Back-to back Grand Prix weekends on Lake Michigan may well hold the key to the outcome of this year’s UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship.
The spotlight falls on Michigan City this weekend (Aug. 4-6) when the 14th XINSURACE Great Lakes Grand Prix hosts round 3 of the 2023 Class 1 campaign, before the teams cross the Lake and head northwest to Sheboygan for the Mercury Racing Midwest Challenge on Aug. 11-13 where, crucially, 40 points are on offer with two races in two days—the demanding schedule of a double header piling added pressure on the seven teams.
The titanic battle at the top of the standings will resume between 222 Offshore and Huski Ice Spritz, which have locked out the top two steps of the podium this season with a win and a second apiece and sit tied on 35 points.
Darren Nicholson and Giovanni Carpitella in the Navy-branded Victory hull look to have the edge in overall pace, are two-for-two qualifying in P1, and won in Michigan last year. “We know who our fight is with, and we know we have a good overall package,” Nicholson said. “Conditions will always determine what set-up to run but a rough race would add another dimension and make it even more interesting.”
The defending champions, Steve Curtis and Brit Lilly, head into the weekend with Curtis hoping to have resolved what he terms as a ‘drop off in performance’ of their Victory hull Huski Ice Spritz and is aware of the importance of the coming race weekends and hoping to go one better than second place last year alongside Travis Pastrana. “We need to get back to where we were [in terms of performance]. This is a super important part of the season coming up. Three races a week apart and 60 points up for grabs. The championship can be won or lost in that time.”
Pothole Heroes sit tied in third place in the standings on 12 points courtesy of a podium in the season-opener in Cocoa Beach but failed to go the distance last time out, with team owner-driver Carlos de Quesada resuming race duties to take the wheel alongside Johnny Tomlinson who is hoping for tough conditions, “I would prefer a rough water race in Michigan City, with the way we set our boat up. If we get that then we can really see this boat shine.”
dfYoung field an unchanged line-up and share third spot following Rich Wyatt and Hugh Fuller’s podium third in Sarasota and are hoping to have resolved the Guardian issues that forced them to run their Mystic at reduced rpm for most of the race. “The boat has great potential and is improving race-by-race but the competition in Class 1 is the best in the world. You can’t count anyone out.” Wyatt said.
Monster Energy/M CON Racing also field an unchanged pairing with Tyler Miller and Myrick Coil hoping to end their frustrating run of bad luck in their new Skater and post their first points of the season in a boat that clearly has pace and potential if it can go the distance.
After a podium in the opener but then sitting out the last race, Team Defalco returns to action with team owner-driver Mike Falco drafting in the experienced and multiple Super Boat and Super Cat champion, Billy Moore to take the throttles, marking his return to UIM Class 1 action for the first time in 15 years since his debut in 2008 at the Egyptian Grand Prix in Porto Marina alongside Chris Parsonage in Negotiator, where they finished third. “I’m looking forward to getting back into Class 1. Michigan City should be a great place to get back in the mix. I’ve had experience in the bigger boats—with less and more power—and I raced Class 1 in 2008 in the Middle East.” Moore commented.
Following the injuries that Alex Pratt sustained in a recent boating accident where he was a passenger, Rick Lindsey, president, CEO, and chairman of principal team sponsor XINSURANCE has rolled the dice looking to reignite the teams disappointing season after sitting out the first race and retiring from the second, replacing Pratt and Miles Jennings, with team manager Randy Kent stepping up and returning to race duties and bringing in the highly experienced and holder of a raft of national and world titles in Stock Outboard and Super Cat, Grant Bruggemann. “I have worked with Rick, Randy and Gene [Greber] a bit previously, and they seem to be a very well put together group who are just as committed to racing and winning, as I am. All the ingredients are there to put XINSURANCE/Good Boy Vodka at the front to compete for a podium."