Sports

Villwock captures Oryx Cup, ties all-time career win record

Auburn
Auburn's Dave Villwock, driving the U-96 Spirit of Qatar, picked up his 62nd career win, tying him with the legendary Bill Muncey.
— image credit: Reporter file photo

Auburn's Dave Villwock came from behind in a thrilling final to win the Oryx UIM World championship Saturday in Qatar and tie legendary driver Bill Muncey’s all-time career victories.

Villwock now has 62 career wins to match Muncey, whose record had stood unchallenged for 30 years. The veteran driver overcame a rough weekend that included a spinout in the weekend’s first heat that cost him a chance at a national championship. The Kent-based Oh Boy! Oberto team led by driver Steve David secured its third consecutive national championship before Saturday’s final.

“It’s a privilege to be in the same group as Bill Muncey and Chip Hanauer,” said Villwock, who has been racing boats since age 16. “I talked to Bill when I was a little kid and he’s always been a hero of mine.”

Villwock went into the finals with an outside lane position and, after the start, found himself in fourth place trailing Steve David. But David, who had a strong weekend winning three heats, suffered a steering problem and dropped back in the pack. It would take all of Villwock’s driving skills to chase down J. Michael Kelly but late on the third lap he did it and rode it to the historic win.

After securing the national points championship in the last heat, David was looking to get his first race victory overseas. But running close to 170 mph in a straightaway, the steering quadrant slipped and he had to slow down dramatically to keep it under control.

“We wanted a sizeable lead going into the final just for that reason,” said David, of Lighthouse Point, Fla. “Congratulations to Dave Villwock and Qatar guys, they certainly earned that win.”

Leading up to the final race, 2009 Oryx Cup winner Kelly was quietly putting together one of his best weekends of the season. He won three heats over the past two days in the Graham Trucking boat, a win total that was matched only by Oh Boy! Oberto’s David.

After a violent spinout during Friday’s action, it looked like Villwock’s chances at winning the Oryx Cup might be dashed. But the crew worked quickly to replace the turbine engine, a gear box and the rear wings and supports that were damaged in the incident. The crew spent the night working on the turbine engines that gave him the victory in the final race.

“We had a tough weekend all around,” Villwock said. “But we sat down and said we’ve won races from lane four before. I won my first race ever from lane four in San Diego and here I match Bill Muncey’s record today from lane four.”

Muncey died in 1981 in a blowover accident during a Unlimited hydroplane race in Acapulco, Mexico. Seattle area driver Chip Hanauer had 61 career race victories but retired before he could break Muncey’s mark.

“I want to congratulate Dave Villwock on reaching such as milestone,” H1 Unlimited chairman Sam Cole. “It’s a fitting tribute to Bill Muncey that Dave would win a UIM Championship outside of the United States.”

This is the second year that H1 Unlimited has raced in Doha, Qatar. Ten teams qualified for the UIM World Championship event after five races in the United States.

“I want to thank His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and the Qatar Marine Sports Federation for being gracious hosts,” Cole said. “We love racing in Doha and we looking forward to returning next year.”

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2010 Oryx Cup UIM World Championship Final

1. David Villwock, U-96 Spirit of Qatar, 133.215 mph

2. J. Michael Kelly, U-7 Graham Trucking,130.992 mph

3. Steve David, U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto, 127.155 mph

4. Jeff Bernard, U-5 Formulaboats.com, 121.569 mph

5. Brian Perkins, U-21 Go Fast Turn Left, 115.019 mph

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