had made cameo appearances in the top three during qualifying was out after both drivers failed to complete the opening final.

After running with the mighty 680ci ‘Frankenzstain’ on Saturday, Ted Sygidus jumped in with brother Darek for Sundays final qualifiers, both showing signs they were capable of making the final but both suffered an off during the top 12.

The intake grille fell out during Ted’s run forcing him up the bank without injury, whilst for Darek, his best run of the weekend came to a premature end after running up the bank looking for some vital extra tenths to put himself into the final.

That misfortune allowed the ever-present Paul Burgess into the final six along with local hero Daniel deVoight in his twin-turbo LS3, the two long-time campaigners enjoying their additional laps in front of the big Cabarita crowd.

Ultimately though the weekend came down to one final run.. As ever Hutton had found that little bit extra during his final rotation to set the benchmark at 44.536 before Jukes put in his best of the weekend, going an incredible two seconds faster than the New Zealander to lower the mark to 42.535 a full two tenths quicker than Mullan’s best.

Mullan though isn’t the most prolific winner in the sport this decade for no reason, the Victorian finding just that little bit more in his final run to take the win with a stunning 42.138..

Showing the worth of practice laps during a run of previous club days at the Cabarita venue, 400-Class points leader Brett Thornton was untouchable in the final although he was still six tenths down on his best of the weekend, the Queenslander stopping the clocks with a 46.353 – his time whilst safe, was still well clear of rival Brooke Lucas who also went slower than his Top 6 time, whilst Mitch Roylance continued his impressive Superboat debut with third.

Jody Ely managed to retain his third place in the outright championship despite a big rollover on his final run – fortunately without injury, the Victorian claiming fourth in his cameo appearance in ‘Outlaw’ whilst Greg Harriman’s impressive recent run continued with fifth. Local star Peter Monger claimed sixth despite his own moment late in the day which had the big crowd collectively holding their breath as both driver and navigator appeared from below the water line after a big off, and despite campaigning a 350ci powerplant in the 400-Class, Ben Hathaway’s giant-killing efforts continued with sixth, the result moving him into the top five in the outright points

That’s it now for the sports most northern venue, the final two rounds will return to Temora in October with two races under lights at Allcott Hire Park at Lake Centenary, the scene of some of the best races in the sports long history – the first of which is scheduled for October 1.

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Rnd#5 2016 Australian V8 Superboats Championships
Tweed Valley Jet Sprint Club, Cabarita Beach, NSW
3-4 September, 2016

FINAL
Unlimited Superboat
1. Phonsy Mullan (RAMJET) – 42.138
2. Tremayne Jukes (Maniac) – 42.535
3. Daryl Hutton (American Automotive) – 44.536

400 Class (Group A)
1. Brett Thornton (2Obsessed) – 46.353
2. Brooke Lucas (Trouble Maker) – 47.689
3. Mitch Roylance (Black Jack) – 67.509

TOP 6 FINAL
Unlimited Superboat
1. Phonsy Mullan (RAMJET) – 42.746
2. Tremayne Jukes (Maniac) – 43.063
3. Daryl Hutton (American Automotive) – 44.721
4. Jeremy Kincaid (Rogue) – 45.547
5. Paul Burgess (Daly Transport) – 48.039
6. Daniel deVoigt (Devo 2) – 50.747

400 Class (Group A)
1. Brett Thornton (2Obsessed) – 45.742
2. Brooke Lucas (Trouble Maker) – 47.075
3. Mitch Roylance (Black Jack) – 51.971
4. Jody Ely (Outlaw) – DNF
5. Greg Harriman (Pangaea Floors) – DNF
6. Peter Monger (Mongrel) – DNF

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2016 Australian V8 Superboat Championships – Series points
Unlimited Superboat (after round five of seven)
1. Phonsy Mullan (RAMJET) – 166 points, 2. Daryl Hutton (American Automotive) – 152, 3. Darek Sygidus (Frankenzstain) – 133, 4. Paul Burgess (Daly Transport) – 114, 5. Ted Sygidus (Frankenzstain) – 112, 6. Jamie Welch (Natwel Racing) – 100, 7. Cheryl Welch (Natwel Racing) – 76, 8. Tony Giustozzi (Excalibur) – 74, 9. Tremayne Jukes (Maniac) – 66, 10. Mick Carroll (Excalibur) – 64, 11. Scott Krause (Soak’n Fused) – 60, 12. Jeremy Kincaid (Rogue) – 56, 13. Daniel deVoigt (Q-BEARS) – 54, 14. Slade Stanley (Hazardous) – 26, 15. Rob Coley (Frankenzstain) – 12, 16. Andrew Page (Maniac) – 10

400-Class (Group A) (after round five of seven)
1. Brett Thornton (2Obsessed) – 171-points, 2. Brooke Lucas (Trouble Maker) – 142, 3. Jody Ely (Rampage) – 120, 4. Mitch Roylance (Black Jack) – 116, 5. Ben Hathaway (Weapon) – 108, 6. Greg Harriman (Pangaea Floors) – 106, 7. Justin Roylance (Rampage) – 105, 8. Brad Marsden (Allcott Transformer) – 88, 9. David Moodie (Jackhammer) – 86, 10. Kevin Laugesen (Spanet) – 80, 11. Paul Kelly (PK Racing) – 46, 12. Peter Monger (Mongrel) – 42, 13. Daniel James (JRE Race Engines) – 33, 14. Clint Ruby (Dirty Deeds) – 26, 15. Hugh Gilchrist (Pangaea Floors) – 22, 16. Nathan Walker (Alcott Transformer) – 16

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2016 Australian Superboat Championships
Rnd#1 – 26 March, Griffith (NSW)
Rnd#2 – 23 April, Temora (NSW) – ANZAC Day Tribute
Rnd#3 – 21 May, Temora (NSW)
Rnd#4 – 6-7 August, Tweed Coast (NSW)
Rnd#5 – 3-4 September, Tweed Coast (NSW)
Rnd#6 – 1 October, Temora (NSW)
Rnd#7 – 29 October, Temora (NSW) [FINAL]

Photos – Russell Puckeridge, Pureart Creative Images

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