WNT UK Ltd
Round three of the 2016 British F2 Powerboat championship took place at Chasewater Watersports Centre, where the Team WNT boat driven by Steve Hoult was ready for the first of the year’s longer courses, with Steve looking forward to exploring the performance of his F2 boat at the more open venue.
With a prime location in the pits, next to the VIP area, ready for the numerous WNT guests expected during the weekend, the team prepared the boat for the next two days of racing, which started with Saturday qualifying. With the weather overcast, but calm, the slight rain showers didn’t dampen the expectation. As the longer course at Chasewater features a sweeping section extending from the last turn buoy to past the start finish straight and up the third buoy, the team chose one of its bigger pitched propellers. As a result qualifying went well, with the team posting the fastest lap time midway through the session. However, on returning to the pits it was realised that a deck cover had come off and once Steve returned to the jetty the boat started to sink rapidly. Steve’s quick thinking saved the boat from total immersion as he drove it onto another competitor’s trailer. In the time that the team lost Steve’s fastest time was bettered by 0.4 seconds by Paul Balfour who took pole position.
With the boat dried out and readied for heat one Steve took the opportunity to close up on Paul and challenge for the lead as the engines of the first three boats fired as one and the field headed to the first turn buoy. Steve and Paul rounded the buoy as if tied together, with Steve on the outside they turned and ran down the full length of the course with Steve pulling away from Paul. As they rounded the second buoy Paul’s inside advantage meant he gained on Steve and the two were once again neck and neck, this continued until the right hander when Steve had to give way to Paul. It was clear to all watching that this was two drivers fighting hard with great respect for each other. The race finished with Paul taking the chequered flag with Steve second followed by Colin Jelf.
With the dawn of Sunday morning came improved weather conditions, which gave the many WNT VIP’s a great day. The open pit environment gave them a great opportunity to talk to the team and ask probing questions, have pictures taken in and on the boat and being shown the many light weight parts specifically made for the boat by WNT. It was then back to racing, with Team WNT opting for a different propeller for free practice, with the aim to get a better start and improve the chances of beating Paul to the first turn. Unfortunately, in Heat two the engine did not fire first revolution, which gave Steve too much to do to pass Paul, but he also found himself fighting off Mark Williams on the first lap who got a great start from back in fourth place. All of this action saw Paul finish first, with Steve taking another second place for the weekend.
Heat three saw the team revert back to the original propeller and as the lights went out the first three boats all made great starts, with Steve in position alongside Paul, but not in a position to pass. Further pressure came from Mark Williams throughout the race, but Steve held on and eventually pulled away to take his third second place of the weekend. “With three good second places at Chasewater this gives the team second overall for the Chasewater GP and a much needed points boost in our bid to retain the British championship. Chasewater proved to be a great event for Team WNT and WNT’s VIP guests, we were happy to put on such a solid performance for them and showcase the work that WNT tools have done to improve the performance of the boat,” says Steve Hoult.