Whanganui drivers and navigators were all over the podiums at the fourth round of the Altherm Window Systems New Zealand Jetsprint Championships on Sunday, but not at the top of them.
The speed-orientated track at Crownthorpe in the Hawke's Bay saw a near repeat of Waitara with its technical turns, as Whanganui's Rob Coley and navigator wife Ange again finished runnerup to Canterbury's Peter Caughey in the Mouth Fresh Superboats.
Coley had pulled down a 42.425s lap in the Top 6 eliminator to again be the leading qualifier for the final Top 3, where he was joined by Caughey (42.826) and another Whanganui-connection in Palmerston North's Richard Burt (42.846), who has linked up with Team Huijs racing and has local Haley Huijs as his navigator.
Burt's appearence kept both Rotorua's Nick Berryman and Whanganui's Richard Murray out of the final race, being eliminated with 43.911s and 44.27s laps respectively.
This time, while Coley would finish the day with the fastest lap by 0.2s, but neither he nor Caughey could beat that mark in the Top 3 final, as Caughey's 42.44s time was just 0.025s faster than his Whanganui rival for the win.
Coley has still shown drastic improvement since switching from his big block engine to a Nissan Twin Turbo, as he and Caughey have spent the last two rounds swapping fastest times.
Burt and Huijs did well to still finish after their flywheel fell off during the final run.
There was a reversal in the Fowler Group A division, as Whanganui's Ross and Shane Travers finished ahead of Hamilton's defending champion and leader Ollie Silverton.
However, they both had to bow to Canterbury's battler Simon Gibbon, who after a career with several podiums finally managed to get a round victory.
Gibbon earned it – breaking into the 45s mark during the Top 6 eliminators and not choking in the Top 3 final, while Travers had the third fastest time going in but finished ahead of Silverton.
"That was great to see, [Gibbon]'s never had a win before," said Travers.
"We were tapped out - nothing left."
They both make up a little ground on Silverton in the overall points, but still being 10 behind, Travers needs the other two to have a major calamity during the last two rounds to have a sniff at the title.
Still, Travers had a good day, joking how he made the track owner curse him at the briefing because he had built a small chicane to test the drivers, but the Radioactive boat was still able to "straight-line" it.
Thinking ahead to the World Series in Australia, Travers says there is only a tenth of a second spread between the leading four boats in Group A.
"We need a bit more top end speed, which is hopefully on it's way from America very soon."
A new imported cam shaft will be added to Radioactive, so Marton's Ian Coleman will build an all-new engine to accomodate it.
In the Stinger Group B division, ex-pat Whanganui riace Kellie Minnell and her local navigator Sherie Patterson finished second on the day to Te Awamutu's Patrick Haden in a replay of Waitara, with Taranaki's Bevan Schuler in third.
The fifth round will be at Meremere on March 24.