The beautiful Chicago skyline (and the rough waters of Lake Michigan) was the focal point of the watercraft racing world for two days last weekend and it did not disappoint. At an amazing location, Foster Beach made for one of the best race sites of the year, as one series came to an end, one heated up to a scolding hot temperature, and multiple National Champions were crowned. In fact, with so many events happening simultaneously, many didn’t know what the event was officially called.
Up first was the series that was coming to an end: The Great Lakes Championship, new to P1 AquaX, was a two-round series that did not disappoint. In the 200 class, it was a battle between two amazing female riders, Jennifer Nolan and Amanda la Cheminant, both aboard Yamaha VXR watercraft. Nolan went for the three moto sweep and looked fast in doing so, la Cheminant fought valiantly and finished just out of reach of Nolan in all three motos. The 250 class was another two-person Yamaha watercraft battle. Jason Lester looked amazing in the first two motos taking two wins but Kevin Sullivan wouldn’t go down with out a fight. Moto 3 Sullivan pulled out the win but it wasn’t enough to take the overall with Lester taking the top spot followed by Sullivan.
The Pro Am 300 class in the Great Lakes series was a battle all the way through. Broward Motorsports/Greater Yamaha rider Daniel Steele got out to a great start in Moto 1 and looked very solid the whole way through. Aboard his Kawasaki 310R, Enrique Chia plowed the big lake Michigan cross chop on his way to a solid Moto 1 win but engine problems later in the day would cut his chase of a podium spot short. Another Broward Motorsports/Greater Yamaha, rider Tommy Olswang provided another solid outing with a third place finish and that would be the motto of his weekend.
After Moto 1 hard charging JetX rider Jay Edworthy put on a show once again making moves and taking a Moto 2 win and a Moto 3 second place finish. Edworthy’s strong finishes in Moto 2 and 3 propelled him to a overall victory for the weekend along with a huge overall for the Great Lakes Series. Olswang’s solid three motos put him second on the podium followed by Moto 1 winner Steele to round out the Top 3 for the weekend.
The Pro Enduro was the best race of the year in this author’s eyes. Dean’s Team Yamaha rider Brian Baldwin put on a show, winning Moto 1 by a huge margin, even leaving Baldwin to wonder if he was going the wrong way; that’s when you know you’re are going fast. Baldwin followed up Moto 1 with another win in Moto 2. Moto 3 was a little bit of a change for Baldwin after his hood practically blew off leading to a fifth place finish and that was enough to lock up the overall for the weekend. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s rider Craig Warner turned in a very consistent weekend with moto finishes of fourth, second, fourth and that consistency led to a huge second place overall.
Dean’s Team rider Aero Aswar had an amazing weekend finishing second, and fourth in the first two motos but a huge spill on the last lap of Moto 3 put him in 7th and cost him second on the podium. Aswar just missed out and took third overall for the weekend. Any recap of the Pro Enduro wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the high speed high flying weekend of Monster Energy/ Yamaha rider Chris MacClugage. Macc laid down some of the fastest laps of the weekend but odd hull issues and high flying acrobatics set him up for a rough weekend. Look out for Macc in the coming rounds.
The third and what could be considered as the biggest event in Chicago was the IJSBA National Championships. The Runabout classes, GP and Stock, were combined into one big time showdown. Dean’s Team and Yamaha swept the top spots. In GP, it was Brian Baldwin and in stock it was Abdullah Al Fadel. Both won all three motos in their respective classes. The field was stocked with some of the biggest names in personal watercraft racing today and was a veritable who’s who of PWC racing.
All and all this was an amazing rough weekend of racing. Many racers stated that this was some of the roughest water they had raced in and it led to great racing. We are looking forward to the rest of the series and to see what the conditions lead to in the future rounds. All of this weekend’s P1 AquaX scores can be found HERE.