The Watercraft Journal: This past IJSBA World Finals was particularly special for you and Dean’s Team/Factory Yamaha. How many Dean’s Team-sponsored and/or tuned PWC racers were there on the water that week? And more importantly, how many of them came home with a World Championship or podium finish?
Dean Charrier: This year was special, namely because we went in with our focus on the Stock and Spec classes, and especially the Pro Stock class. The Pro Stock class has become the most competitive runabout class as the only one with a full line on Pro weekend.
Chris MacClugage won the Pro Stock World Title this year, keeping the title on Dean’s Team and Yamaha for the third year in a row. Abdullah Al-Fadhel won another World Title winning the Pro Am Spec class, to go along with his second place finish in Pro Stock behind Macc.
Aero Aswar had a strong showing in all of his races – he finished third overall in both the Pro Stock and the Spec classes, and finished second in the Endurance race on his FX. Aqsa Aswar finished 5th in Pro Am Spec on a Stock class FZ and also 5th in the Endurance race.
Travis Zielasko won his third World Title, winning the Amateur Spec class this year. He also moved up to the Pro Stock class to give it a shot and finished 10th overall which was impressive in that stacked line up. Ali Allanjawi from Dubai came in and finished second in Amateur Spec on a Stock craft, and finished 4th in Endurance on the same FZ.
We also helped out Shante Bukes, the Women’s Runabout World Champion, and Tyler Hill, the Runabout N/A Stock World Champion on his VXR, with Dean’s Team ECU reflashes and handling components. It’s great seeing young riders like them putting so much effort out there and winning titles riding hard. Renee Hill, Tyler’s mother, grabbed two podium finishes too – third in Runabout N/A Limited on the same Stock VXR that Tyler won on, and third in Women’s Runabout.
WCJ: For many, the Pro Runabout Stock Class was a sight to behold, as Yamaha swept the Top 10 spots, with as many as EIGHT Dean’s Team racers filling the starting line. What makes this class so uniquely successful for Yamaha and Dean’s Team, over say, other manufacturer’s PWC?
DC: I touched on the Pro Runabout Stock class a bit above, about how it is a focus for Dean’s Team and all of our riders. It’s become such a prestigious class running on Pro Weekend with a full line up of quality racers and past National and World Champions. Everyone wants that Stock championship now and everyone is putting all there efforts and focus on that one title.
This year was exciting for us with mystery going into it – the rules changed a bit from last year and this is the first year I’m using my Dean’s Team ECU Peformance Reflash on all our race crafts. We finished with another sweep of the podium with Macc, Abdullah and Aero. The Dean’s Team reflash in total held down the top 4 positions, and 6 of the Top 10 positions.
I’ve been working with Yamaha and the FZ for eight years now and we’ve gotten to a point where I know exactly where the race crafts need to be for each rider. We’ve done more testing and fine tuning on the FZ than anyone in the world and the results reflect the experience and knowledge gained over the years with Yamaha.
WCJ: Dean’s Team works with some pretty stellar athletes already, so welcoming multi-multi-time World Champion Chris MacClugage to the roster must’ve been a nice addition. How did Macc’s presence influence Dean’s Team or his teammates?
DC: All of these guys have been around for years and years of racing and they all know what it takes to win. Aero, Abdullah, and Aqsa all have their World and National Titles and they know the commitment and focus needed to get another one. Travis Zielasko has came on fast and strong these past couple years with his return to racing and he has that passion to win more and more titles. Everyone does get a bit higher on their toes and a bit more off their seats when their racing with Macc.
With Chris MacClugage, it’s just not his ability as the greatest on the track in the sport, he is top of the line off of the course too. Macc takes control of opportunities and makes everything happen himself. Nothing is just handed to him, he works for and earns all of his support and sponsorship and manages everything himself. It goes way behind what you see on the track with him. He puts in as much time and effort in to winning as anyone I’ve ever seen till this day. His love for the sport and winning is really contagious.
I’ve worked with Chris before, helping him win a Pro Runabout Stock title a few years ago with Yamaha and helping him with his skis in the past. He and his family, with Rachel and little Mac and Lily, are always fun to have around the pits. Macc himself has won as much as anyone in this sport, with over 20 world titles and even more national titles. His knowledge and riding experience is unrivaled. Travis has really taken to him and has been training with him this summer since Chris has made the move back down to South Florida. All and all, Macc’s presence is always a positive to have around.
WCJ: With so many Dean’s Team-equipped/tuned skis on the water at the same time, were they all equally built, or were there differences between Macc, Abdullah and Aero’s FZRs? If so, what differences were there between them? Did you have to modify each machine to match each rider’s particular style/preferences?
DC: All of my FZ’s are pretty equally tuned for the Stock class. The main differences are in the handling components. We do testing with each rider and see where their ideal set up is. It takes several trips out to Body Beach working with each rider before the races even start to get everything perfect, but in the end you can see on the track when the set up is just right for them.
WCJ: This year also marks the last year of Yamaha’s FZR platform (since it’s launch in 2008), which is still a difficult pill for many to swallow especially after so many wins the platform earned this year. How is Dean’s Team preparing for 2017 with the GP1800? Are all Dean’s Team racers making the transition from FZR to GP, or just a few?
DC: The FZ has been great and will continue to be great. You’ll still see them out on the race course because of the success they’ve had.
The GP1800 is exciting, and with the testing we’ve done so far, we think a lot of racers will be wanting to switch over. The total weight is lighter and you can feel it in the acceleration and handling. It is more aggressive handling wise which will definitely suit some racers better.
We already have a Stock class GP1800 going 81-plus-MPH in race trim. The Dean’s Team GP1800RS model is going over 83MPH. The acceleration has been even better than what we’ve seen with the World Championship winning FZ’s we’ve built. It’s in and out of a corner faster than any set up we’ve had before.
WCJ: With all the work and preparation into this year’s World Finals behind you, what is next on the horizon for Dean’s Team?
Dean’s Team will be releasing our build of the new GP, the Dean’s Team GP1800 RaceSpec, soon to the public. Units will be available at the beginning of November. We’re working on a new decal kit for it with BP Concepts which we’re excited about releasing with the RS units.
We’re working to bring even more performance products and packages to the public. We want to help out as many riders as possible, whether they spend their weekends racing World Champions around buoys or just drag racing their friends on the lake.
The final two rounds of P1 AquaX Pro Enduro are right around the corner in November. We have Aero Aswar in the lead right now, with Mike Klippenstein also in the Top 5, and Chris MacClugage tied with him in moto wins for the season. Any of them can pull out the championship this season and I’d be willing to bet it comes down to the last moto. Should make for some exciting racing.
Next season, we have talked with a few of our riders about entering the Pro Open & GP classes. Yamaha has yet to really tap into their potential in these classes on the National Tour or World Finals with the focus being on the Stock and Spec classes. I didn’t want to do anything for Open and GP until I had the time and energy to put a full blown effort into a craft.. now that a couple of racers are showing more interest in building something to compete in those classes, there may be a couple FZ’s or GP’s on top of the podium in some other classes next year too.
WCJ: Dean, obviously there’s a lot of people who made this year’s World Finals so successful for you and Dean’s Team; here’s a chance to thank them publicly; who would you like to thank for making this such a great week?
DC: Scott Watkins and all the guys at Yamaha for all the support and daily communication that goes 365 days a year that makes this great team happen; a special thanks to both Dave Bamdas and the RIVA Racing crew, and Gary Watson and the Worx Racing crew for all their continued support to us and our Team riders, they truly are world class professionals and all their products reflect greatness; the guys that help make it happen in the pits and down on line before the race, especially Omar and my son Dustin; and of course my wife Donna for being the team’s mom and #1 fan of every rider in the pits.