The 2020 Hydro Thunder Grand Prix Hydroplane series is offering the biggest field ever of genuine GP hydroplanes, with 10 plus boats turning out for the opening round at Taupo.
With NZGP boats adopting the HRL Canadian Hydroplane rules of smaller engines and reduced blowers to make the boats more reliable and affordable. This has opened the door for some new drivers to enter Grand Prix Hydroplane racing in New Zealand with several more also looking at joining the class.
“Lady Liz” previously (The Steeler) driven by Jason Haggerty from Cromwell stepped up from Grand National to the GP class with 2019 being his rookie season. Jason proved he can foot it with the more experienced drivers as he was very competitive in taking away the AE Baker Australasian Hydroplane Championship at Lake Karapiro. ‘Miss Marsden Cove’ previously (Annihilator 2 – GP008 ) driven by Steve Preece comes into the class as a new GP driver Steve previously drove a Formula One Tunnel and purchased the boat from David Alexander.
“Gulf Oil Tiger” previously (Annihilator GP007 & Tiger GP24) is driven by Peter Dudson from Hamilton. Pete is not new to the sport but it has been a few years since he has driven Modified Hydroplanes a couple of classes below. Pete has teamed up with ‘Gulf Oils Gambler” previously (Annihilator 3 GP009) driven by Kevin Ireland also from the Modified Hydroplane class. Kevin had his first season in the GP class in the 2018 season and had a few teething issues but is certainly a strong competitor.
The crowd favourite from Otorohanga “Fair Warning“ Scott Coker has had to spend the winter repairing his boat after damaging it at Lake Karapiro when losing a propeller, Coker who is well known in the sport following in his father ‘Selwyn’ footsteps has a smaller boat but is by no means compromised he has proven more than once he can still win.
Warwick Lupton the leader and mentor for Grand Prix Hydroplane racing in New Zealand again drives his New Zealand design famously known as the lobster boat “Annihilator” GP.007. Warwick led the Kiwi team of his two sons Ken & Jack to compete in the HRL Series during the off season in Canada.
A mixed and very emotional campaign, with Jack having two horrific crashes and Ken a few minor engine issues in his first few race meetings . Both brothers proved they are equally as good as the other Canadian and American drivers.
Ken Lupton has a brand new Bert Henderson GP Hydroplane. The boat has been bought into New Zealand from Canada in a kit set and put together here. Canadian Jamie Auld spent a few weeks during the winter working on the boat for Ken. “Lucas Oils” the boat that Ken successfully campaign in the 2019 NZ season winning the Hydro Thunder GP Series, National GP title, Masport Cup and the NZ Driver of the Year had an unbeatable season. David Alexander who previously owned “The Steeler 777 NZ” is the owner of the new boat which he has named “Miss Waverley“ a name that his grandfather used to race under many years ago. Alexander launched his boat in Valleyfield, Canada in July and raced his first ever race at Valleyfield a place that every boat driver dreams of driving at. Valleyfield has been going for 81 years and is the home of Grand Prix Hydroplane racing .
The 2020 Hydro Thunder series is over four rounds with the first held at Lake Taupo January 24-25-26th, with round two at Lake Karapiro ‘Masport Cup” February 7-8-9th. Round 3 will be run at Lake Rotoiti Nelson Lakes Feb 29th & March 1st, with the final round and the AE Baker Australasian Championship to be held March 8-9th at Lake Dunstan .