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So much is made of racers being familiar with their boat, building a strong and trusting relationship with the team and getting regular experience to stay at the top of the sport. With that being said, it makes what happened on Sunday all that more impressive.
John Donnelly was last in a SuperStock Panther back in March for the opening event of the 2017 P1 SuperStock calendar when P1 descended on India.
It was an eventful outing off the shores of Mumbai as Donnelly and partner Vin Burdock had a dangerous flip in the Mirchi Maverick in the first ever SuperStock World Championships.
It didn’t go to plan in South Asia but when he took the wheel in the Arthur J Gallagher Panther this past weekend in replacement of David Taft who was unable to attend he put on a show for the Welsh crowds.
Despite an early finish on Saturday courtesy of technical problems in the opening race of the weekend, he and navigator Andy Cousins returned with purpose on Sunday to blow away the competition.
Courtesy of consistent blistering starts, the pair sealed comprehensive victories in the first two races of Sunday and it looked as though they might make it a clean-sweep on the day but a resounding lead was lost when they were forced to retire due to more mechanical issues.
“It was good fun and I think I proved a point this weekend so that was the main thing,” Donnelly said on Sunday evening.
“The last time I was in the boat with P1 was India earlier this year when we had an accident. I was only a little accident when our engine decided to leave our boat, but it was great to be back and racing again.”
The conditions on his return suited his racing style as he managed to find extra pace off the start line compared to his fellow drivers.
The rough waters of Saturday were replaced with much milder weather on Sunday as it left calm waters to race on while the set-up at Milford Haven also helped produce what was a great driving performance.
“It was good fun, it is a really nice venue and everything is really close so it makes it really easy to focus on the racing. It was a good atmosphere and the facilities were brilliant.
“The water today was nice and flat, I don’t think we would’ve done as well if it wasn’t.”
Donnelly’s partner in Wales was one of the younger members of the competing racers and Cousins was delighted to have John on board.
Whilst it can be difficult adjusting to racing with a new driver, Cousins couldn’t think of anybody better than the Hampshire-native alongside him.
“I knew Dave wasn’t going to be racing this weekend so I had a chat with Robert [Wicks, P1 Managing Director] and my immediate thought was that I wanted John in the boat,” the 24-year-old explained.
“I know John anyway, I know he is a very good driver and very confident. It was also a very good opportunity for me to learn from John as well so it was brilliant to have him on the boat.”