After another epic season of Penrite V8 Superboats, we’re on the cusp of the final round of the 2018 season with three titles on the line, and just a handful of points separating the contenders.
The Unlimited class has been a battle royale for the second successive season, forcing six-time national champion Phonsy Mullan to dig perhaps deeper than ever before to put himself into contention for a record-breaking seventh national title. He comes into the round as the outright points leader, but actually sits second on adjusted points to local hero Scott Krause – three points back – after dropping his worst point which means everything is riding on this weekend!
In 400-Class (International Group A) it’s even closer.. Former champion Mark Garlick holds an eight point lead over the rising star of 2018 – Paul Kelly – but on adjusted points they are equal, the pair sharing a win apiece this year, whilst reigning champion Ben Hathaway is also in the equation. Like the Unlimited class, it will all come down to Temora where any error could cost you the national title..
But as they say in the classics.. It doesn’t end there.
The new LS-Class championship too is up for grabs, with reigning champion Ivan Safranek back to defend his title from new challenger Kyle Elphinstone. Safranek has had a forced sabbatical since making the Unlimited podium in Keith earlier in the season leaving Elphinstone to claim his maiden win last time out at Cabarita, the rookie though will have his work cut out for him at Temora, with the fans the big winners as all three classes fight for the coveted championship crown.
The final round of the Penrite Australian Championships will also celebrate the inaugural Roy Long Memorial to remember the man who was the driving force behind the establishment of the Lake Centenary Circuit. The Trophy will be awarded to the most consistent finisher across the final four qualifiers of the day, where a DNF will eliminate you from contention, promoting the long-held motorsport tradition, that to finish first, first you have to finish!
After back-to-back victories at Cabarita in rounds four and five, Phonsy Mullan not only closed down points leader Scott Krause, but he took the #1 ‘RAMJET’ machine back to the top of the points table with one round remaining.
With three wins from three starts to kick off the season – including victory at home in Temora in April – Krause showed himself to be a more than capable contender, and a hiccup last time out at Cabarita aside, he could prove difficult to beat at home with the crowd on his side.
Mullan has proven time and time again though that he’s up for a challenge, and the Victorian is not easily unsettled. He has his work to do though, and needs to finish ahead of Krause to claim a record sixth-consecutive Unlimited title as with three points separating first and second – and second and third – the chance of a tied championship is a very real possibility, especially with a number of outright contenders sitting out the national series final to prepare for the forthcoming World Series.
For Krause, the solution is simple – win a fourth final and put any question of a Mullan championship victory out of question..
Whilst the fans will be watching their every move across the day-night event, there will be a number of potential race winning contenders looking to take advantage of that battle.
One of those will come in the face of New Zealander Rob Coley, a driver who many have tipped as a contender for the 2018 UIM World crown with his stunning Nissan twin-turbo V8-powered ‘Poison Ivy’. A challenger in the Penrite series already this year, he was sidelined last time out at Cabarita with a technical failure, and he’s keen to make amends and stake his claim ahead of the two round World Series which starts at Keith [South Australia] at the end of October.
After the best part of three seasons in the wilderness, Daryl Hutton is starting to find the sweet-spot in the ‘American Automotive’ supercharged machine, and with plans to move to turbo induction ahead of the World Series, he’d like nothing more than to close out the Penrite Australian championships with a victory for his long-standing engine package.
Glenn ‘Spider’ Roberts too is another looking to card his first win of the season after falling an agonising half second short last time out at Cabarita, the Victorian though with one chink in his impressive big-block armory.. a difficulty in low light conditions, something which may affect his pace as day turns into night.
With Paul Gaston, Jamie Welch and the ‘Excalibur’ crew not entered at Temora with their engine packages undergoing maintenance and upgrades ahead of the Penrite World Series, we may see a new face on the podium, especially with the ongoing pace of new 2018 recruit Michael Cunningham (True Blue) and Queenslander Daniel deVoigt (Devo Racing), the pair locked in a great battle for fifth in championship points and both looking for a big result in Temora.
CTVS 400-CLASS (International Group A)
Whilst the battle for Unlimited Superboat honours will keep the fans entertained – not the least because of the inclusion of local hero Scott Krause – the 400-Class title battle is well and truly alive with as many as four teams still in outright contention..
Currently three-time national champion Mark Garlick has the top spot on outright points, but on adjusted points he is equal with fellow-Queenslander Paul Kelly.
Kelly was the form driver through the first half of the season, and has the stronger result at Temora from earlier in the year with second to Victoria’s Jody Ely, but Garlick has been a consistent podium finisher at Lake Centenary and he will be keen to assert his position in the category heading into the World Finals having made no secret of his desire to take ‘Grumpy’ to a world title win ahead of the boats retirement.
Third coming into Temora and a past winner at Temora is ‘Weapon’ pilot Ben Hathaway, the reigning champion 19 points back on outright points, but just seven points back on adjusted. He really needs victory to ensure back-to-back titles, but he also needs to make sure that someone else steps up to join him on the podium..
With the Penrite World Series fast approaching there will be no shortage of teams capable of making the Temora podium.
Spitwater Team Outlaw’s Justin Roylance has admitted all year his focus has been on the World Series, and that the national championship has been focussed very much on ironing out the bugs, whilst for younger brother Mitch, the ‘Blackjack’ pilot has already proven capable of upsetting the established stars, and he is already an outright winner at Temora..
Throw in former champion Brett Thornton and Temora’s most recent winner Jody Ely and you have at least seven boats capable of taking victory, and with a podium on the line, you can guarantee that most of those teams are willing to put it all on the line to go after the coveted #1 Australian plate.
The final round of the 2018 Penrite Australian V8 Superboat Championships will be contested at the Kennards Hire Park at Temora’s Lake Centenary on Saturday 22 September, with opening qualifying at 4:15pm ahead of the finals which will begin under lights from 8:45pm.
The circuit is located at Lake Centenary, 3.0-kilometres north of Temora on Barmedman Road – diagonally opposite Temora Airport. Tickets are available at the gate.
For those of you unable to make the event, this weekend a live stream, and a range of interviews and videos will be made available via www.facebook.com/V8Superboats where results and updates will also be posted, but if you live in the area, do yourself a big favour, and drop down to Lake Centenary in Temora to take in some of the action live, you certainly won’t be disappointed!