Teams and drivers dial in Mercury Racing APX competition outboards in preparation for the 2023 racing season.
Tunnel boat race teams had a chance to get “dialed in at Lake X” when Mercury Racing hosted a week-long open testing session at the fabled Mercury Marine test facility in central Florida. The event was organized specifically for teams planning to compete with Mercury 200 APX four-stroke competition outboards in the 2023 season. On hand were a host of Mercury Racing engineers and technicians ready to help the teams optimize boat performance, including setup and operation advice, data logging and analysis, and prop development assistance.
“This test session afforded the teams and drivers to put on a lot of laps and a focus on driving technique, boat setup, and learning APX behavior,” said Stuart Halley, Mercury Racing general manager. “Through the course of testing in this safe and controlled environment every team was able to decrease lap times and improve setup, while experiencing long runs due to the durability of the APX outboards.”
Most of the teams in attendance will be racing the Mercury Racing 200 APX outboard in the OPC Formula 200 class in 2023. Participants included racer/owner Mike Makus, R.J. West (Chuck Skelton Racing), Dylan Anderson (Anderson Marine), Travis Yates (Yates Electrical and JH Performance Boats), and Phase 3 Performance owner Jim Slack and driver Ashton Rinker. Marit Stromoy of Norway, a veteran racer and past winner on the premier F1H20 World Championship series, attended the event to test the 360 APX and to gain experience on a new boat designed specifically for the Mercury Racing APX outboards.
The 3.4-liter Mercury Racing 200 APX outboard was designed to replace the Mercury Racing 200XS OptiMax and older two-stroke V6 outboards currently raced in the OPC Formula 200 class and is the first V6 four-stroke competition outboard produced by Mercury Racing. The two-stroke outboard models are no longer in production. The 360 APX outboard, the most-powerful model in the Mercury Racing Apex Series of outboards designed for closed-course competition, is based on a modified version of the Mercury Racing 300R 4.6-liter V8 powerhead and is approved for the OPC Mod U class and for the UIM F1H2O World Championship series. Both APX outboard models are designed to give racers outstanding performance with a significant reduction in tuning and maintenance expense, and lower exhaust emissions that benefits everyone. The engines do not require expensive high-octane racing fuel; both make full power on 91-octane (98 RON w/E10 max) pump gasoline.
In making the transition from two-stroke to four-stroke power, racers are adjusting to a different torque curve. Boat set-up is also important. The 200 APX motor weighs only 30 pounds more than the OptiMax 200XS two-stroke outboard, but the competition tunnel boats are very sensitive to weight distribution. At Lake X teams were able to test after relocating components in the boat to optimize the center of gravity. Mercury Racing engineers also developed a software update available for all APX owners that will improve the start time from the last year’s APX by 50 percent.
The test sessions afforded Mercury Racing an opportunity to gather data and personal input in real time from different boats, setups, and driver styles helped to further optimize the overall engine calibration and throttle feel. Mercury Racing is dedicated to helping circuit teams make a successful transition from two-stroke to sustainable four-stroke power, and in the process race into the future.