Twelve year old powerboat racer takes European Gold again
Tough competition makes Ben up his game...
British Powerboat racer Ben Jelf (12, Maidstone) this weekend (21/22 July) secured the 2012 UIM European GT15 title in his toughest race to date, having travelled the 1600 miles to Tallinn, Estonia to defend his 2011 European title.
Eleven competitors from Estonia, Latvia, Russia and Great Britain lined up to battle for the 2012 title in what was set to be some exhilarating racing from start to finish.
Four rounds of battle
The championship would be decided over four rounds of racing with the best three results to be counted. Estonia’s Sken Heidemann got the competition off to a flying start taking the first heat win and in a really tight race Ben was forced to settle for 5th place.
Ben, who is Britain’s youngest ever World powerboat champion, was determined in heat two to pave the way for the rest of the championship and drove in what can only be described as his best race of his career to finish the first day of competition on a high and take the win in the second heat.
As Sunday got underway Ben sat in pole for the third heat of the competition and got a great start, leading the race for the first three laps until Estonia’s Paul Zujenkov passed him in a superb manoeuvre. In dirty water Ben further lost out to Reio Käsnapuu of Estonia in a photo finish and was forced to settle for third.
The championship campaign would go down to the wire with the last heat winner likely to take the title. Focussed and ready to do what was needed Ben and Team Jelf took to the water early and waited for the other teams to join them on the start grid.
As friends and family back in Britain watched with baited breath through the live internet link, the race went under starters orders. Ben got off to a flying start and took the lead. Paul Zujenkov put pressure on from the start but Ben held his water taking tighter corners and the inside line to keep his rival at bay, by the 4th lap started to pull away from the second placed boat. Leading the final race from start to finish cheers went up as Ben took the chequered flag and with it the 2012 UIM GT15 European Championship for the second consecutive year.
Raced the best I could
Interviewed after the race Ben was asked how he won the competition. “I’m not really sure! There was some really strong competition out there and I just raced the best I could”, he commented.
“The support from my family, friends and sponsors has helped me get here and it wouldn’t have been possible without them, it’s been a real team effort. I’d like to thank my sponsors Peters & May Racing, BS Motorsport, Tohatsu UK and Racingbatteries.co.uk and of course my Mum and Dad because without their backing I wouldn’t have been able to compete in Estonia let alone win.”
Ben now heads to Osthammar in Sweden where he will compete to retain the GT15 World Championship title and has the full backing of British Powerboat Racers to bring the title home again.
Watching at home
Nikki Drummond RYA Powerboat Racing Senior Administrator watched like many of Ben’s friends and family through the live link on the internet. “Once again Ben has done us all proud, his family, the sport and Great Britain. The competition was really strong but he remained focussed and did what he had to do and once again has excelled. It was exhilarating to watch and I’m sure many of us are hoarse this morning from shouting at the computer screen cheering him on.
“As Ben grows he becomes more and more the accomplished Powerboat Racer and his trophy cabinet and accolades already rival that of someone that has been racing decades. We’re all behind him 100% as he heads to the World Championships and know he’ll try his best to bring the title home once more.”
UIM GT15 European Championship Results
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