Swedish star Adam Renheim earned his second victory of the season Friday night, and then Daniel Benham claimed his first Pro class final of his career — and also became the first Pro class winner who wasn’t driving a Ski-Doo this year — in an exciting weekend of Amsoil Championship Snocross racing in Michigan.
Let’s right right to it, with the ISOC press releases from the weekend of racing, starting with the information on the Friday night racing (directly below) followed by the Saturday release.
Renheim Soars to Win in Michigan Opener
With the Polar Vortex slowly evaporating across America’s heartland, the setting was near perfect for round nine of Amsoil Championship Snocross, powered by Ram. Just outside the doors of the Soaring Eagle Resort and Casino in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, series officials set-up one of the largest tracks national circuit riders have seen in years, with large step-ups, tricky descents and enough rhythm for nearby Motown.
For Warnert Racing/Ski Doo’s Adam Renheim, the track set-up was perfect and the Swedish rider continued his impressive 2018-2019 campaign by picking up his second win on Friday night.
Renheim entered the Soaring Eagle Snocross National tied for second in points with Lincoln Lemieux, and just 25 behind front-runner Elias Ishoel. He’s also been one of the most consistent riders in the class, grabbing four podiums in the past six races, setting himself up for a second-half push towards the title.
Renheim seemed unfazed by the large layout, saving his best run for the final in which he battled Hentges Racing/Polaris riders Peter Narsa and Kody Kamm for several laps before securing the lead and his second win of the season.
It was easily Narsa’s best night of racing this season as the former X-Games Aspen gold medalist grabbed the Stud Boy Holeshot and held off Renheim until lap seven. After finishing fourth overall last season, it marked Narsa’s first podium this year.
His teammate Kamm might be proving the positive effects of winning heat races. Despite not having a main event win this year, the former points champion won both of his heat races and finished third behind Narsa. With eight heat race wins this season, he trails only Ishoel’s 10, and his strong night in Michigan vaulted him from fourth into a tie with Renheim for second overall.
After a tough weekend in Deadwood, Ishoel was able to increase his overall lead on Friday with a pair of heat race wins and a fourth-place finish. Lemieux, who has the most main event wins with four, was forced to an early exit after timed qualifying, and the effects of an on-going shoulder issue that kept him out of the Michigan opener.
The most talked about rider on Friday might be Aki Pihlaja, who had a scary dismount earlier in the program. The round eight winner was able to continue on and will be ready to race on Saturday.
In the Hunt
Scheuring Speed Sports/Ski Doo’s Hunter Patenaude spoke of having more confidence heading into Deadwood, and how the Scheuring Speed Sports team has delivered a steady stream of motivation over the past few weeks. It seems to have paid off as the second year Pro Lite driver picked up his second straight win on Friday night.
Patenaude came into the final as the top qualifier after winning both of his heat races. The Vermont native kept on the throttle in the final, grabbing the lead on the first lap and despite some late pressure for Arctic Cat’s Trent Wittwer, held on for the win.
Wittwer, a two-time winner in his rookie season in Pro-Lite, battled back from a fourth place start to finish second. Korbyn Anderson had his best finish of the year in third, just ahead of points leader Francis Pelletier. Patenaude was able to cut into Pelletier’s points lead a bit on Friday night, picking up seven points overall.
Friday Night Lights
- Melanie Anderson continued to ride out front in the Pro Women’s class. Anderson picked up her second win of the year and held off a hard-charging Megan Brodeur for the last few laps. Taven Woodie finished third.
- Jordan Lebel has only missed one podium in this year and won his third straight Sport Lite final. Jake Belair and Tyler Archambault rounded out the podium.
- After winning his second X Games Aspen gold medal last weekend, Cody Matechuk’s made his season debut on the national circuit in Mt. Pleasant. The Cochrane, Alberta native diced early on with points leader Harris Huizenga, but took control on lap five and won by nearly 15-seconds. Jesse Kirchmeyer finished third.
- Beau Tibbetts won his second Sport final of the season. Points leader Samuel Blouin finished second and Marco Travaglini nabbed his first podium of the year.
Benham Breaks Through For Team Arctic
Arctic Cat fans can finally exhale. After Tucker Hibbert retired last spring, the legion of green followers was wondering which of the company’s young riders was going to step up and be their next great champion. Team Arctic’s Daniel Benham has taken on the load of lead ambassador this season, and turned in a dominant performance in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, on Saturday night.
Benham has been streaky in his rookie year on the pro circuit of Amsoil Championship Snocross, powered by Ram. He has three heat race wins and a pair of fourth place finishes. He has led races and been in podium position in several others. As other rookies, and even some veterans, picked up their first career wins this year, the reigning Pro Lite champion was still looking to fill a spot on the box.
At round 10, the streakiness continued as Benham had to win the LCQ to get into the final. From there, he railed the No. 221 from the outside and into a first lap lead, one he wouldn’t relinquish during the 16-lap main.
“Yeah, I had tenth pick, way outside,” said Benham after the race. “I couldn’t believe how good I came off the line. I was able to carry momentum and I couldn’t believe I came up the hill first and was like ‘Wow! This is pretty special.’ I knew I had to keep calm and ride like myself.”
While Benham went wire-to-wire for his first career win, points leader Elias Ishoel did everything in his power to keep him honest. After starting seventh, the Ski Doo driver systematically worked his way up to the leader, applying pressure until Benham pulled away over the past few laps.
For the second weekend in a row, Arctic Cat’s Logan Christian worked his tail off for a podium finish. Christian started up front with Benham but dropped down to sixth before storming back and taking over the third spot with five laps to go. Polaris rider Kody Kamm finished fourth, and Ski Doo’s Aki Pihlaja rounded out the top five one night after having a huge crash that catapulted him off his sled.
Of note was the absence of Ski Doo’s Lincoln Lemieux, who came into the weekend tied for second overall, but missed his second night of racing as he dealt with a shoulder issue.
Another First Time Winner in Pro Lite
As the national circuit steamed towards Michigan, it brought with it an extremely competitive Pro Lite class. Six different riders, representing all three brands, had notched a victory in the first eight rounds of racing. To top it off, all six entered the season with zero combined wins in the class. With that much parity early on, there can’t possibly be another first-time winner left in the field, right? Enter Ski Doo’s Marcus Ogemar who despite not having a podium this year, was the best rider on the track on Saturday night.
Ogemar has been racing on the national circuit for the past four years and is finally seeing the fruits of his labor. The former world champion quietly made his way into third overall thanks to five heat race wins, including one on Saturday night. In the final, the Swedish rider worked his way from a third-place start and into the lead on lap three when he got around points leader Francis Pelletier. At that point, Ogemar was in control, found his rhythm and started stretching out his lead for his first career Pro Lite win.
“Everybody in the Pro Lite class can ride fast on this track, but I just found the fast line and tried to follow how the line developed,” said Ogemar. “I just tried to ride my own race and into the lead. It was a great feeling and I was able to take it easy the last three laps, and just kind of rode away with it.”
Friday night’s winner Hunter Patenaude couldn’t get his winning streak up to three, but a pair of heat wins on Saturday and runner-up to Ogemar helped the Scheuring Speed Sports rider close the gap on Pelletier in the championship chase. Pelletier had a mechanical during the final, giving him a DNF for the night, and what was a 31-point lead on Friday morning, is now just four points. Deadwood winner Nisse Kjellstrom finished third in Michigan.
Saturday Night Notes
- Megan Brodeur got back in the winner’s circle in Michigan, as the Pro AM Women’s points leader went from third to first to pick up her sixth win of the year. Melane Andersen continued her mid-season surge, finishing second ahead of Taven Woodie. Andersen and Woodie are now tied for second in the championship standings.
- The year-long battle for supremacy in Pro 30 Plus looks like it will go down to the end this year. Zach Pattyn and Matt Pichner went 1-2 at Mt. Pleasant, giving Pattyn a three point lead over Pichner.
- Jordan Lebel had won three straight, but it was a late charge by Drew Freeland who picked up his first win in Sport Lite. Freeland crossed the AMSOIL finish line just .884 seconds ahead of Lebel, who crashed hard, but was able to battle to the finish. Lebel did get the best of Freeland in Jr. 14-15. It was Lebel’s third win and fifth podium in the class this season.
- Arctic Cat’s Anson Scheele won his first Sport final with a wire-to-wire effort. Beau Tibbetts and Samuel Blouin rounded out the podium.
- Cody Matechuk went back-to-back in Michigan in SnowBike. The X Games gold medalist won by 12.5 seconds over Jesse Kirchmeyer on Saturday night.
- Kellen Chapuran has now won all five national Transition 9-13 and all five Jr. 10-13 events this season.
- Dylan Lebel took the lead over Gavin Oldefendt with two laps to go to win his fourth national Transition 8-10 final.
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