DOHA,Qatar (Nov. 20,2009) Unprecedented crowds filled the shorelines of beautiful Doha Bay, Qatar for the preliminary heats for the inaugural Oryx Cup UIM World Championship on Friday.
Mike Webster (Reading, Penn.) in the U-22 Matrix Systems Automotive Finishes, Ken Muscatel (Mercer Island, Wash.) in the U-25 Superior Racing, J. Michael Kelly (Puyallup, Wash.) in the U-7 Graham Trucking, Jean Theoret (Lery, Quebec) in the U-37 Miss Peters & May and Nate Brown (Preston, Wash.) in the U-17 Our Gang Racing all lined up in calm conditions for the first heat race of H1 Unlimited and the first race for the circuit outside of North America.
Brown stole an early lead, but was quickly passed by Kelly, who came under pressure from Theoret through the opening two laps. Kelly managed to stay out in front to seal the heat win and 400 points, but bad luck fell upon the yellow boat as Theoret hit a buoy in turn two of the final lap, and was assessed a one lap penalty. This handed second position to Brown, with Webster taking third, Theoret settling into fourth and Muscatel was deprived of fifth when he had to shut the boat down in the backstretch after suffering damage to the bottom of the boat.
Muscatel was serving a one-lap penalty for also hitting a buoy earlier in the race. Muscatel . As a result of the damage, the U-25 has with drawn from the race.
Fastest qualifier (148.668 mph) Dave Villwock (Auburn, Wash.) in the U-16 Ellstrom Elam Plus led Jeff Bernard (Kent, Wash.) Brian Perkins (Black Diamond, Wash.) , Greg Hopp (Snohomish, Wash.) and National High Points leader Steve David (Lighthouse Point, Fla.) into Heat 1B.
David in the U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto stole the early advantage from Villwock from lane two on the opening stretch of heat 1B, but Villwock managed to regain the lead heading into the final turn of lap one and extended his lead from then on, as the defending champion eased his pace to conserve second position and 300 valuable championship points.
Bernard finished third, Hopp was fourth and Perkins finished a distant fifth after running an extra lap for jumping the start. Despite the second place finish, David extended his overall championship lead over Bernard to 331 points.
Steve David in the U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto increased his National High Points lead over the U-5 Formulaboats.com and driver Jeff Bernard winning Heat 2A of the 2009 Oryx Cup UIM World Championship in Doha Qatar.
Bernard's teammate, J. Michael Kelly, Brian Perkins and Mike Webster rounded out the H1 Unlimited field. Bernard held a tight line down the inside into the first turn, only for David to streak into the lead through turn one. From that moment, the U-1 driver extended his lead to clinch the heat and finish the day with 700 final heat qualification points.
Bernard maintained second position, Kelly was third, but Perkins pressured Webster for fourth position and moved up the order when Webster’s white U-22 Matrix Systems Automotive Finishes boat pulled up on the final lap.
U-16 Ellstrom Elam Plus and its driver Villwock survived some rough water and held off a strong charging Jean Theoret in the bright yellow Miss Peters & May to win Heat 2B. Nate Brown in the U-17 Our Gang Racing almost didn't make the start as his boat had difficulty getting started. While floating in middle of the first turn, the U-17 came to life and Brown was able to join the other three boats. Greg Hopp in the U-100 Leland Racing rounded out the four boat field.
All four race hulls made the start perfectly and Villwock snatched the early lead from Theoret, only to run wide and bounce on the final turn of lap one and hand a brief advantage to his French-Canadian rival. He quickly regained the lead and coasted along the two-mile course to claim a second top finish of the day, earning 800 final heat qualification points.
Theoret took second place and Hopp snatched third from Brown in the final turn of the fourth lap, using shorter distances of the inside lane to his advantage.
Preliminary heat racing continues on Friday with the winner-take-all final schedule for the afternoon on Saturday.