With five-time defending points champion Elias Ishoel sidelined with injuries, the chase for the top spot in snowmobile snocross has been thrown wide open. That was on display at Valcourt, Quebec, on Sunday, when three different Pro drivers claimed a round in the three Triple Crown format races. But when the points were added, a Quebec native Jordan Lebel gained the top spot.
The night before, Swedish native Emil Harr won and gained the points lead.
Here’s the full story (below) from the ISOC Amsoil Championship Snocross series.
Dillon Sweeps, Lebel’s Late Launch Secures Valcourt Win
Valcourt, Quebec. – The majority of the Amsoil Championship Snocross riders who made the trek this past weekend in Quebec had never competed in the historical Grand Prix de Valcourt. The 42-year event has been one of the biggest snowmobile races thanks to its massive ice oval, VIP suites and a hillside filled to capacity. But ISOC, the premier snocross series of the past two decades, had yet to add it to its annual agenda.
This year, the series brought the best Pro snocross racers in the world back to Valcourt. While there were only three Amsoil Snocross classes, the void in experience quickly disappeared, and it took until the final laps to crown a new victor in Valcourt.
Lebel Stands Atop Unpredictable Pro Class
On the day Emil Harr debuted the red plate to signify his newfound lead atop the Amsoil Pro standings, the rest of the class made sure the new points leader wouldn’t walk away with the title.
The first round saw Adam Peterson grab the holeshot, but local favorite Francis Pelletier took over the early lead. Pelletier moved past Peterson quickly before separating himself from the four-sled lineup that came through turn one together. Pelletier would later pull away from Harr, who spent a brief moment off track before finishing behind race-winner Pelletier in second. Daniel Benham pressured Harr, with Jordan Lebel squirreled away in fourth.
The second round saw Pelletier in position for his second win of the day. He led the first two laps but tipped over in a turn two laps into the contest. That put Benham into the lead, which Harr would take away two laps later and drive to a clean win.
Late in the second round, Lebel found a rhythm that escaped the other riders. He got faster as the race wore on, eventually pressuring Harr before finishing second. But that surge would carry over into the final leg of the Triple Crown.
Harr had three points heading into the final round, with Lebel at six and Pelletier at seven. When the green flag dropped, it looked like Harr had the advantage, but he quickly pulled back the reigns after getting called by race officials for jumping the start. Pelletier would seize the top spot and have it locked down until Lebel started making another late charge. Lebel, who started fifth, sprinted toward the race leaders, passing Pelletier on lap 10. Lebel would finish with the win but found himself in a tie with Harr, who had worked his way up from dead last to fourth. Both rides had seven points on the night, but Lebel had the tie-breaker since he had the better finishing position in the final round.
“I’m just trying to find my groove,” said Lebel. “I’m trying to get to know everyone in the class and learn when to push and when not to. It’s pretty hard, but I think I’m starting to figure it out.”
Harr, who won the overall on Saturday night, would finish 2-1-4 and second overall. Along with taking over the overall points lead from the injured Elias Ishoel, Harr also gained a few points on Pelletier on Sunday. Pelletier would add a sixth and second-place finish to his night’s work for third overall.
A Sweep in Pro Lite for Rookie Dillon
Trent Wittwer led the gaggle of Pro Lite riders through the first turn and held off a buzzing field looking to slow down points leader Crayden Dillon on Sunday.
Wittwer held tough on the point for the first trips past the Amsoil finish line, while Dillon showed veteran patience while he worked through traffic toward the race leader. Dillon attacked the track with Pro-level speed and lines as he maneuvered around Wittwer for his class-leading seventh straight victory.
“I kind of just put in my laps tonight,” said Dillon. “I looked behind me and thought, ‘Ride your own race, pick your line.’ Having a great team behind me really helps, and I couldn’t be here without them.”
Wittwer put together a great run on Sunday, holding down the runner-up spot for the remainder of the race. His second-place finish marked his second podium and best finish of the season. Kenny Mandryk scored his first podium of the season by scoring a third.
A Clean Sweep for Cottew in Pro AM Women
Defending Pro-Am Women’s champion Malene Cottew continues to push the boundaries of the class. As the competition gets tougher, Cottew maintains her spot atop the category.
She was once again on-point Sunday, moving through early traffic to get into another lead she refused to surrender. She overcame a slight hiccup mid-race, but it wasn’t enough to slow her down as she piloted her Ski-Doo to a weekend sweep and seventh straight win.
“I don’t even know what happened (mid-race), but I looked over my shoulder, and no one was there,” said Cottew. “So, I just kept going and got back to my good rhythm and had a good race. I’ve never been to this race before, so it’s awesome finally being here.”
After getting landed on during Saturday’s final, Inanna Hauger found herself back in the mix. She grabbed another holeshot and fought for position for most of the race with Tasha Lange for the runner-up spot. It marked Hauger’s first podium since round five in Deadwood. Lange locked down the final podium spot, finishing the weekend with a pair of trips to the podium.
All classes of the 2023-2024 Amsoil Championship Snocross season returns to action at the U.S. Air Force Snocross National February 16-17 in Salamanca, N.Y. For more information about the 2023-2024 AMSOIL Championship Snocross season, visit www.snocross.com. You can tune in all season-long, live on www.FloRacing.com. Event day schedules and tickets are available at snocross.com.