Powerboat GP blog

Adrenaline junkies this is for you


Lancashire GP

Focus On… Matthew Palfreyman – F1 Atlantic GB

Following his solid 3rd place in Saturdays Heat 1, Matt came in to Sunday feeling confident but wanting more. 3rd is good, but find me a driver who doesn’t want to stand on the top step every time they race. The outright pace of Heat 2 on Sunday was quicker than that of Heat 1 – Paul Balfour’s race winning time was 6.25 seconds quicker than the previous day. Matt’s race time was 8.64 seconds quicker than the previous day, and he closed the gap between himself and Colin Jelf and Paul in front. It wasn’t enough though, and Matt found himself finishing 3rd again.


As I loitered around their tent during the lunch break, I listened to Matt and his brother Graham discussing data from the earlier heat. They were talking about RPM, talking about lines, talking about everything they could think of that could shave Matt’s lap times down.


The time came for the boats to launch, and the huge crowds gathered in front of the LPRC clubhouse and on the banks by the dam, watched and listened as the fleet of F2’s made their way round on the parade lap, sandwiched between the two Osprey Rescue boats. As the boats milled around down by the Fairground turn, I heard one spectator behind me describe it to a friend as ‘the calm before the storm’. One by one they set off on their hot laps, and lined up at the jetty. Hidden by the trees, the roar of the Optimax’s alerted the masses to the race start and we watched as lap after lap Matt chased down Colin and Paul.


The race was brought to a premature end in spectacular fashion, when after 9 laps, Matt clipped the exit turnbuoy at the Fairground. As the boat launched skywards, I was convinced it would go over, but somehow Matt managed to keep it the right way up, albeit with a couple of holes in the hull. As more than the minimum required number of laps had been completed, the result was declared at this point and the race was not restarted. Sadly, taking out a turnbuoy results in a disqualification for a driver, which meant that Matt finished the weekend in 6th overall. However, his attention now turns to repairing the boat and leaving for Finland to compete in the UIM F2 World Championship. I guess all that remains for me to say is thanks for the photo opportunity Matt, and good luck in Finland!



Focus On… Tiegen Goodfellow – BRM Europe

Consistency. If it isn’t Tiegen’s middle name, perhaps it should be. Having re-found her starting form by Saturday’s Heat 2, her performance in Sunday’s final heat was equally credit-worthy. And if you’re wondering whether that alone is grounds to start considering a deed poll application, let’s take a second to consider her race times. Granted, conditions on the two days were very similar, but ask any driver and they will tell you that the water changes from one lap to the next. The GT30’s run their races over 8 laps. On Saturday, Tiegen posted a race time of 7m 28.63s in Heat 2. 24 hours later, Heat 3 saw her post a time of 7m 28.89 seconds. A fraction over a quarter of a second difference over 7 and a half minutes. That’s consistency.


Speaking to Tiegen after the race, the smile was still there for all to see. Her comparatively poor start to the first heat of the weekend had set her back slightly, but her attitude and three very mature drives were enough to see her claim second overall for the weekend, beaten to the top step by Ben Jelf. Tiegen’s plan of action to take the fight to Ben? Props. The general opinion is that this is where the most beneficial gains can be made.


Tiegen and the rest of the team are now looking forward to the Kingsbury Grand Prix on the 2nd and 3rd of July, and Tiegen will be approaching that weekend the same way she approaches every weekend. Nail the starts and drive hard to the finish. With that attitude and the proof we have so far that there is pace in the boat, I would definitely say Tiegen is one to watch for the rest of the season.



Focus On… Matthew Palfreyman – F1 Atlantic GB

At his home Grand Prix, Matt has had a solid first day, although I’m fairly confident that I can say 4th in qualifying and 3rd in the race, although moving in the right direction, are not as close to the top spot as he would like…


In qualifying the boat was quick, and less than a second covered the top four drivers. I found it interesting to hear from Team WNT F2’s Steve Hoult that he had been paying particular attention to Matt’s lines (during testing last week) and said he could definitely see a difference over his previous lines.

In Heat 1, Matt passed Steve and settled quickly into 3rd place. Keeping pace with but unable to catch Paul and Colin ahead, Matt’s race continued on, and he crossed the line in third despite a rather hairy moment at the right-hander late on.


The F2’s have two more heats to run tomorrow, and I know Matt is looking forward to getting out there and pushing to get further up the podium.


Focus On… Tiegen Goodfellow – BRM Europe

Every time I saw Tiegen today she was smiling, and she was well within her rights to. After the final heat of the afternoon, Tiegen and I borrowed a couple of chairs from fellow GT30 competitor Tony Judge, and talked about her day.


Tiegen looked quick right from the word go – she told me that last week’s testing had been very beneficial. Most of the qualifying session was spent ensuring that the boat was set up right, and Tiegen ended up posting the third quickest time of the session, behind Ben Jelf and Jack Pickles.

In Heat 1, Tiegen was sadly unable to replicate her Lowestoft starting form and ended up losing a place. She drove a solid race however, gaining valuable knowledge of how the boat behaves in close racing and how best to get it through the wash of preceeding boats, and brought it home in 4th place.

The GT30’s are one of two classes who ran two heats today. Heat 2 though provided some really entertaining racing. Tiegen lined up 4th, but got her start hooked up beautifully and by the Fairground turn was locking horns with Thomas Mantripp. Asking her about this moment, she told me she loves racing close with other drivers as it puts more pressure on her and she drives harder. Tiegen and Thomas began racing at a similar time and have come up through the GT15 class together. They know each others racecraft well.

Looking on from the jetty, by chance standing next to Tiegen’s grandad, I could see that the trajectories of the two boats was going to bring them close. Very close.
“I knew Thomas was close, and thought I just had to drive as hard as I could. I knew if I could stay with him it meant I was up there. Padding him was brilliant!”
The two boats flew along, past the start jetty and the crowd outside the clubhouse, and despite being on the outside for the next turn, Tiegen didn’t give up. She kept her foot in and pulled clear of Thomas. By this point, Ben Jelf was well ahead, but Tiegen did enough to secure another 2nd place finish.


Walking with her, we were stopped numerous times by people wanting to congratulate her. It was lovely to see. Tomorrow there is one more heat to run. Tiegen’s take on it?
“I just need to get a good start and from there drive as hard as I can.”

I’m looking forward to seeing that.


Seconds out, Round Two…

I love the night before a race weekend. Sitting here in my living room, I am surrounded by lenses, memory cards, and the flashing lights of charging camera batteries, and the anticipation is building. For me, a race weekend is so much more than qualifying and three heats. As I write, most of the competitors are already at Carr Mill, and with the action on the water scheduled to start at 10am tomorrow, I am planning my arrival at the clubhouse for around 8am. This is one of my favourite times to shoot. The early morning light (weather dependant of course) and attention to detail that the teams exhibit in their tents can make for some really interesting compositions. It is also a time that allows for the more social element of my weekend.


During racing, the teams all tend to be very busy. The structure of the weekend means that once a particular class has been out on the water their boats are recovered to the pits, any necessary work is done to prepare for the next heat, and then there is often very little time before the boats have to be launched again. The early mornings are an opportunity to talk to people. A time when, in my experience, there is (a little) less pressure on.


Come 10am tomorrow, adrenaline levels will rise, noise levels will rise, and the woodland around Carr Mill Dam will echo with the sound of outboard motors as the competitors set about the task of establishing themselves at the right end of the jetty ahead of Heat 1. Carr Mill is a long way to travel for some people. So far that they only race there once a year. Others, race there month in month out. Will home advantage play a part? What role will the weather play in proceedings? Only time will tell I guess. I’m ready to find out.

Bring on the 2016 Powerboat GP Lancashire Grand Prix.


Local exposure for Lancashire Grand Prix

A lot of people are travelling a lot of miles this weekend for the Lancashire Grand Prix. Teams from all over the country will be heading north to Carr Mill Dam where they will all be vying for the top spot on the podium come Sunday afternoon. Officials have already started making that journey, arriving this afternoon to begin preparing the venue and building up to what promises to be a thrilling weekend.

Earlier today, the Powerboat GP “advance party” were joined at Lancashire Powerboat Racing Club by two of the series’ drivers and a film crew from Granada Reports, and the preparations were put on hold briefly whilst interviews were filmed.


Local F2 driver Matt Palfreyman and not-quite-so-local F4 driver Matt Wood gave up some of their own time and brought their boats along to provide the foreground against the picturesque, tree-lined banks of the lake. I wasn’t able to be there myself, but Tony was and he sent these images on to me, and I believe the piece will be aired on Granada Reports (ITV) at 6pm tomorrow.



Reasons to be testing…

One week from now the second chapter in the 2016 Powerboat GP National Championships will have been played out. Will the Lowestoft form-book remain in place and we see Tom, Ben, Sam and Colin extend their leads? Will ‘home advantage’play a part and we see local drivers topping the sheets? Powerboat racing is massively unpredictable, you only have to look at what happened to Team WNT F2’s Steve Hoult at Oulton Broad to see this. It’s always in the back of your mind – that there could be an accident – those risks are inherent in the sport, but very rarely do you expect it. And I’m certain that nobody expected Steve’s accident. But it just goes to show that anyone, even the reigning champion, can be caught out.

In preparation for next weekend’s Lancashire Grand Prix, a number of competitors made the trip to Carr Mill today to test. In total, five F2’s, three T850’s, three GT30’s and two GT15’s took to the water during the short time I was able to be there. Amongst them were Steve Hoult and his freshly repaired Molgaard F2, Matt Palfreyman and his newly liveried Moore F2 and the brother and sister GT15/GT30 team of Ethan and Tiegen Goodfellow.


Everyone had their own agenda for the test. For some people it was a first chance to run the boat in following repairs or servicing. For others it was an opportunity for the driver to familiarise themselves with the course and for the team to experiment with different set-ups. As I drove along Garswood Old Road towards LPRC’s clubhouse, Harvey Smith rounded the bottom turn and powered past me to begin another lap. The club was a hive of activity: boats were being sent out on short runs or doing practice starts, Matt Palfreyman was running his boat in on a test wheel at the bottom end of the jetty, Steve Hoult’s boat was being wheeled down the slipway and a host of other boats were being tinkered with.


There’s a different kind of pressure in the air at a test. Whereas at a race everyone has a pretty good idea of when their heats are and how much time they have to do things, in testing people are keen to maximise their time out on the water. If a job can be done without getting the boat out of the water, it will be.


I’m really getting excited for next weekend now. The Lancashire Grand Prix is always a great event and today’s turnout tells me that this year will be no exception. Whether you’re after a free family day out or fancied our VIP package which includes lunch, selected drinks and VIP viewing (£25/person, contact for more info) the 2016 Lancashire Grand Prix promises to be a thrilling way to kick off the bank holiday weekend.


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