This year’s annual Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival was slatted for this July 4th weekend and it was the second year that it was going host the P1 Aqua X series. The festival is a week-long event leading up to the weekend’s races and supports the Suncoast Charities for Children. The racers started to arrive on Friday and were present for a meet and greet for the children as well as part of the block party where they showcased their jet skis for the general public who attended.
The city of Sarasota was pumped up for some racing over the weekend. For this round, both the professional racers and the amateur racers competed. The professionals were coming back to racing after a two month hiatus from their last race in Daytona Beach, Florida and the amateurs were wrapping up their season as this was their final round for the year.
On Saturday, the first day of racing, all of the racers were marshaled out to the course for an early start. The amateurs were led to the beach and had to beach their craft while the professionals conducted their race. The action kicked off with Chris MacClugage taking the lead. Aero Aswar was right behind him, followed by Eric Francis, Mike Klippenstein and Brian Baldwin. A lot was riding on this series for Eric Francis as he was trying to maintain his number one world ranking and had some tough competition to battle with.
The conditions were a little rough out on the course as Anya Colley and Kirk Britto came off their skis and cooled off in the Gulf of Mexico’s warm waters. The first race ended with Aero Aswar taking the win followed by Mike Klippenstein and Eric Francis. Chris MacClugage had engine trouble that dogged him during the first moto and couldn’t get it fixed in time for the second race. The professionals were then led to the beach where they were beached while the amateurs began their race.
In the Amateur 300 class, Enrique Chia was battling against Domenico Barilla and Chris Saxon. They finished the race in that order. In the 250 class, Tommy Olswang looked strong as he has all season and took the win. The 200 class had a surprise as Jennifer Nolan, who rode like a bat out of hell, took the win for the first race of the weekend.
After a long break, the racers returned to the waters and followed the same race format as in the morning. In the Professional class, Aero Aswar again took the win followed by Eric Francis and Brian Baldwin rounding out the Top Three. The amateurs had Chris Saxon return to his winning ways in the 300 class followed by Domenico Barilla and Hector Toledo rounding out the podium.
In the 250 class, Tommy Olswang continued his strong riding in the second race. Kevin Wassum, who had taken a break from racing, returned to the waters and gave a strong showing as if he had never been gone. Jennifer Nolan again rode hard and came away with the first place position again and looked as though she was determined to get the top podium spot for the weekend.
Sunday kicked off with the same format as the previous day with the professionals starting off. Chris MacClugage was trying to make up for his misfortune the day before and rode really hard with Aero Aswar chasing him down. At one point, Macc had an eight second lead over Aswar. Then MacClugage came off his ski and Aswar came within a second of over taking him before he started up again. The lead was down to a second before MacClugage extended it to eight seconds again. The final race for the professionals ended with MacClugage in first followed by Aswar and Craig Warner.
The amateurs then got their final race of the weekend started. Anthony Radetic took the holeshot but was overtaken by Enrique Chia. The final order for the 300 class ended with Enrique Chia in first followed by Chris Saxon and Jeff Dowell. The 250 class had Tommy Olswang take the win and in the 200 class Jennifer Nolan took the win for the sweep.
All had a great weekend of racing. The amateurs concluded their race season with some hard fought battles and are already waiting for the 2017 season to get here. The professionals are looking for ward to their next series that happens in August in the windy city of Chicago.