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Wanganui jet sprints epicentre of Christmas action

Wanganui jet sprints epicentre of Christmas action

Festivities during the Christmas period will focus a large sector of New Zealand’s action-hungry audience on Wanganui that includes the first round of the Jetpro Jetsprint championship amidst two world-class bike events.

Hard on the heels of the Boxing Day Cemetery Circuit motor-cycle racing, the jetsprint competition features three race classes, each with defending champions’ intent on keeping their 1NZ ranking. Mixed with aspiring champions, rookies and adrenaline chasers, the Wanganui Shelter View track near Upokongaro provides a perfect family picnic setting for spectators to continue their festive season break.

One who will be taking advantage of a day with the family is Wanganui’s Leighton Minnell. The local businessman swings from being an organiser of the Cemetery Circuit racing, to competing with wife Kellie on the Sunday at the jetsprints and back to organiser for the FMX troupe on Monday.

“I’m really looking forward to the jetsprinting to be honest. I spend eight months of the year getting these riders to New Zealand for the motor cycle races, organising it and you find you’re always in demand 24-7, which is quite stressful. Then I get in to the boat; put the helmet on and going racing. So the downside is you don’t get any practise, to tune the boat – you just get in and go,” said Minnell.

“At the moment Kellie sees me at 11 o’clock at night for about ten minutes - that’s about it. That’s the beauty about the jetsprinting – you can do something with your loved ones and it makes a big difference. So it’s good to spend a whole day with the family and of course have the young fella there too.”

One of three local competitors in the Suzuki Super Boat category, Minnell has new competition to size up. Aside from defending champion Richard Burt and navigator Roger Maunder of Palmerston North, current Australian Super Boat champion Daryl Hutton returns to the New Zealand series with Cambridge navigator Jonny Schick, having recently moved to Australia.

Another to unsettle the rankings, Queenstown’s Chris Munro makes a return after three seasons away. With limited experience, he has previously beaten former champion Peter Caughey, although isn’t expecting the same first-round upset.

“We’re going to run short on time – that’s for sure,” said Munro from the engine building workshop a week out from the first round. “We’ve got a new jet unit and are pretty unsure what we’re going to face when we get going really – as an idea. We’ll just get out there, have a bit of fun and can’t be expecting too much too soon. It’s a development season for us I think.”

Starting at 11am Sunday, the day includes competitors in the international Group A and Jetpro Lites category.

Thames based Bevan Muir and navigator Kathy Barker top rankings in the Group A class, while Dave Stone and navigator Steve Greaves of Bulls have the Jetpro Lites title to defend. Although a number of teams across the field have had to concede starting the day – mainly due to engine complications in the rush to get specialised parts prior to Christmas.

The teams each get two chances each to complete the pre-determined course before elimination heats are run in the afternoon. Successively cutting the number of boats running, the final top-two shoot-out often brings the crowd to its feet. Apprehension at setting or beating a rival’s time adds to the occasional spill spectators get to enjoy.

Tickets for the day can be purchased online at http://www.etickets.to/buy/?e=3703 or at the venue: From Wanganui on SH4 head north toward Kaiwhaki Road, signs direct traffic past the township of Upokongaro.

Entries received for round one – Wanganui 27 December (late entries still to be included)

Group A Class

Driver Town Navigator Town

Blair Gibbard Waitarere Joanna Bayliss Waitarere Beach
Phil Wheelans Lower Hutt Katie Quantrell Taupo
Reg Smith Taupo Julie Smith Taupo
Brian Donald Nelson Neil McDonald Tapawera
Andrew Guthrie Levin Janine Ingram Palmerston North
Shane Wood Upper Hutt Craig Shaw Upper Hutt
Garry Smith Featherston Suzanne Shirtliff Lower Hutt
Richard Murray Wanganui Kesty Manning Apiti
Jeff White Wanganui Stuart White Wanganui
Mark Newdick Hamilton Ollie Silverton Hamilton
Ray Ferguson Lower Hutt Nicky Ferguson Lower Hutt
Blake Briant Gisborne John Randall Gisborne
Baden Gray Auckland Tanya Iremonger Waipukurau
Bevin Muir Thames Kathryn Barker Thames
Mark Shirtliff Lower Hutt Greg Fuge Lower Hutt
Sam Newdick Hamilton Nic McIndoe Hamilton

Jetpro Lites Development Class

Driver Town Navigator Town

Gerry Linklater Wanganui Hayden Wilson Wanganui
Graeme Jones Waitara Scott Jones Waitara
Steve Fouhy Turakina Denise Wallen Turakina
Bill Swan Lower Hutt Paul Brigham Palmerston North
Ray Thompson Whangamata David Toms Piopio
David Stone Bulls Steve Greaves Palmerston North

Suzuki Superboats Class

Driver Town Navigator Town

Pat Dillon Wanganui Steve Edmonds Wanganui
Daryl Hutton Victoria, Aus Jonny Schick Cambridge
Jamie Cooper Wanganui Glen Martin Wanganui
Chris Munro Queesntown Brent Scammell Winton
Robert Coley Wanganui Lance Thornton Wanganui
Leighton Minnell Wanganui Kellie Minnell Wanganui
Duncan Wilson Waitotara Jamie-Lee Lupton Waitotara
Richard Burt Palmerston North Roger Maunder Palmerston North

Television: Each round will be broadcast on SKY TV beginning in March. (UIM World Championship coverage held in Australia will be on SKY in January and run into first week of February).

2010 Jetpro Jetsprinting New Zealand Championship – season racing calendar

Sunday 27th December 2009 – Rd 1 – Wanganui
Sunday 24th January 2010 – Rd 2 – Featherston
Sunday 21st February 2010 – Rd 3 Meremere
Sunday 14th March 2010 – Rd 4 – Hawke’s Bay
Saturday 10th April 2010 – Rd 5 Wanganui (under lights)
Saturday 24th April – Rd 6 Final – Fea the rston

Photo image: Defending Suzuki Super Boat champion Richard Burt is again expected to turn it on for crowd at the opening round of the Jetpro Jetsprint Championship, to be held near Wanganui on 27 December. Photo – Lance Hastie. http://www.comtechnology.co.nz/jetpro/burt_3704.jpg

About jet sprinting:

Jet sprint venues are often set in a low-lying area where a water supply is available to maintain a stable track level. Excavated channels allow for a number of configurations, linked to create a track that takes just on a minute to accomplish at speed.
Each boat has a driver and navigator, who must complete the pre-determined course from memory and against the clock.

Following two practise attempts, teams’ enter an elimination cut-off, the eight fastest cut to four and then two for a final run-off. Times for each previous run are not carried forward and only count toward a personal best mark.
Championship points are awarded on the cut-off finish position in each of the three categories per round.


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