P1: Series news 2010-02-04

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NEW POWERBOAT P1 TEAM BUILDS ON CHAMPIONS Michael Silfverberg may be a rookie racer, but he certainly knows how to build a new racing team-from the top, down! Silfverberg's success in other businesses in his native Nigel Hook and Michael ...

NEW POWERBOAT P1 TEAM BUILDS ON CHAMPIONS

Michael Silfverberg may be a rookie racer, but he certainly knows how to build a new racing team-from the top, down!

Silfverberg's success in other businesses in his native Nigel Hook and Michael Silfverbeg Sweden provided a strong basis for his entree to racing. A chance meeting with well-recognized British-American powerboat racing champion, Nigel Hook in the airport after the 2009 Sicily Powerboat P1 Italian Grand Prix was the beginning. Hook brings a 17-year history of speed records and National and World Championships-as well as an APBA Hall of Fame award to the table, so as co-pilot and coach to Silfverberg, the team was on to the next step-building a winning boat. The Swede was naturally drawn to the newest boat created by Swedish designer Ocke Mannerfelt, the Vector 40. They decided to bring it to Key West, Florida to do some testing and some awareness-raising during the 2009 SBI World Championships where the duo was making their own racing debut in Hook's former World Champion Skater, sponsored by Lucas Oil. Hook has raced for the past 3 years in Powerboat P1 with Outerlimits and his Skater, under the Lucas Oil banner, but an unfortunate accident, coincidentally in the Scandinavia Grand Prix in August, 2009, prohibited the Outerlimits boat from competing the rest of the season. Hook, always ready with plan B-or C-had his former race boat rigged and ready to go so that the new team could carry the sponsor's name forward and provide an opportunity for some "seat time" for him and Silfverberg.

Though unsuccessful in their bid for the US World Championship, Silfverberg and Hook struck up an effective racing and personal relationship and the Key West event created the opportunity to strike an agreement with Ilmor High Performance as another step to build a top-notch team. Vector and Ilmor consider this arrangement a winning combination.

Vector Powerboats is a British Columbia, Canada-based boat builder that has for years built a wide variety of high-quality boats, including those by Mannerfelt Design Team. The Vector 40 had been in process for some time as both Mannerfelt and Vector had discussed a bigger boat than the 22' and 28' winged "Bat Boats" that drew much acclaim for the design company and won 8 UIM World Championships. "The Vector is an evolution of those hulls," says Ocke.

When Ted Mannerfelt, Ocke's son, re-joined his father in the boat design Vector Bat Boat business after several years designing concept cars for the prestigious Lotus and Jaguar brands, he brought the advances of the auto industry to the forward-thinking family business. The sleek body of the Vector 40 is Ted's design which earned much appreciation from his accomplished father and the duo is looking to do more boat design work together.

"I think I can bring something different to the marine industry," says Ted. "There is more attention to the surface -- a more organic and fluid look in the automotive industry. Car designers look at things differently than naval architects. Today's 3-D environment is more sophisticated and there is a lot to do in the marine industry."

Ocke Mannerfelt agrees with his son and is proud of his achievements both in and out of boating. Ted earned his first Swedish Championship at age 18 in a 22' Ocke Mannerfelt design boat and then won the UIM World Championship title at 20-years old, earning recognition as the youngest World Champ in the UIM. "It's good to see young designers interested in boats," says Ocke, "We will see the influence of their design."

That artistic influence is visible in the patented Vector hull which was modified slightly to fit Powerboat P1 rules which prohibit "aerodynamic devices." The boat was tested with the stabilizing "wings" extended and retracted and there is no difference in the speed. However, both Mannerfelts note some difference in handling. "We believe that the stabilizers make it a safer boat, with more roll stability. But given this restriction, we have to rely on the skills of the crew," Ocke states. He calls the boat a "normal boat for normal people," a stock pleasure boat built for rough water that is very forgiving and will take on racing with confidence. "It is like driving a race car--the boat will do what you ask," he adds.

The 40' boat is lightweight, though extremely strong with Kevlar and Carbon Fiber reinforcing the hull; a technologically-designed canopy was added that conforms to the highest safety standards of the UIM. Unlike the pleasure version, the boat has no cabin and the aluminum Ilmor engines took approximately 1,000 pounds off the hull weight, Rex Jardine, President of Vector Powerboats reports, "We have a great relationship with Ilmor-they are such a pleasure to work with!"

And speaking of winning traditions, Ilmor brings championships from Indy Car, F1, NASCAR and P1 to the table. In its marine debut, Ilmor backed Hook's entry in the 1,200 mile endurance race across the Amazon plains, through South America in 2004. Since then, Ilmor won the 2007 and 2008 Powerboat P1 Evolution World Championships with Fountain WorldWide's Craig Wilson and James Sheppard, and then took the title in the SuperSport Class in 2009 with the Seagull Chaudron team. Ilmor is pleased to work with the Scandinavian Challenge team according to Paul Ray, CEO, "Their new boat, design line, PR strategies and way of working with their partner is what made us choose to enter this cooperative venture with the Swedish team."

The Lucas Oil sponsorship further strengthens the winning bond as the company has built its reputation on all types of motorsports racing. Lucas Oil has backed Hook for 14 years due to his professionalism and winning spirit. The company even hung one of Hook's former race boats from the rafters of its football stadium in its headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana, making Hook literally a "fixture" in its race marketing plans.

The team will test the new Vector Powerboat in Sarasota, Mike Nigel Rex Florida in early February, working to dial the boat in before it sets across the ocean for the first race in Split, Croatia, April 16-18. Famous Australian racer Craig Archer joined as crew chief and he and Team Manager, Janet Wilson will be onboard as Ilmor, Vector, and Mannerfelt Design all join for the launch. "This is an amazing team!" says Hook who together with Silfverberg, feels a P1 Championship is within grasp. "We'll see how the boat does and if all goes well, we'll make a stop-off at the Miami Boat Show before we leave," says Hook. Ocke Mannerfelt is confident in the boat and says, "You can push the boat very hard. It can handle more than the crew! The boat will say,'Come on! We'll do it once more!' even after the team is done!"

The Lucas Oil Scandinavian Offshore Challenge will compete in its first season in Powerboat P1 in 2010, following Hooks past three seasons with the racing organization. "Powerboat P1 professional platform is the impetus for us to continue to fight for the title," says Hook. "Having partners like Ilmor, Vector, Lucas Oil and Mannerfelt Design shows what we are doing and how we are doing it is right," adds Silfverberg, "The competition is tough, but we are up for the 'Offshore Challenge!'"

After the season opener in Split, Croatia, Powerboat P1 travels to Yalta in the Ukraine, then on to Turkey and Portugal before it reaches the team's "home" base in Sweden, then moves on to Malta and Italy.

-source: powerboat p1

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