Special to the Courier



KENNEWICK, Wash. — The season long H1 Unlimited head-to-head duel between Jimmy Shane and Andrew Tate squared off once again in Saturday’s Heat 2B of this weekend’s HAPO Columbia Cup with Shane slashing another 100 points off Tate’s 2018 points lead. ?

Shane drove the U-1 Miss HomeStreet/Miss Madison around Tate’s U-9 Les Schwab Tires, to continue what has so far been a perfect weekend on the 2.5-mile Columbia River course.



The two hit the start line even, but Shane pulled slightly ahead from lane one. They battled side-by-side until the third lap when Shane pulled away.



“I knew he had it by lap three,” said Tate, adding that he then opted to save his equipment for today’s preliminary heats and final to protect his points lead. “We need to save it for another battle in another race, for another day.”



The two drivers have now split six heats this season including two winner-take-all finals while pulling away to a two-boat race for the season championship.



“You have two competitive drivers and two competitive teams and we put on a great show for the Tri-Cities fans. That is what H1 Unlimited hydroplane racing is all about, deck-to-deck racing,” Shane said.



Shane posted the fastest lap speed of 157.585 mph.



Tate said turn one on Saturday was once again its usual rough Columbia River turn one. “The only good thing about being behind Shane was I could see the rough water coming. He had to go through the same stuff I did.”



In Saturday’s other preliminaries, U-1918 Oberto Beef Jerky driver Cal Phipps won Heat 2A by beating U-12 Graham Trucking driver J. Michael Kelly with a great first turn to pull away. Kelly was later disqualified for a fuel flow violation as Dustin Echols in the U-440 Bucket List Racing finished second.



In Heat 1A, Tate passed Phipps on the backstretch of lap one with Brian Perkins in the U-21 PayneWest Insurance then overtaking Phipps on lap two and Echols running a distant fourth. Kelly’s Graham Trucking did not finish after going dead in the water as he crossed the start line at the beginning of the race.



In Heat 1B, Jimmy King and the U-3 Griggs Hardware washed down Shane in the U-1 Miss HomeStreet during the pre-race milling period, forcing Shane to restart his engine and catch the field for the start. Shane was able to do just that and pulled ahead of Tom Thompson and the U-11 J&D’s on lap one and then held the lead for the remaining three laps.



King’s boat went dead in the water just as he crossed for the start, leading to a did not finish in that team’s first heat of the season. He was also later penalized 150 points for cutting of Shane in the milling period and Aaron Salmon and the U-99.9 Miss Rock was unable to start due to a relay switch malfunction.



Earlier on Saturday, Shane had time to take the team’s newest race boat out onto the Columbia River for its first shakedown laps during an H1 test session. The boat, just recently completed, ran a couple of laps — reportedly 140 and 138 mph — before Shane brought it back into the dock for adjustments to the skid fin.?



Heat racing continues today starting at 12:50 p.m. EDT with the Columbia Cup championship slated for 7:20 p.m. Today’s racing will be webcast at www.swxrightnow.com beginning at noon.