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Villwock, Ellstrom Elam Plus hydro claim top-qualifying spot in Oryx Cup
Auburn's Dave Villwock, driving the U-16 Ellstrom Elam Plus, raced around the two-mile course at Doha Bay at an average speed of 146.427 mph to claim the top-qualifying position for the Oryx Cup UIM World Championship in Qatar, the final stop on the newly renamed H1 Unlimited Series.
Villwock is chasing his 60th victory in unlimited hydroplane racing, a number that will put him within two wins of the late Bill Muncey, the winningest unlimited hydroplane racer in the sport’s history.
Standing in Villwock’s way is Steve David, of Lighthouse Pt., Fla., in the U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto. The defending National High Points champion finished second on the qualification ladder with a speed of 145.096 mph. The Oberto hull has a 660-point lead over the orange-and-blue Ellstrom hydroplane in the team standings.
Kent's Jeff Bernard and the U-5 Formulaboats.com hydro – currently second in the driver points chase – could only manage the sixth qualification spot with a speed of 126.957 mph.
The three leaders in the High Points chase will face off head-to-head in Heat 1B, scheduled for Friday at 1:30 p.m. Qatar time, 2:30 a.m. PST.
Crews will be permitted to test for two hours Friday morning before the official opening ceremony and the first two unlimited Heats at 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m., local time.
Jean Theoret in the U-37 Peters & May Racing finished the qualification session in third place with an average speed of 137.654. J. Michael Kelly in the U-7 Graham Trucking followed in fourth, turning an average speed of 135.320 mph.
Brian Perkins struggled with a lack of power in the U-48 Go Fast Turn Left, managing a best lap of 124.776, good for seventh position. Perkins trailed Nate Brown in the U-17 Our Gang Racing (134.386 mph) and Bernard.
Rookie Mike Webster couldn’t break the 200-kilometers-per-hour mark, settling in at 192.877 or 119.848 mph. Ken Muscatel in the U-25 Superior Racing received a fuel-flow violation and did not record a qualification speed.
The wind, at times causing havoc on Doha Bay, died down completely during the final 30 minutes of the qualifying session, but Greg Hopp was unable to get the U-100 Leland Racing hydro started.
History in the making
Bernard and Villwock were the first two racers on Doha Bay at the start of the unlimited testing session. They made history by being the first hydro drivers to take to a stretch of water east of Florida and outside the Americas with their unlimited hulls.
“It is a beautiful setting here and a perfect place for a race course,” David said. “I had to pinch ourselves when I actually hit the water for the first time today. The last race was over 7,000 miles away, and the race in Qatar will decide the outcome of the championship.
"We will be running slightly tighter into the corners here and a bit closer together," David explained. "But it should be a great two days of racing if we can avoid getting any salt in the turbine engines.”
It also was announced in Qatar on Thursday morning that the name of the unlimited hydroplane series has been changed to H1 Unlimited (formerly the American Boat Racing Association or ABRA) Series, effective immediately.
The name change reflects the series' expansion to international waters outside the United States. Qatar is the first name on a calendar that chairman Sam Cole hopes will expand further in the near future.
“Our racing series long ago accomplished the mission implied by our old name and with the beginning of the racing series internationally, we need a name that more closely represents our new global reach,” Cole said.
2009 Oryx Cup UIM World Championship
• U-16 Ellstrom Elam Plus, Dave Villwock 146.427;
• U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto, Steve David 145.096;
• U-37 Miss Peters & May, Jean Theoret 137.654;
• U-7 Graham Trucking, J. Michael Kelly 135.320;
• U-17 Our Gang Racing, Kip Brown 134.386;
• U-5 FormulaBoats.com, Jeff Bernard 126.957;
• U-48 Go Fast Turn Left, Brian Perkins 124.776;
• U-22 Matrix System Automotive Finishes, Mike Webster 119.848;
• U-25 Superior Racing, Ken Muscatel 0.0 N2 Violation; and
• U-100 Leland Unlimited Greg Hopp 0.0 DNS.
2009 National High Points Standings (team)
Updated Nov. 19
U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto, Steve David, 6,670
U-5 FormulaBoats.com, Jeff Bernard, 6,414
U-16 Ellstrom Elam Plus, Dave Villwock, 6,010
U-7 Graham Trucking, J. Michael Kelly, 5,039
U-37 Miss Peters & May, Jean Theoret, 4,215
U-3 Cooper Racing, Jimmy King, 3,926
U-100 Leland Unlimited, Greg Hopp, 3,857
U-17 Our Gang Racing, Kip Brown, 3,515
U-48 Go Fast Turn Left, Brian Perkins, 3,503
U-25 Superior Racing Ken Muscatel, 2,201
U-22 Matrix System Automotive Finishes, Mike Webster, 1,564
U-9 Jones Racing, David Williams, 421
2009 National High Points Standings (driver)
Updated Nov. 19
Steve David, U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto, 6,670
Jeff Bernard, U-5 FormulaBoats.com, 6,414
Dave Villwock, U-16 Ellstrom Elam Plus, 5,746
J. Michael Kelly, U-7 Graham Trucking, 5,039
Jimmy King, U-3 Cooper Racing, 3,926
Greg Hopp, U-100 Leland Unlimited, 3,857
Brian Perkins, U-48 Go Fast, Turn Left, 3,503
Kip Brown, U-17 Our Gang Racing, 3,180
J.W. Myers, U-37 Schumacher Racing, 2,970
Ken Muscatel, U-25 Superior Racing, 2,201
Mike Webster, U-22 Webster Racing, 1,339
Jean Theoret, U-37 Schumacher Racing, 1,205
Nate Brow,n U-17 Our Gang Racing, 599
David Williams U-9 Jones Racing, 421