Yep, it’s official: This Tucker Hibbert guy is pretty good.
On Sunday, the reigning king of snocross didn’t match Saturday night’s historic beat-down by lapping the entire field, and he didn’t lead every lap. Instead, racing in flat-light conditions that made caution the better part of valor, Hibbert lapped all the way up to fourth place and led every lap except the first three en route to a weekend sweep at the season-opening Amsoil Duluth National at Duluth, Minnesota’s Spirit Mountain.
Even in those first three laps, this 22-lap final didn’t seem like it was too much in doubt, as Hibbert again showed the way on his black Monster Energy/Dodge Truck-sponsored Arctic Cat, dicing through lapped traffic yet keeping the sled relatively close to the ground on the rugged track with limited sight lines.
Meanwhile, there was a popular new winner in Pro Lite, and a Scandinavian rider showed that she is back to breathe new life in the Pro Am Women’s class in the International Series of Champions Amsoil Championship Snocross Series.
Hibbert once again went undefeated through qualifying Sunday, but this time his co-conspirator was the surprising Justin Broberg, who swept his own heat races on his Pirtek-sponsored Polaris. The front row in for the final was heavily decorated by Polaris and Arctic Cat sleds (red and green — how seasonal!), with just one lonely Ski-Doo – and it belonged to Danny Piorier, a senior Quebec-based rider who doesn’t normally focus on the ISOC circuit.
Here are the front row starters, in order of their qualifying results: 1) Hibbert, Arctic Cat; 2) Broberg, Polaris; 3) Kyle Pallin, Polaris; 4) Ross Martin, Polaris; 5) Cody Thomsen, Arctic Cat; 6) David Joanis, Arctic Cat; 7) Logan Christian, Arctic Cat; 8) Levi LaVallee, Polaris; 9) Kody Kamm, Polaris; 10) Danny Poirier, Ski-Doo. Coming through the last-chance race and starting in the back row were: 11) Tim Tremblay, Ski-Doo; 12) Jake Scott, Polaris; 13) Darrin Mees, Ski-Doo; 14) Iain Hayden, Polaris; and 15) Colby Crapo, Ski-Doo. The most notable racer to not make the final was last year’s winner at Duluth – Robbie Malinoski. Oh, what a difference a year makes.
On green in the final, the two white-hooded Polaris machines of Broberg and Pallin surged to the front, with Hibbert locking into third. Pallin – a young racer for Team LaVallee who earned his first Pro Open podium Saturday night – was on the pipe and opened a gap on the trailing pack. Hibbert took a lap to work past Broberg, who got into a bad rhythm in the choppy backstretch and faded deep into the top 5.
Hibbert immediately took off after Pallin, catching the Yooper at the finishline tabletop jump and then using a superior line through the tight first turn. As he charged up the hill with the lead for the first time in this final, Hibbert immediately opened a 5 sled-length lead, and it never got anywhere near that close again. While Pallin rode gamely and was never seriously challenged for second, Hibbert eventually opened an 18-second lead and cruised to victory.
Behind those two, however, there was a lot of action. First, Thompsen was black-flagged out of third place for rough riding – according to the track announcers, Thomsen earned the disqualification for bumping Tremblay off the track. That left a crew of Polaris sleds and one Cat battling for the final podium spot. Martin held third for awhile, then came under assault from Kamm, who grabbed the spot. Martin took it back a bit later and held on for third, all this while Logan Christian lurked and looked for an opening on either driver.
Kamm claimed fourth, followed by Christian and the rookie Scott. Broberg faded to seventh ahead of a resurgent Tremblay. Then came Crapo, another rookie in Joanis, Hayden and Mees. LaVallee, Poirier and Thomsen rounded out the field.
After the race, Hibbert said, “You couldn’t ask for anything better than this. We’re getting good starts and I’m feeling strong on the sled.”
Asked by ISOC pit reporter Carly Aplin about the flat light and rough track, Hibbert said, “Sometimes you can’t see what you’re doing out there, especially when you get behind guys in the snowdust. You try to ride off of memory sometimes when you can’t see. Sometimes it works and sometimes it’s kind of sketchy.”
Later, Hibbert sounded an ominous note for the rest of the field. “We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing. You know, the whole team works hard, and we’re not scared to keep working hard.”
Pallin was all smiles, again, this time one step higher on the podium than Saturday’s third.
“It’s hard work to get up here, and it’s harder to stay up here,” said Pallin. “I know not every weekend will go like this, but you’ve got to take the good with the bad. I’m just super stoked to be up here again.”
Martin, meanwhile, had an absolutely brutal night on Saturday, in qualifying and in the final.
“We came back and just kept fighting,” Martin said. Referring to his two podium mates, Martin said, “These guys rode really well, and we’ll definitely be coming for them next weekend,” when the ISOC circuit continues in Bessemer, Michigan.
Carlson’s First First In Pro Lite
In the Pro Lite final, the top qualifier Corey Watkinson got a great launch and an early lead, but that lasted just a couple hundred yards. The rear end of his sled started swapping and Watkinson came off his Cat, right in front of 14 charging snowmobiles. Somehow the pack passed by, with the downed rider only getting brushed a couple of times.
Charging to the front was Andrew Carlson of Big Lake, Minnesota. The Polaris racer had several strong runs last year but never could close the deal in the Pro Lite class. This year, he started off with a second-place finish on Saturday night, then followed it up Sunday afternoon with a solid victory by a wide margin on a rough track.
“I am so pumped right now,” Carlson said after the race. “This is my first Pro Lite win, to top it all off from coming back from an injury and then being up on the podium both days.”
New York’s Corin Todd is moving to the full ISOC national circuit this year, and he started with a second place finish on his Polaris, followed by Kevin Wallenstein in third on a Ingles Performance Ski-Doo.
New Challenge In Pro Am Women’s
Last year, Sweden’s Marica Renheim showed up at the Duluth Snocross for her first North American snowmobile race, and ran away with the Pro Women’s final racing for the same Warnert Racing Ski-Doo team that has signed her brother to race. She then finished a very close second to Quebec’s Jennifer Pare in the next round before eventually going back home to Scandinavia to complete in snowmobile racing closer to her home.
Due to Pare’s excellence, Renheim’s departure took a bit of life out of the Pro Am Women’s class, as Pare was essentially unchallenged for much the rest of the 2012-13 season.
Well Renheim, 22, is back, and this time is planning to race the full season in North America on an Arctic Cat for Christian Brothers Racing after cementing her third straight Pro Women’s championship in Sweden last year. The color and team change didn’t seem to matter to Renheim, as she grabbed the lead early on the first lap and was never seriously challenged. Pare, the defending series points championship, was solid in second on her Leighton Motorsports Polaris, with Michigan’s Samantha Tarnowski third on a Cat. That was the same exact finishing order as last year at Duluth.
Below is the official press release from the ISOC circuit.
Tucker Hibbert completes the Pro Open sweep of AMSOIL Championship Duluth National w/ convincing Sunday win
Contact: Pat Schutte
PR Director, ISOC Racing
DULUTH, Minn. (Dec. 1, 2013) – Blasting through the flat light at great speeds and handling the equally blinding roost while launching high above the Duluth skyline, Tucker Hibbert (Monster Energy/Arctic Cat/Ram) completed the sweep of rounds one and two of AMSOIL Championship Snocross, powered by Ram, with another dominant performance on Sunday – topping the 2nd place finisher by 17 seconds in the weekend’s final contest.
And in the Pro Lite division Andrew Carlson (Sportech/Polaris) put together an excellent run to the checkers, winning his first-ever AMSOIL Championship Snocross Pro Lite main event.
Overall on the weekend the 35,200 fans in attendance was the third-largest crowd in the 22-year history of the Duluth National, just behind 2008 and 2010.
The Mystic/Polaris/Team LaVallee duo of Kyle Pallin and Levi LaVallee got off the starting line ahead of everybody to open Sunday’s Pro Open main with Pallin pulling the Stud Boy Holeshot and leading the pack up through the Air Force Fly Zone. Hibbert would play it safe from the inside start position he selected as the No. 1 qualifier, getting out of the blocks in 3rd.
Coming down the Ram Rhythm Section Hibbert got by LaVallee, then stalked Pallin until the second lap where Hibbert cut up the inside of the AMSOIL Finish Line table top jump and squared off the ensuing corner, forcing Pallin to the outside and taking the lead.
From there it was academic as two laps later Hibbert clicked off the day’s fastest lap – a 27.417 smoker – that cleared him from the rest of the field.
“You couldn’t ask for a better weekend. Good starts, strong riding and my Arctic Cat ran perfect,” said Hibbert, who is now three wins away from breaking Blair Morgan’s all-time pro snocross win record of 84. “These are the kind of weekends you try and hold on to forever.”
The action heated up behind Hibbert early on when Saturday podium finisher Cody Thomsen (Arctic Cat) was black flagged for running Tim Tremblay (Scheuring Speed Sports/Ski-Doo) off the track. Tremblay, the 2012 AMSOIL Championship Snocross Pro Open champ, would regroup and finish 8th, while Thomsen had to leave the race with a DNF.
As Pallin rode a strong and consistent race in 2nd place, much like he did in Saturday’s 3rd place run for the Michigander, Ross Martin (DuPont/Jack Links/Polaris) made a spirited charge through the field, passing Darrin Mees (Jimmy John’s/Boss Racing/Ski-Doo) and fast rookie racer Kody Kamm (Hentges Racing/Polaris) to move up to 3rd place midway through the contest.
With three laps to go the three frontrunners – Hibbert, Pallin and Martin – were out of touch with the rest of the field. Hibbert had a near 20-second lead and was cruising, choosing not to make a run at Martin and Pallin to possibly lap the entire field again – like he did on Saturday. The podium would be populated by Hibbert (1st), Pallin (2nd) and Martin (3rd), with Kamm and Logan Christian (Christian Bros Racing/Arctic Cat) rounding out the top five, respectively.
Said Martin: “We had a little bit of a struggle this weekend, but got things worked out and came back and made the podium today – so I’m pumped with that.”
Add Pallin of his 2nd place podium finish: “It’s hard to get up here and ever harder to stay up here. I’ve just got to keep my head down and work hard and enjoy the times we can get up here.”
Pro Open results
1 Tucker Hibbert, Monster Energy/Arctic Cat/Ram
2 Kyle Pallin, Team LaVallee/Polaris
3 Ross Martin, Judnick Motorsports/Polaris
4 Kody Kamm, Hentges Racing/Polaris
5 Logan Christian, Christian Brothers Racing / Drift / Arctic Cat
6 Jake Scott, Team LaVallee/Polaris
7 Justin Broberg, Hentges Racing/Polaris
8 Tim Tremblay, AMSOIL/Air Force/Rockstar/Ski-Doo
9 Colby Crapo, Huber Motorsports/Polaris
10 David Joanis, Christian Brothers Racing/Arctic Cat
11 Iain Hayden, Rockstar/Energy Polaris
12 Darrin Mees, Boss Racing/Ski-Doo
13 Levi LaVallee, Team LaVallee/Polaris
14 Danny Poirier, Bailey Hulten/Polaris
15 Cody Thomsen, Arctic Cat
Holeshot to checkers, Andrew Carlson was flat out on it Sunday in the Duluth Pro Lites. Never a question from the green flag through the igniting fire pots above the AMSOIL Finish Line banner, Carlson’s 1st place performance was masterful.
“I’m so pumped right now – my first Pro Lite win,” said Carlson. “Coming back from an injury (knee), I couldn’t be more excited. Thanks to my trainer, Kurt, for getting me back into shape.”
With the top spot on the rostrum never in question, a number of good battles played out chasing the final two trophy spots. Justin Parnell (Ski-Doo) and Max Taillefer (Ski-Doo) would get together on the second lap, hitting the deck in their bid for the front of the pack. The middle-of-the-track accident held up a few riders just long enough to let Kevin Wallenstein (Ski-Doo) and Corin Todd (Polaris) break away in pursuit of Carlson.
Clicking off fast lap after fast lap, Carlson would put four seconds between himself and the next—fastest racer, which happened to be Todd by the race’s midway point.
On lap 11 (of 14) Carlson was further in control, while Corin and Wallenstein space themselves out comfortably from Andrew Lieders (Polaris) and Dan Dolecki (Ski-Doo). The five front runners would hold position through the last three laps, avoiding a number of tip overs (that brought out yellow flags) with Carlson (1st), Todd (2nd) and Wallenstein (3rd) making up the round two Pro Lite podium.
Pro Lite results
1 Andrew Carlson, Polaris
2 Corin Todd, Leighton/Polaris
3 Kevin Wallenstein, Ingles Performance/Ski-Doo
4 Andrew Lieders, Team LaVallee/Polaris
5 Daniel Dolecki, Anderson/Dee’s/Ski-Doo
6 Marcus Johansson, Carlson/Polaris
7 Riley McClelland, Arctic Cat
8 Zak Mason, Leighton/Polaris
9 Nisse Kjellstrom, Polaris
10 Korbyn Anderson, Ski-Doo
11 Corey Watkinson, Arctic Cat
12 Justin Parnell, Huber/Ski-Doo
13 Maxime Taillefer, Ski-Doo
14 Dylan Hall, Royal Hall Racing/Ski-Doo
15 Matt Pichner, HAALA Racing/Arctic Cat
DNS Brett Nastala, Goodwin Performance/Ski-Doo
AMSOIL Championship Snocross, powered by Ram, returns to action Dec. 6th and 7th at Bessemer, Michigan’s Blackjack Ski Resort for the Northern Clearing Snocross – rounds three and four of AMSOIL Championship Snocross.
2013-’14 AMSOIL Championship Snocross, powered by Ram
1 – Nov. 29-Dec. 1 Duluth, Minnesota
2 – Dec. 6-7 Bessemer, Michigan
3 – Jan. 3-5 Shakopee, Minnesota
4 – Jan. 31-Feb.1 Deadwood, South Dakota
5 – Feb. 7-8 Salamanca, New York
6 – Feb. 21-22 Mt. Pleasant, Mich.
7 – March 7-8 Fargo, N.D.
8 – March 14-16 Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Beginning with AMSOIL Championship Snocross’ season-opening round in Duluth, Minn. and running through the season finale in Lake Geneva, Wis. CBS Sports Network will air 16 half-hour programs of the ACS races.