With all three Penrite Australian V8 Superboats titles up for grabs last weekend at the season final on Lake Centenary in Temora, New South Wales, it was perhaps no surprise that one of them was classified a draw, with two drivers sharing the 2018 Unlimited Superboat title. Ultimately reigning Unlimited title holder Phonsy Mullan would win his third round of the season to match title rival Scott Krause, but despite finishing ahead on total points, the AFJSA system allows teams to drop their worst point scoring round, leaving Mullan and Krause equal on 171 points as joint-champions.
Australian jet sprints king Phonsy Mullan (above) has to share his crown with Scott Krause. Photos courtesy/copyright Russell Puckeridge/Pureart Creative Images.
In 400-Class former champion Mark Garlick raced off against reigning champion Ben Hathaway and points leader coming in—Paul Kelly—the veteran weathering all challenges to claim his fourth national title to the applause of the fans and his rivals, while in the LS-Class, reigning champion Ivan Safranek overcame a spirited battle with rookie Kyle Elphinstone to claim back-to-back crowns.
The Temora action was electric in a season which had been plagued by drama, but with all the background noise drowned out by a screaming horde of high performance V8 powerplants, it was the crowds who won, as Australia’s best delivered some of the closest racing of the season.
All season the Unlimited class battle between the undisputed king of Superboats—Phonsy Mullan—and emerging star Scott Krause, had been the focal point as the two combatants battled on and off the track with the title—fittingly—coming down to the final run of the year.
As he had done throughout the season, Scott Krause was quick straight off the trailer, the local hero on top for the first three qualifiers, his best—40.869 in Q2—a quarter of a second faster than Mullan who struck drama in Q3. Typically of the seasoned campaigner though, he responded in the final qualifier with the fastest session of the day to that point—40.030—to claim the top qualifying spot ahead of the finals.
New Zealander Rob Coley and two-time Australian champion Daryl Hutton were next best, the two kiwis fighting over the third spot, although both were almost three seconds back from the pace at the pointy end. For Hutton, the Australian-based New Zealander was finally starting to find some form with the American Automotive machine in what was expected to be its final run in supercharged form, while Coley was regrouping after a technical issue last time out in Cabarita, the Poison Ivy machine though still well off its expected best.
Michael Cunningham’s debut season is seeing improvement every time the Sprintcar regular hits the water, the True Blue pilot classified fifth fastest after the four qualifiers, and just half a second off the experienced Hutton, while Daniel deVoigt’s best year in the Unlimited class continued with sixth fastest, his best of a 44.726 well clear of rivals Paul Burgess and Glenn ‘Spider’ Roberts who was suffering his own technical challenges.
Krause got off to a fast start.
In 400-Class the battle for the top spot was an intense fight, a fight in which a new contender emerged in the shape of Spitwater Team Outlaw driver Justin Roylance. The Forbes local who has been a champion for the sport behind the scenes, stunned the field with a sequence of 43-second laps in the opening qualifiers, to set the fastest lap of the day ahead of the finals.
Behind him the three title contenders—Mark Garlick, Paul Kelly and Ben Hathaway were enduring their own battle, with Roylance also weighing into the argument after a technical issue sidelined Hathaway in the opening qualifier, the pace-setter offering Hathaway a lifeline allowing him to “B” drive the Outlaw machine in an effort to keep his championship hopes alive.
That decision allowed Hathaway to dial himself in to the fifth fastest time ahead of the finals, behind new team-mate Justin Roylance, Jody Ely, Paul Kelly and points leader Mark Garlick, the five of them separated by just half a second heading into the finals.
Behind the contenders Shane Loughnan was having one of his strongest runs of the season to set the sixth fastest qualifying time ahead of former champion Brett Thornton, while the second of the Roylance bothers—Mitch—was off his customary Temora pace, the former round winner classified eighth ahead of Pink Boots Racing drivers Greg Harriman and Hugh Gilchrist.
Darrin Kesper was keeping the fans entertained as he continued to improve in Let’s Boogie topping Sam Everingham to be the final two boats through to the finals, Ron O’Day (Agro-vation) and Andrew Medlicott (Gone Nutz Again) missing the cut.
In the LS-Class the battle was on for title honors with reigning champion Ivan Safranek and rookie Kyle Elphinstone tied on points coming into the Temora finale.
Safranek—who was back after being sidelined with technical issues mid-season—set a solid early pace while Elphinstone suffered a litany of issues, in the end though his final qualifier was just four tenths shy of his rival, setting up a final showdown for the title.
Top 12 Final
With a title battle for the ages brewing for the Unlimited crown, all eyes were on Phonsy Mullan and Scott Krause. Krause held the support of the big local crowd, while Mullan had experience on his side, experience which would put him in good stead as the pressure started to build.
After lowering the benchmark to a 40.030 in the final qualifier, everyone knew Mullan had the pace, but he was only third fastest in the first final after sucking in some weeds during his run, temporarily stalling his progess.
That allowed Krause to claim the top spot with a 41.008, comfortably clear of Daryl Hutton’s 42.327 with Mullan just a tenth clear of Michael Cunningham. Daniel deVoigt was an impressive fifth, less than a second from the two teams ahead of him, with Rob Coley struggling through to sixth nursing a jet unit that was far from perfect.
Sadly for Paul Burgess and the man who narrowly lost the round five victory to Phonsy Mullan—Glenn “Spider” Roberts—their weekend was done, Roberts lamenting an engine issue which dropped his pace over his final runs.
While the Unlimited battle was heating up, in 400-Class it was even tighter with just a second covering the top six, Paul Kelly finally making his presence felt with his fastest run of the night, his stunning 43.586 giving him the biggest margin of the night in the tightly controlled field, Jody Ely’s 43.892 though just three tenths slower.
Mark Garlick’s time at the top of the timesheets ended with the assault by Kelly and Ely, the three-time champion now under attack from Ben Hathaway, Justin Roylance and former champion Brett Thornton, the latter making the cut into the second final by less than a second over Mitch Roylance, with Shane Loughnan, Greg Harriman, Darrin Kesper, Sam Everingham and Hugh Gilchrist also turning their final laps of the season.
Top Six Final
With the equation being that teams drop their worst point scoring round of the season, the Unlimited title equation looked like this.
To win the title outright, Phonsy Mullan had to win the race and hope that Scott Krause finished no better than third. For Krause, if he was to claim his maiden title, he needed to win the final, however if he finished second, he and Mullan would share the title on adjusted points. That made the final two runs of the season critical, and neither was willing to concede.
With Michael Cunningham setting his best of the night—42.999 and Daryl Hutton completing a consistent night with a 42.405, all eyes were on Mullan and Krause. Krause delivered his best of the day to a 40.398, but Mullan was equal to the task, turning in his second best run of the night for a 40.145.. there was nothing in it.
For Daniel deVoigt, his strong late season form continued, the Devo Racing machine improving again to a best of 44.129, while Rob Coley again struggled to complete the lap admitting post race that his jet unit was effectively inoperable.
While the equation in the Unlimited class was tight, it was tighter still in 400s with Paul Kelly and Mark Garlick locked in combat with zero points separating them and all to play for—one stumble and it would be all over.
Sadly for Kelly he was first to blink, a navigational error while on target for another stunning lap eliminating him from the final three all but handing Garlick the title, although the former 400-Class title holder would also need to ensure he completed a lap and made his way into the final to ensure that reigning champion Ben Hathaway couldn’t jump him in the points.
Ultimately Garlick would set the third fastest time—just 16 one hundredths behind pace-setters Hathaway and Jody Ely to effectively cement his fourth national crown with one rotation remaining.
Fourth was Justin Roylance, the Spitwater Team Outlaw boss enjoying a strong close to the season, his final lap just four tenths of a second off a podium finish, while Brett Thornton and the luckless Kelly rounded out the six.
The crowd waited with baited breath as the two Unlimited heavyweights circled the warmup pool ahead of their runs. Krause was first to go after Daryl Hutton’s stunning 40.993 meaning that any hesitation or delay could cost the contenders a title. Krause put in his best performance of the night to have the big home crowd on their feet, a 40.103 forcing Mullan to dig deep, a position that often forces his best, and it was his best he delivered, an almost flawless 39.783 to claim his third win of the year.
What that did was leave both drivers on 171 points after adjustment for the loss of their worst point scoring round leaving the sport with a tied championship for the first time in it’s 25-year history.
While the fans took in the result of the Mullan-Krause tie, the 400-Class field set off for their final, with a round win on the table, Mark Garlick settling for an impressive but safe 43.410 to claim third and with it, the inaugural Roy Long Trophy for the most consistent run during the qualifying rounds, the Queenslander proud to be the first recipient of the award.
Garlick took the 400-Class title in Grumpy.
Ben Hathaway put in another strong performance in the Outlaw boat, showing just how well dialled in the JRE-tuned boat had been throughout the night, his 43.409 though just one one thousandth faster than Garlick.
Then it was down to former Temora winner Jody Ely, the Victorian continuing his stunning World Series preparation with his second win of the season, Rampage crossing the line with a 43.147 to claim the fastest 400-Class lap of the night.
After a tough day in the Blackout Racing machine, Kyle Elphinstone set a blistering pace in the LS-Class final setting comfortably the fastest time of the day with a 47.579 to put himself in the box seat for the championship title, but Ivan Safranek was having none of it, the Katana pilot going three tenths faster to claim the top time of the night and his second consecutive title.
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