With only sixteen slots on the grid for the British F2 Grand Prix competition was always going to be fierce at the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham. Ten drivers had automatically qualified from the time trials held on Saturday so that just left six places for the remaining twelve drivers to fight over.
As the qualifying race got under way three boats crashed out at the first turn, amongst them was Mette Bjerknaes, who had made a great start only to be spun into the path of Ian Andrews. The resulting impact destroyed Andrews DAC hull and seriously damaged Bjerknaes Moore hull. “I am so thankful that today I was racing a boat that has a 4000 Newton’s safety cell” she said, “if I had been racing my old Molgaard I probably would have been seriously injured.” Tobias Munthe-Kaas was also caught up in the incident and his BaBa hull sustained damaged to the right hand sponson.
Once the qualifying race got back under way Sweden’s Erik Edin hit the front and was never troubled throughout the remaining eighteen laps. With no more incidents the top six drivers progressed to the Grand Prix grid. Missing out was the South African driver Wynand De Jager who had struggled all day with engine problems.
With sixteen boats formed up on the grid all eyes were watching to see whether pole position man Erik Stark could make up for his disappointing result some twelve months ago. In fact it was Paolo Zantelli who made a blistering start though and emerged from the first turn with a small lead over Per Edwardsen. The Norwegian driver had only just returned to the championship after a back injury had forced him to miss the start of the season. Edwardsen had obviously not wasted any time during his enforced lay off and had modified his 2004 Molgaard hull to great effect.
With the race just five laps old out came the yellow flags after the British driver Scott Curtis fell foul of the tricky wind conditions and blew over his DAC hull. Other than a little damp Curtis was fine but his weekend was over. As soon as the race got back under way out came the yellow flags once more. This time it was Jonas Andersson who had only just dried out from his crash in qualifying that once again required the services of the rescue team. “I didn’t have a good set up” admitted Andersson, “the steering was damaged in yesterday’s crash and when I tried to gain a few places in the restart I pushed to hard and over it went.”
As the green flag came out Zantelli once again made the perfect get-away leaving the field for dead once more. Edwardsen tried hard to catch him but eventually opted for the safe option of second place whilst keeping a steady distance ahead of Stark.
With the Grand Prix coming to a conclusion Owen Jelf became the final victim of the tricky Nottingham breeze. His BaBa hull performed two 360 degree flips before finally coming to a watery end. As Jelf, who was suffering from concussion, was lead away to the waiting ambulance he was heard telling his pit crew to make sure they had turned off the power steering.
The race officials had seen enough and out came the chequered flag to bring the weekend’s activities to a conclusion.
Zantelli was overjoyed with the result. During the time trials his Clerici hull had struggled with an electrical problem and when his mechanics were fixing it they discovered a further problem that was also fixed. “I knew this boat was fast” he said “even I was surprised how well it accelerated today. Every time we had a restart there were some big holes out there because the boats were producing so much wash at low speeds. Eleven years ago I came third in Nottingham it’s so great to go two places better and also collect one of the most prestigious awards in circuit racing, The Duke of York trophy.” Presenting the award was the Peters & May CEO Mr David Holley the British F2 Grand Prix main sponsor.
Another driver happy with his performance was Edwardsen. “This Molgaard was an old one that Jonas Andersson once raced, it really made me smile when I told him I was faster than him with his old boat, he took the comment well I’m pleased to say. I will dedicate this result to my small yet efficient team; they don’t normally party too hard but tonight might be an exception.”
The final spot on the podium went to Stark who once again had suffered from a terrible start, “the engine was running but I had no throttle response” he said. “Two seconds later it fired into life but by then Zantelli had too much of a head start. I managed to get past him in the first restart but when Andersson went over I had to give the lead back to Zantelli. Then the next restart I was in the corner when they threw the green flag; why did they let the start go so quickly. I then decided to back off after all twelve points is way better then a big fat zero.”
With just one race remaining in the World Championship Stark now heads to Sasolburg in Free State Province, South Africa with a fifteen point lead over Zantelli. If today’s result is repeated then Stark will win his third world title via the count back system.