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HomeRacingThe Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Looms—And The Class 1 Plot Thickens

The Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Looms—And The Class 1 Plot Thickens

The second race of the Union Internationale Motonautique Class 1 World Championship Series, the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix historically has been a tough venue for teams in the category. The Southwest Florida venue saw four Class 1 boats take the green flag in 2019—the first year of the ongoing Class 1 revival spearheaded by the Powerboat P1 group—but the event was canceled courtesy of the pandemic the following season. In 2021, delays caused the Class 1 contest, the final race of the day, to be scrubbed. The following year, three Class 1 boats took the green flag. (The XINSURANCE/Good Boy Vodka catamaran was registered and in Sarasota for the event but had a mechanical issue and did not start.)

The second round of the UIM Class 1 World Championship Series is less than three weeks away. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

Short version? Set for June 28-July 2, the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix could use a strong Class 1 showing this year on the six-mile course. And with the 222 Offshore Australia, df Young, Huski Ice Spritz, Pothole Heroes/Allegra Motorsports and XINSURANCE/Good Boy Vodka teams already registered, the event is poised for exactly that.

According to Huski throttleman Steve Curtis, who recently spoke with Class 1 Defalco team owner/driver Mike Falco, the currently unregistered Defalco outfit is testing next week.

“If they make it that would mean we’ll have seven teams for Sarasota,” Curtis said.

According to Defalco throttleman Chris Hanley, the team is getting some bottom work completed.

“They are trying to have it ready (in time for Sarasota),” he said. “We should know in about a week.”

Curtis confirmed that it is unlikely at best that the Norway-based Sudrheim Offshore Racing team will be ready in time for Sarasota.

“They should be ready in time for the Midwest races in August,” he said.

Curtis and Lilly are hoping to back up their Cocoa Beach victory with another win in Sarasota.

Sharing the cockpit with driver Brit Lilly, Curtis throttled the Husk Ice Spritz catamaran to victory last month at the Class 1 series opener in Cocoa Beach, Fla. Curtis and Lilly trailed 222 Offshore’s Darren Nicholson and Giovanni Carpitella for much of the race, until an engine issue near the end of the final lap knocked Nicholson and Carpitella out of contention.

The last-lap breakdown was a tough blow as well as a déjà vu experience for the entire 222 Offshore Australia team.

 “We’ve been so unlucky in Cocoa Beach watching three wins disappear from a leading position, but we move on.” Nicholson said in a press release from Powerboat P1. “It’s a tricky situation. We know what went wrong with the engine but not why. Mercury is looking into it, and we should get the engine back well ahead of the race and hopefully we will be able to get out and test.”

This is the view the 222 Offshore Australia team hopes to share with its Class 1 competition in Sarasota, Fla.

As previously reported on speedonthewater.com, Travis Pastrana will fill the driver’s seat for Pothole Heroes, which finished second in Cocoa Beach, for team owner Carlos de Quesada, who will be competing that weekend in the 24 Hours of LeMans. John Tomlinson, the team’s regular throttleman, will join Pastrana.

Pastrana typically alternates as the driver for the Huski Ice Spritz team with Lilly.

“We are only one race in, but there are always little things you learn as you spend time in the boat that help you get more and more familiar with what you’re doing and how changes affect the boat,” Tomlinson said. “I am looking forward to racing with Travis against his teammates. Our aim is to go for the win.”

The Monster Energy/M CON team will continue to work out the kinks in its new program in Sarasota.

For the Monster Energy/M CON team, Sarasota presents the second opportunity to field its brand-new Skater Powerboats 438 catamaran, which was the subject of a Speedonthewater.com/Scrapyard Media-produced video. An engine issue forced throttleman/owner Tyler Miller and driver Myrick Coil to retire on the second lap.

“We are looking forward to getting the Monster Energy Class 1 boat back on the racecourse,” Miller said. “Myrick, Jake, Dave and Craig have been working diligently to make the repairs necessary to our Mercury Racing 1100s to get them race-worthy with the same goal in mind—finishing.  We have been testing since the week after Cocoa Beach and will continue to test right up until the day we leave for Sarasota as we need as much seat-time as possible to get to know the boat, the setup and make it competitive.”

Likewise, the XINSURANCE/Good Boy Vodka team of throttleman Alex Pratt and driver Miles Jennings will be fielding a new-to-them 42-foot MTI catamaran in Sarasota. Then owned by the Abu Dhabi team, the boat claimed a Class 1 World Championship in 2015.

A United States customs delay prevented the team from debuting the Wentzville, Mo.-built boat in Cocoa Beach.

“The boat is out of the paint shop and being rigged ahead of a planned three-day test prior to the race, which is when the all-important setup will take place,” Jennings explained. “It is a championship-winning hull and we know its pedigree.”

Added Pratt, “We will be testing June 26 and both Miles and I and we will be getting the boat up to speed. We plan to be very competitive in the race, but to win you must finish and we are keeping that in mind as well. This is our first race of the year and first race with the new boat so we want to really work out all the bugs and get it dialed in.”

Until a loose hose knocked them out of the contest, Hugh Fuller and Rich Wyatt held third place in df Young, the only Mystic Powerboats catamaran in the bunch. But Fuller and Wyatt are offshore powerboat racing veterans, which means they understand the need for patience and tenacity.

With Cocoa Beach behind them, Class 1 teams will be vying to take the podium in the second race of the series.

“We know how much untapped potential there is with the boat,” Wyatt said. “It will take some time to realize it, but the boat will become extremely competitive as we move through the season. We are essentially starting from scratch with setup, engines and so on, so there is a learning curve.”

The Class 1 team will qualify for starting-lane positions on Saturday for Sunday’s contest. The Super Stock race also is set for Saturday. Both will be broadcast live on the P1 Offshore Facebook page, as well as the UIM Class 1 website.

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