It was carnage aplenty at the second annual Enzed Stadium Jetsprints, which took place at ASB Baypark in Tauranga over the weekend over January 24–26. The concept of digging up a stadium and filling it with water and 1000-plus horsepower boats is a great one. Fans get the chance to see the action from a range of vantage points, and of course take in the glorious sound that these boats produce.
Going into the event, mechanical gremlins were plaguing crowd-favourite Peter Caughey’s Enzed team, but he showed his class by winning top points — in a borrowed boat no less!
“When I jumped in it was a handful, its huge power, and the twin-turbo engine, is not as forgiving to drive as the Enzed [big-capacity, naturally aspirated] motor, and the hull isn’t as forgiving, so I didn’t expect too much, but just kept pushing it — you have to drive these boats with confidence before they give their best.”
That boat belongs to fellow Superboat racer, and regular rival, Leighton Minnell, who also used the boat over the weekend.
Caughey, the New Zealand and world champion, was initially hesitant about accepting Minnell’s offer.
“This is a big event and he’s racing for the championship as well. To share a drive puts extra stress on the driver, the team, and the boat, so it’s a huge sacrifice in terms of risk. These high-performance boats and motors are always under stress and to make two runs so close together — water and oil temperatures and everything becomes critical.
“But this is the first Sprintec we ever built (back in 2000) and we won two New Zealand championships with it a long time ago — but not with a twin-turbo motor.”
Technology has moved on a lot and so have these boats, but Caughey said Leighton, who's also a former world champion, was open to him making some changes using what he learned over the past 15 years of Sprintec development.
Caughey says it was very rewarding to make minor adjustments and see Minnell also revel in the improvements made as the two teams worked together. And though he didn’t expect more than a top-eight finish, Caughey managed to stay among the top five all day. As the two teams worked together to apply his tuning experience he picked up the pace and, in a nail-biting final, he charged through to bag top points from the Baypark meeting, and second at the event with overall winner Phonsy Mullan not collecting championship points as he was an Australian guest at the round.
The following day saw a non-championship event at Baypark, and Caughey continuing to fine-tune Minnell’s boat.
“I expect him to go quicker without winding up the boost. I’d love to race too, it’s a big event with a $20,000 total prize purse riding on it and we could use some of that for our sick motor, but the championship’s the focus.”
The third round of the championship series is on at Meremere Sprint Bowl on Sunday, February 15, so Caughey is under pressure to find a boat to race by then as his engine won’t be ready in time.