TRI-CITIES 2010: Steve David goes for the rare three-peat - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

TRI-CITIES 2010: Steve David goes for the rare Unlimited Hydroplane racing three-peat

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PHOTO  - James Crisp PHOTO - James Crisp

KENNEWICK, WASHINGTON - As the H1 Unlimited Hydroplane fleet heads to the Pacific Northwest for the third event of the 2010 racing season - The Lamb Weston Columbia Cup on the Columbia River between Pasco and Kennewick, Washington July 23-25 - the race for the season high point championship is tight enough that the event winner will probably come away with the points lead as well.

Defending national high point and Lamb Weston Columbia Cup Champion Steve David, driver of the U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto, will arrive in the Tri-Cities with a scant 198 point lead in points but says, "I like our chances. I think Mike Hanson (crew chief) has a good handle on our setup and we've made some changes in the boat and gearing that should make us real fast. Then we go on to Seattle with the rough water conditions and our boat should do very well there."

"I don't think there have been many repeat winners at the Columbia Cup," continued David. "We'll be going for a three-peat which would really be something special. We'll have a lot of friends and family from the Oberto headquarters in Seattle there with us and we hope to be celebrating Sunday night the way we have the past two years. And if we are...we obviously will have increased our lead in high points as well."

When the turbine engine on board the U-96 Spirit of Qatar failed to ignite in a preliminary heat at the Lucas Oil Indiana Governor's Cup for driver Dave Villwock, the loss of points relegated Team Ellstrom to the second row in the final and an eventual fifth place finish in the event. Those points look very big as the teams head to the third race of the season.

Steve David and the home town U-1 Oh boy! Oberto Miss Madison took the win in the season opener and an early lead in season high points, tallying 1525 points to Villwock's 1007. The Spirit of Qatar driver also found himself fifth in points, trailing David as well as JW Myers in the U-37 Miss Peters & May with 1320, J Michael Kelly in the U-7 Graham Trucking with 1300 and Brian Perkins in U-21 Miss Albert Lee Appliance with 1034.

But Villwock rolled the table at the Jarvis Restoration APBA Gold Cup on the Detroit River, starting the weekend as top qualifier and winning all four of his preliminary heats before driving the U-96 Spirit of Qatar to victory in the championship final heat and putting his name on the cup for the eighth time. The 2100 points he amassed along the way moved him up the points ladder to second place, just 198 points behind David and the U-1.

Looking back on the first half of the season, Villwock said, "We really ran pretty well in Madison. We just made a mistake that cost us a lot of points. The Detroit River gives you a lot of challenges and I think we handled them better than most. We had a setup that was good for all the water conditions we saw."

"Now we go to the Tri-Cities which is another big track where we've had good days and bad ones," Villwock added. "We hope to put together a good weekend and come away with the points lead."

J Michael Kelly in the U-7 Graham Trucking has also been fast and steady and is in third place in points, just 505 out of the lead.

An eleven boat field expected for the Lamb Weston Columbia Cup will include a U-37 Miss Peters & May entry from Schumacher Racing, but it won't be the boat or driver the team took back East.

Following a horrific crash in the Gold Cup which badly damaged the team's primary boat and injured driver JW Myers, the P&M team leased a hull from Leland Unlimited which will be driven by unlimited rookie Jon Zimmerman, who looked good sharing the driver's seat of the U-25 Superior Racing with Dr. Ken Muscatel on the Eastern swing.

Myers will have surgery in Seattle on Wednesday to repair broken bones in his left foot.

The Lamb Weston Columbia Cup will open with testing, qualifying and the Legends Casino Dash for Cash on Friday July 23rd and conclude with the championship final heat at 4:40 pm PDT on Sunday the 25th.