Honda series opens in grand style in IOM

The opening rounds of the HF4S championship series saw a complete upset in form

The opening two rounds of the 2006 Honda Formula 4-Stroke offshore championship series off Douglas, IOM, on June 24-25 saw a complete upset in form.
Pre-race favourites and defending champions in the 225hp class, Shelley Jory and Libby Keir driving Team Raymarine, finished third in the first but do no better than a sixth placing in the second.
Sea conditions were not easy on Sunday. A sharp north-easterly produced a punishing short sea, one of the toughest so far experienced by the all-girl crew. While the joint result gives them a total of 17 points and joint fourth place on the overall standings, the pair still have plenty of time to make good any disappointment.
By contrast Jack Glendinning and Simon Bucknell driving Stopbox Lighting seemed to revel in the rougher conditions. Despite slipping back to fourth with a mechanical problem on Saturday their win in the second round leaves them joint leaders in the championship with a total of 24 points alongside Heights of Abraham.Com driven by Rupert Pugh and Lee Darbyshire.
This latter contender gave the most consistent performance of the weekend with two second placings. Based on this showing, Pugh and Darbyshire could easily prove a serious threat in later events.
Meanwhile Gavin Parsonage and Nathan Libby aboard Negotiator, who left Douglas lying third on the points table, had a disappointing second round. They won the first round with a large lead over the rest only to slip back to fifth in the second, a position no doubt down to the unusually tough sea conditions.
Neil Crabb and Johnny Twelvetrees aboard Premier Cru had the best start in the opening150hp heat and managed to maintain an early lead but Ebel, driven by Graham Foster-Vigors and Mick Horsfall, were always biting their stern. Foster-Vigors later said:
“We had a cracking run right from the start and moved up into second slot well before the first mark. We had a fantastic racing line and managed to overtake Premier Cru in the rougher water around the fifth and sixth turn buoys. We put a lot of work in on the boat pre-season and it seems to have paid off”
Once passed, Ebel quickly built up a comfortable lead, finishing six seconds ahead of Premier Cru in second place. However, an error when taking their pit lap later relegated Premier Cru to twelfth place overall. This penalty promoted Delmar flooring driven by Mark Glanville and Tony Crossley into second place giving the teenage brothers, Tom and James Plant aboard Quality Job, a place on the podium in their first ever HF4S race.
The second round saw Ebel finish second place behind the flying Emap Radio Racing of local Manx Radio broadcaster, Chris Kinley, racing alongside Nick Warren in the navigators seat. Unfortunately the pair were later disqualified for changing their pre-arranged crew placings to those published on the entry list. This meant Ebel was declared overall winner of both 150hp rounds.
Ebel therefore departed heading the 150hp championship table with a total score of 30 points, eight points in front of Delmar Flooring.
The third and fourth rounds of the Honda Formula 4-Stroke series are due to take place in Newcastle on July 22-23.


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