Despite failing to complete the first lap during Super Boat International’s season-opener last month in Cocoa Beach, Fla., Stock-class veteran Gary Ballough still believes that Mercury Marine 200XS two-stroke direct-injected outboard engines are the best replacements for their discontinued two-stroke, 2.5L EFI 280-hp cousins. To that end, he’s currently on the road—with his 32-foot Doug Wright FJ Propeller/GB Racing catamaran in tow—from Florida to Missouri for this weekend’s Lake Race on the Lake of the Ozarks.
Despite a rough outing in Cocoa Beach, Ballough is convinced that Mercury 200XS outboards are the right call for Stock class. Photo courtesy/copyright Jay Nichols/Naples Image
“I really am doing this for the sport,” Ballough said. “Mercury has figured out this engine. It is so durable. I’m on a mission to spearhead what this engine could be for the class.”
A “cooked impeller” for the starboard outboard, which caused its temperature to skyrocket to 280 degrees, knocked out Ballough and his teammate Jimmie Harrison in Cocoa Beach. “We actually melted the impeller housing,” he said. “The flag dropped and we were side by side with everyone. We figured we’d just wait for the ‘flies to drop.’ But we were the first fly to drop.”
Ballough said that while Mercury’s four-stroke Verado outboard platform could eventually be the solution for the class, that can’t happen until the engine builder reduces the weight for those engines. The same issues exists, he said, with the two-stroke Mercury 300XS as a potential replacement engine for the 280-hp powerplant. And although it’s significantly less powerful, the 200XS is essentially a plug-and-play replacement for its 2.5-litre predecessor.
“All of the boats were built around that 280-hp platform,” Ballough explained. “The heavier engines create issues with center of gravity. If Mercury gets the weight down, the future might be in the Verados. But the 200XS is a great replacement, right now.
“People are saying they’re not fast enough,” he continued. “Look, we only go 100 mph in a race. So why do we need an engine that will get us to 120 mph? That’s just ego. Let’s just put on a motor that does what we need it to do. I am going to prove that these engines are fast enough (for the Stock class).”
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