St Petersburg, Florida was home to the third round of the P1 Aqua X Race Series this past weekend after the first stop in Miami Florida and St Cloud Florida. Leading into the weekend the P1 World Rankings were released and Eric Francis would be named the number one racer in the world followed by Chris MacClugage and Brian Baldwin. When asked how he felt about being named number one in the world and having a target on his back Francis said, “I wouldn’t want it any other way and looked forward to having the competition come after [my] title.”
The weekend was set to be hot not only with racing but also with the temperature. Last season the temperatures in St Pete were brutal and even had rider Chris MacClugage receive medical care due to it. Temperatures for the weekend were forecast to be in the low nineties but with a feel of in the 100’s.
The first day of racing was set to start off with the first moto of three with a possible make-up moto for the Pros due to them only racing once in Miami due to the excessive marine holds. The racers were pumped to hit the water and do battle. As they prepped their craft and got their safety briefings the crowd started to gather onto the beach and anticipation was starting to build. With a scheduled start time of racing of 10:30am the racers took to the water to do their parade laps and to get a feel for the racecourse. Upon completion of their laps they were all set to go and have racing begin.
Unfortunately, as it was in Miami, the marine observer in the helicopter had other plans and put racing on a “marine hold” due to wildlife in the vicinity of the course. The racers were brought back into the beach and the waiting game started.
The temperatures stared to climb in the atmosphere as well in the pits with the riders as they started to feel some déjà vu from Miami. The sponsor of the series this year Rip-It energy drinks kept everyone hydrated. During the hold World champion fly boarder Kristen Smoyer put on a fantastic routine and entertained everyone along with announcer Mikey Young with his trivia questions and music selections. Finally, after waiting three hours in the hot sun the hold was lifted and the riders went back out onto the water to get racing started
Once lined up, the horn was blown and the green flag dropped. Taking the hole shot in the first moto of the weekend was Troy Snyder, but unfortunately it was short lived because as the racers came around the first buoy the red flag went up because of some collisions on the start and riders getting injured. Mike Klippenstein would sustain an injury to his right arm and needed to go to the hospital to get checked out. Fortunately nothing was broken but he was pretty banged up. Also sustaining injuries was Johnny Smith who collided with Erminio Iantosca and hurt his shoulder. Luckily for him nothing was broken as well. But he felt pretty banged up as well.
The restart would see Eric Lagopoulos take the hole shot with Chris MacClugage, Brian Baldwin and Erminio Iantosca charging hard. Francis due to starting at the back of the field had to get through traffic and run hard if he were to maintain his number one ranking. He would battle through the field and chase down MacClugage. Finally the white flag came out and Francis after battling back would overtake Macc to take the lead and the victory. He would be followed by MacClugage and Baldwin to round out the top three.
A tribute was conducted for Mike Salber’s memory by the P1 staff and safety marshals as his untimely passing had occurred just two weeks prior in the P1 Superstock race in Jacksonville. It was a solemn moment and everyone paid tribute to an awesome guy and friend. Mike was definitely part of the racing family and is truly missed.
Next up was the Amateurs to get into the water. They were ready to get things started since their last race in St Cloud. Unfortunately, the marine observer in the helicopter had other plans and put a marine hold on again. Both P1 staff and the racers were staring to really get frustrated as time to race was dwindling for being on the beach. As things would happen just as in Miami racing was called for the day due to the marine holds and time running out.
Day Two started off with the sweep of the waters by the helicopter and again racing was put on a marine hold. Temperatures were forecast to be 102 degrees and that, combined with the racer’s frustration because of the marine holds, was putting everyone on edge. Some racers were reconsidering continuing with the series because of all the expenses that were taken out due to the holds. Finally, it was announced for the racers to put their skis in the water and racing got under way to the cheers of everyone. It was newcomer Tyler Hill in his first Aqua X race who would take the win in the 300 Class followed by Tommy Olswang and Dave Davidson respectively. In the 200 Class, Scott Reeves would take the win.
After another marine hold the Superstock boats got a race in and it was time for the Pros to get another race in. It was Eric Francis who took the win followed by Brian Baldwin and Aero Aswar, respectively. Due to the time constraints racing was called for the weekend and the Amateurs did not get another race in. Another race weekend was in the books, but it is obvious that the marine holds had again put a damper on a fantastic weekend. Next up for the Pros is Sarasota, Florida in two weeks and we hope the marine holds will not follow to that location.