|'Wagga’s Slade Stanley and wife Vanessa on their way to victory in the 2009 UIM World Championships at Temora last November, Stanley ’steps up’ to the elite class of competition, Unlimited Superboats at the opening round of the 2010 championship at Temora (Photo: Mick Thomas)' Australia Formula Jet Sprint Association|
After a relatively ‘short’ three month break, the 2010 Continental Tyres Australian Superboat Championships will kick back into gear over the March 20-21 weekend at the Temora Lake Centenary facility, for what is sure to be the start of another incredible season.
V8 Superboats in Australia has become one of the most watched forms of motorsport in the country, thanks in no small part to the addition of free-to-air and pay-per-view television; more than 140,000 viewers witnessed the titanic struggle between Australia and New Zealand during the 2009 UIM World Championships, for which Temora was the host of the opening round [of two] last November.
On that occasion it was Wagga native Slade Stanley who dominated the International Group A class, much as he had done through the six round Continental Tyres supported national championships, whilst multiple world champion, New Zealander Peter Caughey dominated the Unlimited class. Both drivers went on to back up their Temora victories a week later at Melton [near Melbourne] to claim world championship immortality.
Whilst Caughey won’t be at Temora this March, Slade Stanley will be there and the two-time world title holder has announced his intention to step up to the elite class of competition in a bid to challenge Caughey at the next world championships.
'It’s about time we made the move,' Stanley reflected. 'We had a great year; between the Australian title and the world title, there probably wasn’t much left to achieve from staying in Group A - except perhaps for the cost of moving to the Unlimited class.'
With the support of his loyal sponsors and a turnaround in the local building industry which has allowed the Wagga based-builder to start working back in his home town again [Slade spent part of 2009 on building sites in WA], Slade and his family have started work on increasing the power of their Group A engine to tackle the leading Unlimited class boats, however he did admit that being competitive in the early rounds would be difficult.
'To start with we’re going to have to ‘tweak’ the package we have, before putting together a new alloy 500 cubic-inch engine our sponsors picked up for us last year - that still needs to be built. For the short-term we’ll push the little 410 as hard as we can; it was quick enough last year to challenge the top Unlimited boats, so we’ll keep them honest until we get the big engine, and really give them a hard time!'
'He won’t get away with it that easy,' reigning Australian Unlimited Superboat Champion Daryl Hutton enthused. 'This is a tough game, and whilst he had a pretty comfortable time in the 400 Class last year, I’d point out the competition wasn’t there like it is in the Unlimited class; he’s playing with the big boys [and girls] now...!'
The former New Zealand star was of course making reference to the number of top class boats now capable of fighting for victory in the Unlimited Superboat category; Hutton in the supercharged ‘Castrol Edge’ boat, Dean Finch in the awesome twin-turbo 475 cubic-inch ‘Loose Cannon’, reigning Australian 2 Mick Carroll in the injected 500 cubic-inch ‘Excalibur’, Phonsy Mullan in the pro-charged 1600+ horsepower ‘Triple X Racing’ and Stanley’s fellow Group A graduate, reigning Queensland Champion Greg Mercier in his new injected 500 cubic-inch ‘Az U Do’; it’s a tough crowd..
Melton’s Ted Sygidus is one of the most explosive Group A drivers in the world - Sean Henshelwood
With Stanley ‘gone’ from the class he dominated in 2009, the Group A category will surely become the domain of Melbourne brothers, Ted and Darek Sygidus, 2009 Temora national round winner Brooke Dixon, and former national champion Rohan Smith, although there’s likely to be a couple of ‘dark horses’.
'One-two baby, that’s the deal for 2010,' Ted Sygidus beamed on his prediction of the 2010 Group A title. 'Me and Dezi [brother Darek].'
The Sygidus boys showed serious pace in 2009, but were a little ‘fragile’ under pressure despite an inane ability to physically throw their Triple X hull around within millimetres of disaster. It all came good for them though for the UIM World Championship event, Ted finishing runner-up to Stanley at Temora, and he looked the goods at his home track at Melton for the final round prior to an electrical fault. With Ted out though, brother Darek stepped up and finished the event in second place, his best result of the year, and a result also saw him ranked as equal world 2 with Brooke Dixon at the close of the internationally sanctioned event.
Ted will be out to make amends for his world title loss, and is capable of winning every event on the 2010 calendar; his strongest opponent, younger brother Darek. Their Achilles heel; two drivers forcing every ounce of power out of a finely tuned 412ci Phonsy Mullan-tuned Chev. It will be an interesting battle for supremacy.
Aside from the yellow Triple X boat, reigning Temora national round winner Brooke Dixon will be out to improve on her world 2 status in her relatively new boat [not the boat she won with last March] ‘True Blue Too’, whilst reigning AUS2 Rohan Smith will be looking for strong points early in the season before moving to a brand new Stinger hull mid season.
Wagga’s Rodney Krause competing in the 2009 UIM World Championships at Temora in 2009 - Australia Formula Jet Sprint Association
Of the rest, surely the biggest threat to the podium challengers will be reigning 350 Class champion Jake Garlick. Despite campaigning an aging hull and a conservative power package, the 18 year old started his Group A campaign at last year’s world championship round by setting the third fastest time in opening practice. By the close of the two world title rounds, the talented young Queenslander had maintained his top ten pace, and is currently ranked inside the top seven best drivers on the planet. A busy off-season and some tweaks to the well-worn family boat should see him and father Mark as strong contenders right throughout the season.
Throw in Melbourne boat-builder Tremayne Jukes in a brand new Stingray package for ‘Conti-Racer’, his team-mate Chris Bollins and Wagga local Rodney Krause, and like the Unlimited class, it will be action aplenty!
Whilst the internationally recognised classes will see graduates from various other categories mix up the action over what we’ve come to expect in past seasons, the ‘introductory’ 350 Class should see a fleet of ‘new’ faces, after perpetual champions Mark and Jake Garlick and arch-rival Brooke Lucas moved up to the Group A category, along with 350 Class stalwarts, Daryl and Nathan Dickenson.
Of the rest, favourite would have to be Stingray Racing’s Daniel James, who was a regular podium finisher in 2009, along with fellow former podium finisher Jamie Taylor and possibly Queenslander Daniel DeVoigt. Taylor however will be in an all-new boat, as will fellow 350 regulars Troy McKenzie and Shane Allen, which will add another dimension to the battle.
With the graduation of the top four from last year, the 350 Class at Temora will provide a good indication of what we can expect in the season ahead.
Whilst the shake-up across the three competing classes will create great interest amongst competitors and fans, so too will the revised 2010 format, a format set to challenge competitors and entertain the crowds.
Where Saturday in the past was essentially an opportunity for competitors to ‘test and tune’ their machines prior to point-scoring qualifications and finals on Sundays, the new format will see intense competition, and champions crowned on both days.
Saturday will now provide a ‘Dash 4 Cash’ competition where three qualifying heats will provide an elimination field, the winner of which will be the recipient of a hefty cash prize..
Sunday will see teams regroup again for the opening round of the Continental Tyres Australian Superboat Championships, with three qualifying heats, a top 12 shootout, followed by the top six elimination final, and a top three final for the outright round winner of the opening event of the five round national season.
Gates open 12 noon Saturday March 20, and 10:00am Sunday March 21.
The Continental Tyres Australian Superboat Championships are televised on SBS Speedweek (Sundays 1:00pm AEST) and FOX Sports Inside Speed (check guides for details). Details of the airing times for the Temora round of the 2010 Continental Tyres Australian Superboat Championships will be published on www.v8superboats.com.au when available. Previous rounds of the championship are available to see via the internet 24/7 at www.speedweek.com.au
2010 Continental tyres Australian Superboat Championships calendar
Round 1: Temora, NSW March 20-21
Round 2: Griffith, NSW April 2-3
Round 3: Cabarita Beach, NSW July 10-11
Round 4: Maryborough, QLD September 4-5
Final: Temora, NSW October 30-31
by Sean Henshelwood