After the weather played its part at the last round of the British Formula 2 powerboat championship, mechanical and racing incidents were major influences at the Stewartby Springs GP for Steve Hoult and his WNT Red Mist racing boat. In spite of these problems Steve remains at the top of the championship standings.
Damage limitation was the name of the game for Steve Hoult and WNT Red Mist Racing at the weekend as a combination of engine problems and racing incidents scuppered a repeat of the double race wins that they achieved at the last round of the Championship. The weekend had started with what looked like perfect conditions for some fast racing, with the sun shining and very light winds. Under these conditions Steve went out in qualifying and put his WNT sponsored F2 powerboat on pole position, 0.5 seconds ahead of his nearest rival. However, the celebrations of Steve’s second career pole were short-lived and celebration turned to despair as an engine fault had developed, which would take the team all its time, with the help of many other teams in the paddock, to get it ready for the first heat.
As race time approached the engine gremlins remained and Steve had a poor start to heat one, but he held on to third place and was well placed to attack Paul Balfour for second. As the race entered Lap 10, Steve saw an opportunity to get passed Paul on the inside at the top buoy as Paul was busy with backmarkers. This overtake meant that both boats arrived at the buoy at the same time and contact was made. The result of this ‘racing incident’ saw Steve barrel roll, forcing the race to be stopped. Thankfully, Steve escaped from his cockpit unscathed and was picked up by the rescue boat. The challenge then was to repair the damage to the bodywork and drying out the 2.5 litre V6 two stroke engine and other boat systems.
Such was the damage that two team members have to make a five-hour round trip back to base to pick up replacement parts for the safety system, a loss of time that meant that the boat would not be ready for heat two. Attention turned to ensuring that Steve would take his place on the start line for heat three and minimise the loss of points in the championship. Cutting it fine, with just 30 minutes to spare the scrutineers passed the bodywork ‘fit to race’ after two test laps. Putting the stress of the previous day and the hours spent working on the boat, Steve got a superb start from last on the grid and by turn one he was up with the race leaders. It is in situations like this that the true character of a champion shines through and Steve held back to secure a solid third place, rather than risk stressing the repairs to the boat. The result was a haul of championship points from the weekend that keeps Steve five points clear in the championship. The team now has time to regroup ahead of the penultimate round in Nottingham on the 29th August.
“This was an extremely testing weekend for the entire team, but we all pulled together, with the help of our friends, colleagues and competitors, to limit the damage to our championship ambitions. We now have a few weeks to get ourselves ready for the next round and we will be going flat out to extend our lead in the championship,” says Steve Hoult, Driver, WNT Red Mist Racing.