For the second consecutive year, J. Michael Kelly in the Graham Trucking hydroplane earned the top spot on the podium in the H1 Unlimited Indiana Governor’s Cup race in Madison on Sunday, pulling away from second-place finisher Jimmy Shane in the Oh Boy! Oberto boat on the first lap of the winner-take-all finale. Kelly averaged 141.818 mph to take the title and ran a 144.701 mph on the first lap to secure the position.
Graham Trucking’s J. Michael Kelly won the Indiana Governor’s Cup for the second straight year. Photo by Chris Denslow/H1 Unlimited
“We were lucky just to make the final heat,” said Kelly, who took home his sixth overall victory on the national circuit, in the H1 Unlimited press release. “We broke the front canard of the boat in the final preliminary heat and the team worked hard to get it back together. I don’t know how they did it, but it held together, and we were able to get the win.”
The canard of the Graham Trucking boat came apart in the second preliminary heat exiting turn one of the second lap. The broken canard allowed Shane to catch Kelly in that heat, but in the championship race Kelly grabbed the lead from lane one with a perfect start and led from wire to wire.
Following Shane in the final for third was Jesse Robertson in the Graham Trucking II boat. Tom Thompson in the Peters & May hydroplane did not start when his boat was damaged after hitting a piece of floating wood prior to the start.
Kelly took advantage of lane one to stay ahead of Jimmy Shane in the Oberto hydroplane. Photo by Chris Denslow/H1 Unlimited
Overall it was a wild weekend for the Unlimited hydroplane teams and drivers. Of the 11 boats that made the trip to Madison, only five boats raced due to the debris-ridden Ohio River. The debris also required a change in the racing format. A two-boat, three lap shootout for all four preliminary heats led to the winner-take-all final race.
“We have been discussing for many years a way to race on smaller bodies of water,” said H1 Unlimited Chairman Steve David. “With the amount of debris in the water, this gave us an opportunity to test the three-lap shootout format. This format will open up other possibilities for race sites on the H1 circuit.”
In the final heat, the boats also drew for starting positions instead of the pre-starting-gun battle for lane positions. Kelly had lane one while Shane was in lane two.
“The lane position draw helped me quite a bit, having the inside on lane one on the Oberto is always important but it also tough,” Kelly said. “I knew I had to hold that lane and get through the rollers in turn one if I even had a chance to win. I knew if I did that I could take control of the race.”