Jean Theoret drove the U-96 Ellstrom Elam Plus to the top of the qualifying ladder for the 2015 HAPO APBA Gold Cup Saturday afternoon on the Columbia River in the Tri-Cities, Washington.
Theoret's two lap average of 160.509 mph was four mph faster than the second place boat and driver. In the first round of qualification, the 96 posted laps of 160.436 and 159.988 for an average of 160.212. That would have been fast enough to be top qualifier, but Theoret went back out in the second round and increased his average to the 160.509 mark.
Gold Cup qualifying calls for a driver to run three laps, with an average of the fastest two used to establish qualifying speed.
Owner Erick Ellstrom said, "The crew did a great job and we are very happy. I won't say satisfied because we are never completely satisfied, but its a great way to start Gold Cup weekend."
For Theoret, a former Gold Cup champion and six time winner in Unlimited racing, it was the first time ever being top qualifier.
"The boat is great. It corners beautifully is really fast down the straighaways," said the driver. "The crew did a great job on the setup and its going to be fun to race for the Gold Cup."
The race for the 2015 Gold Cup begins with Heat 1A at 2:30pm Saturday with the winner take all five lap championship Final Heat set for 4:40pm Sunday PDT.