image5Expect plenty of speed, spray and action when a record number of teams compete at The Grand Final Round of the Australian Formula Powerboat Grand Prix Series (AFPGP) at Port Macquarie this weekend.

There has been much anticipation and excitement leading up to this event. The close and competitive nature of AFPGP racing that caters for lightweight and superfast tunnel hulls powered by outboards, has ensured all but one of the 2016 Formula Australian Championships will be decided at fourth and final round at Port Macquarie.

Leading competitive teams from four Australian states and one international from New Zealand will provide plenty of on water entertainment during the two day event that includes qualifying hot laps, explosive beach starts, hugely popular reverse grid races, super quick 4g corners and speeds over 200kph.


image6Formula 1
Attracting plenty of interest is the Australia verses New Zealand Formula 1 challenge that has provided plenty of drama during the season.

Four time New Zealand Formula 1 champion Luke Sharp (Promt Parts) returned from a huge crash at round one to claim his first Australian victory at round 3 but needs a number of results to go his way to win the series. At the same time current series leader Paul Eade (BudLight) is running out of time to repair his craft after a crash in a lead up event.

It appears that the fast and consistent Doug Smith (DJ Contracting) and David Minton (Speed and Leisure) will now be the ones fighting it out for prestigious series championship.The return of leading F1 driver, Greg banks (RDM Engineering) to the series for the final round will add some intrigue and is sure to have an impact on the final results.


Formula 2
Formula 2 driver Andrew King (Kings Motorsport) crashed out of the 2015 Series when he was involved in a dramatic and spectacular double boat flip.

King returned to the series in 2016 to once again challenge for the hotly contested Australian Formula 2 Championship. He heads into the final and deciding round of the championship at Port Macquarie with a slender 453 point advantage.

With a possible 1800 points available at Port Macquarie the 2016 Formula 2 Champion is unlikely to be decided until the final Formula 2 race of the season as five drivers, mathematically remain in the chase to claim victory.

Defending Australian Champion Corey Davoll (KD Motorsport) appears to be King’s main threat. Davoll’s defence was hindered by a massive crash earlier in the season. However he returned in fine style with a dominating performance to claim top step on the podium at round 3, closing the points gap to King.

Currenty sitting in a close third position on leader board is Tasmanian Todd Leary (SPR) who has endured several highs and lows throughout the season. If he and his team can dial in his Sweedish Moolgard hull for the water conditions and claim a couple of more race wins Leary will also have a great chance of claiming the championship.

Simon Troy (888) is in a similar situation to Leary and might even have a slight advantage as his hull has always performed well in the conditions at Port Macquarie. If he can generate a couple of his renowned, explosive beach starts he will be hard to pass and beat.

Matty Peck (Octane Racing) may need to clean sweep the Formula 2 races and have the leading contenders falter completely in a race or two but stranger things have happened this year where on water incidents and mechanical failures have greatly impacted the leader board.

Peck along with others like Brett Atkinson (Team Bar) and Matt Smith (Turbo) are capable of mixing it up with the front runners and their placings could also help determine the championship.

In another surprise development last year’s F2 Port Macquarie round winner may have won his race against time and have his craft which was badly damaged in a flip at round 3 on the starting grid this weekend.


Formula Optimax
The question on everyone’s lips in Port Macquarie is whether local powerboat identity Michael Page (Port Carpet One) can hold his slender 38 point lead and claim his third Australia Formula Optimax championship win in a row.

Just like last season, Page’s main rival Victorian, Gavin Bricker (TBR#6) will debut a new Italian DAC boat hoping to gain an edge and stake his claim on the championship trophy. Page is hoping history repeats itself and like last season his rival’s new boat will not be dialed in enough for the conditions be at Port Macquarie.

The Formula Optimax field will be extremely competitive and both Page and Bricker face a tough task as any of their fellow competitors could dominate. Grant Trask (Monster Homes) and Chris Kuznettsoff (Sportsfilm) both won races at round 3 and former round winner Don McClymott(TBR#66) will make his return to the series. Along with wildcard entries Stuart Jackson (Jackson Marine) and David Ainley (Express Design) racing in this class will be packed full of action.


Formula 3
Current Formula 3 series leader Brock Cohen (CBR) has a good points lead over rookie star Adam Breen (Cracka Racing) and is working hard to claim the championship before he heads overseas to compete in the UIM Powerboat Nations Cup as one of Australia’s representatives alongside Formula 2 driver Corey Davoll.

With defending 2015 F3 champion Jake Greentree (Greentree Racing) back in the series along with Kevin Parker (Wasp Racing) and Peter Cohrane (PC Racing) in fast competitive boats, F3 racing in Australia has reached international levels.



Formula 4
With all boats running the same craft and engine, Formula 4 has quickly developed into an extremely close and competitive class where junior drivers with a couple of years experience can step up and take on some seniors.

Four drivers still remain in the running for the 2016 Championship with seventeen year old Hayden Sherry (Rapt) establishing a small series lead ahead of three talented female competitors led by Briney Rigby (BRP), Louise Vella (Miss Impatient) and Tracey Pugsley (Queen B). Along with Lochie Vella (Crossy Express) any of these competitors could win on the day. Many predict a different race winner in each of their four races. No one can predict with confidence who will win the title.


Formula Futures
The Formula Future races for Junior competitors aged between 8 to 16 years of age have attracted near capacity fields.

The J3 class for 12 to 16 years olds has showcased the strongest field of skilled junior competitors seen for some time.

Heading their series are two Queensland based girls Shelbee Sonter (Giddy Up) and Stephanie Cooper (Major Blink) ahead of Zac Atkinson (Team Bar Jnr) and Jack Milgate (Lil Bit Of Lust). Not far behind are a host of other competitors who could win on the day including the Martin girls, Naomi and Caitland (Whiplash), Blake Sherry (Mini Rapt), Victoria Beasley (I Believe) and Indiana Gay (Miss Predator).

Maddison Yarroll (Girl Power) is the only driver to have wrapped up a series championship prior to the final round with unbeatable lead in the J1 class for 8 to 10 year olds. However she will enjoy the challenge from new competitors joining the series Montana Atkinson (Team Bar Jnr), Riley Ford (The Kracken) and Bradley Beasley (Lightning Mc Queen).

The J2 class for 10 to 12 year olds has come down to a battle between three drivers Paige Cunnen (Miss Behavin), Ben Milgate (Little Bit of Lust) and Jackson Gay (Predator).

All the juniors hope to perform consistently over the weekend as the top performers will be invited to compete in the final race of the season – The Andrew Page Memorial Trophy Race.

The Formula V development class featuring monohulls will also be on the program with races each morning.

On water action will commence just after 9am each day. Saturdays program will commence with Formula Futures and Formula V races along with Practice and Qualifying Hot Laps followed by Formula 1,2,3,4 & Optimax racing in the afternoon. A full race program for all classes will be conducted Sunday. On shore there will be additional activity including a drivers signing event with free posters, jumping castles and face painting. A weekend pass can be obtained at the gate for just $15 along with $10 day passes.


Mike Cleary