International marine motorsport promoter Powerboat P1 plans to significantly upgrade its fleet of Panther race boats for its one-design P1 SuperStock race series in the United States. The Panthers were fitted with new carbon hulls for 2018 and for 2019 will be refitted with the new Mercury Racing 4.6L V-8 four-stroke 300R outboard and converted to canopy race boats.
Powerboat P1 has raced in 18 countries on four continents since the business was founded in 2002, and in 2011 it moved to a new business model by designing and introducing the 28-foot Panther to spearhead the creation of a one-design, single-engine series to be an affordable, accessible and competitive motorsport.
The hull replacement work on the P1 SuperStock USA fleet was carried out over last winter, with the new hulls being built with an advanced fusion system using a foam core and custom blend resins. The work was carried out in Florida by specialist boat builder Wilson Custom Composites whose owner, Craig Wilson, has almost 20 years of racing experience.
“The strengths we achieved along with almost 800 pounds of weight loss in the hull alone was unheard of, and we are now focused on fitting the boats with a closed canopy which will again involve the use of cutting edge technology and materials,” Wilson said. “Powerboat P1 have leap frogged the marine industry by having the most technically advanced full safety canopy system and interior available. We will make the P1 Panther a racing work of art.”
Working closely with the key players on all aspects of the upgrade will be Martin Sanborn, who was one of the lead developers of the P1 and then took it to the next level through utilizing the resources of the Performance Boat Center in Florida. He makes clear that the move to the canopy configuration will have a number of important results including increased safety for the crews, improved race performance and the change from a mechanical control system to a digital throttle and shift system which will increase responsiveness and simplify the rigging process for the boats.
Sanborn points out that the work to be carried out will be compliant with current UIM and APBA certification, and he is keen to highlight the safety and performance benefits that will result from the canopy system: “The canopy and cockpit will feature a carbon composite structure that is both light and exceptionally strong. Engineering, that will include a complex integration of a polycarbonate windscreen and receiver together with recessed carbon hatches, is targeted with aerodynamic, hydrodynamic and mechanical impact considerations to provide maximum protection to the racers. The boats will see another weight loss resulting in a lowering of the vertical center of gravity and better handling.”
This major upgrade project has been part of Powerboat P1’s development planning for some time, as its Chief Executive Azam Rangoonwala explains: “We saw the move to the new 300R engine, with its anticipated improvement in overall performance including top speeds, as being the optimum time to ramp up safety even further by converting to closed canopy craft. By partnering with world-class companies our race series will benefit through innovation, outstanding technology and superb implementation, which in turn enhances the racing experience and sporting entertainment. The removal of the rear seats and cowling will transform the Panther from being a dual-purpose sport-and-leisure craft into a pure race boat. Improved safety and increased boat performance are what drives this program.”
Mercury Racing is a presenting sponsor of the P1 SuperStock Championship and in July this year they announced that their all-new 300R V-8 four-stroke outboard will replace the legacy two-stroke Mercury Racing 300XS outboard as the exclusive power for both the 2019 USA series and any international venues.