Jimmy Shane (Foregournd) and J. Michael Kelly battle in the Final Heat of the Oryx Cup UIM World Championship. Photo by Chris Denslow – H1
DOHA, QATAR—After 1 Graham Trucking J. Michael Kelly surged across the finish line to capture the 2014 Oryx Cup UIM World Championship Saturday afternoon to win the final championship heat of the H1 Unlimited 2014 season, he found himself the lead man on the podium for the fourth time this season. This time, he shared the honor of the day with 6 Oberto Beef Jerky driver Jimmy Shane, who placed second to Kelly but reclaimed the National High Point Championship for the Oberto team.
Though he shared the podium, it was who Kelly pulled off the move of the day. With a low setting Arabian sun blinding the drivers in turn one, Kelly cut that corner prior to the one-minute mark taking the inside lane away from Shane in the championship final.
Left to right – Jimmy Shane, J. Michael Kelly, Jon Zimmerman Photo by Chris Denslow – H1
“The move worked out,” said Kelly, “The Oberto had a little bit more speed than we had and that move allowed us to come away with a huge win.”
After a great start by all the drivers, Shane was the first driver into the first turn. He powered his way to the front of the pack down the backstretch.
“I thought I had him. We went into the first turn, and I was about four lengths ahead,” said Shane. “I was able to hold him off for about two laps. Once he got next to me on the inside; the water got so rough I couldn’t hold him off and I just settled back.”
“We were running pretty close,” said Kelly. “There were times when we were only a few feet apart down the straight away, but that is boat racing, and you can never give the other too much room. That’s how you have to race.”
Even with a second place finish, Shane had a big smile on his face.
“Our main goals coming in here was to keep the equipment together and win the national high point championship,” added Shane. “If we would have won the world championship it would have been icing on the cake, but we are bringing the boat home in one piece and we have the national high point championship.”
Shane had won the last two races in Doha for Ted Porter’s Graham Trucking team and made the jump this season to the Oberto after veteran driver Steve David retired from racing. This time it was Kelly who gave who gave owner Porter’s race team its fifth title in six races here since the unlimited boats first raced in Qatar in 2009.
And for Kelly, it was second win in Qatar. He won the inaugural race in 2009. It was also his first unlimited title of his career.
Shane and the Oberto boat seemed to be the boat to beat. The team led all qualifiers, but it was Kelly and Graham Trucking that captured all five heats in two days of racing.
Kelly knew the Oryx Cup UIM World Championship was the lone goal when Shane’s wire-to-wire win in heat 4A guaranteed the Oberto team the 2014 National High Point Championship. In that heat, 9 Team RedDOT presented by Les Schwab with Jon Zimmerman had lane one at the start. Shane, in lane two, cruised by Zimmerman coming out of turn one, keeping his lane and winning the heat easily.
Zimmerman also made the finals and placed third. The 7 Graham Trucking II with Cal Phipps, the 11 Peters & May with Tom Thompson and the 22 Performance Tools driven by Mike Webster rounded out the field.
96 Qatar driver Jean Theoret returned to racing unlimited hydroplanes for the first time since 2009 and instantly made an impact on the fleet. He won his first elimination on Friday and seemed to be ready for another win in 3B. He was dominating the heat when his steering shaft broke giving him a DNF.
The day did not get any better for Theoret. He did place second in heat 4B to make the finals, but his turbine engine ingested salt water before the start of the final heat keeping him on the sideline.
Kelly averaged 130.39 mph to win the five-lap final while Shane averaged 126.006 to place second.