Elk River, Minn. ~ Any first-day jitters that competitors had on Friday were thrown out the window on Saturday as the second round of Amsoil Championship Snocross, Powered by Ram Trucks showcased a big-air track, stories of redemption and bar-to-bar action.
The ERX National Snocross offered up a completely different layout from the version competitors saw on the season opener. Deep rhythm and big air that taunted competitors in attempting triples were blanketed by high humidity and snow dust that blinded the best riders in the world.
But the riders were up to the task and the second day of racing at ERX Motor Park in Elk River, Minnesota, was a nod to old-school snocross, with huge holeshots, sections that reached out and bit you, and drivers laying it all out, trying to regain control after a tough day one.
Friday was not the start defending champion Elias Ishoel was looking for. Strong in his heat races, his final was almost over as it started after a first turn tie-up. But the second-to-last place finish on Friday seemed to have flipped on his competitive switch, harkening the two-time title holder back to those days when he was willing to try what others wouldn’t to win.
First, he had to get past the Scheuring Speed Sports duo of Lincoln Lemieux and Hunter Patenaude. The Ski-Doo riders went 1-2 in qualifying, with Patenaude winning both qualifiers and Lemieux winning his first and leading the second until the final lap when he was bested by Ishoel. Also, the pair was carrying big momentum heading into the final, with Lemieux fresh of an opening night win and the rookie Patenaude finishing fourth. They did all of this by pulling monster holeshots and not making mistakes.
It was looking like an early runaway for Lemieux and Patenaude in the final. The rookie got a slight jump on Lemieux, but after two turns Lemieux was in the lead. They would start to pull away from the field, and for the first half of the race, Lemieux seemed untouchable.
Ishoel had a better start than he experienced on Friday. He came out of turn one in fourth, just behind Polaris’ Oskar Norum. With the final being timed this year (10 minutes plus two laps), Norum held Ishoel at bay at first. But even a casual observer could see that Ishoel was willing to try any line to get to the front, and at the five minute mark, he finally made it past Norum.
From there, Ishoel set his sights on Patenaude, who had slipped a bit back of Lemieux, but was still half a straight stretch in front of third. But Ishoel controlled the rhythm sections to catch the rookie. With just under two minutes on the clock, Ishoel moved past Patenaude and with the remaining time and two more laps left, a perfect run might be able to catch the leader.
But the final match-up never transpired. Just before the clock ran out and the final two laps were to start, Lemieux received a black flag after the left-side side panel/clutch cover fell off his sled. That put Lemieux out of the race, resulting in an official finish of 13th, and gave Ishoel clean air to work out front for the first time all weekend.
“Yesterday I crashed in the first corner,” said Ishoel on the podium. “I just started over today and tried to find the good lines. They were really difficult to find and pass out there, and after yesterday, it’s just been good today.”
As Ishoel stayed on point for the win, Patenaude moved back into second, where he would finish. The rookie’s opening weekend success has given him the overall points lead, six ahead of Ishoel. Norum put in his best race of the weekend, crossing the finish line in third.
“Everybody in this pro class is just insane,” said Patenaude. “They are so fast, and every time you go out there, there’s 11 guys that can probably win a race. To have that kind of competition makes it a lot more fun.”
Kyle Pallin (Polaris) had a great run to finish fourth. He was able to hold off 2020 Pro Lite champion Francis Pelletier, who finished less than a second behind Pallin in fifth.
Anderson Answers in Pro Lite
The consistency that Ski-Doo’s Camryn Anderson was looking for in 2020 has officially arrived in 2021. Anderson had plenty of speed last year, but the results didn’t show it. The results are showing so far in the new year. The Michigan native has been a force off the line and is finishing off good starts with good results in his heat races.
He is also finishing off finals.
The third-year Pro Lite driver utilized the late start to the season to get his snowmobile ready to capitalize on a wide-open championship. After ending Friday night with a second in the Pro Lite final, Anderson was looking for more on Saturday. He hasn’t won a Pro Lite race, but he took care of that in round two.
“With a later start to the season, I got to put a lot of time into my sled,” said Anderson. “It’s dialed, and getting the starts. That was the key out there, getting the holeshot and staying clean.”
The start is what set Anderson apart in the final. He just came through the mad dash clean, and once he got out front, he appeared to be riding stress-free. He was challenged from time-to-time by Friday night winner Adam Peterson, but while the Polaris rider was fast, he could never get Anderson in a position to make a pass stick.
Peterson would earn a hard-fought second. As he was trying to catch Anderson, he was fighting off several challenges, first from Anson Scheele (Arctic Cat) and then from Travis Kern (Ski-Doo) over the final few laps.
“I had a great night last night, and another good start tonight,” said Peterson. “Coming out of the corner, I think I funneled into second place and just stayed there the rest of the night.” Kern would hold on to third, with Scheele finishing fourth. Mitchell Thelen rounded out the top five.
PRO SNOWBIKE: More Cowboy
Jesse Kirchmeyer has everything clicking the right way in the Pro Snow Bike class.
After sweeping both moto’s on Friday night for the overall, “The Snow Bike Cowboy” doubled down again on day two. Lap-after-lap the defending champion picked up speed and increased his lead on his way to the Saturday Sweep.
Kirchmeyer leaves ERX with a 14-point lead over Keaton Ward, who went 3-2 on Saturday. Troy Horbaty finished 2-3, but the tie-breaker goes to the best finish of the second moto, putting Horbaty in third overall. Troy Weakley and Nick Kraeger rounded out the top five.
Pro AM Women: Alright by Anderson
Ski-Doo’s Malene Anderson entered Saturday’s Pro AM Women’s final as the number one qualifier thanks to a pair of wins in her two heat races. But Anderson didn’t have to face defending champion Megan Brodeur (Ski-Doo) in those qualifiers. It didn’t matter.
Anderson was the last rider to beat Brodeur, winning the final round in 2020. In the second race of 2021, she was flawless. She delivered a massive start in the main, which propelled her to a solid lead. Brodeur made several early attempts to get past Anderson, but it was clear that Anderson was not to be matched on Saturday night, taking her first win of the year.
Brodeur finished second to retain the points lead. Arctic Cat rider Taven Woodie did win one of her heat races against Brodeur, finished third in the final.
Pro AM Plus 30
One night after finishing 12th in the Pro final, Andy Lieders switched to the Pro AM Plus 30 class. It was the smart move for the Polaris rider as he picked up the first win of the new year in dramatic fashion.
Kurt Bauerly (Ski-Doo) was in control of the much of the race after taking over the lead just after the first turn. He was pressured early by Jacob Blanshan (Arctic Cat), holding onto the lead after some contact that stalled Blanshan.
The pressure on Bauerly wouldn’t end there as Lieders had kept track of the top two, and when the contact occurred, he found another gear. Lieders launched himself into the lead just before the white flag came out and cruised to the win. Bauerly held on for second and Blanshan regrouped to finish third.
Saturday’s FXR Sport final was filled with intrigue early, and late. A red flag put the drivers in a single file restart, with Kyle Kuntsman up front. It was more than enough of an advantage for the Ski-Doo rider who led from flag-to-flag for the win, one night after finishing second.
For much of the race behind him, Eli Epling (Ski Doo) and Evan Christian (Polaris) were running close in the battle for second. But with two turns left, Epling and Christian both put their sleds on their sides. Epling was able to remount quickly, holding on for second. Christian was pushed down several spots, with Hayden Meyer taking advantage to finish third.
ERX National Snocross Results:
The Sport Lite final saw three restarts on Saturday. Each one saw Kolton Krajicek take the holeshot, and he was looking for his second win at ERX. But it was Kellen Chapuran who stole the show, powering his way to the win while setting the fastest time of the race. Gavin Fleury finished third.
Avery Hemmer was a rocket off the line in the Champ 120 final. Hemmer led wire-to-wire. There were several position changes behind her, but Taven Knudson came through in second. Owen Eide crossed the line in third.
Tanner Johnson picked up a pair of wins on Saturday. Johnson won the Transition 9-13 final and backed it with a wire-to-wire win in Jr. 10-13. Brady Freeland was second in both classes behind Johnson. Cameron Cole finished third in Transition 9-13. Kenny Goike was third in Jr. 10-13.
Kendall Rose won the Jr. Girls 9-13 class, holding off Ava McCurdy and Avery Hemmer who finished second and third respectively.
Josh Connolly and Domenic Hegman put on a show in the Jr. 14-15 final. Hegman set the fastest lap time, and held the lead at mid-race, but Connolly took control with two laps to go, picking up the win. Thomas Levi rounded out the podium in third.
Hegman also picked up a second place finish in the Jr. 16-17 class. Chance Tietjen took home the win, leading from start-to-finish. Josh Connolly was your third place finisher.
Wesley Ganchou was the first Stock 200 winner in 2021. Aiden Beckmann finished second, ahead of Easton Kuhn.
The 2021 AMSOIL Championship Snocross series will be comprised of 16 national rounds, starting at ERX and ending in late March in Grand Rapids, Mich. All events will air on the series live-stream channels, as well as the CBS Sports Network airing in the weeks following the race.
Championship Off-Road and AMSOIL Championship Snocross, Powered by Ram, are owned and operated by the International Series of Champions (ISOC) out of Albertville, Minn. For more information on its events, go to www.snocross.com.