Brian Baldwin became the first ever AquaX World Champion in December
It was a year of firsts in 2017 as AquaX launched the first ever Euro Pro Tour, hosted the first ever AquaX World Championship in Key West and scheduled more race events than ever before.
Things started in Daytona Beach back in April as Chris MacClugage returned to defend his Pro Series title from the likes of Aero Aswar, Eric Francis and Brian Baldwin. There was also a shock return from legendary racer Nicolas Rius, who immediately laid down the challenge with second place in race one, before injury put an end to his hopes of a comeback victory.
It was MacClugage who picked up where he had left off in 2016, winning all three races and with it taking a third straight round victory dating back to Lake Worth in November 2016.
St Pete Beach hosted its first ever round on the AquaX Tour and didn’t disappoint as we saw three winners from three races on a weekend of blistering heat. Rius, Francis and Baldwin all took race wins but it was the consistent MacClugage who took yet another weekend victory after three second place finishes.
Chris MacClugage was dominant on his way to claiming his second Pro Series title in as many years
That meant MacClugage already had a big lead in the Championship heading into Sarasota but mechanical failure put him out of race one and, despite a victory in race two, he was unable to keep his winning streak alive. Erminio Iantosca racked up Sea-Doo’s first race victory of 2017 but had to settle for second spot behind Baldwin on the podium.
Islamorada followed Sarasota and it was back to winning ways for the reigning champion who produced one of the performances of the season as he overtook race leader Baldwin on the final lap to take victory by the smallest of margins in race two. He would go on to record his second clean sweep in four rounds.
The Series then moved north to Chicago for a second ever visit to the ‘Windy City’ where the racers were met with brutal conditions on Lake Michigan and an extra race scheduled to make up for one lost in Sarasota. Francis dealt with the chop best as he notched up two race wins and two seconds to close the gap on MacClugage at the top.
Joe Harvey picked up titles in both the UK and Europe in 2017
However, MacClugage, nursing a broken leg, put in an incredible effort to clinch the title with a race to spare at the final round in Ft Lauderdale before sitting out to watch as Francis clinched his second weekend victory of the season, holding off RIVA Racing teammates Rius and Baldwin, as well as veteran Mike Klippenstein.
That left MacClugage 22 points clear of Francis, who in turn finished 46 ahead of Baldwin. Klippenstein came fourth whilst top Sea-Doo rider Erminio Iantosca rounded out the top five.
In the Florida Amateur Series, Cody Tetreault took his first AquaX 300 class title after victories in St Pete Beach and Islamorada, holding off Carlito Del Valle and veteran Enrique Chia. Kevin Sullivan dominated the 250 class ahead of Carlos Vazquez and Chris Lewis, whilst Eric Diaz took full points in Ft Lauderdale to clinch the 200 class title from Amanda le Cheminant and Jennifer Nolan.
Jay Edworthy tasted success in the North East Series for a second year in a row
Jay Edworthy put in an incredible performance in Chicago to compete across two classes in seven races and deservedly take the North East Series title from fellow Canadian Dave Davidson and Jason Lester, whilst Christian Daly took the 250 class title.
The European season got underway in Agon-Coutainville, France in June as Joe Harvey picked up where he left off in 2016, having won the International Cup, to take all three victories, whilst Thomas Batisse of France was equally dominant in the 300 class, as was Tony Luciano in the 200 class.
Milford Haven played host to round two and, although not quite as dominant, it was a similar story for Harvey as he fended off a strong challenge from fellow Brit Tim Batte to take two wins and the overall victory. Batisse had to fight hard for a second victory in the championship but held off Richard Cable and Claude Vangansbeck by five points to ensure a strong lead going into the final round. Carl Lofthouse pushed Luciano close in the 200 class but the Frenchman once again came out on top.
Carlito del Valle took home the Amateur Internationals crown in Key West
To end the inaugural European season the tour visited Port Balis, Spain. Harvey just needed to complete two races to clinch the title but a new challenger from France in the shape of Thomas Favolini made his ability known as he clinched the overall weekend victory with two race wins. Harvey suffered a horrific leg break in the final race of the season, ending his hopes of challenging for the World Championship in Key West in devastating fashion. Jordan Lambert and Dave Huddlestone put in their best performances of the season to claim second and third on the podium.
Batisse continued winning ways in the 300 class, seeing off Vangansbeck and Cable once more, and Luciano completed his almost perfect season with a clean sweep in the 200 class ahead of Paul Handley and Dave Lee. Despite missing out on Port Balis, Nick Brockbanks claimed the 250 title.
Harvey also took the UK championship title ahead of Russell Marmon and Tim Batte over a three-round series. Richard Cable pulled off a last race victory to beat David Coe to the 300 class title by just five points as Nick Brockbanks and Carl Lofthouse took the 250 and 200 class titles respectively.
An exciting 2018 schedule is set to be announced shortly
The 2017 season culminated in an international showdown in Key West for the first ever AquaX World Championship sponsored by Ford. Three races would decide who would take home the number one jersey and the title of AquaX world champion. RIVA Racing teammates Francis, Baldwin and Rius came into the weekend as favourites, but the presence of European star Thomas Favolini and US regular Erminio Iantosca on the new Sea-Doo RXT-X 300 ensured there were no certainties.
After marine activity delayed the start, Francis was able to land the only victory on day one as both pros and amateurs were forced to race together, making for incredibly choppy conditions.
It was a different story on Sunday as the course remained calm and it was Baldwin who took advantage of both conditions and his rivals’ bad luck to claim back-to-back victories and with it the world title. Francis and Rius, despite mechanical issues and injury, rounded off an all-Yamaha and RIVA Racing podium.
In the Amateur Internationals there was retribution for Carlito del Valle as he gained two victories on day two, negating his poor performance on day one as David Gorie took the race win, to land his first ever AquaX title. He finished ahead of Gorie and Jason Lester who both ended the season in fine form.
It was an excellent year and 2018 promises to be just as competitive with more European racing and another bumper US schedule! Look out for an announcement sooon…