WORLD CHAMPS WITHOUT A WIN - POSSIBLE OUTCOME OF POWERBOAT P1 EVOLUTION CLASS SEASON
“In order to finish first, you must first finish.” This racing adage could be challenged in the Powerboat P1 World Championship Series Evolution class when the 2009 season wraps up its final two races in Siracusa, Sicily, September 11 – 13. The current team points standing are as follows:
#47 SILVERLINE, a Sterling-powered Buzzi boat leads the series with 646 points. The veteran racing British team of Jan Falkowski (a Round Britain Champion) and long-time racer Drew Langdon has competed in Powerboat P1 Supersport class since 2004 and converted their open cockpit vessel to a full canopy following the 2008 season to give the Evolution class a try. While the pair have yet to take a checkered flag, their ability to finish and take points in every Powerboat P1 race this year has put them at the top of an impressive race field.
Plus, the team earned a 50-point, mid-season bonus for using the same set of engines which will make Silverline tough to catch, but Falkowski says, "I don’t believe the Championship will be decided until the checkered flag in Sunday’s Endurance race in Sicily – it is that close. We will definitely be pushing as hard as we can." Though to date, that has been well-behind the speeds of the rest of the field.
Stateside, Sterling Performance president Mike D’Anniballe has been watching the team’s progress with bemusement. He’s never met or spoken with Falkowski or Langdon as the engines were purchased, used, from another race team. D’Anniballe says his facility hasn’t done any work on the engines, and adds “I would hope people recognize [from Silverline’s performance] just what solid engines they are. Just think what they might be doing if we had a chance to freshen those engines!”
#88 SNAV OSG is hot on Silverline’s transom with 571 points. The team won the Powerboat P1 Championship in 2006 and was runner up in 2007. This year’s team is made up of seasoned race veterans, Italian owner/throttleman Giancarlo Cangiano, who began racing powerboats in 1992 and joined Powerboat P1 in 2002. Hungarian-born, Austrian driver Hannes Bohinc, a 2005 Evolution Class Champion, is one of only six drivers to win the legendary Cowes-Torquay-Cowes endurance race twice and one of only 10 people to have won the Harmsworth Trophy more than once. The team experienced a dramatic start to this season, spinning-out in the Sprint race in Malta, only to come back to win the Endurance competition in their all-new Outerlimits SV-43 powered by Mercury Racing twin 1500s. The team missed both races in Turkey due to mechanical problems, costing them valuable points. The Italian’s charm belies his cut-throat competitive nature and he is looking forward to Sicily, "It is a great situation to be in. We are in fantastic form and still truly believe we can catch Silverline."
#10 CIGARETTE SMASH POKER holds third place with 542 points and has had a roller coaster season. Another Italian team with impeccable race credentials, the Cigarette hull powered by twin Mercury Racing engines, developed specifically for Powerboat P1, is piloted by Luca Formilli Fendi (who drives his own Cigarette 50’ Marauder) and his throttleman, Matteo Nicolini, who has won World Championships in Class 1 and 2, as well as European gold in Classes 1, 2 and 3. Since 1986, Nicolini has also helped run the family boat business, Nicolini Offshore, with his brother Luca. Kicking off the 2009 season in grand style, the pair took the Malta Grand Prix of the Sea Sprint Race with an impressive 42 second win over the field, only to retire after just three laps in the Endurance Race the next day. The team took a checkered flag and a third place in Turkey and the podium combination won them the Turkish Grand Prix title. In Italy, another spin cost them a possible win in the first race and mechanical problems caused a DNF in the second. The Scandinavian Grand Prix race course, “was not for us” Fendi said of the tight turns, so a conservative run there put them in a long shot for the Championship this year.
#77 LUCAS OIL OUTERLIMITS, the only American team running in the 2009 Powerboat P1 Championship sits in fourth place, having accumulated 418 points in what can only be described as a topsy-turvy season--literally. The team has a unique team configuration of throttleman Nigel Hook, a 30 year racing icon, with alternating drivers Joe Sgro, a veteran racing force, and Outerlimits owner Mike Fiore, who uses seat time in race situations for boat configuration and set-up in his consumer performance boats.
The LUCAS OIL OUTERLIMITS team finished third in the 2007 Powerboat P1 Championship debut and the Outerlimits team also took third again in 2008 while Hook raced his own Lucas Oil team. In 2009, re-united, the team won a hard-fought second place podium finish in Malta, fought racing gremlins in Turkey and Italy and arrived in Sweden with something to prove. They took an early lead during the Sprint Race, only to lose power in the middle of the race, and eventually dropped to third. On the final day in Sweden, Hook and Sgro had their sights set on the checkered flag and were closing the gap on front-runner FURNIBO. Both boats were topping speeds of 114 mph, when, making a turn at the end of the straight-away the #77 boat spun and then barrel rolled, red-flagging the race and sending Sgro and Hook to the hospital. The pair where held for observation with minor injuries while Sgro went on to praise the construction of his Outerlimits, “It was just the most spectacular crash - I don't know how many other boats could have survived such an impact.”
Hook and Belgian racer Nico Huybens had planned to carry the Lucas Oil Outerlimits team into the World Championship in Sicily in the Outerlimits boat that Huybens purchased after the team’s 2007 debut. However, the boat could not be “race ready” by departure time for Sicily, so Hook dusted off his 2008 boat and with Huybens, will complete the P1 season for long-time sponsor Lucas Oil.
#33 FURNIBO is in fifth place with 370 points and is poised to reach its goal of ending the season by bettering its 8th place, 2008 finish. The Belgian crew of Pierre Colpin and Frank Hemelaer as driver and throttleman respectively, purchased a Fountain Lightning 43 and installed twin Mercury Racing 700 SCis. Missing the season opener in Malta, the Belgians arrived in Istanbul and let everyone know they were a force, finishing second in both races that weekend, despite some adaptation to the engine guardian mode on their power plants. A second place podium finish in Italy helped elevate their points chase so in Sweden, they were pleased with their pole position, but failed to finish the first race. They had a lead on LUCAS OIL OUTERLIMITS when it experienced its dramatic barrel roll. Though the team was distressed by the accident, they carried on at the re-start and won the race decisively. Based on their performance in the races they did start and finish, watch for FURNIBO to make a strong showing in Sicily and real contention in 2010.
#33 CRANEFIELDS WINE, the German entry in 6th place with 205 points, is owned by pilot Siegfried Greve, of Hamburg, who also owns the Searex Shipyard that designed and built the hull, powered by Ilmor Performance Marine engines. On throttles is Belgian Gino Passchier, a professional firefighter and part of the team that claimed the K-7 Golden Star for the world speed record in a P1 boat at 122.9 mph in 2008. The season started dismally, when on the penultimate lap of the Malta Grand Prix of the Sea Sprint Race, and the engine blew, which forced the team to scratch Sunday’s competition. The team was in a battle for second place in Turkey on day one, but was later forced from the race with problems and failed to make the start on day two. Similar experiences in Italy and in Sweden haunted the team, which remains highly positive about their Powerboat P1 experience thus far.
#53 METAMARINE PIGNOLO 53 sits at the bottom of the Powerboat P1 Evolution class with just 202 points, a far cry from its championship season in 2004. The Metamarine hull is manufactured in San Benedetto del Tronto, Italy by team owner/pilot Marco Pennesi. The power comes from twin Seatek, six-cylinder, supercharged diesels and it is the only diesel currently running in Evolution class. Throttleman Max Ferrari has been with Powerboat P1 since its inception, and raced his jet-black PIGNOLO 53 Skater to a number of podium finishes in 2008. A dramatic barrel roll during testing in Malta destroyed the METAMARINE boat, though luckily, the pilots suffered minor injuries. Pennesi worked day and night to have the boat ready for Turkey, but a broken engine sensor side-lined their debut in the Sprint race, though they took the podium with a third place in the Endurance race. In Italy, with Luca Nicolini (brother of CIGARETTE SMASH POKER’S Matteo) substituting for Ferrari, the team took a third place in the Sprint race but suffered more engine problems and finished off-pace on Sunday. The team did not make the Gothenburg, Sweden race and Powerboat P1 hopes they will make the trip to Sicily to compete in “home” waters.
The Gulf of Avona, part of the Ionian Sea, may offer different waters—perhaps finally some rough seas--in the final races of the Powerboat P1 World Championship which have been surprisingly calm water races to date. Stay tuned for all the action at www.powerboatp1.com and listen to p1radio.com for the live race action brought right to your computer!
FOR A MORE DETAILED REPORT ON THE POWERBOAT P1 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP EVOLUTION CLASS STANDINGS, PLEASE VISIT WWW.POWERBOATMAG.COM. THE SUPERSPORT WRAP UP WILL FOLLOW!
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