A funny thing happened when we called the ISOC race circuit looking for a list of entries in the Pro Open class for next weekend’s season-opening Amsoil Duluth Snocross: There were three Yamaha drivers on the list.
Yamaha? Going snocross racing again with one of its four-strokes? It had to be checked out.
Well, Team Blue has now confirmed that you can expect modified SR Viper RTX SE machines to be competing at the race starting a week from today at Duluth, Minnesota’s Spirit Mountain, but don’t get too used to it: The brand’s racers won’t be following the full ISOC series this year.
Instead, according to Yamaha Marketing Manager Wade West, the brand will focus its attention on cross-country and hillcimb racing in the winter of 2013-14. The Duluth appearance is merely an extension of the team’s testing and preparation for the terrain racing season, he said.
It just so happens, of course, that two of Yamaha’s racers have extensive snocross experience: Newly signed Matt Piche has previously raced both snocross and cross-country for Arctic Cat, and Steve Taylor has extensive snocross experience in his background for both Ski-Doo and Yamaha. The third racer is Ben Lindbom, who race cross-country for Yamaha last season.
West did his best to control expectations for the Duluth race, noting that this is a token appearance for Yamaha in a sport dominated by race teams who dedicate their entire calendar year to preparing for and racing in this class.
Nonetheless, it will be fun to see all four colors being flown at Duluth. The ISOC Amsoil Championship Series race is Nov. 29-Dec 1. If unable to attend the race live, you can see a live simulcast right here on snowgoer.com.
BELOW is the press release just sent out by Yamaha USA
Yamaha to Use Early Snocross Events for USXC Pre-season Warmup.
Pleasant Prairie, WI—Yamaha is pleased to announce that it’s supported riders will appear at select snocross races early this season as part of its testing ahead of the USXC cross country racing season. “We have been working on our new SR Viper RTX race sleds all summer and fall,” explained Yamaha Snowmobile Racing’s Eric Josephsen. “Our team has developed a great setup on the new sled with an eye on our primary goal, which is to win the USXC Pro title this season and be a consistent podium finisher in RMSHA. With this new sled, we want to test it in competition before the season gets under way, like a preseason football game. That will let us work out any hiccups before we get to the Pine Lake race.”
Reigning USXC Semi-Pro Champ Ben Lindbom will return to the team in the Pro ranks this season, and is joined by Pro rider Matt Piche on the Cross Country circuit. Both riders plan to gain seat time at the first two ISOC events in Duluth, MN, and Bessemer, MI, before they begin the battle for the Cross Country title.
Yamaha has also hired Steve Taylor to participate in the ISOC test and development sessions. “Most people know Steve as a fierce snocross competitor,” explained Josephsen. “But he is also a very talented and methodical testing and development rider. He brings a lot of experience and enthusiasm to the team.
“We know this is an unconventional way to start a race season,” Josephsen added. “But we think it will give us a lot of momentum and insight into the new sleds as the USXC season gets going.”
Yamaha fans can follow the team throughout the season at facebook.com/YamahaSnowmobilesUSA and youtube.com/user/YamahaSnowmobilesUSA.