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Date: Wed 29 Nov 2017

Wilson “had no idea” of deciding factor

A regular on the P1 circuit since 2007, Craig Wilson used his experience to come extremely close to completing an incredible comeback in the US series.

This year’s championship had an astounding ending as Wilson in the Spectre Panther was victorious in the final race of the season to close the campaign level on 299 points with Frank & Al’s Pizza at the top of the table.

Unfortunately for the 37-year-old, the tie-breaker in that circumstance came down to distance covered. Having failed to finish two races throughout the season compared to Frank & Al’s Pizza none they were forced to settle for second place.

Despite the final disappointment, the Spectre team can look back on a season where they battled adversity and a difficult start to mount one of the greatest title challenges we have seen in SuperStock history.

The season started on a sombre note as they struggled with mechanical failure and preparation issues in St Cloud. Of the three races held in round one, Wilson alongside his sister and navigator Kate Wilson finished seventh in the second race and were forced out of two races with mechanical issues.

“Unfortunately, St. Cloud was a disaster,” the British racer explained. “I had a neutral safety switch fail from corrosion from not being correctly maintained. I failed to finish two races costing me a lot of points. I was not a happy camper.”

Fortunes started to turn for the next two SuperStock weekend when the boats descended on Jacksonville and St Pete Beach.

The opening race in north Florida resulted in a second-place finish and they went on to claim third in the overall weekend standings with a pair of finishes in fifth, a fourth-place finish and third in the final race.

A second weekend podium spot was claimed in St Pete Beach when the Wilson duo finished behind Frank & Al’s Pizza to continue their climb up the points table. They opened their weekend’s tally with second in the first race before going on to cross the line in fourth twice and register another second-place finish.

Despite the upturn in form in some of his favourite race locations, Wilson's performances were still not up to the level which he demands from himself.

“I wouldn't consider them good weekends. They were better than St. Cloud, but to my standards, actually quite poor. However, I got decent points on the board and I was finally getting my boat setup and all the gremlins out of her.

“The race venues were the best parts of the two races. Jacksonville is such a cool venue being in the downtown area, and St Pete Beach is the epitome of Florida racing. White beaches, beautiful water, and a touch of sunshine to top it off. A great addition to the P1 SuperStock Championship.”

It got even better for the Spectre Panther as the season reached its climax as Wilson drove his way to seven race victories across the final two weekends of the season in Sarasota and Islamorada.

It could not have gone better for Spectre in Sarasota as they put in a flawless performance to win all three races across the weekend. The maximum 60-point haul also made a sizable dent in Frank & Al’s lead at the top of the standings which now stood at 20.

Heading into the US series finale at Islamorada, Wilson would need another almost perfect outing to complete the ultimate upset. The unlikely became more believable after Saturday’s racing as they notched two race wins from three heading into Sunday’s showdown.

“I love Sarasota and have raced there for many years, it's my style of water, I had finally got my boat setup to how I wanted it, and we had a plan on what we needed to do to win the championship.

“Islamorada was a fantastic race course; the weather was perfect and my experience came into play. There are different ways to drive a race course, and also weather conditions. My boat did not have the fastest top speed or best acceleration, but none of that means a thing if you can't apply it to the race course."

Likely to need two race wins and Frank & Al’s to drop down the order, Sunday’s opening race was bitter sweet as they crossed the line first but were quickly followed by their title rivals in second.

Five points were the difference with one race to go and it finished in dramatic style as Spectre once again took the chequered flag worth 20 points, while Frank & Al’s finished with 15 points in third.

The two teams ended the season with 299 points and, frustratingly for Wilson, the crown went to Frank & Al’s Pizza ultimately due to Spectre’s mechanical issues back in St Cloud on the opening weekend of this year’s competition.

“I knew I had tied Frank & Al’s when I won the last race. I had no idea that the deciding factor was laps raced over the season instead of seven race wins to two throughout the season.

“Ultimately, St Cloud cost me the championship, but it was a great season overall and I hope to be back racing in the near future.”

“It was a great season and P1 SuperStock is the perfect racing series for a true racer that loves very close competition and, even more, the family-oriented yet professional feel the entire P1 staff brings.”