I don’t think there’s any way to start this other than by echoing what I heard from so many people in the pits after the day’s racing was finished. What a day! The weather couldn’t have been better for day 1 of the Lowestoft GP, and for the first couple of hours after I arrived in the pits I did as I always do and made a point of saying hi to anyone I had not yet seen. I love this time in the pits. People are busy, but normally not too busy to talk, and also they are generally quite relaxed. It gives some great opportunities for photographs that show a side to racing that a lot of people don’t often see: the sometimes qute delicate work that goes into preparing the boats, the bustling within the garages when the scrutineers turn up, and the routines that different people have and go through when preparing to race.
When the boats then hit the water for their qualifying session I had joined them on one of the safety boats stationed out around the course. The course here is brilliant for photographers in a lot of ways, allowing plenty of access very close to the water. The probelm is, from a photographers point of view, I always want to get the shot that no-one else got, and that means getting where no-one else is. Having gained permission from the Officer of the Day, Rescue Officer and Jetty Marshall, I donned my life jacket and we headed out to sit off the exit of the Wherry Turn.
Qualifying was great to watch, with drivers in all the classes giving it their all to try to claim pole position. Then when race time came around everybody was well and truly ready, and the calibre of racing was very high. The F4’s were the first class out and Ben Morse dominated the day, claiming pole by over a second from Rob Veares in qualifying and leading the race from lights to flag. George Elmore was equally dominant in the GT15 sessions, again taking both pole position and the win. GT30 qualifying was the most disrupted session of the day with two stappages, but at the end of it Tiegen Goodfellow came out on top with a cracking lap that put her first by 0.11s. Unfortunately for Tiegen she wasn’t able to maintain her position and she finished third behind Thomas Mantripp and Jonny Brewer.
The T850 class were the next on the water, and in qualifying it soon became clear that Jason Brewer’s boat was not the happiest it has ever been. The remaining three drivers fought hard amongst themselves for pole but it was Nigel Edwards who ultimately came out on top. Sadly when their race came, Nigel was unable to get away from the start pontoon and it was Bill Owen who crossed the line first, leading Steve Cash and Nigel. Nationally, LOBMBC is the home of the OSY class and it was great to see seven on these fantastic little boats on the water. Returning to the form set by the first two classes, the pole-sitter went on to take the victory, with a lead of over half a second in qualifying and a convincing win. The final boats in each session were the F2’s. Due to international commitments for some drivers the field was slightly depleted today, but the five drivers who were here put on a brilliant display of driving and in qualifying the boats in second to fourth were covered by a little over a third of a second. But it was Colin Jelf who claimed the top spot and later went on to convert this to a heat 1 win, I believe setting a lap record in the process.
So now we look to today, which for me will consist of pretty much the same again, only with possibly more frequent applications of sun cream. For the drivers, some are aiming to go out there and do it all again, repeating today’s performances. Others will have taken the evening to gather their thoughts, regroup, and will be going out there tomorrow to aim to improve on their points haul today.
The action on the water starts with free practice at 12pm at Nicholas Everitt Park, with Heats 2 and 3 following throughout the afternoon.