SALAMANCA, NEW YORK: After an extended break in the schedule, Amsoil Championship Snocross, powered by Ram return with a vengeance for round 11 in upstate New York. Meeting the drivers in Salamanaca was a tight, gnarly track that mimicked the bullring often found at the Deadwood National.
But with just six rounds remaining this season, New York is critical for both the points leaders and the contenders trying to catch them, no matter what conditions they have to deal with.
Ishoel Finds the Fun
The long, straight start was a wild ride in the Pro final. In all of the chaos, the holeshot could have been given to any of the at least seven sleds that were bar-to-bar heading toward the front-stretch. When the snow dust settled, it was the familiar tones coming from the sled of defending champion Elias Ishoel leading the charge.
It’s been no secret that Ishoel has been the best rider in Pro finals this season, never finishing below fourth place, while picking up six wins and eight podiums through the first 10 rounds. On Friday night in New York, he added to his overall points lead by grabbing win number seven. On top of notching another victory, Ishoel is also settling into his role as the top rider in the Pro class and finding enjoyment along the way.
“It was so fun out there,” said Ishoel. “I struggled the first couple off laps to get the good lines, but after I could find them, it was just get going from there. But it was so much fun out there.”
It took a few laps to sort out second place, but once Daniel Benham found his pace, he made a major push on Ishoel for the lead. The Warnert Racing Ski Doo rider has proven he has the speed to win on any given night and proved it again by closing the gap to less than a second halfway through the 22-lap final. In the end, Benham didn’t get through lapped traffic as clean as Ishoel, and settled into a pace that gave him his fourth straight podium.
“I had a little bit of pressure [on Aki], but then I ran into lappers,” said Benham. “It was crazy. The track, it was really sketchy, and about midway through the race I went into safe mode and just made sure I finished the race.”
Lincoln Lemieux may be looking for a safer way around the track. The Scheuring Speed Sport driver was sitting in second for the first part of the race, but on lap five he had a huge off after coming up short after the big finish line jump. It marked the third race in a row that Lemieux has crashed, but this time around the Vermont-native was able to quickly remount and only lose a few positions. He battled back into the final podium spot on lap 11 for his first top-three finish since Canterbury.
“It’s always a plus when you can start up front and battle with these guys,” said Lemieux. “The track was pretty rough and you needed a big run up to the finish line to make it. So I hit it twice good and then the third time, I came up wicked short. Luckily, I was able to get back and keep going.”
Polaris’ Kyle Pallin continued his second-half-surge with a fourth place finish. Aki Pihlaja, who started in the back row after finishing second in the LCQ, finished fifth in the final.
Championship Fight Continues in Pro Lite
The closest points battle in all of snocross comes out of Pro Lite, where a pair of class veterans have distanced themselves from the field. After a rough weekend in Iowa, Ski Doo’s Hunter Patenaude saw his once unsurmountable lead vanish, giving way to to fellow Ski Doo rider Francis Pelletier. Despite leading in the win column 6-2, Patenaude came into the weekend four points down to Pelletier.
Pelletier came out swinging in Salamanaca. The Warnert Racing driver took wins in both of his heat races, including a first round victory over Patenaude.
In the final, Pelletier once again got the edge on Patenaude by grabbing the holeshot and quickly extending his lead as the field grinded its way through the first few laps. By the time the 16-laps rough were completed, Pelletier had nabbed his third win of the season and extended his points lead.
“I hit the triple one time, and it was kind of sketchy,” said Pelletier about the track conditions. “But I knew I had the speed and I had to make smart decisions. Just keep going.”
Patenaude’s 1-2 in qualifying put him as the number two qualifier for the final, and despite early pressure from the field, he ran a near flawless final on his way to finishing second. He looked like he was working toward a late-race charge on the leader but lapped traffic kept him at bay and he rolled across the finish line with his eighth podium of the season.
The fight for third was a race-long adventure, especially for round nine winner Andy Pake. The Arctic Cat driver held the position early, and was pressured by Polaris’ Nick Lorenz. At mid-race, Theo Poirier was a on a rail and moved past Pake for the final podium spot. But two laps later, Poirier was off his sled and Pake was a back in his final finish spot of third.
Max Taillefer finished fourth and Lorenz finished fifth.
Friday Night Lights
Ski Doo’s Meghan Brodeuer remains undefeated in the Pro AM Women’s class. Brodeur grabbed a big lead off the start and stayed out front for her 11th win of the year.
Behind the defending champ, Taven Woodie and Malene Andersen were battling for second when the two locked horns, spitting them both onto the track with just a lap-and-a-half left in the race. That allowed McKaylee Meyerhoffer and Makeenaa Kleimaan to fill up the rest of the podium.
Snow Bike points leader Jesse Kirchmeyer went 4-1 to take the overall win in New York. He won the second moto tie-breaker over Keaton Ward (4-1) and Harris Huizinga (2-3).
Ski Doo’s Jordan Lebel continued his winning ways in the FXR Sport class. Lebel picked up his third straight win and seventh of the season on Friday night. Raycer Frank and Eric Downs rounded out the podium.
Frank also made the podium in the Sport Lite final on Friday night. Jeremy Beaulieu took the win, with Kolton Krajicek finish second ahead of Frank.
Friday was full of racing as the recently formed Eastern Snocross Tour took advantage of the national circuit coming to the area.
The ESCT was held 12 finals on Friday, led by the Pro class. Former ACS pro rider Corin Todd took home the ESCT Pro win, followed by Mike George and Dylan Rose.
Other winners included Hayden Meyer (Pro Lite), Tomosuke Sno (Plus 30 Stock Pro AM) and Thea Arnesson (Pro Women Stock).