Thousands of spectators gathered on the white sands of Florida’s St. Pete Beach at the weekend to see high-speed action from the P1 SuperStock and P1 AquaX racers at the second-ever P1 St. Pete Beach Grand Prix of the Gulf.
The world’s most competitive one-design powerboat championship, P1 SuperStock sees one driver and one navigator take on an intense 20-minute course reaching speeds of up to 75 mph in the P1 Panther powerboats, powered by Mercury Racing 300XS engines. P1 AquaX racing is a test of strength and skill as riders mount their personal watercrafts (PWCs) in either the Enduro (30 mins) or Sprint (10 mins) courses, with St. Pete seeing Enduro action over the weekend.
On Saturday, due to long marine mammal disruptions, no powerboat racing was able to take place, and a revised course and schedule was put in place was drawn up for the second day. However, spectators were certainly not deprived of action as some of the world’s greatest PWC riders took to the water for the P1 AquaX Enduro Pro race.
After some intense practice races, nail-biting competition came in the form of current ranked world number one, Eric Francis, who battled it out for the race win. Despite a slow start, Eric snatched the lead on the second to last lap pipping reigning P1 AquaX world champion, Brian Baldwin, and series favourite, Chris MacClugage, to the post.
Prior to the weekend, the weather reports were not looking good with Floridian showers expected, but the sun continued to shine through to Sunday, when the previously halted SuperStock races were given the green light.
On Saturday tributes were paid to Mike Salber before the day’s racing commenced. Family, friends, colleagues and members of the powerboat racing community came together on the shoreline to honor the former P1 SuperStock driver. Mike sadly passed away two weeks ago while competing in Jacksonville. The heartfelt tribute saw his son and fellow powerboat enthusiast, Zane Salber, lay flowers on the water while Mike’s work colleague led a minute’s silence with bagpipes.
The first SuperStock race saw the Go To Steve team of British pairing Charles Morris and Andy Foster taking the win, doing just enough to edge out the Gallagher team in a tense race. Going into the second race of the day, GTS held a comfortable lead, before spinning out. This pushed British team, Gallagher, into the lead. After a toughly contested 30-minute race, they took first place on the podium with GEICO beside them in second place. Gallagher, driven by Jason Morton and navigated by Michael Whipple, now head the championship standings with a slender 12-point lead over GEICO, with Brian Maine in the driver’s seat, and Tony Knight navigating.
This is the second year in which P1 has hit up St. Pete Beach and Azam Rangoonwala, CEO of Powerboat P1 said:
“We love bringing the sport out to St. Pete Beach because it provides such a great venue and superb close-to-shore racing for the thousands of spectators flocking the white sandy beaches. Partnering with Visit St. Pete /Clearwater offered us such a great atmosphere for both working and racing and we cannot wait to return next year. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of the fantastic sponsors who joined us over the weekend, without whom our events just wouldn’t be possible.”
The sponsors Azam speaks of refers to the number of local businesses who came out in force to support the event. These included; hotel booking service, HotelPlanner.com, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater and energy drink, Rip It Energy.
Sarasota will host the fifth and final round of the 2018 SuperStock season on June 30th. For more information on when and where you can see all the action, visit: www.p1superstock.com.