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Jet sprint series returns to South Australia


A SMALL country town 100km from any major waterway is gearing up to host a leg of the Australian Jet Sprint Championship.

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A SMALL country town 100km from any major waterway is gearing up to host a leg of the Australian Jet Sprint Championship.

Organisers in the South Australian town of Keith are sinking a bore and will begin digging a track in the coming weeks ahead of the March 25 jet boat event.

The racing will be part of the town’s fifth annual Diesel and Dirt Derby, which includes country motorsport events such as tractor pulls, buggy racing and a header demolition derby.

It is scheduled to be the opening round of the 2017 championship and will be the first time V8 jet boat racing has been held in South Australia since the Currency Creek track was used more than a decade ago.

Australian Formula Jet Sprint Association president Ted Sygidus said 30-40 boats from around Australia were expected to race in Keith in the Sportsman, 400 International and Unlimited classes.

He said he was planning a trip to Keith, which is 250km southeast of Adelaide on the main road to Melbourne, in the coming weeks to check on the progress of the track.

“The boys are really great, they’ve got a venue and they’ve already got a crowd coming so it will be good for the sport and it will be good for South Australia,” Sygidus said.

“If Keith turns out well, we’ve got the world titles at the end of 2017 and we could possibly hold a world series race there.”

The track on a vacant corner of the Keith Showground will be fed by a 24m deep bore and filled to a depth of between 70cm and a metre.

“Standard tracks are about a kilometre long, require drivers to make 32 turns and are completed in 45 seconds,” Sygidus said.

Once dug, the track will be capped with clay to hold the water in and a three-metre safety fence built around it.

The dirt dug out from the track will be used to build grassed spectator viewing mounds.

The 2016 Australian Formula Jet Sprint Championship is being raced exclusively in New South Wales at tracks in Griffith, Temora and Tweed Coast. However the Keith round and the possible addition of a round in Melton Victoria will help give the 2017 season more of a national feel.

Diesel and Dirt Derby committee president Glen Simpson said he hoped the jet boat racing would help boost crowd numbers to 10,000, up from 6500 this year.

“As soon as we get the track down they’ll bring a few boats over from Melbourne or Adelaide and test it to make sure it’s all safe,” he said.

Simpson said the novelty of holding a boat race in a town almost 100km from any major body of water had helped generate interest.

“It’s got people talking, the community’s embraced it but they’re still wondering how we’re going to do it all,” he said.

“I think we’re going to pull people from further away being the only one in South Australia.”

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