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Drivers weather winds in Challenge


ANNAPOLIS -- Yesterday morning, before the start of the final day of the Chesapeake Challenge races at Sandy Point State Park, the Chesapeake Bay spread as flat as a millpond. But by race time a breeze had come up and the course was showing a new shape to the 60-plus racers on hand to contest for national championships in four classes.

"Anybody that lives in this area knows that the bay changes almost hourly," said Brooke Dyer of Millersville, who drives Empty Pockets in Offshore Class A.

"Everybody thought it was going to be like a pond, and the big boats that need the rough water to loosen them up a little bit were all saying that the catamarans would have the advantage.

"Then the wind came up and it got choppy enough to catch a few racers off guard."

One who was not caught off guard was Art Lilly of Millersville. He finished first in Offshore Class B and won a national championship with Network Express.

"It was kind of mixed up out on the course today," said Lilly, whose only previous national championship came in a stock class in 1987. "But we are local boys, and that's the way we are used to running. But you can bet it was a pretty intense hour of racing each day."

Class B was tightly contested by Network Express, Shockwave and Fever, and Lilly's boat engines were protested after both days of racing. In such a protest, mechanics check the engines to see if compression and cubic inches are within class limits.

Lilly's boat was found to be legal both days.

Dyer and Empty Pockets came up short in Class A, finishing second overall to Joey Bonaduce of Duces-R-Wild from Somerville, N.J.

"We won on Thursday, but right after we crossed the finish line the motor blew out," said Bonaduce, who finished third yesterday. "The guys [pit crew] worked until 11:35 Saturday morning to get us on the water for this race."

With an engine built basically from spare parts, Bonaduce said, his plan was to maintain position to finish at least third and earn enough points to win the division championship.

"We didn't want to push it. We didn't have to," said Bonaduce, who won his class for the second consecutive year.

Dyer and Empty Pockets will finish second in class after a second-place finish yesterday.

Flying Tiger, driven by Sonny Hawkins of Elma, N.Y, won the national championship in Class D after finishing third Thursday and first yesterday.

In Class C, Rolling Thunder apparently won the championship with a second-place finish Thursday and a first yesterday.

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