The Pro Watercross Tour came to an end this past weekend in Charleston, West Virginia. Tour Champions were crowned as well as National Champions based on these events results. Points were doubled so many Champions were decided at this event so there was a lot at stake for many of the competitors.
The City of Charleston always rolls out the red carpet for the Pro Watercross Tour and with the help of local shop Hidden Trails and the entire Frame family and staff; the event is always a good one. The competitors even overlook some of the obstacles like the muddy mushy loading area to get boats in and out of because the event itself is so enjoyable. CBS Sports was on hand Saturday to film the Pro Show and the format was a bit different than usual. Typically the Pro Show is a 3-Moto format with 1 Moto being run on Saturday and the final two motos being run on Sunday. On this weekend it was changed to a 2-Moto format both being run on Saturday for TV.
In Pro Am Ski Stock it was Kenny McKenzie in only his second race of the season on the Tour taking the overall over Matthew Richuk. The two swapped moto wins with Richuk getting the nod in Moto 1, but as we all know, the second moto weighs heavier in points in the event there’s a tie, so with the Moto 2 win going to McKenzie the overall was his. The track was pretty much a wide-open type of track other than the splits, which unfortunately, seemed pretty uneven and Tour Veteran Jimmy Wilson just couldn’t make up time from the onset. Wilson finished third overall with a 3-4 finish. Wilson still earned the victory in the Tour Championship points while Richuk took second in the Tour Championship. Gene Daniel would take third in the Tour Championship.
The ever-popular Pro Sport GP class was filled with excitement and drama. Christmas, Florida’s Richard Taylor was steady as he racked up the overall going 3-1 on the day. Defending tour champ Sam Nehme started out the day well taking the Moto 1 win, but his troubles continued to plague him in Moto 2 and a mechanical forced him off the track late in the final moto while he was leading. He finished Moto 2 in 9th which ultimately gave the overall National Championship and the Tour Championship win to Keith Dill who finished with a 2-5 for the weekend. Nehme finished second in Tour Championship points just behind Dill that once again proved that consistency wins Championships. Billy Dearman wound up third in points but had problems early in Moto 1 that left him with a 9-8 finish on the day. Kyle Hayes had a great run finishing third overall for the event with a 4-4.
In Pro Am Ski GP it was an exciting battle between Jimmy Wilson and Craig Warner. And not far behind those two was Broc Harris just watching and waiting for either one of those top guys to bobble or take each other out. In the end it was Wilson taking both moto wins for the overall on the day while Warner had to settle for a not-so-distant second overall going 2-2. Harris took the final spot on the podium in both motos going 3-3. The Tour Championship Points ended the same way with Wilson taking first, Warner taking second and Harris taking third. At the awards ceremony at the Hidden Trails After Party Saturday night, in a touching display of Sportsmanship, Craig Warner showed a ton of humility while honoring the skill and tenacity of fellow competitor Jimmy Wilson, the man who beat him.
It was a weekend of attrition that decided the outcome of the Pro Am Runabout GP class. Claude Clayton jumped out to an early lead on his beautiful black carbon fiber Sea-Doo RXP-X and took Moto 1 with Dylan Osborn taking second. Jeff Dyckowski would take the third spot in Moto 1 while the Frame brothers ,Cameron and Trey, both had mechanicals. In Moto 2 however, it was all Dylan Osborn taking the moto win and the overall. Clayton brought it home with a second overall. Justin Taylor, who finished 4th in Moto 1, put together a great ride for second in Moto 2 giving him the last spot on the podium for the day. For the Tour Championship, Claude Clayton took the number 1 spot while Dylan Osborn finished second. Jeff Dyckowski took home third.
A lot of these same guys in Pro An Runabout GP ran their same stock boats in Pro Am Runabout Box Stock. But Judge Motorsports’ Troy Snyder came to set the record straight. In recent weekends, it was a small rivalry getting started between himself and Cam Frame. It looked as though the rivalry would continue as Cam grabbed the Moto 1 win with Snyder taking second. But Snyder was not to be denied for Moto 2 and he won taking the overall to Frame’s 1-2 finish, which gave him second, overall. Jeff Dyckowski finished third overall on the weekend with a 4-3. Snyder also took the overall Tour Points Championship while Dyckowski took second on the Tour. Dylan Osborn took third on the Tour.
In Pro Freestyle it was Luke Stocks taking the overall for the weekend followed by Phil Clemmons.
The Amateur classes, which quite frankly are filled with Pro riders, are just as exciting as the classes that are designated as the Pro Show classes. Mostly determined by what ski is being raced, Veteran/Pro riders make up the majority of the classes other than the Jr. classes (for which an argument can be made that most of them are Veterans or Pros already as well!). The “Amateur” races consisted of the normal 3-Moto format this weekend and the winners of this particular event would be crowned National Champions, which would be a different designation than the Tour Championship.
Going into Sunday’s final moto of Amateur Ski Stock it was a 2-way battle for the overall with Wyatt Hayes and Jeb Zarzour having 4 points each. Team Faith’s Kelly Smith could upset the party if he had a good Moto 3 result coming into the final moto with a 3-2, but a bad start would relegate him to only being able to make it up to 6th for a 4th overall. AJ Lunistra would pull off a 4-4-2 for third overall leaving the door open for Wyatt Hayes and Jeb Zarzour to battle it out for the overall. In the end it was Hayes with a 1-3-1 finish taking the top spot on the podium while Zarzour went 2-1-5 for second overall. This put Brett Underhill as the overall Tour Champion, Wyatt Hayes second in Tour Championship points and Team Faith’s Dawson Newby as third.
There was some controversy surrounding the outcome of the Sport Stock class. In the past two events, organizers have made a significant effort to police the rules via the Technical Inspector for this particular class resulting in several of the competitors from last weekend’s Lake Hartwell race and this weekend’s Charleston race being DQ’d for technical infractions.
Danny Ortega came to play on his Kawasaki X2 and he was the odds on favorite believe it or not! Yes, he’s on an X2! The spirit of the rules in the class allow an X2 many more modifications than the other machines like the Yamaha WaveBlaster and the Sea-Doo HX that compete in the class which have significant advantages based on their updated hull designs. But you wouldn’t know it by Ortega’s performance! The elder statesman of the class flat out put a whoopin’ on the field piloting his X-2 to three second place finishes and having lead most of the laps of all three motos.
He was only bested by one competitor, Christian Daly, who rode phenomenal on his Sea-Doo HX but was found to be in violation of the technical rules in the post race inspection and was DQ’d. (It also appeared that Ortega’s X-2 hull was modified beyond the scope that the rules allowed, but none of the competitors were willing to file an official protest since the guy rode the heck out of the craft.) In the end it was Ortega on his X2 going 2-2-2 for the overall, Susan Anderson going 3-3-4 for second overall and Team Faith’s Jeff McPhail going 4-4-7 for third overall. The tour Points Championship was as follows: Keith Dill took the Tour Championship while Jeff McPhail took second and Billy Dearman took third.
Hayden Skellet continued to dominate the Jr. Ski Stock class in the 10-12 year old bracket going 1-1-1, while Devon Farthing, who has gotten noticeably better over the past 2 rounds went 1-1-1 in the 13-15 year old bracket. Sammy Nehme came in second with a 2-2-2 and Taylor Skellett rounded out the podium with a 3-3-3.
Our favorite Canadian Colombian Juan Rada pulled off the overall in Amateur Runabout Box Stock with a Moto1 win and a 3-3 for the final two motos. He also clinched the Tour Championship as well! Joe Johnson had a bad first moto missing some buoys, but looked good in the last two motos to go 5-1-2 for second overall. Jim Bennett was the third place overall winner going 6-2-1.
Veterans Runabout Box Stock saw Jason Lester sweeping all motos against Jim Bennett and Tony Savage for the overall on the day but it was Tony Savage in his first year racing that managed to take the Tour Points Championship. All three motos were won by different competitors in the Amateur Runabout Superstock class but consistency paid off for Greg Neal as he went 2-2-2 to take the overall on the weekend. Justin Taylor took second overall with a 1-3-3 and Michael Borges went 3-4-1 for third overall.
The always exciting IROC Stock class once again did not disappoint. Eric Gabriel continued his winning ways posting a perfect three-moto score of 1-1-1 to take the overall and the Tour Championship Title for another year. Jason Lester aboard his RIVA powered/Jesus Garcia tuned Yamaha EX went 2-2-2 for second overall. In a battle between teammates it came down tot he last moto for Team Faith’s Brian O’Rourke and Kelly Smith to see who took the last spot on the podium for the weekend. In the end it was Smith, who looks to be able to adapt to just about anything he throws his leg over taking third overall with a 4-3-3 finish. Brian O’Rourke finished 3-4-4 but managed to take second in the Tour Points Championship despite having some not-so-great finished int he surf races. Jason Lester was third in Tour Points.
It was all Eric Gabriel in the IROC GP class on his turbo Spark. Even when he lines up against older 2-stroke rippers like the X4 hull that Cory Roush has nobody has been able to best Gabriel who pretty much races almost every weekend somewhere! Gabriel took the overall for the weekend and the Tour.
More and more Kawasaki SX-R 15F Skis are starting to make their way on the line for the Ski 4-stroke class. In Moto1 AJ Luinstra got the early jump on Veteran Craig Warner and Warner bobbled in Luinstra’s pump wash to go down momentarily giving Luinstra enough of lead to hold of the hard charging Warner for the win. Moto 2 and 3 belonged to Warner, but a post race technical inspection revealed a violation of the rules for Warner and he was DQ’d. That gave Luinstra the overall for the weekend and put Sean Miles, who left the IROC Stock class for the new SX-R taking second overall. With the double points awarded on this weekend, that gave 3 2 1 Kawasaki’s AJ Luinstra the Tour Championship, Sean Miles second in the Tour Championship and Craig Warner third in the Tour Championship.
Amateur Freestyle saw 2 of the 3 competitors jump off their race boats and onto their freestyle machines in an effort to perform and compete for the crowd on hand. Ryan Doberstein took the overall going 1-1 for the weekend but also took the Tour Championship. Zeb Zarzour took second for the weekend going 3-2 and Daryle Winters went 2-3 for the weekend third overall.
As the Tour came to an official end and everyone said their goodbyes, talk turns now to the Pro Watercross World Championships in Naples, FL on November 2-5. Undoubtedly, the competitors have faced enough scenarios and race conditions to know where they and their machines stand for the Championships. We look forward to seeing who steps up their game in the upcoming months leading into Naples.