Mechanical woes can’t keep Caughey from victory

January 28, 2015

Mechanical gremlins still blight Peter Caughey’s ENZED team, but the Cantabrian showed his class by winning top points at round two of the Suzuki SuperBoat class at the ENZED Stadium Jetsprints at ASB Baypark last night, in a borrowed boat.

More astonishing still, it’s based on the first boat the defending champion built, many years ago.

“When I jumped in it was a handful, it’s huge power and the twin turbo engine is not as forgiving to drive as the ENZED 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.”

Though he didn’t expect more than a top eight finish, the strategy worked, and Caughey was 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.

Caughey’s latest motor broke a crankshaft in round one. He leased another, worked on it all week and late into Friday night but realized it wasn’t fit to fire.

A gutted Caughey was poised to pull out when fellow Superboat racer and regular rival Leighton Minnell offered to share his boat.

“It was looking like desperate times for the championship. It’s only round two but giving away points at the start, those are the ones that hurt most by the final round,” Caughey said.

The NZ 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, himself 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 the Minnells also revel in the improvements made as the two teams worked together.

Sunday sees 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 $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.”

Where to from here? “The third round is in two weeks time in Auckland, and the pressure’s on to find a boat to race by then. My 570 won’t be rebuilt in time. For now we’ll enjoy the fact that thanks to Leighton Minnell we’re back in contention after an incredibly hard seven days of graft.”

“To go from two sick motors unfit to race to top points – all I can say is thank you to my team for its hard work trying to get the ENZED boat on the water, and a huge thank you to Leighton Minnell and his team for giving us the chance to get back atop the leader board.”

 

Peter Caughey races Leighton Minnell’s boat to top points at Baypark as his ENZED team cheers him on (pics, Ian Thornton)

Peter Caughey races Leighton Minnell’s boat to top points at Baypark as his ENZED team cheers him on (pics, Ian Thornton)

 

 

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