by Emma Slater
RYA Powerboat Grand Prix British Sprint Championship took place in Stewartby, UK during fourth and 5th August 2012. Forty powerboat racing teams took to the water in a bid to claim one of the seven individual championship titles up for grabs.
2012 Sprint Champions - RYA Powerboat Grand Prix British Sprint Championship 2012
Hosted by Stewartby Powerboat Racing Club in Bedford the Championship has been heralded a great success with some amazing displays of racing prowess out on the water.
In the GT15 class six youngsters vied for the top spot but it was 2012 European Champion Ben Jelf that secured a hat trick of wins to secure the title, while the rest of the fleet battled strong for second and third positions.
There was little separating the youngsters but eventually Thomas Mantripp secured the silver medal with Jess Beaumont taking the Bronze as some fantastic racing was demonstrated by our young drivers that bodes well for a nail biting final round of the British Championships in September.
Once again the GT30 Championship was a hotly contested affair as seven boats battled it out to take the 2012 title. Jordan Muckles set the fastest qualifying lap and looked to be on top form but was unfortunately after winning the first heat was plagued by engine problems in heats two and three forcing him to retire.
An immense battle followed between Natalie Craddock and Kevin Hill for the top spot, with Thomas Yallop and Jess Stoneman battling for the bronze medal. Going into the third heat the championship was anyone’s for the taking as Natalie put her head down and concentrated on the race ahead ignoring previous heat results. The sixteen year old drove as though this was the only race that counted, doing the busy and claiming the title. Kevin Hill took the Silver with Thomas Yallop taking bronze in his first year in the class.
Just three teams lined up to battle it out for the Outboard Hydroplane titles and despite the depleted numbers the racers continued to push each other as if a World title depended on the race. Nigel Edwards took pole in qualifying and won heat one of the weekend’s four races.
In heats two and three Wayne Turner continued his previous fine form to take heat wins and secure the 2012 Powerboat GP RYA British Outboard Hydroplane O250 Sprint Championship. Paul Jillings secured the fourth heat win and with it the O350 Outboard Hydroplane Sprint Title, with Nigel Edwards taking second.
In the T850 class reigning champion Bill Owen was hoping to make it four championship titles in five years. In Qualifying David James set the fastest lap with TopCat Racing’s Mike Pillow in second. But this wasn’t to phase the experienced of driver Bill who as soon as the start lights went out showed them he meant business getting a fantastic start and leading the race from start to finish.
Bill continued on form and took a hat trick of wins to secure the championship title for the fifth consecutive year, leaving the fleet to battle it out for second and third; going to Mike Pillow and David James respectively.
On to the F4 Sprint Championship and nine F4 catamarans lined up on the start line. Reigning champion Mark Williams had returned from his T850 especially for the Sprint competition and was looking forward to getting out on the water. Williams blasted off setting the fastest qualifying lap and then took a clean sweep in the heats winning all three to see himself crowned 2012 Powerboat GP RYA British F4 Sprint Champion for the second consecutive year.
Stuart King and Paul Veares went head to head for second and third positions but engine problems in the second heat saw King drop from second to sixth in the second heat meaning he’d have to settle for the bronze medal in the championship behind Veares.
The F2 class fielded a strong fleet of 12 powerboat racers all ready to challenge for the title. Lining up on the start line was 2011 British Sprint Champion Paul Balfour and F2 British Champion Malcolm Goodman as well as 2012 Championship leader Alan Marshall and three times F2 World Champion Colin Jelf and what looked to be a real battle of the titans!
Malcolm Goodman set the fastest time in qualifying and in the first heat powered ahead to take the lead into the first turn of the first heat but the rest of the field were hot on his wake and one false move would see the chasing pack capitalise to their advantage.
Goodman took two heat wins and a second securing him the 2012 Powerboat GP RYA British F2 Sprint championship title. Owen Jelf secured the silver medal, with Paul Balfour taking bronze.
RYA Powerboat Racing Officer Nikki Drummond had this to say on the Champions achievement: 'We’d like to offer our sincerest congratulations to all the Champions on winning the titles, and to all the competitors for some fantastic racing.
'The Sprint championships are different to the normal British Championship titles as there’s absolutely no room for error if you want that title as some of the racers found out this weekend. In the British Championship if you have a bad round you get the chance to make amends at the next round but at the sprints it’s down to just three races in the one weekend so you have to give it all and hope for the best. The racing this weekend was really exhilarating and fantastic to watch.'