Among the broken cam belts, cracked pistons and busted starter motors there was still an air of determination at the Shelter View jetsprint track in Upokongaro yesterday.
Over a dozen jet boats were being tested and tuned in preparation for the opening round of the New Zealand Jet Sprint Championship series on December 27.
And much of the talk was on whether the field, expected to be tighter than last season, would be able to run down Wanganui's world champions Leighton and Kellie Minnell, winners of all six rounds in 2011/12.
"That's the plan I'm not here to lick stamps," said world-ranked number 5 Steve Bron.
Now based in Feilding while still working in Wanganui, which makes the Minnells regular visitors to his shop, Bron is determined to improve that fraction which defines the good from the great.
"[Minnell] got us with two runs this year at 0.02 [seconds better]. There was nothing in it," Bron said.
In Hastings, the difference in the margin of victory came down to the fact that Bron went wide around one island, while Minnell drove narrow.
Like most of the drivers, Bron had his own issues during the rare chance to practice his number one boat was laid up so he was driving a "tenth choice" jetboat which had not seen use for two years and showed it with a lot of starter problems.
The Minnells themselves did not test their main boat as cam shaft issues would have to be sorted between now and December 27.
Australian Paul Gaston had new reason to respect the Wanganui track after he went straight up the embankment in the finishing bay for the day's most exciting prang.
Spokeswoman Julia Murray said Gaston would be one of a strong Australian contingent expected for most of the race series.
Competing in New Zealand for them was easier and cheaper than travelling the circuit on their own continent, she said.
"Their tracks are so far apart they have to drive 22 hours."
Competitors like Greg Mercer, Phil and Brooke Dixon are expected to have an impact.