SEATTLE—Steve David, driver of Oh Boy! Oberto, and Dave Villwock, driver of Spirit of Qatar, each won his first preliminary heat Saturday in the Albert Lee Cup at Seafair race for unlimited hydroplanes.
David took first place in heat 1A with an overall average speed of 138.095 mph for the three-lap heat. David took the lead at the start and was never seriously challenged.
Brian Perkins ran third in the heat but was assessed a one-lap penalty for hitting a buoy during the third lap. The penalty dropped him to sixth.
Villwock, the fastest qualifier for the race, won heat 1B driving Spirit of Qatar. He averaged 138.564 mph. While Villwock's heat win appeared easy, he said water conditions made racing difficult.
"It's always rough on Lake Washington," he said.
Second went to J. Michael Kelly, driver of Graham Trucking. Jeff Bernard, driver of Formulaboats.com, ran second to Villwock, but officials called Bernard for a lane infraction against Kelly during the second lap. Bernard was forced to run an extra lap, dropping him to fifth overall.
Kelly and Bernard were both visibly upset afterward, Kelly because of the lane infraction and Bernard because he felt he had done nothing wrong. Officials reviewed film of the incident and the penalty stood.
Mark Evans was third in WTD, and Mike Webster finished fourth with Matrix Systems.
Ken Muscatel's U-25 CarPros arrived in the pit area at noon, fresh from repairs following an accident at a race in Tri-Cities, Wash., two weeks ago. He was placed in heat 1B by officials, but crew members were unable to finish preparing the boat in time and it did not start.
Early Saturday morning, Kayleigh Perkins took Oh Boy! Oberto for a few test laps. The 22-year old Perkins is a two-time high point champion in the smaller unlimited light class. She is the first woman to drive a turbine-powered unlimited hydroplane in certified testing.
"It feels extremely heavy," she said. "I could tell it is faster in the turns, but I didn't feel like I was going all that fast."
Her quickest lap was 147.058 mph. She said the unlimited hydroplane handles rough water better than her unlimited light.
"My boat feels like a kite by comparison," she said.
Perkins was not the only driver to test an unlimited. Jamie Nilsen, a champion driver in outboard hydroplane classes, drove Miss Peters & May about an hour after Perkins' run in Oberto. Nilsen has set eight world records and earned a dozen high point titles in various outboard classes. In addition, he was a star baseball player at Central Washington University.
Racing for the Albert Lee Cup continues on Sunday. Villwock and David will go head-to-head in heat 2A, scheduled for 10:40 a.m. The winner-take-all final heat for the top six boats is scheduled for 4:40 p.m.