Gunnar Sterne Starts Pro Champ Season On Top At Beausejour

Gunnar Sterne
Gunnar Sterne after winning at Beausejour. Image from Darryl Gershman and the CPTC.

The snowmobile oval racing season got off to a grand start December 11-12 in Beausejour, Manitoba, where the Canadian Power Tobaggan Championships were held on a fast iced oval. Racing was held in a variety of classes – with the high-profile, modern classes like Pro Champ and Formula III intermixed with highly popular vintage racing, entry-level Junior and Formula classes and a whole lot more.

When the ice dust settled on the weekend, Gunnar Sterne of West Chicago, Illinois, was the big winner in Champ, earning victories both days, while Blaine Stephenson of St. Cloud, Minnesota, claimed the top prize in the Formula III class.

Directly below is a a substantial race report from Brett Richter of the USSA Pro Star Cup Pro Champ racing that was held Saturday at the CPTC facility. Below that are the race results from all snowmobile classes, as reported on the CPTC website.

ProStar Cup Tour Round 1 CPTC, Beausejour, MB Dec 11, 2021

It had been a full 21 months since the last round of a ProStar Cup Tour race had been run. A worldwide pandemic, border restrictions, venue uncertainty and more forced high performance race sleds to sit idle. But racing must go on. 

     Round 1 of the 2021-22 ProStar Cup Tour was held on a beautiful, crisp, sunshiny day in Beausejour, Manitoba. With travel still uncertain for some U.S.-based teams, the great folks at the Canadian Power Toboggan Championship (CPTC) were still able to field seven Pro Champ sleds for the opening round of the ProStar Cup Tour.

     The Tour format for the 2021-22 season includes three rounds of heat racing, with each heat being seven laps long. With safety a concern and being the first race in 21 months, the first round of heats was broken into one race of four sleds, followed by a field of three.

     In heat 1A, Blaine Stephenson on his Wahl Brothers Polaris took the victory after an early race challenge by Travis MacDonald. A weekend of mechanical gremlins for MacDonald began about halfway through the heat when he shredded a belt. Matt Szalai lost a throttle cable early on as well, leaving the lone female racer, North Dakota’s own Madison Phillips, to finish second.

Blaine Stephenson
Blaine Stephenson (center) finished second in Pro Champ and won Formula III at Beausejour. Photo by Darryl Gerschman – CPTC.

     Heat 1B placed the No. 220 Red Bull Ski-Doo of Gunnar Sterne on the line with Polaris racer Calvin Cook and local favorite Quinn Wojick. With many years of experience on the field, Sterne took an early lead and never looked back. He also never let up putting his fast Ski-Doo through seven laps of full power. At the finish line, it was Sterne well ahead of Wojick followed by Cook.

     Heat rounds 2 and 3 found the field bunched at the line together. In Heat 2, the top three tour veterans ran a highly competitive race until the mechanical gremlins bit MacDonald again, this time with a cylinder issue ending his race.

     In a more concerning moment, tour rookie Madison Phillips reached up to clear her visor as she left turn four, losing control of her sled and crashing hard into the front stretch bales. The sled was damaged and done for the weekend. Thankfully, Madison walked away bumped and bruised with no serious injuries. At the checkered flag, the field was scored as Sterne, Stephenson, Cook, Szalai, MacDonald, Phillips, Wojick.

     With more mechanical issues behind the scenes, only four sleds pulled to the line for the final heat. Like the other two heats, mechanical issues had a significant impact on the results. With Sterne, Stephenson, Cook and Wojick on the line, Sterne and Stephenson chased each other into turn 1. Competitive racing at the front only lasted about three laps when Stephenson dropped a cylinder. The final order at the line after seven laps was Sterne, Wojick, Cook and Stephenson (dnf).

     After much mechanical thrashing, the USSA ProStar Cup Round 1 final found six of the seven entered drivers at the line, with only Phillips missing. When flagger Riley pulled the green flag, it was a close race into turn one between Sterne, MacDonald and Stephenson. Over the course of the next eight laps, Sterne and MacDonald were nose-to-tail, with MacDonald constantly looking for an opening. Stephenson was watching all of this from a close third place vantage point.

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Calvin Cook
Calvin Cook after finished third in Pro Champ at Beausejour. Photo by Darryl Gerschman – CPTC.

     The mechanical woes for MacDonald continued as a flipped belt brought his Ski-Doo to a halt outside of turn one. The rest of the 15-lap final ended uneventfully with Sterne taking the checkered first followed by Stephenson and Cook, the only three remaining sleds running at end of 15 laps.

     After Round 1, Sterne’s clean sweep of the weekend puts him at the top of the 2021-22 ProStar Cup Tour with 130 points followed by Stephenson with 116, Cook 104, MacDonald 84, Wojick 82, Szalai 64 and Phillips 14. Round 2 of the ProStar Cup Tour presented by IncredibleBank, Advanced Compressor Technology, Woody’s Traction, Polaris, and Fly Racing is set for January 9 at the Ironwood Snowmobile Olympus.    

RM/300 SS/FC/FA: 1. Jason Maki (Cat); 2. Colin Demianyk (Doo); 3. Ken Bruce (Yam).

SUPER MOD 440: 1. Norm Chura (Pol); 2. Vic Mazur (Pol); 3. Mark Lucko (Pol).

SUPER MOD 300: 1. Vic Mazur (Pol); 2. Mark Lucko (Pol); 3. Kieran Loewen (Yam).

SS340 FA/340 LC/440 FAN: 1. Albert Ratti (Merc); 2. Will Manchulenko (Doo); 3. Scot McHarg (Yam).

SS 250/300/340 FAN: 1. Albert Ratti (Deere); 2. Doug Beddall (Yam); 3. Jared Koopman (Yam).  

PM 340/SM 340/SS 440: 1 Vic Mazur (Pol); 2. Adam Braun (Kaw). 3. Dylan Baran (Pol)

PRO CHAMP 440 PROSTAR CUP: 1. Gunnar Sterne (Doo); 2. Blain Stephenson (Pol); 3. Calvin Cook (Pol).

Sunday, December 12, 2021

JR II STOCK FAN 380 (13-17): 1. Dylan Fox (Pol); 2. Hunter Johnson (Pol); 3. Braxton Cassidy (Pol).

RELIC MOD/300 SS: 1. Colin Demianyk (Doo); 2. Jason Maki (Cat); 3. Ken Bruce (Yam).

SUPER MOD 440: 1. Norm Chura (Pol); 2. Vic Mazur (Pol); 3. Dylan Baran (Pol).

SUPER MOD 300: 1. Vic Mazur (Pol); 2 Jerry Lepage (Cat); 3. Kieran Loewen (Yam)

JUNIOR II F500 (14-17): 1. Dylan Fox (Pol); 2. Dale Hunter (Pol);

SS 340 FA/340 LC/440 FAN: 1. Albert Ratti (Merc); 2. Brice Olson (Cat); 3. Alex Braun (Deere).

SPORT FORMULA 500: 1. Dale Hunter (Pol); 2. Adam Braun (Pol); 3. Stephan Carignan (Doo).

SS 250/300/340 FAN: 1. Sheldon Carlson (Merc); 2. Albert Ratti (Deere); 3. Jared Koopman (Yam).

PRO FORMULA 500: 1. Jordan Sobetski (Pol); 2. Kyle Omichinski (Pol); 3. Will Rensenbrink (Pol).\

PRO FORMULA III: 1. Blaine Stephenson (Pol); 2. Gunnar Sterne (Doo); 3. Travis MacDonald (Doo).

PRO LITE: 1. Sam Gloor (N/A); 2. Brad Harrison (N/A); 3. Quinn Wojcik (Cat).

SPORTSMAN 600. 1. DJ Saluk (Pol); 2. Will Manchulenko (Doo).

JUNIOR II SPRINT 600 (14-17): 1. 59 Hunter Johnson (N/A); 2. Dale Hunter (N/A); 3. Braxton Cassidy (Pol).

PM 340/SM 340/SS 440: 1. Vic Mazur West (Pol); 2. Adam Braun (Kawi); 3. Brice Olson (Cat)

PRO CHAMP 440: 1. Gunnar Sterne (Doo); 2. Blaine Stephenson (Pol); 3. Travis MacDonald (Doo).

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