After capturing multiple victories in Europe and winning some specialty races in the U.S., Sweden’s Adam Renheim had proven himself to be one of world’s best snocross racers, but his trophy case was missing one key feature: A medal proving he won a regular-season race on the ISOC Amsoil Championship Snocross series.
That changed Saturday night. The driver of the No. 311 Warnert Racing Ski-Doo chased down former champion Kody Kamm in the late going of the Pro final at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minnesota, to earn a popular victory in front of a large crowd on an unseasonably warm January night.
The victory validated all of the hard work that Renheim and his team has put in, and kept Ski-Doo’s stranglehold on snocross finals this year through six rounds of racing on the circuit, which next races in three weeks in Deadwood, South Dakota (Jan. 25-26).
The Run To The Checkers
After two rounds of head races, the No. 1 qualifier Saturday night was Kody Kamm (Polaris), with Daniel Benham (Arctic Cat) second and Aki Pihlaja (Ski-Doo) third. They were joined in the front row (listed in order of qualifying points gained) by Petter Narsa (Polaris), Adam Renheim (Ski-Doo), Tim Tremblay (Ski-Doo), Logan Christian (Arctic Cat), Elias Ishoel (Ski-Doo), Lincoln Lemieux (Ski-Doo), and last-chance qualifier winner Corin Todd (Polaris). The back row consisted of Johan Lidman (Arctic Cat), Brett Nastala (Arctic Cat), Travis Muller (Arctic Cat), Kyle Pallin (Polaris) and Montana Jess (Arctic Cat).
Or, that’s the way they were supposed to line up!
Before the starting light flashed green to start the race, though, a bunch of sleds surged forward across the starting line. ISOC officials reviewed the replay and determined that Friday night’s winner Lemieux was the first to break the starting line beam so he was moved to the second row. After the sled were lined up a second time, Corin Todd similarly false-started and pulled Narsa with him – but since Todd was first to jump, he was moved to the second row and Narsa returned to his front-row spot.
The third attempt to start the 16-lap race was a charm, particularly for Hentges Racing teammates Narsa and Kamm, who blasted into the lead right off of the bat. Narsa had a tiny edge at first, but as the sleds charged out of the first turn it was Kamm taking the lead with an outside line, with Narsa second, then Benham, Tremblay, Renheim and Pihlaja.
Renheim soon cleared a three-way battle for third place, and for a moment on the second lap passed fellow Swede Narsa for second, but Narsa had a better exit line from a turn and reclaimed the runner-up position on that lap.
Behind them, Christian was moving up fast while Benham and Ishoel traded paint, but Christian’s run in fifth was short-lived as he crashed on lap four. After four laps, Kamm had a 1.2-second lead over Narsa and 1.5 seconds on Renheim, who was followed by Tremblay, Ishoel, Benham, Lemieux, Pihlaja, Lidman and Pallin in the top 10. Next came Muller, Todd, Nastala, Jess and Christian, who remounted his sled and re-entered the fight.
The track was rough and the snow looked heavy, as racers we being bounced all over when looking for smooth lines and roost streams looked like they weighed about 100 pounds. Renheim made a few short runs at Narsa, but then Narsa would get away again as the top five kept their order through lap 10.
That’s when things started to change. First, Narsa suffered some sort of mechanical problem while running second – he was seen pulling a surging, sputtering sled off of the track as Renheim rolled by to claim second. After 11 laps, though, Kamm’s lead over Renheim still sat at 3.4 seconds, while the closest battle on the track was between Tremblay and Ishoel for third place.
Things started to fall apart for Kamm, as he slammed into the faces of a couple jumps and just seemed to lose his rhythm. He was passed briefly on the backstretch by Renheim, but that pass occurred entering a yellow-flag zone as safety crews attended to the injured Christian, who crashed again, so Renheim gave the spot back to avoid a penalty.
When back on the gas, though, Renheim chased down Kamm again and made a pass for the lead right at the finish line to complete lap 14. At about the same time, Ishoel finally got past Tremblay.
In the final two laps, Renheim easily pulled away from Kamm and ran away to a waving checkered flag. Kamm finished 2.5 second back and held off a hard-charging Ishoel, who was 4.1 seconds back in third, Tremblay fourth and Benham fifth. Next came Pihlaja, Pallin, Lidman, Muller and Todd. Nastala finished 11th, followed by Jess, late-race crashers Lemieux and Christian, and the early-departing Narsa.
A New Winner
Renheim looked 40 percent elated but 60 percent relieved after finally breaking through with his first big win in North America. He was interviewed trackside by ISOC’s sideline reporter Josie Christian.
“It didn’t look so good there for awhile, I was in third and it felt like I was losing ground to the other guys, and Tim was in fourth, so I was a little worried that he would come and mess my speed up,” Renheim said. “But then I regrounped and increased my speed and started to catch the other guys. I wasn’t really sure if the move on Kody was going to work, but it did this time. I’m really, really happy – this is my first win in the U.S.”
Renheim is a star back in European racing circles and has been found the podium many times on this side of the pond, but the wait for a victory over here has been wearing on him, he said.
“It means a lot, I have been here a few years now and I’ve been waiting and waiting and thinking, ‘When is this going to come?’ I see other guys pop up from nowhere and win, but I feel like I am there in the heat races and everything but then I don’t get it really together in the finals. But this day was my day. I like the wet conditions and the rough track: It didn’t show yesterday but today it was proven.”
Meanwhile, Kamm’s search for his first victory of the season on the new Polaris sled will have to wait for another time. It was by far his best race night of the year – he won both of his heat races and led the vast majority of the final. Still, the sting of being passed for the lead late in the race was written on his face during the post-race interview.
“I had a great race but I just started making silly line choices,” Kamm said. “Adam had better lines and just outraced me out there. I mean, I was trying. The team has been working their asses off all weekend – and all year – and we’re finally to a place where I’m happy and I hope they’re happy.”
For the second straight night, Ishoel overcame mediocre-at-best start and passed a lot of people en route to another podium finish.
“It was so hard with the roost, it was hard to see,” Ishoel said. “I just tried to stay smart and not do anything stupid, and I could pass some people and I came up to third.”
OTHER RACING ACTION: From the ISOC Press Release:
Wittwer Wins Again
Trying to pick a winner in the Pro Lite class is like a baby trying to solve a Rubix Cube. If you want to increase your odds, at least pick a rookie. After Trent Wittwer picked up his second win of the season on Saturday night, a first-year pro has now won four of the first six rounds.
Wittwer has been a steadying force in Pro Lite the past three rounds. After picking up his first pro victory in Jackson Hole, the Arctic Cat driver finished second on Friday night at Canterbury and put it all together on Saturday for his third straight podium. Strong qualifying (1-2) and grabbing the Stud Boy Holes hot in the final gave the factory racer a handle on the win.
“It feels good, three podiums in a row,” said Wittwer in front of a packed house at Canterbury. “Two wins and a second, and I really couldn’t feel better. I have a lot of confidence going into Deadwood, and I can’t wait for it.”
Woodies Racing/Artic Cat’s Nisse Kjellstrom finished strong in second, holding off Friday night’s surprise winner Adam Peterson. Peterson, another rookie winner this year, surpassed the field with his win, after entering the weekend sitting 16th in points.
The Duo Delivers
Even when things look like they are under control in the Pro Women’s class, don’t leave your seat, because just about anything can, and will happen.
Megan Brodeur and Taven Woodie are making close racing an art form this season, and they didn’t disappoint in round six. Brodeur seemed in control of the final from the get-go, and when she grabs the hole shot, it normally ends with a checkered flag in her honor. But there was a moment of pause on lap five when Brodeur put her Ski Doo on the deck, and by the time she remounted, Woodie had taken advantage and the lead. Brodeur didn’t let the Arctic Cat get too far ahead, and reeled Woodie in just two laps later.
Woodie had picked up the past two wins in Pro Women, but Brodeur was in striking distance in both races. The reigning champ said she isn’t ready to give up her title.
“I don’t belong on the second or third spot. I wanted that win back like I did in Duluth and I did in Jackson Hole, and I really fought hard for it tonight.”
Melane Anderson run of third place finishes came to an end after she pulled off the track after the first lap. Inanna Hauger finished third.
Saturday Night Notes:
Round six of AMSOIL Championship Snocross, POWERED by RAM saw more than 100 races atop the horse track at Canterbury Park. Here’s a look at how some of those races ended up:
- Brock Hoyer took care of business in Snow Bike, the last tune-up before ESPN’s Winter-X Games. Hoyer ran a strong race and climbed out of a sixth-place start for the win. Points leader Jesse Kirchmeyer was leading the race before a crash on lap five put pushed him to 10th at the finish. Keaton Ward and Friday nights winner Harris Huizinga rounded out the podium.
- Andy Lieders posed for his podium picture with his family as he took a convincing win in Pro Am Plus 30. The long-time Polaris rider led from start-to-finish, crossing the AMSOIL finish line ahead of Wes Selby and Matt Pichner.
- Jordan Lebel continues to deliver wins in multiple classes this year. Lebel, who announced on Friday that he had signed a development deal with Boss Racing/Ski Doo for the remainder of the season, kept his spot atop the points in both Jr. 16-17 and Jr. 14-15 by winning both classes on Saturday.
- Jordan Lebel’s brother Dylan kept up the family tradition by winning the Transition 8-10 class on Saturday. He held of Peyton Poker and Logan Frattalone for the win.
- Frattalone had a double podium day in Shakopee after finishing third in Sport Lite. Points leader Andy Pake won for the second time this weekend, and Tyler Archambault made a last-lap pass on Frattalone for second.
- Pake backed up his round five performance with a second straight win in the FXR Sport Class. Beau Tibbetts and Mitchell Thelen rounded out the podium.
- Brady Freeland made up some ground on points leader Aiden Pierson with a victory in 120 Champ. Pierson and Colin Taggart battled back-and-forth during the five-lap final, with Pierson getting the edge by less than four-tenths of a second.
Amsoil Championship Snocross, powered by Ram heads to historic Deadwood, S.D. January 25-26. Coverage of the series can be found on CBS Sports Network.
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