J. Michael Kelly drove the U-1 Graham Trucking to victory in the final of the Oryx Cup UIM World Championships on Saturday in Doha, Qatar.
But it was Jimmy Shane and the U-6 Oberto team who came away with a much bigger prize: the national high points championship.
Shane and Oberto clinched the title in Heat 4A, the team’s final preliminary heat race before the final. That means Oberto will have the designated U-1 on its boat next season.
“Our main goals coming in here was to keep the equipment together and win the national high point championship,” Shane said. “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.”
Though he shared the podium, it was Kelly who pulled off the move of the day.
With a low-setting Arabian sun blinding the drivers in Turn 1, Kelly cut that corner before the 1-minute mark, taking the inside lane away from Shane in the final.
“The move worked out,” Kelly said. “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,” Shane said. “We went into the first turn, and I was about four lengths ahead. 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 straightaway. But that is boat racing, and you can never give the other too much room. That’s how you have to race.”
Kelly averaged 130.39 mph to win the five-lap final while Shane averaged 126.006 to place second.
U-9 Team RedDOT presented by Les Schwab and driver Jon Zimmerman made the finals and placed third.
The U-7 Graham Trucking II with Cal Phipps, the gbr-11 Peters & May with Tom Thompson, and the U-22 Performance Tools driven by Mike Webster rounded out the finals field.
U-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 heat 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, keeping him on the sideline.