Three weeks ago, the competitors and staff of the Pro Watercross Tour were in Lake Lewisville, Texas, but last week they made the trek across the country to Sparks, Nevada to chase the championship for the Pro Watercross Tour. The city is a great backdrop for racing – minus the altitude, which wreaks havoc on all the race tuners and equipment! But, as they say, everyone has to deal with the same conditions.
Admittedly, the turnout of riders was pretty light – even for Sparks standards. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that this season Pro Watercross allows each competitor to drop a round, thus some of the tour regulars decided not to make the long trip. But some of the die-hard competitors like Billy Dearman, Michael Osborne, Hayden Skellet, Team Faith, Eric Gabriel and his family, AJ Luinstra, Jeff Dyckowski, Troy Snyder, Craig Warner, Kevin and David Redinger and West coast regulars Pete Zernik, Ian Roberts, Thomas Pagen, Mitch Jonas, Matt Rollings, Chuck and Jodi Evans made it a spectacular event.
In the IROC Stock class it was once again the Gabriels versus the O’Rourke’s on Sea-Doo Sparks. The Gabriels came out swinging with Eric Sr. taking all 3 moto wins for the overall win. Brian O’Rourke finished the weekend going 3-2-2 for second overall. Justin Gabriel took the final spot on the podium with 2-3-4 and Monica O’Rourke finished fourth with a 4-4-3. Great racing was the story in the IROC Stock class as the skis are so closely matched.
In the Sport GP class, it was regulars Billy Dearman, Michael Osborne and Eric Gabriel battling it out for the bragging rights and championship points. Dearman grabbed the early holeshot and lead in Moto 1, which seemed to have set the tone. But a late race bobble by Dearman opened the door for Osborne to take the Moto 1 win. Osborne followed up with a Moto 2 win grabbing the holeshot and leading wire to wire and was sitting in the catbird seat for the overall. Moto 3 saw Dearman taking the win but it wasn’t enough for the overall and with Gabriel going out in Moto 2 with a mechanical the overall going to Michael Osborne.
Ski Super Stock was full of local area riders who came to show not only their riding skills, but also their tuning skills as well. Gabe Hooper had them covered going 1-1-1 to take the overall. Chuck Evans followed suit with a 2-2-2 for second and Matt “Happy” Rollings rounded out the podium with a 3-3-3 on the weekend.
Women’s Ski Limited saw Jodie Evans and Trinity Klecker battling for the overall. The nod went to Evans with a 1-2-1 finish for the Overall while Klecker went 2-1-2 for second overall. Kenya Acosta rounded out the overall podium spot going 3-3-3 for the weekend.
One of the largest and most exciting classes was the Am Ski Stock class. The battle throughout the weekend was between Caleb Kile, Team Faith’s Dawson Newby, and Matt “Happy” Rollings. Rollings looked to have the speed to get it done early on winning Moto 1. But Newby answered back with a Moto 2 holeshot and wire to wire win. Meanwhile Kile was steady bagging two seconds in the first two motos so going into Moto 3 it was anyone’s race for the overall.
Newby started on the inside pole position which seemed to be the preferred spot throughout the weekends racing, but Calen Kile ripped a huge outside split holeshot and walked away with the win. Newby held the rest of the pack off to take 2nd and tie for the overall but by way of the tie breaker it was Kile with the overall (2-2-1), Newby with second overall (3-1-2) and Rollins with third overall (1-4-3).
The Pro Show was made up of 3 classes: Pro-Am Runabout Box Stock, Pro-Am Ski GP, and Sport Stock which made its Pro Show debut due to how large the class was. In Pro-Am Runabout Box Stock it was another battle for the overall win. Rydal, Georgia native, Jeff Dyckowski kicked things off with a Moto 1 win over Judge Motorsports Troy Snyder who had a slight get-off to finish second. Young Brandon Warner jumped on borrowed equipment and made a splash so-to-speak and rode to a second overall with a 3-2-2 edging out Dyckowski who followed his Moto 1 win with two third place finishes. That gave Snyder the overall for the weekend – his 6th in a row in Sparks with a 2-1-1.
The Pro Am Ski class did not disappoint as the course designers stuck a log jump at the end of the front straightaway after the merge of the split start, which made for three exciting 12 minute-plus one lap Motos. Once it again it took several guys mixing up the moto results to emerge one overall winner for the weekend. Craig Warner on his new Kawasaki SX-R 4-stroke rode hard but ultimately came up a little short finishing fourth overall with a 4-2-3. Pete Zernik looked strong all day and even took the Moto 3 win and earned himself a third overall finishing the weekend with a 3-4-1. Local boy Ian Roberts looked good early finishing second overall with a 2-1-4, and it was David Redinger taking the overall with a 1-3-2 finish.
The Sport Stock class had some drama as the top two competitors in the championship points race Billy Dearman and Jeff McPhail bumped more than once in more than one moto. McPhail, on his new Team Faith ride, took the first two moto wins and looked to have the field covered. But Dearman was never fully out of it and after a bunch of rubbing on the Moto 3 start, he was able to rattle McPhail into making a mistake, which saw McPhail having to take the make-up buoy, relegating himself to 6th while Dearman battled for the lead in second with Rod Bigman who went on to take the moto win. McPhail rode hard to pass up to 4th but it wasn’t enough to take the overall from Dearman who finished with a 2-2-1 to tie MacPhail’s 1-1-4.
Despite the light turnout, the racing in Sparks was exciting and the crowd that came was entertained. The City of Sparks really rolls out the red carpet for the Pro Watercross Tour and its competitors and the venue is one of the best on the circuit. Next stop on tour is Atlantic City, NJ. Stay tuned!
All images courtesy of Michael Lojewski. For full-sized, unedited versions, click HERE.