On a post card perfect Sunday morning in the Pacific Northwest, the final day of racing at the 2012 Albert Lee Cup at Seafair got underway.
When the waters of Lake Washington settled at the end of the day, Steve David in the U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto had won the fourth stop on the 2012 Air National Guard H1 Hydroplane tour and his third straight Seafair Race.
The day started with David pushed out to lane three at the start of Heat 2A with Greg Hopp in the 100 Miss Fox Plumbing and Jon Zimmerman in the 9 Seattle Sun Tan presents Sound Propeller Services to his left.
David powered to the lead exiting the first turn and cruised to victory with Zimmerman finishing strongto take second and Hopp finishing third.
Heat 2B produced some great racing as Dave Villwock in the 1 Spirit of Qatar 96 found himself without a lane at the start and dropped back to fourth. Jimmy Shane in the 5 Graham Trucking passed J. Michael Kelly in the 37 Miss Beacon Plumbing on the first backstretch and led the rest of the way.
Villwock got around Kelly on the final lap to move up to second at the finish.
In 3A, David got the inside on Villwock and held off the Spirit of Qatar for three laps with Shane running third. Several minutes after the heat, officials announced one lap penalties on David and Villwock. This changed the order of finish to give Jimmy Shane the victory with David and Villwock dropping to fifth and sixth. Villwock was also penalized 100 valuable points.
In 3B J. Michael Kelly parked the Beacon Plumbing in lane one and used a great start to take the early lead. Scott Liddycoat in the U-88 Degree Men ran second, but was penalized a lap for going outside an outer course marker. That moved Brian Perkins in the 21 Albert Lee Appliance up to second with Mark Evans third in the 57 Miss Julio.
That set the field for the winner-take-all final heat with Shane topping the point totals at 1170 followed by David at 1007, Zimmerman 940, Kelly 880, Villwock 795, and Perkins with 626 –all making the final.
Scott Liddycoat nipped Greg Hopp to win the consolation heat and join the final field.
David had come into the weekend trailing Villwock in Series High Points by just 190. During the preliminary heats, David moved into the lead, but only by 22 points.
During the milling for position before the final heat Kelly, Villwock and Shane chose to move slowly through the first turn trying to secure the inside lanes. David went flying around them on the outside, timing his arrival at the score-up buoy perfectly. He then established more than the legal overlap and moved over to the inside lane and wired the start at full speed. From that point on, it was all David and Oberto with the rest of the field unable to challenge.
Shane was second at the start and throughout the heat with Villwock running third. Kelly used the inside to get past Villwock for an apparent third place finish, but was penalized a lap and dropped to sixth place.
Explaining the start that worked so well, David said, “We tried four different starts today and saved that one for the final. I tried it once earlier but the engine stalled for a moment and I couldn’t make it work.”
On winning his third consecutive race in Seattle, David said, “Winning three straight is incredible. Considering that only a couple of other guys have done that – and who they were – it really hasn’t sunk in yet.”
The Air National Guard H1 Hydroplane Series next stop is on Mission Bay in San Diego September 14-16 followed by the season finale in Doha, Qatar January 10-12.
David will go to San Diego leading Villwock by 193 points in the Series High Point Championship chase.
*Reprinted with permission from H1 Unlimited, Steve Montgomery.
**Photo courtesy of Owen Blauman.