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Taking first and second place overall, Miss GEICO and Cleveland Construction led the charge in today's Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix. All photos courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

In the third time in as many offshore races, the Miss GEICO team prevailed over the Alex And Ani team today at the 32nd annual Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix on the west coast of Florida. Miss GEICO throttleman Scott Begovich and driver Marc Granet led wire-to-wire in the team’s 44-foot Victory catamaran during the 20-lap, 80-mile contest that Begovich described as “really bumpy”  at the historic racing venue.

“In 15 years of coming here, yesterday’s practice session was the roughest I’ve seen it,” said Begovich. “Today, there was a big hole by the start-finish line. The fastest we saw was 140 mph. I think Alex And Ani saw 150 mph at one point when they were trying to catch up with us. They got caught up in the start, but on one lap they were actually gaining on us. I think they broke on lap 14 or 15.

“The boat ran great today, not a single issue,” he added. “I see Sarasota as a big step forward this season.”

Begovich said he and his teammates are enjoying their ongoing rivalry with Serafino “Jimmy” Cazzani, the owner and throttleman of the Alex And Ani team, which runs a 40-foot Platinum catamaran.

“I still have Cazzani’s belt and I’m not giving it back to him until he beats us,” said Begovich. “When I beat him in Point Pleasant (N.J.), he gave me his checkered-flag belt. But it’s more like a headband for me.”

Action from today’s Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix contests, which featured rougher-than-usual conditions for the longtime offshore racing venue.

The withdrawal of the Sailor Jerry/Autonation team from the Super Cat class left Cleveland Construction, a 38-foot Skater, and Warpaint, a 42-foot MTI—each with twin 750-hp engines—to fight it out for top honors this afternoon in Sarasota. Driver/owner Ed Smith and throttleman Keith Holmes prevailed in Cleveland Construction—the team’s first win of the season after taking second place in Superboat Boat International season-opener in Cocoa Beach, Fla., but blowing an engine after three laps at last weekend’s SBI contest in Marathon, Fla., and finishing last.

“The boat ran well today,” said Holmes. “Warpaint did pretty well, but we ended up putting about a minute-and-a half on them. We had the right setup. It was a short course, four miles with six turns, and pretty snotty out there.”

Despite the small two-boat field, Holmes said he was pleased with the result, especially since Cleveland Construction took second place overall behind Miss GEICO.

“We kept pushing on GEICO and ran the boat hard,” he said. “It always feels good to win, and it was good practice for us today. The highest speed we hit was 118 mph.”

Facing competition for the first time this season, the AMH Construction/Instigator duo of owner/throttleman Peter Meyer and driver Johnny Stanch squared off against throttleman Billy Glueck and driver Brett Furshman in Legacy Builders/Twisted Metal. Glueck and Furshman prevailed in the battle of the Fountain V-bottoms. It was a particularly good day for Glueck, who earlier in the day claimed another victory with Gary Jones the Black Pearl Fountain.

For a look at some of the SuperStock racing action from Sarasota this weekend, check out the slideshow above.

The father-and-son duo of Steve and Stephen Kildahl in boatfloater.com claimed first place in Super Vee Lite, followed by Albrittonfruit.com. Backing up his first-place Stock-class performance in the SBI Marathon race, Gary Ballough in his 32-foot Doug Wright cat Gettle/FJ Propeller beat out Ryan Beckley in his 30-foot Skater flying the Professional Plumbing sponsor banner for the Sarasota event, as well as Lee Austin’s LA Marine cat, in the Cat Lite class.

In Class 5, the finishing order was Pump It, Two Cruel and Goodnewspest.com. In Class 4, Simmons Marine took first followed by Perdition and Getrubbermulch.com.

Editor’s note: For complete official results as they become available, visit the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix website. For complete results of the Powerboat 1 SuperStock races as they become available, visit the Powerboat P1 site.

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