After what he considered a sub-par weekend at the season-opened at Duluth, Minnesota, Hibbert showed up with well-dialed-in sleds and his traditional great riding style in Bessemer, Michigan. It led to a Pro Open sweep of the two finals at the second ISOC Amsoil Championship Series event of the season, and allowed him to scale toward the top of the season point standings.
The circuit now takes three weeks off before regrouping after the new year at the Canterbury Snocross in Shakopee, Minnesota. You can be sure all of the other teams will be working hard during that time to try to get on par with Hibbert.
The final would feature seven Ski-Doo, six Polaris and two Arctic Cat snowmobiles. Point leader Robbie Malinoski went into the Pro Open final as the No. 1 qualifier after sweeping his heat races.
When the starting light flashed green, Malinoski’s teammate Darrin Mees blasted out front on his Scheuring Speed Sports Ski-Doo. Tucker Hibbert started to the far outside, got a great jump and swept very wide in the first bender, looking for a moment that he might run out of room. He didn’t. Hibbert charged up the hill the first time in the lead..
After that, the lead was never in doubt. Hibbert’s No. 68 Monster Energy Arctic Cat was 1.8 seconds ahead when the sleds completed the first lap, 3.2 seconds ahead after the second lap and 7.6 laps after the fourth lap, when he ran a race-fastest 55-second lap on the rugged, twisting course. The lead would build to 15 seconds, taking the suspense out of the front position, but there was plenty of drama behind him.
Mees held the second spot until lap five, when Ross Martin used a little jump-pass coming out of turn one to claim the spot on his Jack Links/Judnick Racing Polaris. When Mees dropped to third, he was joined in order by his teammates Malinoski and Tremblay, and the three black Ski-Doos ran several laps very close to one another. It was a beautiful sight, but it may have worked to their mutual disadvantage, and none of these drivers were going to get terribly aggressive with one another for fear of taking out a teammate.
Eventually, on about lap eight, Tremblay got past Malinoski in turn one, then rubbed Mees a little bit when he grabbed third. Next, the big Quebec driver took off after Martin in second, and closed to within about five sled lengths as the two took the white flag. During that final lap, however, Tremblay caught a lapped sled in a bad spot and had to check up, ending his charge for second.
Up front, Hibbert spent the last half of the last lap pretty much in cruise control on his Monster Energy/Ram Trucks Arctic Cat, as the Pelican Rapids, Minnesota-based racer was looking around and enjoying the view. It cut his 15-second lead to a margin of victory of “only” 11.5 seconds. It was pure domination.
“I’m just pumped,” Hibbert said on the podium after the race. “The crew worked super hard back at the shop the last couple of weeks, and the sled is just ripping.”
Speaking of hard work, Ross Martin said, “I couldn’t have been here [on the podium] without my team working all night on the sled. They literally went to bed at 4 a.m.”
The Scheuring sleds that swept the podium two weeks ago again finished back-to-back-to-back, with Tremblay third, Mees fourth and Malinoski fifth. The Swedes Johan Lidman and Emil Ohman moved up late to grab sixth and seventh.
Here’s the unofficial finishing order, as announced immediately after the race: 1. Tucker Hibbert (Arctic Cat); 2. Ross Martin (Polaris); 3. Tim Tremblay (Ski-Doo); 4. Darrin Mees (Ski-Doo); 5. Robbie Malinoski (Ski-Doo); 6. Johan Lidman (Polaris); 7. Emil Ohman (Ski-Doo); 8. Kyle Pallin (Polaris); 9. Kody Kamm (Polaris); 10. Logan Christian (Arctic Cat); 11. Colby Crapo (Polaris); 12. Petter Narsa (Ski-Doo); 13. Adam Renheim (Ski-Doo); 14. Levi LaVallee (Polaris); 15. Paul Bauerly (Ski-Doo).
Two Other Big Finals
The Pro Am Women final on Saturday looked like a run-away, but it ended up being anything but.
Jennifer Pare opened a big early lead on her Leighton Motorsports Polaris after Marica Renheim has trouble early on her Warnert Racing Ski-Doo and looked to be on her way to an easy victory. Then, in the last two laps, Renheim started to seriously cut into the lead, gaining more than a second per lap. Pare was looking tired while the Swedish driver Renheim was on the charge. Pare, from Quebec, took the white flag with about a 20 sled-length lead, but Renheim spent the entire lap closing in on the long, bumpy track.
Down the big hill featuring “the dirty dozen” jumps the last time, Renheim closed and then tried to go inside a lapped sled when Pare went to the outside. It looked like it was going to be a drag race to the finish, but Renheim ran out of room, bumping the lapper. That allowed Pare a clear path to the checkered, and she took it, reversing the finishing order from Duluth. Samantha TarnowskI of Roscommon, Michigan, recovered from a first-lap off to claim her second straight third-place finish.
Pro Lite was as competitive as ever Saturday night in Bessemer. Matt Pichner got the holeshot on his Jolstad Motorsports Arctic Cat and held the lead for the first couple of laps, but there were four fast drivers that he would have seen in his rear view mirror — if, of course, race sleds came with rear view mirrors.
Jake Scott was the closest on the No. 42 LaVallee Racing/Mystic Oil Polaris, and he was aggressive. On the second lap, he found a great line railing around the outside of the first turn which allowed him to close on the leader, and the two actually bumped later in that lap. After they worked their way back around the track, Scott used the same line again in turn one, and he scooted into the lead. Once there, he opened up a big lead and won by 11 seconds.
Behind him, there was all sorts of action. Swedish driver John Stenberg on the Bauerly Racing Ski-Doo worked his way past Pichner during the same lap as Scott and locked down that spot. One lap later, Quebec’s Renaud Alexander on the Jimmy John’s/Boss Racing Polaris stole third from Pichner. For awhile, it looked like Pichner was in danger of falling all the way to fifth when James Johnstad applied some heat, but Pichner rallied late and held fourth.
After the race, Scott was greeted at the podium by popular team owner and fellow racer Levi LaVallee, and Levi gave his Port Jefferson, New York, protégé a big hug. Stenberg said this was his last race this season in North America. “I’m going home on Wednesday and just wanted to finish up on the podium before I went back home,” he said.