SEATTLE---It wasn't the championship final, but the preliminary heats provided more than enough action on the first day of H1 Unlimited Hydroplane racing Saturday at the Albert Lee Cup at Seafair.
From the tight battle with Jimmy Shane outlasting Cal Phipps to the Jimmy King’s first heat win since the 2009 Seafair race then to the battle of the day when J Michael Kelly came from behind to edge the race’s top qualifier Jean Theoret, the H1 Unlimited Hydroplane fleet provided a glimpse of what type of battle could take place for the championship Sunday on Lake Washington.
While Shane in the Oberto started the day with a good battle outlasting Phipps in the Dalton Industries hydroplane, the next two preliminary heats created the big stories.
First, Jimmy King won his first heat since 2009 in the Allison powered Homestreet Bank boat and then J Michael Kelly in the Graham Trucking U-5 came from behind to edge the race’s fastest qualifier Jean Theoret in the Ellstrom Elam Plus.
Not only did he outrace the turbine engine-powered fleet in his piston-powered craft, after the heat King raced to his computer to watch with his son Robbie win his second heat of racing in the 2500 Formula category in an inboard regatta in Quebec, Canada.
“It is a good day for the King family,” said King. “We did everything we wanted to do to win our heat and Robbie just won his second heat of racing. We had all sorts of issues last week in Tri-Cities, and I just feel good for Ed (Cooper) our owner. They did a lot of work on this boat and it shows.”
For Kelly, the battle in 1C was the toughest racing of the day and déjà vu of heat 2A in the HAPO APBA Gold Cup one week ago in Tri-Cities. As it was in that Gold Cup heat, Kelly had the inside lane with Theoret in lane two. This time though Theoret took the lead from lane two on the start and Kelly chased him down.
It was on lap two in turn one when the Ellstrom Elam Plus bounced through the turn scrubbing off some speed. Kelly had a better boat setup for the rough water and moved to the lead. After that, it was a deck-to-deck battle to the checkered flag.
The Graham Trucking U-5 boat could only turn in the sixth fastest qualifying time on Friday with a 145.285 mph average while Theoret knocked it out of the park leading everyone with a speed of 150.583. But a new engine in the U-5 and the inside lane created the deck to deck battle.
“That was quite a race,” said Kelly. “We were disappointed with our speed yesterday in qualifying, so we put a new engine in the boat and the results were pretty good. To race like we did and beat Jean tells us we have the boat we need to be in the fight.”
The first H1 Unlimited Hydroplane heat will start at 11:20 a.m. Sunday with the championship final at 4:45 p.m. The Unlimiteds are scheduled to have six boats in each of the preliminary heats. The championship final will have six boats and one trailer boat.
For ticket and schedule information go to www.seafair.com
ALBERT LEE CUP AT SEAFAIR
Saturday Preliminary Results
1-Jimmy Shane, Oberto, 142.390
2-Cal Phipps, Dalton Industries, 140.668
3-Tom Thompson, Peters & May, 126.551
4-Kevin Eacret Leland Unlimited Miss CARSTAR, 125.644
1-Jimmy King Home Street Bank, 138.309
2-Scott Liddycoat, Les Schwab /Red Dot, 134.362
3-Jesse Robertson, Graham Trucking II, 130.734
4-Brian Perkins, Albert Lee Appliance, 94.1833
1-J. Michael Kelly. Graham Trucking I 142.435
2-Jean Theoret, Ellstrom Elam Plus, 141.000
3-Mike Webster, Boitano Homes
4-Patrick Sankuer, Miss DiJulio