Detroit – Jimmy Shane had an error-free weekend on the Detroit River which left him holding the APBA Gold Cup trophy late Sunday afternoon.
Shane, 28, replaced 12-time Gold Cup runner-up Steve David in the U6 Oberto boat owned by the city of Madison, Indiana.
David retired at the end of last season. He never won the Gold Cup and felt robbed last year after a lane violation on the first lap while leading.
Ironically, it was Shane who took advantage of J. Michael Kelly’s violation — reaching the 1-minute marker early to establish lane position — to win the unlimited hydroplane series’ Super Bowl event.
Kelly actually was ahead of Shane by more than one-quarter lap on the course, but he was penalized a lap for the violation.
“This feels fantastic,” Shane said after winning the five-lap race on the rough water, circling the 2.72-mile course with an average speed of 140.863 mph. “I knew it was going to be lumpy out there for the final. I knew J. Michael was going to run hard.
“Once I found out J. Michael had the one-minute penalty I let him go. I did not want to run the boat hard. I wanted to bring it back as much in one piece as I could. You can tell how rough it still was out there and I was running easy.”
Shane won all four preliminary heats he entered prior to the final, including one over Kelly Saturday. Kelly won three heats.
Shane had to nurse the U6 boat during the final lap and a half — after suffering a broken vertical rear stabilizer bar which crashed into the propeller — to win by 15 seconds over Brian Perkins. Sterling Heights resident Cal Phipps finished third. Kelly, who won the season opener July 6 at Madison when Shane jumped the gun on the start, placed fourth, ahead of Mike Webster.
Shane became the youngest Gold Cup champ since Chip Hanauer won the first of his record 11 titles in 1982 at age 28. Shane’s win was also the first Gold Cup win for sponsor Oberto and the second Gold Cup win for the city of Madison, its first since 1971.
“I’m so happy that I could bring this back to the community of Madison, Indiana,” Shane said. “I’m extremely happy that I could bring it to Oberto, too. It’s my greatest victory, for sure.”
It was Shane’s seventh career unlimited win.
With no past champion in the field — defending champion Kip Brown was without a ride and 10-time champion Dave Villwock retired two years ago — Shane entered the week as the favorite. And, he didn’t disappoint.
Kelly, 35, was near tears.
“They called me for going over the 1-minute buoy, but I don’t think I did,” he said. “I fell off the plane, got a warning, got back on plane and still felt I was behind the yellow buoy. My stopwatch stopped at 1:38 (counting down) and my GPS gauge broke so I had problems.
“I had such a good boat. It’s just unfortunate. Gold Cups aren’t easy to win. I found out (about penalty) right when it happened. You can’t give up, though. You have to put it behind you. After all, you’re still hoping they made a mistake. We showed we won on the water. We showed we could run with Oberto and that’s something we can be proud of.”
Graham Trucking owner Ted Porter was hoping for a fifth straight victory after Shane, his former driver, won the final three events last year and new driver Kelly won this season’s opener.
“We had great racing all weekend and had the opportunity to let it all hang out today in the final,” Porter said. “We had the equipment and positioning to win the Gold Cup and a little technicality, a judgment call, took it away. He (Shane) knew right away about the penalty and Jimmy was still running hard and blew the wing off of it (because of broken wing stabilizer).”
The Gold Cup final normally has six boats competing, but it was a five-boat field this year. Boats driven by Jon Zimmerman (blow-over), Tom Thompson (gearbox, engine) and Greg Hopp (gearbox, engine) suffered from an assortment of problems, keeping them out of the final.