Lings team make mark at powerboat event

The thrills and excitement of a grand prix were mixed with sun, sea and sand this weekend as the Honda Formula 4 Stroke powerboat series came to the seaside.

The thrills and excitement of a grand prix were mixed with sun, sea and sand this weekend as the Honda Formula 4 Stroke powerboat series came to the seaside.

Thousands gathered on Lowestoft beach to watch two afternoons of fast and furious racing and to cheer on the H10 Honda Lings team, who are based in the town.

It is the first time that the world's largest offshore powerboat race has been staged in Lowestoft and it was held in conjunction with the town's annual air festival, which took place on Thursday and Friday.

The Norfolk-based Lings team of driver David Cowley and navigators Paul Barkshire and Chris Jary were sitting in fourth position in the 150hp series before this weekend's racing, but they managed to make a mark on their home turf.

After watching his team clinch second place in Sunday afternoon's race, Mr Barkshire said that they were delighted with a podium finish and being able to represent Lowestoft in front of crowds totalling about 30,000 people.

He said: "Powerboat racing is far from easy. It feels a bit like you're in the boxing ring but you're not allowed to hit back, you get battered and bruised from all angles.

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"Smacking into the waves at 60 miles an hour is painful, especially on days like this when it's quite rough, but we do it for the thrill, there's nothing quite like it."

The natural amphitheatre of Lowestoft beach provided the perfect setting for the races, with long, fast straights and a tight chicane by the pier providing exciting viewing for those watching from the beach.

Honda spokesman Iain Radcliffe said: "We are absolutely delighted to be racing on the east coast. Lowestoft is a good location because we can race close to the front and people get a very good view of the action."

There are just two events left for the racers this season - grand prix weekends at Cowes in August and Liverpool in September - and Mr Barkshire said his team are confident that they can make a strong finish.

"It's a very close field this year and the slightest error can make a huge difference. When you get to the turn and everybody is trying to squeeze round the marker, that's when accidents can happen or when you can overtake and move up a place.

"We've performed consistently well this season and if we can keep plugging away at it, then who knows where we'll be at the end of the series."