QATAR 2009: J. Michael Kelly wins Oryx Cup UIM World Championship in dramatic final - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

QATAR 2009: J. Michael Kelly wins Oryx Cup UIM World Championship in dramatic final

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DOHA, Qatar (Nov. 21, 2009) J. Michael Kelly (Puyallup) in U-7 Graham Trucking upset the field to clinch a dramatic late victory in the Oryx Cup UIM World Championship race in fading light in Doha Bay on Saturday afternoon. It marked the end of one of the most exciting H1 Unlimited races in history and a first H1 Unlimited career win for the Washington state driver.

 

Florida-based Steve David (Lighthouse Pt., Fla.) secured his second successive H1 Unlimited National High Points Drivers' Championship when Jeff Bernard (Kent, Wash.) crashed out of the first Oryx Cup final.

The race was immediately stopped and David sealed the National High Point Teams' series win and the Martini & Rossi Trophy when arch rival Dave Villwock (Auburn, Wash.) – who had been the fastest driver on the course over race weekend (151.171 mph, 243.286 k/ph) - suffered a spectacular engine flame-out on the final lap of the restarted race and limped to finish in third place.

At the helm of U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto, David began the final day with a 431-point advantage over Jeff Bernard in U-5 Formulaboats.com and secured his fourth drivers' title, despite a dramatic accident in his final heat which threatened to derail the title bid.

David did a 360 degree flip in preliminary heat 4A landing right-side up.  The boat was only slightly damaged, so H1 Unlimited's safety inspector allowed him in the final heat.

Villwock's had the day's consolation of a new course race record of 141.417 mph (227.589 km/h) for competition.

The inaugural Oryx Cup final

All attention focused on the thrilling six-boat winner-take-all final of the inaugural Oryx Cup UIM World Championship race and to decide the outcome of the National High Point  titles. The six boats that amassed the most points in the heats qualified for the final, meaning that, Hopp, Perkins, Muscatel and Webster missed out on the finale.

David and Bernard were set for a head-to-head showdown for the driver title, with Villwock joining the drama in the teams' battle and all three aiming to claim the prestigious Oryx Cup. Villwock edged in front through lap one, where Brown ground to a halt and Bernard turned too early into the leader's rooster tail and barrel-flipped out of the race for the title. Kelly managed to miss the carnage, but the race was stopped and a delay ensued before the restart.

In fading light, Villwock made the early running in the final from a hard-charging J. Michael Kelly, but a cruel engine flame-out on lap four of five handed the race lead and the inaugural Oryx Cup title to Kelly, as David slipped past in the dying seconds to confirm the National High Point Team title in thrilling fashion.

Qatar's successful first steps into H1 Unlimited racing were a testimony to the hard work put in by both the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF), under the presidency of His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani, and H1 Unlimited officials.

The Oryx Cup marked the first time that H1 Unlimited boats have ever raced outside the Americas and has led to plans for global expansion into 2010 and beyond. Large numbers of international visitors joined an impressive head count of local spectators to witness the thrilling race action.

"I would like to congratulate my team at the QMSF for their efforts in staging this event over the last few days and also pass on my best wishes to all the American teams and international visitors who made the H1 Unlimited race such a success," said Sheikh Hassan. "We hope to see everyone again next year."

Heats 3A and 3B

Greg Hopp (Snohomish, Wash.), Jeff Bernard, Nate Brown (Preston, Wash.), Jean Theoret (Lery, Quebec) and Mike Webster (Reading, Penn.) were drawn in the first of Saturday's four heats in front of a packed crowd in Doha Bay. Webster was forced to miss the start with mechanical issues, but Bernard managed to hold off Theoret through the first turn and maintained the inside line through lap one. He extended his advantage over the subsequent three laps to take the heat victory and reduce David's overall championship lead to a virtual 31 points before heat 3B.

Theoret claimed second position before being docked all his points for a fuel violation, Brown was a distant third before being promoted to second, but Hopp pulled up with engine problems at the end of the opening lap and failed to add to his points' tally.

Steve David, Dave Villwock, Brian Perkins (Black Diamond, Wash.) and J. Michael Kelly filled the grid for a crucial heat 3B, after damage sustained on Friday forced Ken Muscatel (Mercer Island, Wash.) to miss the final two heats. Villwock held the racing line through the opening turns and managed to pull away from David, who settled into second in a bid to conserve 300 points and a reduced championship lead of 331 points.

Villwock held on take his third heat triumph of the weekend, David was second and Kelly finished third. Perkins was deemed to have made a jump-start and finished a distant fourth after running for an extra lap.

Heats 4A and 4B

David, Kelly, Perkins and Brown were drawn together in an ill-fated heat 4A. Kelly made a superb start and held David in a stranglehold through lap one, with Brown and Perkins down in third and fourth. But David dramatically flipped his race boat at high-speed heading into the wind and a left-hand turn and the U-1 hull miraculously landed upright in the water. David managed to limp back to the race pontoon and the heat was postponed, with David unable to take part in the restart.

Bernard, Villwock and Theoret were entered in heat 4B and David's accident gave the heat a totally more significant meaning. Bernard managed to hold the inside line through lap one, as Villwock applied the pressure and both racers became embroiled in a superb tussle at the front.  With Hopp non-starting, Theoret was running as a distant third, but officials announced that both Bernard and Villwock had jumped the flying start and were forced to run an extra penalty lap.

This handed the unlikely win to Theoret and meant that Bernard headed into the Oryx Cup final a mere 106 points behind David's damaged boat, with Villwock a further 424 behind and unable to win the High Points Drivers' Championship, although Ellstrom Elam Plus could still win the Teams' Championship. Kelly dominated the second running of heat 4A after passing Brown shortly after the start, with Perkins collecting 225 points for third position.

Oryx Cup - UIM World Championship – H1 Unlimited Heats (Saturday - unofficial)

3A

1

U-5

Jeff Bernard

Formulaboats.com

400 points

2.

U-17

Nate Brown

Our Gang Racing

300 points

3

U-100

Greg Hopp

Leland Racing

DNF

4.

U-37

Jean Theoret

Miss Peters & May

Fuel violation

5.

U-22

Mike Webster

Matrix System Automotive Finishes

DNS

3B

1.

U-16

Dave Villwock

Ellstrom Elam Plus

400 points

2.

U-1

Steve David

Oh Boy!Oberto

300 points

3.

U-7

J. Michael Kelly

Graham Trucking

225 points

4

U-48

Brian Perkins

Go Fast Turn Left Racing

169 points

5.

U-25

Ken Muscatel

Superior Racing

DNS

4A

1.

U-7

J. Michael Kelly

Graham Trucking

400 points

2.

U-17

Nate Brown

Our Gang Racing

300 points

3.

U-48

Brian Perkins

Go Fast Turn Left Racing

225 points

4.

U-1

Steve David

Oh Boy!Oberto

DNF - accident

4B

1.

U-37

Jean Theoret

Miss Peters & May

400 points

2.

U-16

Dave Villwock

Ellstrom Elam Plus

300 points

3

U-5

Jeff Bernard

Formulaboats.com

225 points

4.

U-100

Greg Hopp

Leland Racing

DNS

2009 Oryx Cup UIM World Championship - final

1

U-7

J. Michael Kelly

Graham Trucking

400 points – Oryx 1st

2.

U-1

Steve David

Oh Boy!Oberto

300 points – Oryx 2nd

3.

U-16

Dave Villwock

Ellstrom Elam Plus

225 points – Oryx 3rd

4.

U-37

Jean Theoret

Miss Peters & May

127 points

5

U-5

Jeff Bernard

Formulaboats.com

DNF - accident

6.

U-17

Nate Brown

Our Gang Racing

DNF

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