The eleven drivers that had arrived at the usually tranquil setting of Brodenbach, Germany for the 46th International Motorbootrennen had a very busy Sunday schedule after the ADAC, who organise the race, had decided to hold all three heats in one day following the previous day’s delay.
This slight hold up certainly didn’t affect the man on pole position who blitz the opposition as soon as the red lights had gone out.
Latvian driver, Uvis Slakteris knew he had to make a perfect start if he was to get the full benefit of the number one grid spot and that was precisely what he did not just in the first heat but the second one to.
I was really worried about the fast starters like Temper and Hagin.
It’s very rare that they make a bad start but where was Temper, I didn’t see him all weekend.
For once the Austrian had ‘fluffed his lines’ but in fairness to him he was caught up in the confusion caused by Paolo Longhi jumping the start.
Trying his best to keep up with the Latvian now out in front, was Stefan Hagin (below).
He eventually crossed the line in second place but was subsequently disqualified because his boat was found to be under-weight. The disappointed German driver would now start from the back of the grid in heat two. and said;
I had forgotten that the weight limit had changed over the winter.
Filling his slot was Edgaras Riabko, who had now fixed his trim pump issues (below).
Lining up alongside him was Simone Schuft who had also suffered from mechanical issues in the ex-Matt Palfreyman Moore hull.
Fortunately the days delay had allowed the team to fix the broken steering and now the German driver was really getting to grips with the Gordon Cook Racing hull (below).
So once again it would be Slakteris that would see the chequered flag first, followed by Hagin now running with the correct weight, closely followed by Temper.
This time it was Riabko’s turn to suffer with a sick engine.
I just lost power after only three laps, it could be a fuel issue but I would rather have all these problems here than at my home Grand Prix next month.
The young Dutch driver, Ferdinand Zandbergen was finding his F2 race debut a little tough.
In the first heat his Baba boat hooked and he missed the turn mark and during the second one he spun again, this time loosing the rear cowling.
He wasn’t able to make it out for the third and final heat due to damage to the deck hatch but the team were far from downhearted. His mentor Sami Selio said;
We came here this weekend to give him some race experience and that box is now ticked.
The focus is now on Kaunas, we have the right equipment and the driver has the right stuff.
With 800 points now safely amassed and an unassailable lead in the championship table, Slakteris decided to miss the final heat to save further wear and tear on his engine.
One reason we came here was to see where other people are in their race set up following the winter break.
I now have a much better picture in my head about how to approach the new season; today though was the perfect start to it and long may it continue.
So with both Hagin and Riabko on 300 points, Schuft on 278 and Temper on 225 it all came down to the final heat to see who would be joining Slakteris on the winners podium.
As expected it was Hagin who once again made a blindingly quick start.
He wanted this heat win so badly that he actually completed the sixteen laps in the quickest time of the day.
It’s easy to say ‘what if’ when I look back at the weight issue earlier today but I know that I have the speed to live with Slakteris, so let’s see what happens when we meet again at the Belgium Grand Prix.
Temper (above) now looked comfortable after he collected the 300 points for second place and had also seen that his main threat Riabko had been docked a lap for destroying a turn buoy.
The Lithuanian driver was adamant that he hadn’t even come close to the marks and after the officials had viewed his onboard video evidence they handed back the third place which would leave him on identical points as Temper.
Now it was down to which of them had set the quickest race time and by just two seconds it would go to the Austrian driver, who had recorded an 11 minutes and 40 seconds in that third and final heat.
As the drivers sat back after prize giving and sampled several bottles of the regions best know product, thoughts quickly turned to the opening round of the UIM F2 World Championship season and the general consensus of opinion was, like the wine they were consuming, 2017 could be a vintage year.
Chris Davies ARPS, has been photographing and writing about powerboat racing since 1987.