RUSSELL Lewis has brought Top Gun back to the top of ski racing’s tiers for the 2017 Southern 80.
Lewis, driving, will be joined by observer Cliff Bamford and Trevor Bray and Craig Gordon on the skis.
But he took a deliberate break from racing after a skier in his team died in the 2015 Grafton Bridge To Bridge.
‘‘I got talked into the Southern 80 last year by a couple of young fellas who wanted a tow,’’ Lewis said.
‘‘I towed them in the unlimited (inboard class) with no pressure. Then my other mate Kevin Vahtrik died last year. He was a close friend of mine.’’
‘‘That’s what prompted me (to pull out),’’ Lewis said.
‘‘And you can’t get the skiers for Superclass. It’s very hard. But I finished up with another skier in the back end of 2016 — and here we are.’’
They have a second outright from 2011 in Superclass with a time of 32:04 minutes. And a best Bakers’ Blitz qualifying time of 7:13 minutes in 2012.
Lewis reckoned that if he could get the new boat to a 32:30 it would be nice.
‘‘Any faster and I’d be delighted,’’ he added.
And for the Blitz, around 7:15 would do.
‘‘We’re just making up the numbers,’’ Lewis said.
‘‘I’d be happy if we finish top 10 to be honest. I’m under no illusions whatsoever. We’re purely coming down because it’s a fantastic race weekend.’’
Lewis said he considered even being accepted as a Superclass entry to be an honour.
‘‘No doubt having the privilege to be in Superclass (is the best part about the 80).’’