The 2016 RYA Powerboat GP Championship this weekend headed north to St Helens for the second round of the competition for the Lancashire Grand Prix.
Five championship classes battled throughout the course of the weekend entertaining the local Lancashire crowds as the weekend’s events unfolded.
In the junior GT15 class Lincoln’s Jonathan Brewer launched an attack on the championship following a disappointing result for the youngster at the Lowestoft Grand Prix earlier this month Jonathan was set to soar this weekend. Securing Pole position during qualifying Brewer knew getting the best start would be vital to keep Thomas Mantripp and Harvey Smith in his wake.
Taking the lead in every heat Jonathan drove his way to win the Lancashire Grand Prix leaving his peers to battle it out behind him. Two strong second places saw Harvey Smith secure the silver medal podium spot forcing Mantripp to settle with bronze.
The GT30 class saw Ben Jelf secure his second Grand Prix victory of the season as he led the way round the Lancashire course securing pole position and three dominating heat wins the youngster once again returned to the podium top spot.
The only female racer in the championship Tiegen Goodfellow put in a commanding performance after qualifying in third then a fourth place finish in the first heat Goodfellow came back fighting in the second and third heats taking two second place finishes to secure the silver medal.
Whilst an epic battle ensued for third place with local lad Jack Pickles, duelling it out against Jamie Norris and Thomas Mantripp to take the final podium place. Taking his second podium finish of the weekend Mantripp managed to hold Pickles and Norris at bay to claim bronze.
Making their first outing of the season was the T850 monohull fleet, on home water Wigan’s Bill Owen was looking to make a strong start to the season and took the first heat win. But Bill endured engine problems in the second heat it was team mate Steve Cash capitalised on his misfortune to take the win.
It would go down to the final heat to see who would win the first Powerboat GP Grand Prix title of the season. As the start lights went out Steve Cash stormed towards the first turn with Jason Brewer and Nigel Edwards both alongside him but there was no sign of Owen who was left on the start.
He soon got away and at a blistering pace set off to catch the rest of the fleet. Steve Cash established a strong lead but Owen chased him down and on the final lap he’d caught up with his team mate.
Pushed every inch of the way Steve Cash managed to hold Owen off and managed to secure the Lancashire Grand Prix Title and his first win in twenty years.
From pole position he controlled the first two heats leading from start to finish despite immense pressure from Whittle.
But determined to hold on to his championship lead in the third heat Whittle got a flying start to beat Veares in to the first turn and claim the last heat win.
A strong second place finish in the final heat was enough to secure Veares his first Championship win and leave him in a very strong position to challenge for the British championship title. Elsewhere in the F4 fleet, Matt Wood one again showed he has the pace to soon start challenging for the lead and Ben Jelf seemed to have overcome his starting issues.
Newcomer Leon King fell foul of the gusting winds that resulted in a spectacular flip. Not one to be down for long, Leon & team worked hard and were back in the final heat.
Really hotting-up was the battle for the lead in the Powerboat GP RYA British F2 championship.
Picking perfect lines around the course to secure himself Pole position and control over the weekends proceedings. Championship leader Colin Jelf qualified in second and reigning champion Steve Hoult bounced back from a disastrous opening round to secure third on the starting grid.
With less than a second separating the top four boats spectators waited in anticipation to see who would claim the lead going into the first turn. But Balfour reigned supreme taking three out of three heat wins to secure the Lancashire Grand Prix title and joint championship leader.
Jelf kept his championship dreams alive securing three strong second place finishes behind Balfour and the silver medal position. Looking to make his first podium finish of the season was Matt Palfreyman who looked set to claim the bronze medal position from Steve Hoult until disaster struck in the closing stages of the final heat as he dislodged a turn buoy and then used it as a ramp sending his boat skyward in a spectacular fashion.
With Matt out of the race Steve Hoult returned to the podium securing the bronze medal spot.
Powerboat GP promoter Jason Brewer reflected on a fantastic weekends racing,
Once more we’ve had some amazing racing this weekend. In every single class there wasn’t just a battle to take the lead there were battles going on throughout the fleets with every racer pushing for position; Its been fantastic to watch. The banks have been lined with spectators all weekend and the racers certainly put on an awesome show. The 2016 Powerboat GP Championship is set to be the closest campaign to date in every class and looks like it will go down to the very last race of the season to declare our champions. A huge thank you to the Lancashire Powerboat Racing Club, all the competitors, crews, officials and safety crews for a great event.
Attention now turns to the Kingsbury Grand Prix at Kingbury Waterpark, Bodymoor Heath on the 2nd and 3rd of July.
Photography: Bryan Scott