Fans of snowmobile snocross who paid attention to Jordan Lebel’s dominance of the Pro Lite class the last two years knew this day would come. The Quebec native notched his first win in the Pro class at Deadwood, South Dakota, on Saturday by consistenly running toward the front in the three-round triple crown format to earn the top spot on the podium. Meanwhile, Jacob Yurk won the third-round race, a breakthrough for him as well.
However, coming out of Deadwood much of the talk is worry about five-time Pro class points champion Elias Ishoel. At the start of the third-round race, Ishoel’s sled his a kicker-bump as the 14 qualifying sleds funneled into turn one, and that put him directly in the path of an airborn Francis Pelletier. The driver and sled came landed on top of Ishoel, causing a red flag. Sunday evening on social media, both the host ISOC Amsoil Championship Snocross series and competitive race teams were all sending well-wishes Ishoel’s way, but there’s no official word on the status of his injuries
UPDATE: The Skogquist Race Team gave an update just before 10 a.m. central time Monday on Ishoel’s condition. It includes the following: “Please keep [Ishoel] in your thoughts and prayers as he heals from multiple injuries, including a broken femur, fractured elbow, collapsed lung, liver lacerations, broken ribs and fractured vertebrae.”
Here’s the press release on Saturday’s racing from ISOC:
Lebel, Dillon Lead Pro Snocross Classes in Deadwood Finale
Deadwood, S.D. ~ It was another historic night in a town deeply rooted in America’s history, specifically the country’s westward expansion.
Early in the 2023-2024 Amsoil Championship Snocross season, the winner’s circle was filled with past champions and the sport’s brightest stars. But the second night of racing featured a first for a pro-class rookie with immense expectations, a handful of weekend sweeps, and some situations that may heavily influence the remainder of the championship schedule.
Fast Rookie Lebel Capitalizes as Ishoel, Harr Crash In Pro Snocross
After Saturday night’s three rounds of Triple Crown racing, there is a lot to unpack. Several factors led to a pair of first-time podium finishers, including a touted rookie who broke through for his first win.
Emil Harr used a pair of quick-twitch reactions to push his red Polaris to the front of the field in the first two Amsoil Pro Triple Crown rounds. In each race, Harr held off challenges from Elias Ishoel as he efficiently handled the tight track and lapped traffic.
Ishoel was equally as quick but couldn’t find his way around Harr. He, along with heralded rookie Jordan Lebel, did find some extremely quick lines on the ever-changing track during the second race to put pressure on Harr at the end of the race.
It was expected that Harr would be sitting in prime position to take the overall with a 1-1 finish, with Ishoel right in the mix with a 2-2. But both riders were penalized for jumping on a yellow flag in the second race, putting Lebel in a points tie with Harr for the lead (Harr and Ishoel were each penalized three points).
The night’s drama continued immediately in the third round when Ishoel and Francis Pelletier both crashed hard off the start, knocking both riders out of the race and issuing a full-field restart. When racing started up again, Jacob Yurk squeezed past Harr in the first turn for the holeshot. Yurk felt early pressure from Harr and Lebel but rode his best race of the season to take the round three win.
In his roost, Lebel had made his way around Harr early and kept the round three winner at bay before Harr hit an edge and tipped his sled over in one of the tight 180-degree turns. That gave Lebel all the cushion he needed to pick up his first career overall win (officially going 4-1-2).
“It’s awesome to be up here with these guys,” said Lebel. “We’ve been working hard to finally be here in Pro, and I think all of our efforts – the whole team and everyone at home who supports us – finally paid off. I’m very happy to be up here, and it just feels awesome.”
Yurk’s win was a major boost to his overall finish as the young Arctic Cat rider went 6-3-1 after all the snow dust settled for second overall. Harr, credited with a ninth-place finish in round three, would end the night 1-1-9 and third overall. Ishoel, despite the crash, was scored 2-2-12 for fifth overall and remains in the overall points lead. An update on his condition was not known at this time.
Quick Starts Propel Dillon to Pro Lite Snocross Sweep
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That seemed to be Pro Lite points leader Crayden Dillon’s mantra over the weekend. He continuously lined up on the far right, outside position on the starting line, and nailed holeshot after holeshot under the Deadwood darkness.
Dillon’s start propelled him to another lead, and he quickly put distance on the field. That fast start was a blessing and a curse. The rookie was on lapped traffic sooner than expected, and the loss of clear vision became a race-long test.
“I had a really good line, and I was able to hit the triple on the first lap, which was huge,” said Dillon. “As soon as we got to the lappers, I couldn’t see Evan (Christian). I just held my pace and hoped nobody came up behind me.”
It was a great race for the runner-up spot between Evan Christian and Adam Ashline. While Christian held second place for the entire race, Ashline put him under immense pressure after catching his heel around mid-race. Ashline had an earlier battle with Nick Lorenz and had a late issue that dropped him out of the top five on the final lap.
Lorenz didn’t get the start he wanted, but he will be happy with the finish. He started fifth and showed good power and patience as he worked his way into a podium position on the final lap after Ashline dropped off.
Defending Pro-AM Women champion Malene Cottew quickly muscled her way into the lead on Saturday night. She turned in one of her best races of the season.
Cottew didn’t miss a beat on her way to her fifth win of the year and completed the weekend sweep in Deadwood. Naeli Lebel broke through for her first podium of the season by finishing second. Cerissa Blessum notched her second podium with a third-place ride.
PRO-AM PLUS 30:
There is expected to be a season-long battle between Corin Todd and defending Pro-AM Plus 30 champion Andy Lieders this season. With Lieders not in Deadwood, Todd needed a new dance partner. Former class champion Devin Denman was up to the task.
Denman grabbed the holeshot, with Todd back in third. Denman held the top spot until there were two laps to go when Todd made it around the race leader. They stayed tight throughout the remaining two circuits, with Todd finding his way around lappers for his second straight win.
Denman was less than second behind Todd in second place, and Ryan Frank would cross the line in third.
It was a breakthrough performance for FXR Sport snocross rider Tanner Johnson on Saturday night.
Brian Petersen led from the drop of the green flag, but Johnson was able to sneak past the race leader on lap 10. Johnson pushed away from Petersen and then kept late-charging Cameron Cole in his roost. It was his first win and trip to the podium this season.
Cole crossed the line in second, and Peterson was third.
It was a clean sweep for Lawrence Eeg in Deadwood, thanks to a strong race on Saturday night.
Eeg worked through early traffic and kept pace with race leader Caiden Pflipsen. But Pflipsen lost the lead to Eeg with two laps remaining before dropping to ninth. Eeg held down the top spot for the final two trips around the Deadwood track for his second win of the weekend.
Points leader Trenton Hilmerson moved from fourth to second on the final lap for his only weekend podium. Connor Campbell followed suit and finished third.
Kody Krantz became a first-time winner in the 120 Champ snocross class this season. Krantz went wire-to-wire for the victory. He stayed ahead of points leader Ryan Shimanski (second) and Tucker Kraling (third) for his third straight podium.
ROX SPEED FX STOCK 200:
Points leader Jack Gelinas hopped back on the winning step of the podium on Saturday night after the Rox Speed FX Stock 200 final. Gelinas grabbed the holeshot and led the entire race for his third win of the season. In his first weekend of racing this season, Koy Maruska crossed the line in second, just ahead of Tessa Naastad.
Trip Knudson’s quest to catch Kody Krantz for the Transition 8-10 points lead took a huge step forward in Deadwood. Knudson went wire-to-wire on Saturday for the weekend sweep. Dedric Schwahn earned his first podium of the season in second. Jack Gelinas finished third for the second night in a row.
On Saturday, Tavin Knudson extended his tight points lead over Jimmy Stanisich by picking up his fourth Transition 9-13 win. Friday night winner Stanisich was a few sled lengths behind Knudson and crossed the line in second. Gavin Brault held off Riley Johnson for third.
Colin Taggart made it a clean sweep of Deadwood’s Junior 14-15 class. Taggart earned his second straight win by pulling away from the pack late in the race. Points leader AJ Skogquist finished in the runner-up position for the third consecutive race. He held off Brandon Martinson at the line for second.
Tavin Knudson broke Jimmy Stanisich’s two-race winning streak by taking the top spot in Deadwood. Knudson got past Lincoln Meyer on the second lap and drove to his first win of the year. Stanisich ended up on the podium in second, with Meyer crossing the line in third.
JUNIOR GIRLS 9-13:
Avery Hemmer has opened up the 2023-2024 season with three straight wins after she won Saturday’s Junior Girls 9-13 final. With Hemmer leading from the start, Victoria Dillon slotted into the runner-up spot, leading to her third straight podium finish. Bailey Sheldon crossed the line in third.
The 2023-2024 Amsoil Championship Snocross season heads to Canada. It’ll be the Grand Prix de Valcourt for a Pro Only show in Valcourt, Quebec February 9-11.