When the trucks began rolling up to the ruddy red shores of Georgia’s Lake Hartwell, things didn’t look too good. Rain had soaked the grounds to a muddy mess and many feared a repeat of last year’s soggy conditions. Thankfully, Mother Nature felt a little compassionate on the traveling menagerie of Pro Watercross Tour racers, and the skies remained clear for the remainder of the weekend. Yet, it wasn’t just the weather that was on everyone’s minds at The Triple Crown of Watercross.
With the points standing in hot contention, revelations that current Pro Ski GP and Ski Spec leader Monster Energy/Macc Racing’s Chris MacClugage would be sitting out both Hartwell and the National Championships in Charleston, WV., meant Rockstar Energy/Kommander Industries’ Dustin Motzouris could quickly capitalize on the GOAT’s absence – that is, if Motzouris wasn’t fighting a week’s old flu virus.
With Macc nursing an old back injury and Motz operating at less than optimal strength meant that a field consisting of Brock Austin, David Redinger, Josh Block and others were left to battle it out for Pro Ski GP. Fueled by personal drive and waaay too much caffeine, Motz managed to pull off a strong second place finish behind Liquid Militia/JetRenu’s Austin and David Redinger rounding out the podium.
Meanwhile, 30-year racing veteran Rob Flores continued to show his mettle by besting the intimate six-man Pro Ski Stock class lineup, with David Cabrera and Paul Puchalski filling the second and third positions. Speaking of veterans, the Veteran Ski class welcomed fellow GP Ski racer Pete Zernik to the top spot, with Kenny McKenzie taking second and a surprise entry from Dean’s Team/Factory Yamaha runabout racer Brian Baldwin on a standup as well, who grabbed third.
In the Pro Runabout classes, there was one name heard more than any other: Abdullah Al-Fadhel. The Kuwaiti was all but Teflon coated, as he slipped past the field in Pro R/A Open, Stock and Super Stock. Al-Fadhel expanded his points leads over a dozen racers this weekend, and deserves some serious accolades for his and team manager, Dean Charrier’s hard work.
RIVA/Sea-Doo racer Erminio Iantosca clinched second place with Kawasaki racer Eric Francis for third in Pro Open, with Brian Baldwin and Travis Zielasko filling the second two spots in Pro Stock, and Travis Zielasko and Stan Hightower in second and third respectively in Pro Super Stock.It also bears some noting that Hartwell also saw possibly some of the most diverse podiums in recent months, with Sea-Doo and Kawasaki piercing what has been an almost consistent Yamaha showing thus far.
The Amateur and Pro Freestyle competition was a little thin compared to last year’s showing, and saw XScream rider, Jason “The Destroyer” Stoyer as the only Pro entry. He cleanly won the class despite backflipping on to a buoy, with Chris Langlais, Phil Clemmons and Daryle Winters totaling the Amateur class.
In Sport Stock and GP, the top two spots were traded between Keith Dill and Sam Nehme. In Sport Spec, Nehme would top the podium with Dill in second and Ken Waddle in third; while in GP, Dill bested Nehme with an injured Billy Dearman battling through the pain to come in close behind.
Finally, Bibi Carmouche proved that she is still the fastest girl on the Pro Watercross Tour, topping both the Amateur Ski Limited and Women’s Ski Limited classes. Bibi bested the boys in Amateur Limited with Tony Cantalamessa in second and Kedric Bayles in third, as well as Anna Glennon and Niki Turner in Women’s Limited, respectively.
Following Lake Hartwell’s fast-paced action is the aforementioned conclusion of the Pro Watercross Tour, the National Championships in Charleston, WV., where the points earned count for double. As many on-site noted, The Watercraft Journal made a surprise appearance as the official sponsor of the finish line, with its logos and banners not only along the shore, but on the checkered buoys themselves. We’re proud to be sponsoring the Pro Watercross Tour, and will continue to do so in West Virginia and at the inaugural World Championships in Naples, Florida this upcoming September.