Tweed provides crash course for rookie
By TANIA PHILLIPS
FORMER Queensland motor racing champion Brett Cooper has taken to jetsprint racing like a duck to water but he knows the Tweed Valley Jetsprint Club meet this weekend is going to be a big challenge.
During practice yesterday at the Round Mountain course on the Tweed Coast, Cooper put his boat on a bank. It was the first time Cooper had come unstuck on a jetsprint course but fortunately the only thing damaged was his ego.
Cooper is the 'B' driver for fellow Ipswich resident and 2003 Australian champion Jeff Hayley who considers the Tweed's Round Mountain Course his home track.
"I have been down here to watch Jeff race," Cooper said.
"But I am looking forward to coming here at the weekend."
Cooper surprised a lot of his more-seasoned jetsprint rivals by winning at his first attempt, taking out the 350 class at Maryborough earlier this year.
He stepped up to the 400 class a few weeks before finishing sixth at the Albury event with Hayley, who spun out in the top eight shoot-out, finishing eighth.
Cooper raced cars for seven years, winning the HQ championship in 2002 before taking a year off from the sport. Last year he decided to switch to jetsprints and admits he is now hooked on the sport.
"Jeff use to build my (car) engines for me and so I went to watch him race," he said.
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"I am hoping to stay with this (boat racing). It it excellent," Cooper said.
While Cooper is looking to do well, this weekend's meet is much more crucial for Hayley as he chases a second national crown.
Sunday's race doubles as round five of the Aust- ralian Championships and round three of the NSW points series.
With just three rounds of the national series remaining, Hayley is in third spot behind Victorian Ken Kesper and Mackay's Doug Fraser.
"The last round at Albury suited boats with a longer base (like Fraser's)," Hayley said.
"This one, with its tighter lines, should suit the shorter boats like mine."
He said while Albury was all about pace, Round Mountain tested the whole design and the ability of the driver.
As well as the 400 and 350 classes, Sunday's racing will also feature an exhibition of the new Superboats.
While the craft don't look much different from the normal jetsprint boats they have fully charged 504 cubic inch Chev aluminum motors on board purpose built to deliver up to 1000 horsepower.
Sunday's race program will begin at Round Mountain at 8.30am (NSW) with competitors coming from far north Queensland, Victoria and NSW.