Lowestoft Lings Honda team makes history
THE Lings Honda powerboating team from Lowestoft has made history.The Lowestoft-based outfit has become the first team to ever win the Honda Formula 4-Stroke Offshore 150hp and 225hp Class Championships after triumphing at the Isle of Man in Douglas Bay yesterday.
THE Lings Honda powerboating team from Lowestoft has made history.
The Lowestoft-based outfit has become the first team to ever win the Honda Formula 4-Stroke Offshore 150hp and 225hp Class Championships after triumphing at the Isle of Man in Douglas Bay yesterday.
Battling technical problems and the rough Irish Sea, the Lings Racing Team overcame all obstacles to become the first team in the history of the championships to win both classes.Lings went into the weekend in a commanding position, with 25 points separating them from second placed Power of Dreams Germany, but with three races to run on the difficult Douglas Bay course Lings still had a weekend of hard work ahead of them if they were come home with the Championship title.
The weekend started with an unexpected bang - an accident involving the Race Team van while towing the boat up to Liverpool and the ferry crossing left the boat with substantial damage. Whether this contributed to later problems was up for debate - the first race was marred by problems as the Lings Racing boat throttle failed, leaving them stranded during the second lap and so unable to complete the 70pc required to score the minimum 11 points. With no points registered for the first time this season and title rivals Team Williams scoring highly, Lings had it all to do if they were to hold onto top spot and take the title.
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Thankfully, things went Lings' way in the second race of Saturday, with the team somehow managing to take a huge second place - enough for a decent points tally but only enough to move them three points ahead of Team Williams. It meant Sunday's race would be a straight charge for the Championship between the two teams. 'Frankly, second place was a miracle,' said Paul Barkshire, navigating for Lings.
With the team's minds fully occupied by the challenge to come, Saturday night gave the team a chance to reflect on what they needed to achieve, and to make sure the boat was race ready for the final time this season.
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Conditions on the Irish Sea are predictable in their unpredictability, so as well as battling Team Williams Lings were being battered at all angles by the water. They might be used to being smashed around by the conditions, but there is a special level of pain provided by the Douglas Bay course that others just can't reach due to the sheer number of turns - the most of any course in the series.
With the Lings boat still operating at well under full capability, Lings knew that crossing the finish line would be an epic challenge in itself - but with Team Williams breathing down their necks the entire race team, including Chief Technician Graham Doggett and Jeff Beard of Streamline Propellers pulled together to make sure the boat was as race-ready as possible. Despite leading the pack on the first turn, the boat simply couldn't cope with the sustained punishment and Lings had to settle for fourth, with Team Williams crossing the line in second, behind Heights of Abraham, who richly deserved the chequered flag after a season of brilliant effort matched by some terrible luck.
With the points being calculated - had Lings done enough? Whispers in the dock had Team Williams as Champions, while other calculations saw Lings on top.
Word eventually came through that Lings had done just enough to take the title and the relief was plain to see - and Lings can now celebrate being the only team in the 10-year history of the F4SA to win both the 150hp and 225hp Classes. Looking back over the season it's difficult to say they didn't deserve it after some dominant performances - none more so than the Lowestoft Grand Prix.