A Dramatic Weekend at the P1 Miami Grand Prix
The P1 AquaX season opener in Miami, Florida was the topic of discussion amongst racers and our friends since the series announced the bumper schedule in January. The first motorized racing event to take place at the infamous Miami Marine Stadium in Key Biscayne since the stadium’s closure in 1992, P1 AquaX Miami attracted more spectators than ever before, from PWC enthusiasts to casual attendees who stumbled upon the event during a morning jog along the beach. As the racers gathered for their weekend riders’ briefing early Saturday morning, the room was buzzing with excitement.
As the first event of the season for the series’ hundred-plus racers, the riders’ briefing was a time of reunion and celebration as racers reconnected with cross-country and international friends, and last season’s custom championship jerseys were handed out. Due to a large number of entries in the Amateur Enduro class, the riders were briefed on how the race staff had decided to handle the starting procedures. For the first time in P1 AquaX USA history, heat races would be held to determine the starting position for the first of two races, both of which would have a staggered start. The 300hp class drew numbers to determine their heat start position, and the 200hp class would join the first group in the fifteen-minute heat, which for the 200hp class, would count as their first of three races for the weekend.
With scheduling already behind by the time the riders’ briefing ended due to the various regularly scheduled activities that take place at the stadium on Saturday morning’s, the sighting of dolphins shortly thereafter only added to the delay. Eventually, the decision was made to adjust the scheduling to allow the P1 AquaX Sprint classes to race on the smaller course while we waited for the wildlife to clear the larger Enduro and Superstock course. Fun to watch, the closed-course style racing attracted crowds who gathered at the shoreline to see world-class rider Sam Nehme take first in the P1 AquaX Sport GP class and David Cabrera win in P1 AquaX Ski Pro. The day was also a fantastic display of skill by 13-year-old up-and-coming champion Haden Skellett.
It was late afternoon by the time the P1 AquaX Am Enduro classes got on the water for their heat races. Team Pilot George Holmquist joined teammate Amanda LeCheminant in the first heat, during which he climbed back from a last-place start to qualify 9th out of the twenty-one riders in just fifteen minutes, securing his spot in the front row for the start of the first race on board his fresh Riva powered Yamaha FX-SVHO. Amanda finished third out of the six racers in the 200hp class on her Yamaha VXR. Misfortune struck Team Pilot Ted Acker in heat number two when he, a rookie to the Enduro class, suffered a nasty dismount, hooking his foot the footwell of his brand new Sea-doo RXT-X, resulting in a badly sprained ankle and ending the race for him.
On Sunday, hopes were high when we first gathered back at the Miami Marine Stadium for day two, but within minutes, the weather changed for the worse. Lightning delayed the start of the first race of the day while the P1 AquaX Pro Enduro class beached their skis to wait it out. Before long, the sun came back out and racing was on. Eric Francis put on quite the show in the AquaX Pro Enduro class as he led the field and took the win, followed by Erminio Iantosca and Chris MacCluggage. Jay Edworthy finished just short of the podium in fourth, followed by reigning P1 AquaX World Champion Brian Baldwin in fifth place.
The return of sea life to the water surrounding the stadium led to marine holds throughout the remainder of the morning, and a freak accident during the Superstock Practice laps ended in further delay when one of the power boats flipped over and sank. Luckily neither driver was hurt. As if the weekend wasn’t already ladened with problems, while waiting for news on when the P1 AquaX Am Enduro race would take place, Amanda rolled and severely injured her ankle while walking in the pits. Luckily, paramedic Eddie Nieto, who serves as Pro rider Anthony Radetic’s team medic, was nearby and witnessed Amanda’s incident. Aided by George and crew member Colton Wegener, he acquiesced to Amanda’s demands that she be made able to race later that afternoon.
As it turns out, neither Amanda nor the rest of the team would race again that weekend. The dolphins seemed to enjoy the area just as much as we did, and so despite being told to launch for what would be the first race of the weekend for the 300hp class, the green flag never dropped. Instead, the riders were brought to the beach where a vote was held regarding whether points would be distributed for the weekend. The result of the vote, after much debate, was that no points would be allocated and everyone would leave with a clean slate heading into the second round at St. Cloud next month. For the 200hp class, the results would stand, with Jose Gonzalez taking the top spot on the podium, followed by Scott Reeves in second, and Amanda in third.
As we close the books on the first race of 2018, all we can do is laugh and focus our sights on the next one. Grateful, as always, for the good times spent together racing jetskis in the Florida sunshine, we would like to thank the P1 staff for putting on a world-class event despite the many struggles, our amazing pit crew who went above and beyond despite having their patience tried all weekend-long, and of course our awesome sponsors who support us: IPD Graphics, Hydro-Turf, Riva Racing, Jet Pilot USA, Stroker Industries, Works H2O Designs, Abaco Sunglasses, Ryno Power Supplements, ProWatercraft Racing, JC Racing, and Race Chick. Be sure to check out the full gallery of photos by team photographer Chris Cesany of Ashes to Ashes Photographer, and stay tuned to find out whether Team Pilots Ted Acker and Amanda LeCheminant will recover in time to be on the line at P1 AquaX St. Cloud on May 12th!
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