P1 AquaX St. Cloud: A Long Day of Racing on Lake Toho
It was only a few weeks since the eventful P1 AquaX season opener in Miami, and Team Phuckit was certainly still feeling the effects of the rough weekend at the Miami Marine Stadium. Following an off-water injury that took place at Round 1, Team Pilot Amanda spent the recent weeks in a walking boot, and was only cleared to walk and drive, let alone race, on the prior Monday. Needless to say, we were unsure how Round 2 would turn out for her and the rest of the team.
To make up for the races missed in Miami due to marine life and scheduling issues, the P1 AquaX team bravely packed the one-day event full of three AquaX races and six Superstock races, and it was a very early morning on the shore of Lake Tohopekaliga. A cloudy forecast may have dulled the atmosphere, but the action on the lake was not to disappoint. The race venue, which has been on the P1 AquaX schedule for the past six consecutive years, added a new feature this year in the form of the Smokin’ Brews, Boats and BBQ event, which drew a fun crowd. For the racers, however, it was all business.
Determined to stay on schedule, the P1 AquaX staff worked hard to get the riders in the water and lined up for the first race of the day. After a restart that involved a crash, it would be Domenico Barilla who took the hole shot in the 300 class, but the first win of the day would go to Canadian rider Dave Davidson. Team Pilot George Holmquist had a strong start, but spun out about halfway through the moto, and while he managed to stay on his ski, he lost a few positions, finishing 11th out of the 30 plus riders on the water that day.
In the 200 Class it would be Jose Gonzalez who led the field in Moto 1, but the battle for second was fierce. Team Pilot Amanda LeCheminant put up a fight despite her injury, challenging Scott Reeves and Ben Mantel for the entire moto. Nose to nose, they traded places for the whole 30 minutes, and though it was Scott Reeves who crossed the finish line first, final results put Ben Mantel in second and Amanda in third after a technical DQ.
Between Motos, the team huddled together beneath the tent while spectators who dared to brave the dreary weather enjoyed the festival that went on despite the rain. Having been warned that racing with her ankle still far from healed would be painful, it was no surprise to Amanda that she felt completely spent after just one race. As expected, the injury flared up while waiting around for the second race of the day, but she was determined to race again, and race she did with words of encouragement from her teammate and partner George. Her injury definitely hindered her in the moto, though, and while she competed with Ben Mantel for third place throughout the 30 minute moto, she came in short at the end and finished fourth. Fortunately for teammate George, who has been eager to finally put his new Riva-powered Yamaha FX-SVHO to the test after the disappointment in Miami, the second moto of the day went smoothly. He put on an awesome performance, finishing strong in eighth place.
It was only a short time before the racers were back on the course yet again for the third and final race of the day. For the second time on the Saturday, the whole field had to return to the line for a re-do after a failed first attempt, but that didn’t take away from the fierce competition between the now-exhausted racers, who were ready to lay it all on the line to finish off the day. Team Pilot George ended up just outside the top ten for the moto, after hooking himself on a buoy and breaking a sponson, and for Amanda it was an accomplishment to just get to the finish line, but nevertheless the two racers ended up with satisfying results for Round 2 of the P1 AquaX series. In the end, it would be Dave Davidson on top of the podium for the 300hp class, joined by Yaniel Fiallo in second and Team 71’s Kevin Sullivan taking third. George finished the weekend in ninth place, putting him in the top ten heading into Round 3. In the 200hp class, Jose Gonzalez would take first place, followed by Ben Mantel in second, and Amanda taking third place.
And just like that – after one long, soggy day filled with tons of eventful racing action – the 2018 P1 AquaX USA Florida series was halfway over. From serious injury to silly mistakes, the season has already proved to be our most eventful one yet. We are so excited to do it all over again in our first beach race of the year in St. Pete Beach next month!
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