Nelson's Stilwell brothers have cemented themselves among the top three contenders for this year's NZF1 Powerboat Tour after more impressive third round performances in Tauranga recently.
Julian Stilwell and younger brother Philip, now based in Cambridge, are lying second and third respectively in the overal tour standings, with only the fourth and final round remaining at the New Zealand nationals in Cromwell at Easter.
Both recovered from mediocre opening races, following an incorrect propeller selection by Julian and a poor start by Philip, to finish first and second respectively in race two and place them second and third for the start of the round's final race.
With Anthony Robertson (Design Windows) taking pole position and Luke Sharp in Prompt Parts pushing hard, Julian settled for second and Philip fourth. That left them second (Julian) and third (Philip) for the round behind Robertson, and the same in the tour points leading into the final. Some minor hull changes to Philip's boat have made a significant improvement to the performance of his underpowered machine, Philip also drawing pole position and putting in a good drive to win heat one of the North Island F1 championship. Julian finished fourth after losing the cowling off his boat and being disqualified.
A dramatic second heat saw Sam Hughes in Sole Survivor crashing spectacularly while challenging Sharp for first place. Luckily he landed right side up and suffered no injury.
In the re-run, Steve Pope in the Vatican violently barrel rolled in a turn, requiring immediate medical attention, due to a suspected spinal injury. The heat was eventually called off due to poor conditions and Philip Stilwell was awarded the title based on his first heat win.
The final tour round in Cromwell is shaping up to be a classic case of sibling rivalry for second, with only a catastrophe likely to deny Robertson the title.
- © Fairfax NZ News