WNT UK Ltd
Round four of the 2016 Powerboat GP season took place at Stewartby Lake, Bedfordshire, with competitors being faced with a completely new course design with two new right hand turns and the longest straight we have seen at 2250m.
Team WNT was looking to build on the success at the last round at Chasewater, so before heading for Stewartby the decision was taken to service the engine, replacing some of the damaged read valves and some general checks that can only be done when the engine is removed from the boat. On arrival the team was faced with a mixed weather report with the forecast good for the first day, but deteriorating for the second, with wind gusting up to 30 mph expected, which would make it unsuitable for racing. Due to this forecast the schedule was shuffled and a second heat was added to the first day, which restricted free practice for all the teams.
Making the most of the limited free practice time Team WNT settled on a compromise and chose to run with a medium propeller, which should help in the two slower sections of the course before each right hand turn and two higher speed sections. Team WNT’s driver Steve Hoult worked well to make the most of the available and avoided slower boats to put himself in second place on the time sheet, just six tenths off pole, but after 12 laps and with just two minutes left of practice he pulled in with a loss of power steering.
Before repairs could be completed it was time for Heat One and Steve made a great start getting well ahead of pole-sitter Paul Balfour by the first turn. Unfortunately his rapid get away was also his downfall as he couldn’t make a tight turn allowing Paul regain the lead. The race continued without any further position changes resulting in a satisfying second place finish for Team WNT.
Between heats the team serviced the boat, still looking in vain for the steering fault, and at the same time helping fellow competitor Colin Jelf with repairs to his boat with the loan of a read valve to help him fix his engine. The flag dropped for Heat Two and again Steve made an excellent start challenging for the lead, but once again Paul Balfour found that extra bit of speed and gets ahead. Colin Jelf, with his repaired engine, was chasing hard but couldn’t catch Steve who came home in another well-earned second place.
Has day two dawned the weather was as forecast with moderate winds with strong gusts creating difficult conditions. This brought immediate cancellation of the two smaller classes with a decision pending until mid-day on the F2 boats. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t improve and racing had to be abandoned with the meeting results taken from the two heats the previous day, putting Team WNT in second place for the Grand prix meeting. This is the second P2 finish for Team WNT in a row and with a five week break before the next round of the British Championship, when the teams return to Stewartby, over a different course, there is work to be done to get to the top step of the podium.