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!