It’s a snowy Friday morning here in Eagle River, Wisconsin, home of the 50th annual Eagle River World Championship Snowmobile Derby. Right now some of the support classes are taking to the track, reminding fans that this weekend is about more than just one class of racing. From Juniors to Formula 500, Sportsman to Pro Sprint on the banked ice oval to a whole series of classes on the bumpy infield snocross course – 120s to Pro Open to Women to classes for old guys like me! – there is racing of all sorts and for all sorts of riders over the course of this long weekend.
But, at the end of the day, we know the Pro Champ 440 class that will determine the World Champion on Sunday afternoon is the biggest draw, and with that we have spied the time trials results from yesterday’s action. PLEASE NOTE: What we’re posting here is unofficial – it’s taken from hand-written results posted on the window of the timing shack in the pits at the Derby track. That said, these sheets have proven to be accurate in the past, and we know people are curious, so we’ll share the results with you.
One thing we know for sure: Gary Moyle was the fast qualifier on the No. 66 Arctic Cat. The two-time champion from Houghton, Michigan, clocked in at a blazing fast 17.758 seconds. For basis of comparison, last year’s fast qualifier (and eventual champion) Nick Van Strydonk clocked in at 17.873 last year, and was the only sub-18 second qualifier.
This year, Moyle and two other drivers broke under 18 seconds. Second this year, according to the posted sheet, was Malcolm Chartier of Marine City, Michigan, on the No. 33 Ski-Doo, logging in at 17.959 seconds, with Jordan Wahl of Greenbush, Minnesota, on the No. 747 Polaris third at 17.963.
The rest of the top 10, according to the posted sheet, were Cardell Potter at 18.157; Dustin Wahl at 18.160; Matt Ritchie at 18.161; Travis MacDonald at 18.189; defending champion Nick Van Strydonk at 18.201; 2010 champion Matt Schulz at 18.207 and 2004 champion Larry Day at 18.208.
The following 10 were Brandon Johnson (18.248); Ryan Kniskern (18.267); Joe Fjerstad (18.497); four-time champion PJ Wanderscheid (18.543); Gunnar Stern (18.666); Joe Presta (18.721); Trevor Fontaine (18.784); Dustin Gehrke (18.822); Colt Dellandrea (19.128) and Jeff Ludwig (19.153).
The other four drivers to place times were Joe Bourgeois (19.267); Jacob Beres (19.337); Mike Lehman (19.959); and Dan Fenhaus (19.959). Lance Relf and Mike Van Dolder both recorded times in practice, but we’re not seeing them on the time trial list. Jay Sperry, Rob Sheppard and James Bourgeois are also all listed on the entry list, but we didn’t see them pop up with either practice times or time trial times on the documents we’ve been able to find.
In the big picture of things, the time trials aren’t that important. They help place the drivers in heat races, but otherwise have no bearing on who eventually starts on the front row in Sunday’s big World Championship final. So, it’s difficult to determine sometimes what (for example) a relatively slow speed from PJ Wanderscheid means at this point. But we can tell for sure right now that some of those guys at the top of the list have some major smoke! Also, Van Strydonk recorded a sun 18-second lap in practice results we found, we his eighth-place 18.201 may not be an accurate picture of what’s going on with the No. 13.
The big races get going tonight in the Friday Night Thunder program at the Derby track, which includes at TLR Cup final for the Pro Champ sleds. That’s for points and big money on the season-long TLR Cup series, plus it will lock in 1 qualifier for Sunday World Championship race, so it will be very competitive.
Also tonight, there will be racing on the oval in the Outlaw 600, Semi-Pro Champ, F-500, Junior Sprint and Vintage 340 Super Mod classes; Pro Lite, Pro Open and Novice 250 on the snocross course, plus a showcase of motorcycles on ice. Look for our recap of Friday night racing tonight here on SnowGoer.com.