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Originally published Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 8:06 PM

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Seafair hydros to feature more pre-race jockeying

Fighting for lanes before the start of unlimited hydroplane races is back on for the 2011 season.

The Seattle Times

Fighting for lanes before the start of unlimited hydroplane races is back on.

The H1 Board of Directors approved a rule change earlier this week. For the past two seasons, lane assignments for all heat races were given before the boats hitting the water.

The 2011 rules will still have restrictions on position and racing speeds before the start but lane choices will not be determined by points from the preliminary heats.

The boat with the most points after the preliminary heats the past two seasons had first choice of lanes in the championship heat, giving the boat a huge advantage going into the first turn.

The last time boats jockeyed for lanes in the pre-race milling period in Seattle was the 2008 Seafair Chevrolet Cup. The race ended in controversy when Jean Theoret, driving the Miss Beacon Plumbing, led from start to finish in Lane 1 but was assessed a one-minute penalty for going off plane before the start. Dave Villwock in the Miss E-Lam Plus took the checkered flag and later that week was declared the winner after a protest was denied.

Another change for the upcoming season is that each boat will carry two onboard cameras. The cameras will be fitted in the cockpit and in back. The video will be another tool for the race judges to use when verifying the official results.

Notes

• Longtime crew chief Scott Raney announced earlier this week that he and his wife Shannon and driver JW Myers have formed Unlimited Racing Group (URG) and will compete this upcoming season with Peters & May as title sponsor.

The team will be based out of Edmonds. "I'm really eager to get this off the ground," said Raney. "It's a great time to enter the sport. We'll just have to wait and see where we can go from here."

Raney, who group up in Seattle watching the hydros, has been involved with the unlimited series since 1989 when he wandered into Bill Wurster's U-8 shop and was given the task of sweeping the floors. Raney was the crew chief the past few years for Billy Schumacher's team.

Dave Villwock will try to pass Bill Muncey with career win No. 63 in the first race of the season in Madison, Ind., July 1-3. Villwock tied Muncey at 62 with a win at Doha, Qatar, last season.

Tri-Cities will host their 45th race, July 29-31, and Seafair follows, Aug. 5-7.

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