FARGO, ND – What’s old was new in the world of Amsoil Championship Snocross, Powered by Ram this weekend in Fargo, N.D. After two full days of racing in the wind and snow as part of what is considered rounds three and four, the ACS finally held its first official round of racing on Sunday.
The flip-flop on the confusion meter was due to the cancellation of the Amsoil National Snocross in Duluth two weeks ago due to a major snowstorm that hit the area. Both days of points racing were rescheduled for later dates, and the first round was finally held as a make-up day in Fargo.
The order of events didn’t seem to faze the series’ defending national champions in the Pro and Pro Lite classes. Both Elias Ishoel and Hunter Patenaude made statements on Sunday, winning easily and taking control of the new season with impressive weekends.
Ishoel Impressive In Back-to-Back Days
Ski Doo’s Elias Ishoel couldn’t have written a better script for an opening weekend. After just missing the podium on Friday night with a fourth place finish, Ishoel cruised to the win on Saturday. For the Sunday matinee, the Norwegian left no doubt he’s in control after three rounds.
Despite not winning a heat on Sunday, Ishoel entered the final as the number five qualifier. With the inversion in place, he lined up in the same exact spot on the starting grid as he did on Saturday. The spot again proved prolific as he ripped off the start lined with Boss Racing teammate Aki Pihlaja in tow. During the 22-lap finale, not even Pihlaja could keep pace as Ishoel picked up nearly one second-per-lap on Pihlaja for the first half of the race. On cruise control, Ishoel zipped around the Fargo circuit, finishing 15 seconds ahead of his Ski Doo teammate.
“The whole team is working so hard with the sled and it’s just working so good. I can just go out there and race,” said Ishoel following the win. “[The race] was so good, so much fun. I got a good start, with Aki in second and we could just go. It’s good to get the Jimmy John’s sleds up on the box.”
Pihlaja was never challenged for second, but there was a lot of position battles behind him. Daniel Benham has been great off the line and came out in third. He was trailed by Jacob Yurk, Lincoln Lemieux and Logan Christian for the first few laps. It was the rookie Yurk who would win out for the final podium spot as Lemieux (the number one qualifier) and Christian fell off the pace. It was a day of redemption for Yurk, who finished second on Friday but ninth on Saturday.
“Yesterday was rough with all of the snow dust,” said Yurk. “We got a bad start last night and shuffled back. Things changed in our favor today.”
Near Perfection for Patenaude
In the Pro-Lite class Ski Doo’s Hunter Patenaude lined up nine times this weekend. He won eight times. His only loss was a second-place finish during Saturday night’s main. Not a bad opening for the defending champ.
Much like Ishoel, Patenaude jumped off the starting line like a rocket ship on Sunday and didn’t look back. He led the field around the big sweeping track and controlled the pace for the entire 14-lap final. He held a three-point lead over Francis Pelletier entering the day, but Pelletier got tied up on the first lap with Andrew Lindholm and could only battle back to eighth by the time Patenaude crossed the finish line.
“The beginning was pretty good. I got off to a really good start and I was able to get the lead before the finish line,” said Patenaude. “I got into lappers a little bit, and some of the snow dust, but I just tried to run my own race and not make any stupid mistakes.”
Rookies have found success in the Pro Lite class over the past two years, and the feel-good story of the weekend easily came out of the Judnick Motorsports trailer. Nickolas Lorenz fought back from career threatening injuries the past two years to finish second on Sunday ahead of Korbyn Anderson.
“This podium is the start of many, I’m hoping,” said Lorenz. “This one means so much to me. I haven’t been on the sled much the past two years. So, to come and run with these guys, to be here, feels really good.”
A year-long battle for Snowbike supremacy is starting to take shape after three rounds. Jesse Kirchmeyer won both Moto’s on Friday and was on his way to another double on Saturday before a broken chain derailed his second moto.
In stepped Cody Matechuk, who took the overall win on Saturday night after a three-way tie breaker. On Sunday, Kirchmeyer won the first moto with Matachuck in second. A win in the second Moto gave Matechuk the overall win. Kirchmeyer finish second.
Megan Brodeur swept the Pro-Am Women’s class in Fargo. The Ski Doo rider held off Alissah Ashline and Tausha Lange in Sunday’s final. It was Lange’s first podium this season.
Matt Pichner rebounded from a crash on Saturday to win Pro AM Plus 30. Andy Lieders and Kurt Bauerly rounded out the podium.
Other winners included Carson Alread (Sport), Raycer Frank (Sport Lite), Carter Meyeraaan (Transition 8-10), Tanner Johnson (Jr. 10-13), and Crayden Dillon (Transition 9-13).
Amsoil Championship Snocross, Powered by RAM returns after the New Year with three rounds of racing in Shakopee, Minnesota, January 3-5.
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