With the last couple of years being massive ones, there’s been very little time to think of anything except the business (although ‘business’ means talking about, demonstrating and working on hovercraft design so it’s pretty enjoyable most of the time!) and we’ve not had much time to go racing. But it feels like the time’s right once more so I’d planned to build a bespoke racer from a hull kit. But with one thing and another, there was insufficient time so I started looking around for a complete craft and just happened to stumble across some interesting information about a Formula 2 hovercraft that was for sale in Belgium. I’m too big for Formula 50 or Formula 3 – and too scared to race in Formula One, so Formula 2 seemed like my natural home.
So, late last week, my dad and I jumped into his motorhome with a trailer on the back and shot over to Belgium to look at the Formula 2 ‘Cobra 5P’ Hovercraft of Jos Vanderhoven, the creator of the fabulous ‘Cobra’ racing hovercraft. Jos is retiring from racing and had his own craft for sale, a Cobra 5P built to a very high specification. Looking over the craft, we were extremely impressed with the build quality and standard of finish. So what makes it go?
In the front is a separate lift engine, a 200cc Simonini Mini 2 Plus which is producing approximately 20bhp at 5500rpm. In the to push her along… oh boy… a Suzuki GSX-R600 motorbike engine which has a full Akropovic exhaust and piggyback ECU fueling system to provide something around 140bhp. So that’s around 150-160bhp in a GRP hull which weighs a bit over 325kgs with me on board. Gulp.
Current fashion for racing craft features a long, tapering bow, which helps with lift at high speed and has advantages in the turns and the Cobra follows that design, it looks great and whilst it has only had three outings in Jos’s hands, it’s already been noted for it’s performance. As a result of it’s limited use, it’s in fantastic condition and is quite ready to race.
So – with just six weeks to go before the first UK Meeting in Accrington, there’s plenty of time to try the craft out and find a set up that we’re happy with. If all goes well, we’ll be racing the European Hovercraft Championship (EHC) which consists of four rounds, two in France, one in the UK and one in Flottsbro, Sweden. In the meantime, hopefully we’ll also compete in a few of the popular UK rounds run by the Hovercraft Club of Great Britain (HCGB) www.hovercraft.org.uk If you’re not familiar with Hovercraft racing, take a look at this Youtube video from Prudhomat, one of the French rounds of the EHC.
Spectacular stuff eh? If you want to know more about hovercraft racing or cruising, then get in touch and join up to the with the Hovercraft Club of Great Britain, at just £27/year, you’ll have access to loads of information and events.
So, watch this space for updates, it’s going to be an interesting summer!