Seattle, WASH. - Wow. Two greats heats of unlimited hydroplane racing in Seattle. In both races, the boat that led the race for two out of three laps got passed up in the final run to the checkered flag.
Jean Theoret was back in the cockpit of the U-37, and racing, for the first time since his accident in Madison. With the fastest qualifying speeds of anyone in his heat draw, he chose lane one.
Kip Brown in the U-17 hit the start line first. By the time they came out of the first turn, Theoret had the lead in the U-37. Jeff Bernard in the U-5 pushed him the whole time, within a couple of boat lengths for most of the race.
Coming down to the checkered flag, announcer Steve Montgomery said it was too close to call from the tower as Bernard had closed fast on Theoret. It turned out Bernard did run down Theoret, winning the heat by about a boat length.
Kip Brown in the U-17 and J. Michael Kelly in the U-7 had quite a battle for third place going. The Our Gang Racing team has that boat running well as evidenced by qualifying speeds at the last two race sites. Brown held off Kelly to take third.
Heat 1A Results
U-5 FormulaBoats.com - Jeff Bernard
U-37 Hoss Mortgage - Jean Theoret
U-17 USNW Express - Kip Brown
U-7 Graham Trucking - J. Michael Kelly
U-100 Mirage Boats - Greg Hopp
U-22 AirbagService.com - Mike Webster
Heat 1B saw the match-up of the top two race teams this season. Dave Villwock in the U-16 Elam has been the top qualifier at every race this season and won every race, except for Tri-Cities. Defending national champion Steve David, in the U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison has been the second fastest qualifer at every race site this season and won the Tri-Cities race.
Villwock chose lane two with his first pick of lane assignments determined by qualifying speeds. David chose lane one.
David hit the start line first and kept the lead coming out of the first turn. But Villwock was right beside him the whole time. David started to lengthen the lead out a bit after the first lap, but Villwock kept closing back in on him.
After the second lap, Villwock was within a boat length of David. In the north turn of lap three, Villwock grabbed a slight lead and held it around the turn and outran David to the final.
"The water gets rougher as the heat goes on," said Villwock. "I figured if I just stayed with him (David), I would have better water for the run to the finish." David said he hit a hole in the water on the back stretch that opened the door for Villwock and let him close.
The U-3 had been running strong, but lost power on the final lap. Jimmy King managed to get the boat re-started and finish the race, but by then he'd dropped back to fifth place.
Heat 1B Results
U-16 Elam - Dave Villwock
U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison - Steve David
U-48 Albert Lee - Brian Perkins
U-9 Jones Racing - David Williams
U-3 Grandview on the Lake - Jimmy King
Ken Muscatel brought his brand new U-25 to Seafair, but didn't make it in time to get the boat wet and put up some qualifying speeds. So, the U-25 didn't race on Saturday.
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Saturday, August 1 2009 2:58 PM EDT2009-08-01 18:58:28 GMT
PHOTO: Chris Denslow
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