For the first time in its history, the Grand Prix class began their season in Cambridge Maryland. After some boats went out for testing in the rough waters on Friday, Saturday was cancelled due to the bad conditions. In the only qualifying on Sunday, Marty Wolfe, Bert Henderson and Ken Brodie all won their respective heats. Qualification 1A had to be restarted because Mario Blain blew over after going though a roostertail. In the final Bert Henderson won but he had to fight off a very fast Marty Wolfe at the beginning of the season. Mike Monahan who made his debut in his GP-35 was third.
A week later, the Grand Prix class was meeting under the hot sun of Stuart Florida. Florida seems to be a favourite spot for Henderson, who had a perfect weekend. Three victories in qualifying and a win in the final allowed him to definitively establish himself as the man to beat this season. In the other qualifications, Donny Allen surprised everyone by winning his heat when he replaced Marty Wolfe in the GP-93. Mathieu Daoust, Martin Rochon, Tom Thompson and Mike Monahan won the other qualifications. Speaking of Monahan he gave Henderson a fight in the final but came up just a bit short. Mathieu Daoust completed the podium. After the damage the week before, Mario Blain impressed the gallery by returning to Brockville to repair the boat and then go back to Florida. It was also on this occasion that we saw Robin Demers make his Grand Prix debut.
With the postponement of Gananoque, St-Félicien was the next stop for our Grand Prix Class. Mother Nature once again turned the tables and only 1 qualification round and the final were held. These heats were won by Bert Henderson, Tom Thompson and Brandon Kennedy. In the final some confusion in the last turn before the start allowed Kennedy and Monahan to move ahead without any real opposition. However, Henderson was not to counted as beaten. He then started chasing the first two. Only Kennedy was able to resist thus winning a well-deserved victory. Henderson finishes 2nd and Monahan third. After three rounds, Henderson was the leader, but only 26 points ahead of Monahan. Marty Wolfe took the third place.
The following week in Brockville, the weather again played tricks on the organizers. The Grand Prix class had time to do its three qualifying sessions before the wind came to stop the activities. Mathieu Daoust had a pretty good run in the championship with a perfect weekend. Combined with Henderson’s problems and Monahan’s barrel roll, Daoust finished second in the championship just 18 points behind the Steeler. The other winners of the weekend were Kennedy, Henderson and Wolfe.
Winning the Valleyfield Grand Prix is for many even more prestigious than winning a championship. It is therefore with fire in their eyes that our pilots set off on the Baie St-François racecourse. For Marty Wolfe, his dream of winning Valleyfield evaporated Friday morning in practice. A break in the steering of the boat put an end to his season. In qualifying, Henderson, Tate, Thompson, Monahan and Marcoux were victorious. For Daoust, it was a difficult weekend and he had to go through the qualification to win his place in the final. Speaking of the final, Bert Henderson took the lead from the start and never looked back to win and join Jean Théorêt for the number Grand Prix wins in Valleyfield. Andrew Tate and Ghislain Marcoux in the Grand Prix Valleyfield completed the podium. With this perfect weekend, Henderson strengthened his lead in the championship with 48 points ahead of Daoust.
The next stop was in North Tonawanda. As so often this season, our dear Mother Nature came to cancel the day Saturday. On Sunday, two qualifiers were held before the final. Logic was respected in the first round as Henderson and Daoust won their respective heats. In the second round Donny Allen, replacing Andrew Tate, and Martin Rochon were the winners. Spectacular turn of events!!! A Did Not Finish for Henderson and the Steeler was out of the final. In the final, right out of the first turn,Donny Allen stood alongside Mathieu Daoust and Daoust had no choice but to admit defeat and see Allen win his first victory in the HRL. But this second position allowed him to get within just 9 points of Henderson and take the lead in the championship. As for Monahan, he clung to the third position, but Kennedy approaches quickly.
The HRL then moved to Detroit for the remainder of the championship. Another perfect weekend for the Steeler team allowed them to increase their lead in the championship. Like every year in Detroit, Ken Brodie was very good, with two wins in qualifying and second in the final. The other winners were Daoust, Monahan, Hopp and Marcoux. As for Kennedy, a third position in the final allowed him to put pressure on Monahan in third place in the championship.
The second to last round of the championship was held in Beauharnois. And yes … another day cancelled because of wind and rain. Only two qualifications were held on Saturday. Once again, a perfect day for Bert Henderson. With a win and a third position, Daoust clung to his championship goal, but the chances were getting slimmer. The only other winner of the weekend was Ghislain Marcoux in the GP-444.
The season ended in Gananoque, Ontario. With a relatively comfortable lead of 34 points, Henderson could not stumble, as Daoust was there to take advantage of every opportunity. As usual, Henderson had a perfect weekend to confirm another championship for the GP-777 Steeler team. The other stars of the weekend were Brandon Kennedy and Mike Monahan who won the other qualifications. In the final, Kennedy took second place followed by Monahan. In the championship, Mathieu Daoust finished second, and Brandon Kennedy managed to overtake Mike Monahan to take third place.