The word "close" doesn't really cut it. After 160 km and over an hour of racing at speeds approaching 190km/h, the last years NZ Offshore Powerboat champs Fairview managed to pip arch rivals Fujitsu by just two seconds.
Despite finishing second to Fairview in the 2012 championships, Tony Coleman and Chris Hanley of Fujitsu were backing themselves to beat Fairview's Andrew Coolen and Warren Lewis. Their lighter boat, which sits near the absolute minimum allowable weight for the Superboat division, was favoured in the calm conditions at Taupo on Sunday January 27.
Fujitsu looked to have the measure of Fairview early on, eking out a lead of seven seconds at the first turning mark. Not to have their feathers ruffled, the defending champions kept their heads down and hung onto the coat tails of Fujitsu, hoping a mistake would come. They were rewarded on the 11th of 12 laps as the leaders took a corner slightly too wide, allowing Coolen and Lewis to sneak inside, where they were able to hold on to the finish.
There was action aplenty in the Superboat Light division on the 100km course. Alimax, piloted by Gordon Robinson and Andrew MacBeth, were forced to pull aside with mechanical issues on the first lap, but managed to get going after a few minutes, by which time their competitors had pulled a long way ahead. In a storming comeback, the pair managed to whittle their deficit down to just 30 seconds after five laps, and by lap seven, they were ahead by 17 seconds.
In the Sports Restricted class, also racing on the 100km course, Espresso Engineers stormed to the front, claiming victory from Outboard Pro and last years champions Konica Minolta.
The next round of competition takes place in Tauranga on February 16 where Fujitsu will be hoping for more flat water, so they can bounce back and level the series.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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