BAY CITY, MI – Rob Rinker loves being a chip off the old block.
But he also likes the idea of carving his own niche.
The son of elite powerboat driver Terry Rinker took another major step in making a name for himself, winning the Formula 2 final at the Bay City River Roar for the second consecutive year.
The victory further helped the younger Rinker’s ascension from up-and-coming talent to bonafide star.
“I think everybody knows we’re a major competitor now,” Rinker said. “We definitely want them to know we’re not playing around. We’re going to be out there pushing it, and maybe that will put a little pressure on them and make them buckle a little.”
Rinker started from the post position and never flinched in the Formula 2 final that was shortened from 30 to 20 laps due to weather conditions on the Saginaw River. The No. 30 boat was unchallenged, beating Dan Orchard to the checkered flag by a quarter of the 1.25-mile course.
Jimmie Merleau finished second in the race after Orchard was disqualified for failing inspection. Rob Dinicolantonio placed third followed by Ashton Rinker – the third member of the Rinker race family to hit the water.
Rob Rinker took the River Roar by storm a year ago, winning his first Formula 2 title in his first race. He came back this season and duplicated the feat, becoming the first driver to win back-to-back River Roar races in F2 since Bill Rucker in 2004-05.
Still, Rob has no qualms admitting he’s no Terry Rinker, winner of four Formula 1 River Roar titles and the reigning series champion.
“This win is pretty special, but it will be even more special when my dad wins, too,” Rob said of the Formula 1 race that is still to come. “We want to make it a double.”
The Formula 2 final went fairly smooth after starting two hours late due to heavy winds and rains. Rinker made it look easy, hardly wavering the entire way while speeding to victory.
“Coming out of the turn there were some pretty nasty gusts, then about three-quarters of the way down the straightaway it was getting tricky,” he said. “So I had to try to find a way to keep it flying but not stuff it.”
Rinker found his way and became the 15th driver in River Roar’s 27-year history to win at least two events.
Formula 2 notebook
*Only seven boats competed in the final, one of the lowest totals ever in the event. A total of 11 drivers were registered to compete.
*Rueben Stafford provided a light moment when he hooked a buoy on the fourth lap and dragged it around the course for one full circuit before it shook free.
*Rinker was so far in front, he lapped Tammy Wolf by the eighth lap. It marked the first pass of any boats in the race as the field followed the starting order much of the way.
*Rob Dinicolantonio lost his cowling on lap 10 and drove the second half of the race without a top on the back of his craft.
*Starter Doug Rea fires a signal flare to announce the one-minute warning before the race’s start. The gusting winds carried his flare all the way to the East Side of the river, where spectators briefly scattered as it fell on land.