Team Optima Racing entered the 2013 season of the ISJBA National Pro Tour with aspirations of success. They would face some of the most fierce competitors in the country. Their riders, Rob Flores and Gen Jung, were a force to be reckoned with and eager to battle. It was time to prove they were the best of the best.
As with any racing series, each team competing in the ISJBA would have to work their way through an array of hardships through a long and grueling season. Well, Optimal Racing is no different, but the team never lost sight of their goals.
“There are typical racing difficulties,” explained team Owner/manager Mike Bartolomeo, “such as mechanical failures and injuries – things that just happen in any motorsport. We also unexpectedly had to replace the team’s semi tractor, as we lost the engine in the original rig, while on the way home from one of the races.”
“This was a large financial expense, as well as a disruption in my personal time management, due to the fact that it happened so far from home. I had to stay on the west coast for over three-weeks, as the breakdown happened right before the Fourth-of-July, which caused a delay in replacing the truck. We got the rig home, turned right around and headed to the next round.”
Having competed in the Pro-Ski GP class for more than 25 years, Rob Flores’ experience would prove advantageous. Although some competitors were half his age, that was no reason to accept anything other than success. An acute understanding of how to man skis that are revered as the smaller, more maneuverable and the most physically demanding in the series was more than enough to earn him a second consecutive championship title in this class.
Flores had no intentions of simply stopping with one championship title this season. According to the team owner/manager, the Pro-Ski Stock is one of the most competitive classes in the series, as stringent regulations deem the skis evenly matched. The rider depended upon a “fluid riding style and patented leg drag” to earn his second championship title of the season.
“Rob has been around the sport since 1988,” recalled Bartolomeo. “Year after year, he proves that he is a top competitor. He has a likable personality and a contagious laugh. He comes from a time when watercraft racing was much larger, yet he understands time has changed, and we must all do our part to present our sport in a professional light.
“He always takes the time to shake the hand of a longtime fan or sign the shirt of a younger fan. His work ethic, both on and off the ski, are enormous.
“The same can be said about Glen Jung,” expressed Bartolomeo. “They both work as hard off the ski; getting their engine and handling packages dialed in, training and always improving their setups. They don’t expect anything and appreciate everything.”
Although the Sport-Spec class was once considered obsolete, a new set of rules, lent to a huge increase in interest during the past four years. Glen Jung became a household name in this class last season upon taking the championship. Much like his teammate, the rider entered 2013 eager to defend his title. And at the year’s end, he managed to walk away again with the crown.
Jung also had no intentions of going home with a single title. That in mind, the rider awed the spectators with an ability to maneuver his way through the pack and carve flawless turns in the Sport Spec Open class. Jung’s superlative riding skills earned him his second national championship title for the 2013 season.
In reference to Flores’ and Jung’s impressive and proven records,” Bartolomeo said, “I truly believe it is the work they put in off the skis that puts them ahead of the competition. They approach their racing in a professional and calculated method. Surrounding themselves with the right people and understanding the effectiveness of a team also gives them an advantage.”
Optima Racing obviously has the right riders and the perfect team in place, as they are experiencing a great deal of success. However they are also acutely aware of the importance of keeping their skis in optimal running condition. That in mind, they depend upon K&N products for their filtering needs.
“K&N products have long been a staple of Team Optima Racing,” explained the Owner/manager. “The quality to withstand the abuse of professional watercraft racing is a high standard, and K&N delivers every race.”
“We use K&N Composite Top Flame Arrestors/Filters,” he continued. “We have used them for as long as I can remember, due to their durability. One of the worst things you can have happen is water ingestion into the engine, which causes catastrophic failures. The only way water is getting in is through the carburetors. We don’t have to worry about K&N filters failing, and allowing any water into our race engines.”
Looking forward to the future, Mike Bartolomeo concluded, “Progression. . .We plan to expand our program, bring more racers into the mix and continue to present a professional racing team to our series and the public. Everyone involved in this effort has a lot of passion for the sport, and we only wish to see it grow and become more popular in the mainstream. Of course, we believe number one plates should be expected as well.”