P1 AquaX returned to Fort Lauderdale, Florida for round eight of the race series. Gone are the cooler temperatures of Chicago and the hurricanes of the summer. The sunny weather of South Florida welcomed the racers and fans to the sunshine state and it was set to be an epic weekend of racing. Fort Lauderdale would be the final national race for the series and season champions would be crowned. Could Chris MacClugage maintain his season lead (of 292 points over Eric Francis who had 245 points going into the weekend)? Would Brian Baldwin (who was third in standings with 214) be able to pass Francis?
The big question that had to be answered was if MacClugage was going to race. Earlier in the month he had sustained a broken leg at the Pro Watercross Championship in Naples, Florida, that was significant enough that his racing this weekend was in question. Prior to the first race of the weekend we knew that Chris would be racing. Eric Francis knew he had his work cut out for him, as any significant placing by MacClugage would earn him the title for the year and give Francis a second place. Francis said, “I know Macc isn’t going to just give it to me and I just have to ride my hardest and try to out do him this weekend.”
The racing was supposed to start at 10:30am with the Pro racers kicking it off, but due to sea turtles on the track, racing would have to be placed on a marine hold. This gave both racers and fans an opportunity to check out the vendors and activities that were set up. One of the major sponsors of the series this year was Ford Motor Corporation. They had an area set up where everyone had an opportunity to try out their reverse system on their vehicles that assisted in backing up a trailer which makes it a lot easier putting a jet ski into the water at a boat ramp.
Alongside the Ford area there were the BMX All-Stars who had two ramps set up and put on a performance where the riders did tricks as well as some major air off the half pipes that were set up. While the racers were still waiting on the hold to be lifted the Jet Surf crew demonstrated their powered surfboards in the ocean. This was introduced at Naples where they raced their surfboards and it was an opportunity for many who had never seen the riders as well as their boards in action before.
Finally, the marine hold was lifted and it was time for racing to begin. The Pros took to the course and it was what everyone was waiting for. Mike Klippenstein took the holeshot ahead of both MacClugage and Francis but he wouldn’t hold it long. Nicholas Rius was on the hunt as well and eventually grabbed the lead ahead of Francis. This played into how the final standings would turn out, and Eric had to hope for MacClugage to have a lower finish. Upon completion of the first race, it was Rius who took the win with Francis coming in second. MacClugage would take third and it was definitely not the position that Francis was hoping for him.
Next up was the Sport GP class where Sam Nehme would once again put on a dominant performance from the very start, getting the holeshot and not relinquishing the lead the entire race. Johnny Smith, who had just rode his first race of the weekend in the Pro Enduro, jumped on his ski for the Sport GP Class and had a strong race but was unable to catch Nehme. Johnny was attempting to run three classes for the entire weekend and wanted to be a triple threat. The races that followed were the Spark and then the Ski classes.
In the Ski class, Smith would race his ski and his limits and body would be tested. By running all three classes Smith’s body was running on fumes but he was able to complete them. Along with Smith, Klippenstein would also race both the Enduro and Ski classes. The Junior racers would be up next and it was Taylor Skellett who took the win, followed by her brother Haden Skellett. Sammy Nehme round out the three. The three racers would battle each other just as they have in so many previous races in the past.
Next up were the Amateur Enduro racers. Carlito Del Valle took the holeshot but on the first lap he had missed the first buoy and it cost him, as he would be docked time for this. David Gorie had put in a solid performance and won the first race of the weekend. Sophie Francis, who was in the middle of the pack at the beginning of the race, put in a solid performance as well as she battled hard to get into striking distance of the leader but it was a little too late to gain positions. Cody Tetrault also rode a strong race and continued to add to his overall points total for the season.
Upon completion of the Amateur Enduro, it was the Pros’ turn once again take to the water for their second race of the weekend. Once again, Mike Klippenstein took the holeshot with Rius in second, followed by Francis. Francis, Brian Baldwin, MacClugage, Klippenstein and Erminio Iantosca battled, with Eric Francis taking the win for the second moto. Unfortunately for him, MacClugage had placed high enough and it was the win that he needed to become the overall point’s leader for the season and crowned the overall Pro winner of the year. With Macc clinching the overall title he would not have to race the third moto on Sunday, giving him time to relax.
Day Two started on time and everyone was hoping to get in all of the races. Racing started with the Sport class and Sam Nehme once again took the win and proved why he is number one in the world. The Ski class followed and Klippenstein took home the win. In the Spark class Eric Gabryel put on a dominating performance, which garnered him his win. Then the unexpected happened again. There was a hold on racing because of sea life on the course. The Juniors followed up the Spark class and it was Haden Skellett who grabbed the win over Sammy Nehme. In the Ski class, Klippenstein took the holeshot and didn’t relinquish his lead, winning his race.
In the second Amateur Enduro race of the weekend, it was once again be Carlito Del Valle who would take the holeshot. Fortunately, he learned from his mistake of missing the buoy from the previous day. Now it would be up to him to maintain the lead throughout the race. Yet, David Gorie wasn’t going to let that happen. Enrique Chia put in a solid race as well and added to his points total.
It was David Gorie however, who would take the top spot for the second moto. Next, the Pros took to the water for their final race of the weekend. Once again, it was Klippenstein who would take the holeshot. Brian Baldwin raced a great race and pulled off a first place finish for the third moto, however it was be enough to garner him a second place in the overall standings. Eric Francis earned second to Chris MacClugage for the year followed by Baldwin and then Klippenstein to round out the top four for the overall standings for the season.
The Amateurs would then take to the water for their final moto of the weekend and then year. Once again it was Gorie who would maintain the lead throughout the race, however this time he had Cody Tetrault right on his heels and it was a battle for position. Gorie fended off Tetrault for the moto win but it was Tetrault’s day to shine as it locked up the overall season points. The final racing of the 2017 P1 AquaX season was a great event and had something for everyone who attended. Next up will be the International race event, which will be held December 9th to 10th in Key West where an international champion will be crowned.