ELK RIVER, Minn — The largest crowd to ever assemble at the Extreme Motorpark (ERX) in Elk River witnessed another spectacular high-flying, bar-banging main event as the world’s top snowmobile racers contested the ERX National, presented by Heinen Motorsports, round 13 of the 2011-12 Amsoil Championship Snocross Series. And topping out on Saturday in the premier Pro Open class was the defending ACSS champion, Arctic Cat’s Tucker Hibbert, with Polaris’ Kody Kamm opening the night’s main events with a decisive win the Pro Lite class.
While the 60-degree temperatures brought the fans out in droves to ERX, it did nothing to slow the stock and modified snowmobiles from acclaimed manufacturers Ski-Doo, Polaris and Arctic Cat — the latter two being headquartered in the State of Minnesota. Friday’s night’s sweep by Minnesotans, Ski-Doo’s Robbie Malinoski in Pro Open and Ski-Doo’s Travis Muller in Pro Lite, was continued by Minnesota local Hibbert on Saturday, with Wisconsin’s Kamm breaking up the all-state sweep.
Amsoil ERX National Pro Open Saturday Final
Tucker Hibbert (Arctic Cat) got back onto a familiar spot in the Amsoil Championship Snocross Series when the defending Pro Open champ took the win after a thrilling race-long battle with Ross Martin (Polaris) ended when Martin, running in first place at the time, crashed trying to avoid some lapped riders. Hibbert and Martin’s battle put them so far in front of the rest of the pack — current points leader Tim Tremblay (Ski-Doo) included — that Martin was able to restart his sled and re-enter the race in second place.
Pulling the Stud Boy holeshot was Martin, which was followed by all sorts of carnage that send his teammate and Friday podium finisher Brett Bender off the track and Tremblay nearly tipped over. Caught up behind the mess was Hibbert, who started the opening lap outside the top five.
As things spread out and calmed down, Martin and Arctic Cat’s Cody Thomsen separated for just a bit, with Friday’s Pro Open winner — Robbie Malinoski — in hot pursuit. Hibbert was also flying, on a mission to make up spots, which he did to the tune of five racers passed in a little more than a lap. Soon after Malinoski caught Thomsen for third place, he wadded up his Ski-Doo and had to crawl from the wreckage off to the side of the track, causing a DNF for the then-second place overall points holder in the Pro Open class, a rough finish to what started with a win on Friday.
Malinoski’s crash allowed Tremblay to move up to fourth place, to which he’d get past Thomsen for third. But with some mechanical issues on his sled addressed by his crew, Tremblay would get no closer to Hibbert and Martin — who were putting on a spectacular racing show up front.
Martin had Hibbert dead to rights in the rhythm section down the back stretch of the track, and used that to catch, pass and start to pull away. Then with two laps to go, Martin went down and handed the lead back over to Hibbert, who ran it through to the checkers unchallenged. Martin would amazingly hold on to second place with Tremblay rounding out the Pro Open podium on the final night at ERX.
Said Hibbert: “That was a heck of a race, man. Lot of fun racing with Ross — he was on it.”
Added Martin: “Just a bummer. I had such a good race going on. I think I might have been a little faster, but that’s how it goes.”
Sledhead 24/7 Pro Lite Saturday Final
Pro Lite points leader Kody Kamm came ripping back with a vengeance after a couple wipeouts on Friday night relegated him outside the top five — and laid the smack down on the rest of the Pro Lite field at ERX on Saturday. Kamm won by nearly five seconds over 2nd place Colby Crapo (Polaris), with Ski-Doo’s Derek Ellis placing third — and was the only Pro Lite racer to podium both nights at ERX.
Pulling the holeshot was Polaris’ Matt Bristow, towing Arctic Cat’s Matt Pichner and Crapo through the first turn, while Kamm got out in about 5th. By lap three Kamm had disposed of Crapo and Pichner to move into second place, then set up Pichner with a thrilling mid-track triple jump out of a corner — an area where all the other racers were doubling.
Midway through the nine-lap contest Friday’s winner Travis Muller (Ski-Doo) went down, dashing his chances at a return to the Pro Lite podium. With four laps to go Kamm was in complete control, Crapo holding on strong to second place and Bristow in third. Ellis brought the crowd to their feet with a pass on Bristow with two laps to go, which he’d make stick through the checkers.
Said Ellis: “You know, I got a descent start. The track was super demanding, so I pointed my Ski-Doo in the right direction and it ran like a Cadillac … like it always does. I ended up making a couple poor line selections early, which put me back to like seventh place. So I was pumped to be able to make it back to the podium.”