Thursday, 19 October: Jonathan Jones will run the latest incarnation of his Dragon F1 Powerboat in the final two rounds of this year’s UIM F1H2O World Championship in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah in December, with Matthew Palfreyman taking the wheel to make his series debut.
The deal, brokered by Jones and Dave Burgess, will see 25-year-old Palfreyman become the first British driver to line-up in the world’s flagship powerboat championship since 2010.
The striking looking Dragon was given a final shakedown test yesterday on a rather overcast day on a lake in Staffordshire, with Palfreyman spending several hours out on the water testing various set-ups and a range of propellers with mentor Jones monitoring his every move! “It’s coming together. I am very pleased with what I have seen today. So far so good,” said Jonathan Jones. “The boat is new to Matt but he has got tremendous potential. He’s young, has worked his way up through the ranks and is very enthusiastic. He is interested in every aspect, the set-up, the propeller choice, he watches, listens and is learning the boat very quickly.”
Work on the boat has been carried out at Dragon F1 Powerboats’ facility in Cardigan in Wales, with four-time world champion Jones working closely with designer Dave Burgess and Dai Morgan. “We have worked on a number of significant upgrades which we are confident will make the boat very competitive,” said Jones, adding. “The modifications are comprehensive. We have reconfigured the back end and shortened it considerably as well altering it underneath completely. We have also built in several new aerodynamic features and expect the overall package to deliver greater stability.
“I am confident that this package with the Alex Hledin prepped engine will be competitive and will bring Dragon Powerboats on a par with other manufacturers.”
Palfreyman’s route to the top-flight started in the junior classes racing GT15 and GT30 then moving into F4 and then the F4-S Championship, winning the title in 2011 and finishing runner-up the following year. He then stepped up into F2, finishing runner-up in the world championship in 2015 and the European championship in 2016. “It’s been a good test, massively different from an F2 boat especially the speed in getting to where you want to be and the response of the engine. It’s phenomenal,” said Palfreyman. “Now it’s just a case of getting used to the boat and getting more time on the water.
“The races in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah will be a big step up. It is the best series with the best drivers and where the competition is just so close. I think we can be competitive and if we can run in the middle order and make sure we finish the races it will be a good start.”