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Race Recap – ISOC Duluth, MN

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Presented By Polaris

The first weekend of AMSOIL Championship Snocross is now in the books and from all accounts, it is going to be a great race season. This year’s buildup to Duluth was especially nerve-wracking with warm weather hanging around and preventing snow making right up until the week prior, forcing teams and riders to spend additional time and money to travel west to get any riding in, while also having to prep race sleds which often do not hit the shop floor until only a couple weeks before Thanksgiving.

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If ever there were a time to attend your first snocross, this was it. Warm temps and sunny skies throughout the weekend made for spectacular viewing and the course on Spirit Mt., which overlooks the Duluth harbor and St. Louis river, was close to, if not, its typical full-size and featured a couple of twist to the layout from Saturday to Sunday. Duluth is often criticized for being a so-so track, and for good reason. But ISOC officials did vary from the norm by extending the usual step-up at the top of the start straight into a massive gap that was by no means an automatic for the Pro Open class and and at times marginal for the Lites riders.

Whether this was a good idea for the first race of the season can be debated, but from a fan’s perspective, we say hats off for trying something fresh. On Sunday the step-up was eliminated altogether in favor of a series of big rollers that definitely changed everyone’s approach.

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Tim Trembly started the weekend off by winning his third consecutive Dominator race, pocketing the 10 grand and the uber cool hand-made Dominator trophy. Adding to the drama was the fact that Tremblay had to come from the back row after edging out Tucker Hibbert in a consolation race between semi-final losers. Tremblay caught up to front row starters Kyle Pallin and Ross Martin mid way up the hill and blew past Pallin in mid flight over the step-up to take the lead.

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On Saturday Hibbert added to his legend winning round one of  Pro Open points competition. Interestingly, it was Christian Brothers Racing’s Dave Joanis who turned heads in qualifying going 1-1 and winning three of four heats during the weekend. Kody Kamm also went 1-1 on his way to a third place overall.

Sunday’s Open final saw another epic Kamm/Hibbert battle as the Hentges Racing/Pirtek/Polaris rider shot to an early and expanding lead, while Hibbert powered his Monster Energy/Ram Truck/Arctic Cat from a sixth place start. By lap three, the front-running trio of Kamm, Lincoln Lemieux and Hibbert had established their turf. Lemieux looked like he would repeat his performance of a year prior and open the season with a podium, however, on lap nine, a hose clamp broke where the cooling line clamps to the heat exchanger and he was out, leaving no buffer between Kamm and the charging Hibbert.

As the laps wound to a close, it was obvious that Kamm was beginning to show fatigue and while Hibbert was also battling through each corner, the gap was getting thin. At the finish, Kamm held on to a .477 second win as both riders crossed the finish in the air at the same time.

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In Pro Lite action the Norwegian Nightmare, Elias Ishoel, made it clear that nothing has changed about his speed, determination or throw caution to the wind riding style, during the off season. Throughout the weekend Ishoel could either be found at the front of the field or cartwheeling his Makita Tools/NSK/GMC/Ski-Doo into oblivion, but wasted little time in getting from one place to the other. Ishoel started the final running sixth but began picking off riders one at a time on lap three, ultimately chasing down early leader Montana Jess and running away to a nearly five second victory. Jess, who was making his first start in the highly competitive Pro Lite class, had one of the better overall performance of the weekend, finishing second in both Pro Lite finals and leaving the weekend with the point lead.

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On Sunday, Ishoel again found himself in the middle of the action. AMSOIL/U.S. Air Force/Milwaukee Tool/Ski-Doo rider Max Taillefer jumped to an early lead in the class final, with Ishoel giving chase. The two were clearly gapping the field when on lap six, Ishoel made contact while trying to pass at the top of the hill, catapulting both riders as the third place Zak Mason caught up and raced by. Mason, who was the point leader when he left the series with an injury in January of last year, was making his debut for Team LaVallee and made no mistake in bringing his Red Bull/Mystik Lubricants/Loctite/Polaris home for the win. Travis Muller joined Mason and Jess on the box delivering the first podium of the year for the Cottew Motorsports/Hanco Utilities/Polaris team.

Full Results     Point Standings

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AGX_2010It was great to see Wes Selby back at the snocross track. Selby finished second in Pro AM +30 for Woodies Racing, but will now shift his focus to cross-country for the balance of the winter.
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Cody Thomsen showed up at Duluth running his own privateer Cat. Thomsen won a heat race and qualified for Sunday’s Pro Open final.

AGX_1913Kyle Pallin was the fastest rider on the track throughout Dominator qualifying. He fell one spot short in the final but was consistent all weekend with a second and fifth in Pro Open.

AGX_1437Justin Broberg looked extremely comfortable on his new Arctic Cat racing the Geek Squad/Trend Micro sled to a fourth on Saturday and ninth on Sunday.

AGX_1943Ross Martin blazed to a spot in the Dominator final and then battled through the weekend to score a fifth and seventh in Pro Open on his Jack Link’s/Axalta/AMSOIL/Polaris.

DSC_1749Dave Joanis put in more hard laps than anyone we saw during pre-season testing at Planet X. Whether it was his prep or the snazzy new Cheetah seat, we’re not sure, but he is definitely on point to start the season.

AGX_2474FIM World Snowcross Champion Marcus Ogemar Hellgren is the latest Swede to race the ACS tour for Team Bauerly Racing and looked good on Sunday with a sixth in the Pro Lite final.

AGX_2491Megan Brodeur collected a lifetime’s worth of second place finishes last season while chasing Pro AM Women’s champ Marica Renheim. Renheim had to sit out the weekend after being injured on Friday and Brodeur capitalized on the opportunity in an increasingly tough class that now features Swedish champ Elina Ohman.

DJI_0023Ski-Doo unveiled their new race support trailer in Duluth along with marketing partner Makita Tools, who have signed on as a series sponsor.

AGX_4301Zak Mason has obviously been doing time at the Levi LaVallee school of sponsor-relations, which is a good thing because he could be a fixture on the Pro Lite podium this season. First on Sunday.

AGX_1863Lincoln Lemieux will probably spend the next two weeks pondering what could have been, after a series of mechanical issue squashed some stellar rides, including a shot at the podium Sunday.

AGX_1371Thumbs up to Corey Watkinson, who for all practical purposes is a Pro Open rookie and the only one to make both finals.

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Corin Todd and crew chief Robbie Malinoski are very much on the same page this season and it showed with Todd posting a sixth and eighth to start his sophomore season in Pro Open.

TU5A1602 copyJimmy John’s/Lucas Oil/Ski-Doo rider Adam Renheim is a true racer and may have his best shot as making his mark on the U.S. national tour this season with the BOSS Racing team focused solely on his efforts. Fourth on Sunday.
AGX_1430Trevor Leighton admitted that his nerves got the best of him to start the weekend but recovered to make his first Pro Open final on Sunday.
AGX_1447Ryan Springer fought through the LCQ to earn a top 10 on Saturday, taking some lumps with the rest of the 2016 rookie crop.
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Springer’s teammate Andrew Carlson took a couple of big hits over the weekend but like his fellow Pro Open rookies will have to keep swinging and even harder when the series resumes in Fargo in two weeks.