South Auckland brothers Wayne & Grant Valder powered their way to an impressive victory in round 7 of the NZ Armacup ‘Racing for Cure Kids’ Inex Metals offshore powerboat championships held at Whitianga yesterday. Driving the 34-foot, 1100hp Phantom catamaran, Pro Floors Racing they relished the one meter swells and lead from start to finish to register their second win of the eight race series and have closed the gap in the championship race to just 75-points behind series leader & current national champions Peter Turner & Craig Archer in Sleepyhead who finished Saturday’s race in second place.
The eagerly anticipated race was robbed of a major draw card and title hunting team PlaceMakers on lap one when they were involved in a collision minutes into the race with Wellington’s Grant Smith in Addictive Racing. The Addictive boat punctured PlaceMakers on the port side damaging the F-16 canopy and cockpit that throttleman Richard Shores sits in. The former five times national champion and co driver Wayne Carson withdrew from the race immediately and returned to shore uninjured to assess the damage and plan repairing the 32-foot Skater catamaran.
With Pro Floors reveling in the conditions it didn’t take long for the field to be spread. Warren & Scott Lewis in Fairview Windows & Doors moved into third place with the two 28-foot skater catamaran’s of Rayglass Boats driven by Kelly Smith & Travis Thompson and Cat Attack (Bob Smith and Mark Taiatini) commencing there battle for supremacy in the Superboat Light class.
The Sport 100 field were once again providing close racing among its competitors: Tauranga’s Mark & Aaron Diggleman in Drive Right, Greg & Philip Crawford in Team Steadcraft and Graham Pike & Laurence Hullena in V-Max Yamaha were not letting either team establish a clear advantage over each other.
Putting in another good performance in the 60-mile race were Waves N Wheels driven by Lance Dawson & Paul Maria who were leading this race until the last lap when they blew an engine.
2005 formula Honda champion, Greg Brinck & co driver Ryan Shores lead this popular class from start to finish in Konica Minolta and recorded their second win of the season from Mark Helmes and Michael Knight in Miss Electropar, with Napier winner Jeff Weake & Jacqui McGowan in Team Altitude coming home in third place. For the first time this season championship points leader Chris Bartlett did not finish on the podium, while it was a very disappointing race for the UK formula Honda champions Nick Clemson and Paul Trow-Smith when they had to retire after Trow-Smith broke his collar bone during the race.
Back in the 100-mile race it was again a disappointing race for the Lewis brothers when they withdrew their 32 foot skater catamaran, Fairview Windows & Doors with mechanical failure while Bob Smith & Mark Taiatini in Cat Attack clinched third place overall and first in the Superboat light class from Rayglass Boats and Addictive Racing who recovered well after being involved in the lap one incident with PlaceMakers.
Drive Right were able to hold on to first position in the Sport 100 field from Team Steadcraft and V-Max Yamaha , while Mike Cameron and Mark “Gilbert” Ross in Holsom took further points out of the Spirit of Cheyenne championship lead in the classic class field with another convincing win.
With Pro Floors winning this round they will now head into a showdown at Auckland in two weeks time confident that they can claim their first national drivers championship title if they can repeat their victory over Sleepyhead. This will be a winner takes all race, although the ever competitive and five times champion, Peter Turner will not be handing over any title without a fight!