All roads lead to Tampa for P1’s powerboat racers and jet ski riders as the countdown gets underway to this weekend’s Grand Prix of the Sea (July 12/13). This will be P1’s first visit to Tampa Bay, where Davis Island will be the location for the third round of the SuperStock and AquaX national championships.
More than thirty jet ski riders will take to the water in a double bill of top class sport and entertainment over two days. The P1 race season serves up a feast of fast, furious and free to watch action at a total of 12 events in the USA and UK, attracting 300,000 live spectators and TV viewers in more than 50 countries.
Speaking at its USA head office in Orlando, P1 championship director Azam Rangoonwala said: “It’s great to have Tampa on our race calendar for the first time and, with the continued support of city officials and the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, we hope to make it a regular stop on our USA tour. Everyone in the city has been extremely welcoming, but I must single out Rob Higgins and his team at the Sports Commission for their tremendous support. Wherever we race, our aim is to deliver significant local economic impact and provide international exposure.”
“We’re excited to have the P1 race series making its first appearance in our community” said Rob Higgins, Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission. “In addition to being a thrilling event, it acts as an ideal opportunity to showcase our beautiful waterfront to a television audience.” The racing starts at 11.00am on Saturday and an hour earlier on Sunday, and the ideal way to watch the action will be on the water off Davis Island. P1 has chartered the 180 ft. yacht Starship on Saturday, boarding from 10.30am at the Convention Center) for spectators to enjoy the racing close up.
Looking down the AquaX classes all eyes will be on the battle between the 300 class leaders Stuart Rasmussen and Eric Francis, with just one point separating them in the championship table. In the 250 class AquaX regular Eric Lagopoulos has a healthy 18 points lead over Tim McKercher, but this weekend sees the return of an ex-pro rider, Scott Watkins who could shake everything up.
Scott ‘Hollywood’ Watkins, as he is known, was the 80’s poster boy for the US jet-ski world. Now retired from racing (his last serious competition was in ’94) and living in Atlanta with his family, Scott works for Yamaha managing the race team and is a key figure in the company’s product design and development. He joins the AquaX series as the new Yamaha ski’s start to top the class tables.
“I have heard some good things about AquaX, so I am going to Tampa to experience it for myself” said Scott. “The sport is getting so expensive, but the concept of racing stock craft makes it easy to enter and with the potential to do well. I still ride a lot in my job and feel physically fit so we’ll see how it goes.” Scott will be riding the new Yamaha FXSHO.
In the 200 Class AquaX regular Rob Greenwald will be trying to extend his class lead over Jason Maxson, both on Yamaha VXR’s.
Riders will be taking to the water in Tampa Bay at 12.30pm on Saturday for the first of three races, which continue on Sunday at 10am. The 5-event P1 race series moves on from Tampa to Cocoa Beach next month, with St. Cloud hosting the season finale in September.
Timetable of events is as follows:
Saturday 12th July
11.00am – 11.30am SuperStock Practice
11.30am – 12.00pm SuperStock Race 1
12:30pm – 13:30pm AquaX Race 1
13:30pm – 14:00pm SuperStock Race 2
14:30pm – 21:00pm Meet the Racers at the Convention Center
Sunday 13th July
10:00am – 11:30pm AquaX Race 2
11:00am – 11:30am SuperStock Race 3
13:00pm – 14:00pm AquaX Race 3
14:00pm – 14:30pm SuperStock Race 4
15:00pm – 16:00pm Prize Giving at the Convention Center