The P1 USA fleet is heading to the Florida Keys this week. The destination for the nine P1 Panther powerboats and more than sixty jet ski riders is Islamorada, the ‘purple island’ named by the early Spanish explorers. For the P1 SuperStock teams this weekend it is the finale to their race season, and it’s sure to be a tense and dramatic one with just twenty points covering the top four boats.
The series, which is presented by Mercury Racing, got underway in May with St. Cloud hosting the opening event. Pursuing a fourth straight championship title, the Team Barbados crew (don’t let the name fool you – they are both Welsh) of James Norvill and Charlie Parsons-Young started as favourites after finishing second in the P1 SuperStock World Championship in India in March, but sadly they will be missing from the line-up in Isalamorada.
It was next stop Jacksonville where, despite failing to win a single race over the weekend, the reigning champions claimed top spot on the podium. Then it was perfect conditions at St. Pete Beach for the third round of the season which saw the Frank & Al’s Pizza boat, with Frank Silva and Tony Iannotta in the cockpit, blow the title race wide open with victory. Sarasota’s hugely popular annual Powerboat Grand Prix Festival awaited the SuperStock teams over the Independence Day weekend and Spectre announced their championship ambitions with a clean sweep of victories thanks to outstanding driving by Craig Wilson.
Silva and Iannotta head to the Keys with an eleven point lead over their closest rival, but with a five-race schedule this weekend the chasing bunch will be hopeful of closing the gap. “With parity in the boat setups, it all boils down to communication, skill and strategy….and a little luck doesn’t hurt either,” said the Frank & Al’s Pizza duo. “It was a tough climb to the top spot and we’re up to the challenge and aim to finish strong. The weekend will end with celebrations and some broken hearts – that’s racing.”
The action will take place over a 2-mile course just offshore in front of the Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina, and an armada of small craft will use the Islamorada Sandbar (which is described by locals as a ‘20-minute paddle to paradise’) as a natural grandstand. The Grand Prix of the Sea will be title sponsored by South Florida Ford, an association of car and truck dealers.