J. Michael Kelly in Heat 1B. James Crisp photo
MADISON, Ind. – H1 Unlimited Hydroplane racing fans up and down the Ohio River Valley will be getting excited as one of the most eagerly anticipated meetings of the weekend could take place Sunday at the MainSource Bank Indiana Governor’s Cup presented by Belterra Casino Resort.
Jimmy Shane in the U-1 HomeStreet Bank and J. Michael Kelly in the U-5 Graham Trucking found themselves in familiar positions after the first day of racing on the Ohio River, winning their preliminary heats in easy fashion setting up a possible Sunday matchup similar to what happened in almost every race in 2015.
Shane, in the Madison, Ind. community-owned boat, won heat 1A with a fast lap of 135.411 and Kelly took heat 1B with a fast lap of 136.325.
“We knew we wanted to get lane one, and we also knew that Cal (Phipps) was probably going to take it easy today,” said Shane, the 2015 National High Point Champion. “We hit all of our marks and had a very good run.”
Phipps in the U-27 Dalton Industries boat broke a steering cable on Friday during testing, sending the hydro into a violent hook.
“Our team did a great job getting the boat fixed and back on the course,” said Phipps. “We needed to make sure it worked, and now we can make a few changes to get ready for tomorrow.”
Kelly, on the other hand, found himself in three boat battle into the backstretch and then ran away from the field. Tom Thompson in the U-11 Peters and May and Brian Perkins in the U-21 PayneWest Insurance hydroplanes put on a great show, battling for second place.
The two boats were almost deck-to-deck with Thompson holding a slight advantage. Then in the final turn, the U-11 hooked to the left allowing Perking to take second place.
“When I got into the turn the sponsor was already down, and I hit a hole,” said Thompson. “When that happens, you just hold on and hope you can save it.”
Thompson did save it and placed third.
Rookie Andrew Tate in the U-9 Les Schwab, the second fastest qualifier on Friday, must start as a trailer boat behind the starting field for two heats before he can join the front line. With that handicap, he placed fourth in heat 1B.
The final four preliminary heats and the championship final take place Sunday.
1 U-1 Jimmy Shane
2 U-27 Cal Phipps
3 U-99.9 Kevin Eacret
4 U-7 Jeff Bernard, DNS
1- U-5 J. Michael Kelly
2- U-21 Brian Perkins
3- U-11 Tom Thompson
4- U-9 Andrew Tate