The stage is set for high drama as the Audi IRC Championship comes to a close at the end of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week on Saturday afternoon when the winner of the Championship Trophy and a valued Audi vehicle will be decided on the race course off the Island.
Set to come down to the wire, there are currently four competitors who look to be the main contenders; two of which have won the Championship, which is in its fourth year, previously.
Alegria's owner/driver Rod Jones is in the box seat. Jones won the inaugural Audi IRC Australian Championship in 2006 and is currently leading Division 2 of the Audi IRC Grand Prix class.
“I am very excited by the fact we could win it again; I'd love to win another Audi” Jones commented after racing this afternoon.
“This was the aim of the game – to come and win this great Championship again,” said Jones, who is here representing Queensland. Should he be successful, Jones will drive away in an Audi A6 allroad Quattro valued at $115,000.
“We've still got five days of racing left, but we are leading our division and I think if we stay in a top three position at the end we are in good shape. It's all good at the moment, but let's face it; anything could happen.”
Jones, who has an updated Alegria, an Archambault A40, is right. Today's racing, for instance, was sailed in the most fickle and tactically tricky conditions. As the present IRC leader, Ray Roberts (Evolution Racing, NSW) told: “We had from 0-10 knots from everywhere and anywhere with big holes in between massive wind changes.”
Last year's winner, Peter Sorensen, is at the helm of Peter Hill's Beneteau 45, Ruth Magic this year and is also looking good for a second win after today's race.
“It would be amazing to defend our title successfully,” Sorensen said today. Like Rod Jones, we entered the Championship to win again – and we're having a mighty fine tussle in the IRC Passage Division 1, with five other Beneteaus, not to mention the rest of the fleet.
This is a terrific competition and our chances are good – if we can keep winning this week,” said Sorensen, who says “I was thrilled to win the Audi last year; I've always loved them.”
The other two boats ‘most likely to', are the JV 52 Wot Now owned by Sydney yachtsman Graeme Wood, currently seventh overall in IRC Grand Prix Division 1 (but only six points off the leader), who was not aboard for today's race, and Living Doll, a Farr 55 owned by Victorian clothing label owner, Michael Hiatt, who has a different take on winning the Audi IRC Australian Championship.
“We are taking the racing day to day. To be honest, we have not been thinking about the Championship; I didn't even think we were in the running!
“We had a tough day yesterday. After leading round the track, 15 minutes short of the finish we fell in a hole and finished seventh. Today, the breeze was all over the place and up and down, but we won. Anything can still happen – but I'd be more than happy to win the Audi – they're a very good car.”
All information, please go to: www.audisailingsport.com.au