There was blood, a weekend suspension and plenty of angry words. In essence, it was just another hydroplane racing weekend on the H1 Unlimited circuit.
A week after Dave Villwock and the Beacon Plumbing boat collided with Jimmy Shane and the U-6 Oberto boat in the Tri-Cities Columbia Cup, they did it again. This time, though, Villwock faced heavier consequences.
During the lead-up to the start of Saturday’s 1B heat, Shane was making a move across the course, curving toward an inside lane on the way to the start line. Villwock cut across Shane’s rooster tail and clipped the side of Shane’s boat in an effort to beat him inside.
Shane was able to maneuver to the start line after the collision and eventually finish third in the heat. But Villwock spun out, stalled in the water for several moments and got to the start line far later than everyone else. He and the U-37 finished last in the heat, but the boat was disqualified for Villwock’s move on Shane’s boat. Villwock was suspended for the rest of the weekend and for the Bayfair race in Mission Bay, Calif., on Sept. 12-14 because he has accumulated two category-5 penalties this season.
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Villwock broke his nose in the collision, according to one of his team officials. As Villwock was in his trailer getting treated, reporters were forced out of the area by his team members. As he was leaving the pit area a couple of hours later, however, Villwock said the situation with Shane and his subsequent suspension were a “sad state of affairs.”
“The starter boat is supposed to yield to the inside boat, in my opinion,” he said.
According to Shane, the Oberto boat had “two or three” holes in it after the collision.
“The last two events, we’ve had numerous incidents with the same boat (the U-37),” Shane said. “It is an issue.”
According to head referee Brian Hajny, Villwock had been warned before the weekend began to not have any incidents.
Although the Beacon Plumbing boat would have been eligible for further competition with another driver behind the wheel, it was forced to withdraw because of the damage to the boat.
The day’s drama overshadowed a strong performance from J. Michael Kelly in the Graham Trucking boat, which won the 1B heat.
“My whole strategy was beat the 6 and only focus on the 6,” Kelly said. “We basically did exactly what we wanted to do – get the Oberto stuck up on the outside and just try to outrun him.”
Because of the Oberto’s collision with Villwock in the U-37, the U-96 Spirit of Qatar was able to take advantage and finish second in the heat.
But Kelly’s focus on the Oberto highlighted the growing rivalry between him and Shane, the series points leader.
“It seems like every time we draw each other in a heat, or any time we run against each other, it’s basically a final, at least for me because I have to go out there and try to beat him and collect points,” Kelly said.
In the 1A heat, the U-9 Les Schwab Tires-Team RedDOT boat won cleanly with a 133.215 mph average. The 21 Fox Plumbing and Heating, driven by Jeff Bernard, narrowly beat out the U-7 Graham Trucking II for second place.
Four more heats on Sunday will determine which six boats will race in the final. The Oberto boat was the top qualifier on Friday, but lost ground after its third-place heat finish.
Heading into Sunday’s heats, the U-9 Les Schwab Tires-Team RedDOT is the points leader (480), after a first-place heat finish on Saturday and a second-place qualifying time on Friday. Kelly is 10 points behind, at 470; Kip Brown and the Spirit of Qatar have 360 points, the 21 Fox Plumbing and Heating have 350; and Shane and the Oberto round out the top five at 325 points.
Heats will begin on Sunday at 10:10 a.m. The final will be at 4:45 p.m.