It’s never seems “over” in offshore powerboat racing!
The Evolution Sprint race of the 2009 Powerboat P1 Malta Grand Prix opened the season with the Mercury Racing-powered Cigarette Smash Poker #10 boat taking a commanding lead from the second lap on and taking the checkered flag well-ahead of the second and third place Outerlimits entries, the American # 77 Chief-powered Lucas Oil/Budweiser and the Italian #88 Mercury Racing-powered SNAV/OSG teams. T hough the #88 took the Powerpole on Friday and started out ahead, the Cigarette was clocked at speeds of up to 109 mph and led nearly the entire race.
Protests were filed after the race that the Cigarette and Lucas Oil teams had passed on the wrong side of the first buoy, which would have incurred penalties and put the SNAV/OSG team in first place. However, the protest was denied since there was deemed to be no infraction of the rules and the provisional results remained with the Cigarette in first, the Lucas Oil/Budweier, second and the SNAV/OSG in third. The #47 Sterling-powered Silverline Buzzi TEAMtook 4th, and the #66 Searex Racing team did not finish.
In Supersport Class, it was more racing drama, with the Italian #38 Mercury-powered Donzi, Baia Attolini team quickly taking the lead from the new #43 Ilmor-powered Chaudron Seagull boat, that had won the pole position on Friday. The race was hard fought with the 2008 Supersport Champions, Angelo Tedeschi and Aaron Ciantar making their way steadily forward in their newly constructed Chaudron and over-taking the Donzi only briefly in the latter laps of the race. Further drama was added to the race as Ciantar family, who builds the Chaudron boats in Malta, was represented in two of the Supersport Tedeschi-owned entries—Aaron in the Seagull and his sister and former race partner, Audrienne in the #44 Iko Casa boat, with Nigel Hook’s former race partner, Shelley Jory. The all-woman team tried to maneuver the 2008 Championship hull into the lead, but the Team 26 in the #26 new Sterling-powered Donzi came out strong and held third until the final laps when they over-took the Ukraine-sponsored Seagull for second place.
The new Nor-Tek built and powered #17 MasForce Belgian team maintained a steady 5th place throughout the race, followed by the two Italian Al & All team, #28 Blue Shaft and #22 Big Sergio.
HOWEVER, after the race, both the Baia and Iko Casa teams were penalized for breaking out of their speed-bracketed class for 4 and 5:30 minutes respectively. Therefore, Team 26 took the checkered flag with the Seagull Chaudron in second and MasForce in third. The Baia was ranked fourth, followed by Iko Casa, Blue Shaft and Big Sergio with a DNF.
Eugenio Voltolina of Seahorse Marine, the Italian Cigarette dealer and owner of the #10 team commented, “We worked hard all winter developing this project (including new Smash Poker sponsor, the new internet gaming website to launch in Italy later this month) and we’re still working on many things, but it seems like it turned out pretty well!” he laughed!
“We were all surprised by the calm waters here in Malta,” said Outerlimits VP Paul Fiore who also manages the OSG team, “We were set up for rough water, so we have to do some work on the boat tonight. From a business standpoint, I don’t care which Outerlimits boat wins—I just hope we have a better quote tomorrow!”
The longer Endurance race will take place at 2 PM Malta time (8 AM EST) on Sunday, May 10. Tune in to www.powerboatp1.com/multmedia to hear all the racing action on P1 Radio.