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LOTO Teams Take Top Class Wins In SBI Marathon Grand Prix

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LSB/Hurricane of Awesomeness spun hard today in the Superboat Vee class but no one on board was injured. All photos courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

Today’s performances of one Superboat- and three Unlimited-class teams during the Super Boat International Marathon Grand Prix in the Florida Keys surely left their competitors wondering if there’s something special in the water at the Lake of the Ozarks. The popular Central Missouri aquatic playground is “home water” to Performance Boat Center, a full-service multi-brand powerboat dealership that fields the Performance Boat Center/Jimmy John’s 38-foot Skater catamaran in the Superboat class, as well as Marine Technology, Inc., which saw Wake EffectsCMS and CRC/Sunlight Supply—all MTI catamarans powered by Mercury Racing 1650 engines—finish first, second and third respectively in the Unlimited class.

In the 48-foot Wake Effects MTI, which ran last season in the CMS stable and took the lead today on the last lap, rookie Rusty Rahm (whose Wake Effects boat dealership handles MTI in the Lake of the Ozarks area) did the driving while veteran offshore racer Jeff Harris took the throttles. CMS team owner Bob Bull drove and Randy Scism, the owner and founder of MTI in Wentzville, Mo., handled throttles in the 52-foot CMS catamaran. Taking third-place was yet another 48-MTI, CRC/Sunlight Supply catamaran throttled by Mike Defrees and driven—at least for the Marathon race—by Gary Ballough. (Defrees purchased the 48-footer, which formerly ran as the Gasse boat, in late 2015.)

“We got one, two and three,” said Scism. “Bob did a great job. Jeff and Rusty got faster and faster as they gained seat time together. Mike and Gary had a Guardian (protective engine mode) issue problem but were running hard.

“It just doesn’t get any better than today,” he continued. “Rusty and Jeff are leading in points for the National Championship. It’s a great start of the season for Wake Effects.”

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For Performance Boat Center throttleman John Tomlinson, the return to his first offshore racing venue was triumphant (click image to enlarge).

Like the MTI contingent, the Performance Boat Center/Jimmy John’s crew of throttleman John Tomlinson and driver Myrick Coil continued its winning ways in Marathon by earning its third consecutive (two SBI, one Offshore Powerboat Association) victory of the season. For Tomlinson, it was a little more than yet another win. It was a return to the site of his first offshore race 30 years ago.

“I didn’t even realize it until (Stock-class offshore racer) Ryan Beckley told me,” said Tomlinson. “He said, ‘You realize, Johnny, your first race was here in 1986.’ I said, ‘You know what? You’re right.’ In that race I was navigating in a Cigarette and the course was a lot longer.”

As for today’s race and win, Tomlinson described it as “deck-to-deck, fair but hard” offshore racing.

“We nailed the setup—the boat was perfect,” he said. “We were in third for a couple of laps behind WHM and STIHL, but I just figured that we had 20, four-mile laps and we’d catch them, and we did. But it was tight racing for everybody. Everybody raced hard but clean. Near the end, Billy (Mauff, the owner/driver of WHM Motorsports) stated reeling us in. At one point were 30 seconds ahead of them, my guys told me, but near the end it was just 15 seconds. That was where we finished.

“This is a great class, man, I just wish there more boats,” he added. “It’s fun and the boats don’t break down.”

No team knows more about breakdowns than the Unlimited-class Miss GEICO outfit. Just prior to heading out to the milling area, the team discovered it had to replace a starter, which entailed putting the boat back on the trailer, pulling an engine, swapping out the part and getting the boat back in the water moments before the pace boat brought the fleet on plane. And that was when, according to driver Marc Granet, he and throttleman Scott Begovich discovered their 44-foot Victory catamaran’s drive-trim system was failing.

“The drives were stuck in the up position, but all twisted up at different levels,” said Granet. “Still, we were able to catch up with CMS but we couldn’t stay with them.”

Adding insult to injury, CRC/Sunlight Supply reportedly “came in on fumes” and bumped a struggling-to-finish Miss GEICO from third to fourth place. “We test like everyone else and there’s no problem—everything goes perfectly,” said Granet. “Then we get on the racecourse. It’s like a cruel joke. But we just have to put it behind us and go on to the next race.”

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Said winning Sun Print team owner/throttleman Steve Miklos of today’s Superboat Vee-class race, “It was a driver’s race.” (Click image to enlarge.)

The odds-on favorite to prevail in the Superboat Vee class, Phantom had to withdraw before the race with what owner/throttleman Mark Niemann described as a “ bad PCM” discovered during Saturday’s practice session. That left four teams to fight it out in the 12-3/4-lap contest. After several lead changes and a hard spin by the LSB/Hurricane of Awesomeness team in turn No. 2, the Sun Print team of driver/owner Steve Miklos and driver Steve Fehrmann grabbed the lead for good, despite a hard chase from the boatfloater.com team.

“That was all Steven—that’s was a driver’s race,” said Miklos. “We are not a calm-water boat. I’d love this place if it were rough. Had Phantom been out there it would have changed the composition of the race. Mark (Niemann) is a good, tactical racer, but he had some misfortune and we don’t wish that on anyone.

For more action from the 2016 Marathon Super Boat Grand Prix, check out the slideshow above.

“Mark Spates (of Extreme Powerboats) did some bottom work on the boat and we didn’t get it back till Thursday,” he continued. “Our crew chief and crew did a great job getting it ready. It’s the best boat I’ve ever had under me.”

Both the Extreme- and Stock-class contests were uneventful. That’s because the AMH Construction/Instigator team of Peter Meyer and Johnny Stanch were the only Extreme-class entry in the latter and because Gary Ballough and Jimmie Harrison led wire-to-wire in FJ Propeller, a 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran against Ryan Beckley and Troy Curry in the 5 Brothers Grocery 30-foot Skater cat, the only other Stock-class competitor.

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Despite another rough weekend, the Miss GEICO team remains undaunted.

2016 Marathon Super Boat Grand Prix Results

Superboat Unlimited
1. Wake Effects 2. CMS 3. CRC/Sunlight Supply

1. Performance Boat Center 2. WHM Motorsports 3. STIHL

Superboat Extreme
1. AMH Construction/Instigator

Superboat Vee
1. Sun Print 2. Boatfloater.com 3. Mr. Technology

Superboat Stock
1. FJ Propeller 2. 5 Brothers Grocery

Production 3
1. The Developer 2. Nick’s Creative Marine 3. Getrubbermulch.com

Production 4
1. Two Cruel 2. Team Raven

For complete results, visit the Super Boat International website.

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