Defending NZ SuperBoat champion literally had a long road to travel to round one of the NZ SuperBoat championship this season, and the season has already been eventful – before the first flag has dropped.
The Canterbury racer’s trip north via Picton will took him almost to the west coast, the Kaikoura earthquakes mandating a detour through Murchison. And en route, the trailer towing his race boat broke a spring.
“There was no serious damage, and Trojan delivered a replacement part to crew member Jeremy at Christchurch airport within 20 minutes of my calling for help.”
On the ferry at time of writing, Caughey will fit the new spring in Wellington before continuing the journey to round one.
But he is feeling confident heading into the first round, at the Altherm NZ Jetsprint champs in Taranaki, on Saturday December 10.
“The boys in the Sprintec workshop have done a great job prepping our boat, and a large number of client boats as well, the 7-time world and 8-time NZ SuperBoat champion says.
“Our ENZED boat is ready to race, sporting several exciting new developments we’ve worked on during the off season.”
Caughey says team has improved and tested the engine’s methanol injection system, “and this motor is feeling particularly angry!”
Of course it’s also had a fresh change of Total oil and a rebuild at TrackSport, “So we’re hoping for a fast and reliable package this season.”
The ENZED boat is not the only one to be fettled. The Sprintec workshop has had a busy off season, but got all its customer boats out the door in time.
Caughey sees his main opposition as Glen Head, Rob Coley and Leighton Minnell.
“Glen’s boat has also had a comprehensive recondition and upgrade and we hear he hopes to make more power, so based on last year’s form we expect him to be very fast. And Rob was second last year and very consistent all season, so he’ll be competitive again.”
As for Leighton Minnell, also a former world champion, “He’s the track owner and designer, and he’s the home-town favourite to win in his twin-turbo boat.”
Among the other entries, a couple of notable newbies are second-generation racers, Sam Newdick and Blake Briant, both using traditionally successful fuel-injected motors.
They’re among 20 SuperBoats entered this season, while among the Group A boats, world champion Rick Burke, and Ollie Silverton, are both expected to take their Sprintec boats to the front, with Burke setting his sights on his first NZ A-grade title.
Meanwhile Caughey says the ENZED team is excited to get back on track again after seven months break.
“It’s always good to get out there, we’ve had plenty of testing and it’s nice to get that seat time after a relatively smooth and organised buildup to the start of the season, we are in a good place and looking forward to it.”
Taranaki’s unpredictable four seasons in one day weather is forecast to be warm with a chance of occasional showers, so conditions should be good for Saturday’s racing, with the elimination rounds that afternoon.