Date: Mon 15 Apr 2019

MacClugage wins thrilling season opener

The new P1 AquaX season got underway at Daytona Beach at the weekend with rock music, sunshine and the world’s best pro watercraft racers battling the brutally challenging conditions of the Atlantic ocean in hope of leaving with the points lead in the 2019 USA Championships.

King of the Waves - Chris MacClugage

King of the Waves - Chris MacClugage

Brian Baldwin

Brian Baldwin

Christian Daly

Christian Daly

Aero Aswar finished 4th overall

Aero Aswar finished 4th overall

Johnny Smith winner of Pro Sprint

Johnny Smith winner of Pro Sprint

The famous Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach played host to the star-studded line up of international racers from ten countries and the fans filled the terraces to enjoy the outstanding sport and entertainment.

In the hugely challenging conditions, it was 2017 Champion Chris MacClugage on his Broward Motorsports Yamaha who shot out of the start taking the lead on lap one of the first of three 30 minute, plus 1 lap races, though hot on his heels were the Riva Racing Yamaha’s of Brian Baldwin and Britain’s Phil Pope.
MacClugage charged hard to break free of the RIVA Yamaha’s and eventually took the first win of the weekend. Baldwin remained in second, however the brutal conditions got the better of Pope who succumbed to the surf allowing Indonesia racer Aero Aswar to take third.

In race 2 MacClugage’s 2019 Yamaha FX SVHO charged down the start straight in the lead, again with Phil Pope a close second until he got caught up in one of the race marks relinquishing his second place to Baldwin to track down MacClugage. As the race continued Mac got caught up in the waves and Baldwin quickly seized the opportunity to take the lead and RIVA racing’s first victory of the season. The Pro Rookie of 2018, Christian Daly, also riding for Broward motorsports finished in third showing his potential against racers of far more experience and will be an exciting rider to watch as the season progresses.

Speaking after race 2 MacClugage said: “He just outrode me that time. The waves are a bit smaller today. It will be a good Florida showdown between the other dealership (Riva Racing) and Broward Motorsports. Hopefully, I can put the Monster Energy Broward Motorsports Yamaha FX on top of the podium for the last race and that will give us the overall win for the weekend.” Baldwin commented: “he got caught up in some waves and man I just got a good drive and kept it for the whole race. Second place in race 1 is as good as a win and I feel good going into this last race. I just need to get a good start and muscle up.”

The points were tied between Baldwin and MacClugage going into the final showdown of the weekend for rival teams of Riva Racing and Broward Motorsports. In 2018 Eric Francis dominated the championship leaving Baldwin and MacClugage to battle it out for 2nd and 3rd, but the two riders have stepped it up this season and it’s clear they’re both going for the win in 2019.

As the riders lined up for race 3 the conditions had started to pick up favouring MacClugage’s skill set and when the flag dropped sure enough it was MacClugage charging down the start straight in first place getting some huge air over the building waves. Pope and Daly following close behind. Brian Baldwin hopes of a good start scuppered as he found himself back in fifth.

As the three leaders rounded the front section of the course Pope hit a wall of surf and was thrown from his craft releasing Daly into second and Aqsa Aswar, younger brother of Aero into third. Pope was put back on his ski by the marshals but not before half the trailing pack had passed the unlucky rider, “It’s just not been my weekend. I’ve proved I’ve got the speed but I need to calm it down out there.”
As the race continued Baldwin used his experience by choosing the right lines and navigating the waves to move up behind Daly. Daly tried his best to hold off Baldwin but it wasn’t long before Baldwin swept by and looking for MacClugage. However, the Broward Motorsport rider had pulled an unassailable lead, so at least for this time around Baldwin would have to settle for second. Asqa Aero also got the better of Daly to finish in third to give him third overall. "I really enjoyed the race, it was tough, but I'm excited for the rest of the tour and now I'm going home to train and train some more." commented Aswar.
But it was MacClugage who showed and not for the first time that he is the ‘King of the waves’ and handled the pressure to come out on top and take the points lead back to Broward Motorsport.

It was a tough weekend for world ranked no. 1 and current P1 AquaX USA champion Eric Francis. After crashing big in the opening race and taking a hit to the face, Eric struggled with this injury but fought hard to gain points in the remaining races but has a lot of work to do if he wants to retain the title.

The Amateur classes were as competitive as the Pro division with over 40 racers taking part in the 300 class. RIVA racer Chris Landistook the win in Race 1 but Greg Radulski's back to back wins on Sunday gave him the overall victory for the weekend. Tommy Olswang and Canadian's Dave Davidson finished overall in second and third.
Scott Reeves took a decisive win the Am 200 class ahead of Ben Mantle.

Johnny Smith reigned in Pro Sprint class, beating off Mouad Sahli from Morocco and David Cabrera for the win.
Eric Lagopoulos took the win in the Pro/AM Sprint SE class aboard his Yamaha EXR over Visit St Pete team racer, Jason Lester and Synder Built team racer Tory Synder.

Bill Dearman rode to victory in Pro Sport ahead of Sam Tyler and Johnny Smith, with Tyler also taking top honours in the Spec class.

The Pro Tour now moves to the Gulf of Mexico and to the white sands of St Pete Beach on the 15th -16th June, however the Amateur riders will be heading to St Cloud, Kissimmee on the 11th May for their second round.

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