The fourth round of the P1 Aqua X Series was a Pro race only this weekend and it was interesting to see how the racing would be after the other rounds were marred by marine holds. The city of Sarasota, Florida was the site and if past experiences of this site held up, it would be an epic weekend. Many racers were in town for the weekend festivities to include Phil Pope from Great Britain, the Aswar brothers from Indonesia, Mike Klippenstein and Jay Edworthy from Canada, and David Chassier from France making this series a truly international event.
The racers had to share the weekend with not only the P1 Superstock boats but also many other off shore boat racing. The weekend forecast would call for some showers and hopefully that wouldn’t put a damper on the races. After the riders got their safety briefings they put their craft in the water to make their trek out to the racecourse, which was in the Gulf of Mexico and in front of spectacular crowds on Lido Beach.
On their way to the course the racers had calm waters in the intracostal but once they exited into the Gulf, the winds had picked up a little and the racers saw white caps and rollers. Overhead, the clouds had pushed in and rain could be seen far off in the distance. Due to this gloomy weather the crowds on the beach were not as big as previous years but that didn’t matter because racing was about to take place and the racers were pumped to kick off the weekend racing with the first moto.
A final sweep of the course was done and the green flag was given for racing to commence. As the green flag dropped it would be Aqsa Aswar who took the hole shot. With the choppy and rough conditions this was a true offshore race and Aqsa would be in his element. Eric Francis, Brian Baldwin and his brother Aero Aswar would chase him. Chris MacClugage would get off to a bad start off the line and had a lot of work ahead of him to be in the hunt.
Chris, who loves to ride surf races, had to battle through the pack and fight his way to striking distance of Aqsa. The conditions were pretty rough out there as a lot of racers were catching air off the waves and had a hard time finding a rhythm. Macc and Aswar went neck-and-neck battling it out to the lead. With five minutes left, they would side-by-side; it looked like Aqsa would still maintain the lead when he misjudged a roller and flew off his ski just before the white flag went up for the final lap. Macc took over the lead to the joy of his family who was watching from the beach. He would take the checkered flag as the first moto was completed. The top three were MacClugage, Francis and Aero Aswar. If this was any indication of how the rest of the racing would be, we were going to be in for a treat.
The rain came in but was irrelevant as the racers had a long break before their next moto, which was slated for later in the afternoon. Torrential rain came down and it was getting closer to race time for the second moto. The race gods must having been looking out for the racers because the rain held up just in time and the racers headed out to the course. For the second moto, it would be MacClugage who grabbed the hole shot. He maintained the lead for the majority of the race but that didn’t stop Brian Baldwin from thinking the win could be out of reach. Macc looked like he was going to cruise in for a second win for the weekend when suddenly Baldwin put his head down and blew by Macc. Baldwin took over the lead and hold onto it for the remainder of the race. The final standings were Brian Baldwin for the win followed by MacClugage and Aero Aswar.
The second day of racing looked a lot better than the previous day weather-wise. The sun was shining bright and it looked like a typical Florida day. The racers again started off the day for everyone. The green flag would drop and it would be Brian Baldwin who would take the hole shot. Eric Francis would chase him as well the rest of the field. Brian would prove too strong as he maintained his lead for the entire race. Phil Pope battled with Chris Saxon. Pope came to realize that racing in the United States was a different beast due to the competition and the weather.
Baldwin grabbed the checkered flag for the final moto of the weekend with Eric Francis and Aero Aswar following him. Baldwin took home the overall title for the weekend with his strong showing. The next set of races for the series are heading north out of Florida to the Great Lakes series and will return back to Florida in November for the final race of the year.