Stilwell poised to challenge for F1 title
A successful weekend's racing at Lake Karapiro has shunted Nelson's Julian Stilwell into second place in the New Zealand Formula 1 Powerboat Tour standings.
After winning the first qualifying race and finishing second in race two in Scott Construction after starting last on the grid (reverse grid), Stilwell followed up with a win in the final race.
He is now lying second behind fellow South Islander, Cromwell's Anthony Robertson (Summit), having jumped from seventh after a disastrous first round in Cromwell last November.
He's also one place clear of his Cambridge-based brother, Philip Stilwell, who maintained his third placing on the tour after some reliable placings in the underpowered two-litre Acceleration on Water boat.
Julian largely attributed the weekend's success to the boat's better setup and his increasing familiarity with it.
"We did have a new propellor that we were running, which seems to just make the handling of the boat so much better," he said.
"I don't think it's necessarily faster or anything like that, but it's so much better for me to drive. It suits my driving style a bit more."
First-round leader Luke Sharp (Prompt Parts) blew an engine in the second race to eventually drop to fifth overall.
Stilwell's main opposition came from Robertson, who was third overall after round one. "He was on our tail the whole weekend, but we just had the extra legs, really."
In other results, Raymond Hart drove the Peter Knight Sr-owned The Boss to victory in the Masport Cup, while Steve Pope in the Vatican won the King of the Lake.
Round three is in Tauranga on February 16-17, with the fourth and final round to be held at the New Zealand nationals at Cromwell on March 30-31.
NZ F1 Powerboat Tour standings after two rounds: Anthony Robertson (Summit) 2440 pts 1, Julian Stilwell (Scott Construction) 1977 2, Philip Stilwell (Acceleration on Water) 1841 3, Steve Pope (The Vatican) 1802 4, Luke Sharp (Prompt Parts) 1790 5, Richard Sommerville (KS Builders) 1133 6, Sam Hughes (Sole Survivor) 871 7, Jeff Price (Lone Wolf) and Brenden Cornes (Total Chaos) 350 8 equal.
- The Nelson Mail