Detroit — Former Gold Cup winner Jean Theoret didn’t get the results he was hoping for during the UAW-GM Spirit of Detroit Hydrofest weekend on the Detroit River.
After topping the field during qualifying Saturday afternoon, Theoret suffered a pair of penalties during his lone heat, putting him fourth and behind the eight-ball to make the Unlimited Hydroplane final.
Then, in Sunday’s first heat Theoret jumped out to the lead in his U-96 Ellstrom Elam Plus boat, but then hit a roller coming out of Turn 1 on the second lap, flipping the boat skyward before landing right side up. He opened the hatch to show he was unharmed, but the crash put an end to his chances of getting into the final.
Yes, the Detroit River ultimately put an end to Theoret’s chance at victory. He had a qualifying run of over 161 miles per hour in the boat owned by Erick Ellstrom, who had Dave Villowock win multiple Gold Cups in past years.
And, Theoret — the 2006 Gold Cup champion — blistered the 2.7-mile course Saturday in perfect conditions. In his heat race Sunday, the wind picked up and the water was choppy, leading to the accident.
“The wind’s going this way (straight into the boat) and you’re going into the corner at probably 190 miles per hour so I just turned and got into the second buoy and then the right sponson lifted and probably hit a roller at the same time and the wind took care of the rest,” said Theoret, whose lone injury was to his right hand. “The winds picked up and just rolled over the boat. It’s right side up and the cowling’s gone and the rear wing’s gone, but I think the boat’s in good shape.”
Theoret said his U-96 boat made its debut last year, the first race after the Gold Cup in Detroit. He said the boat qualifies well, “but in racing conditions we have a hard time cornering a bit.”
When asked if the problem was due to handling in the corner, Theoret replied: “That’s not the problem. It’s the weather condition and going very fast. That’s racing. It’s my first full-time year back and I have to get used to it. The boat’s a new boat and we have to make some changes to it. It’s getting better all the time, but it’s very fast.”
It was Theoret’s first Unlimited run on the Detroit River since 2008. He plans to “absolutely” be on the Detroit River for its 100th running in the series when the Gold Cup returns to the Motor City Aug. 20-21, 2016.
“Absolutely,” said Theoret of his plans to be back for next year’s Gold Cup.
King wins Grand Prix final
Jimmy King — a 1980 graduate of New Baltimore Anchor Bay — won the Grand Prix final Sunday afternoon in the Charger 10 boat.
Bert Henderson finished second, Mike Monahan was third and Andrew Tate — son of former H1 driver Mark Tate — was fourth.
“It was a lot of fun,” King said. “What, it was ’96 the last time I won a Grand Prix race here. It felt really good to win at home, outstanding job with the crew the Charger put together, my motor guy Kenny Sperry, my boy and crew chief Bobby King. I had a lot of fun.”
The Charger 10 is owned by Dean Rojas, a professional bass fisherman.
… Dustin Terry of Thibodaux, Louisiana won the Formula (F-2) final with Tim Seebold of Osage Beach finishing second and Jimmie Merlau of Fennville, Michigan, third.