WPSA SnoCross Duluth RESULTS
Polaris has established snocross dominance in the first race of the WPSA season, though #68 Tucker Hibbert managed to break that hold with a win for Arctic Cat in the November 25 Pro Open final.
Besides Hibbert’s spot, the top eight places in the Pro Stock final went to Polaris. Five of the six X-Games qualifying spots went to Polaris riders and the Pro Super Stock and Semi Pro podiums had no one but Polaris riders.
“It kind of took the wind out of our sails,” says Hibbert, who finished sixth in the Pro Super Stock final. “But we just pushed through it. We knew this mod sled was working well. Everything was dialed in, they were working hard on it back at the shop, and it was time to make them feel good about all the work they did.”
More than 10,000 people watched at Spirit Mountain Resort as he grabbed the big win of the three race days at the16th annual Amsoil Duluth National. The ski resort turned its snowmakers inward to make the only snowmobile track in sight, and over the 24 laps of the final the careful grooming came undone. “This is probably the roughest track I’ve ridden on in a while,” says Hibbert. “There was no rhythm out there. It was all about pounding and slamming your body into the holes. It was pretty brutal. I’m just glad I could get up here with Monster Energy and Arctic Cat.”
Hibbert returned to Snocross last year after racing only Supercross. He led in points last year when he left midway to race those motorcycles and that’s the plan again this year. “That’s my focus right now. I’m trying to tackle two sports, so it’s important for me to stay on track.”
He earned the top qualifying spot in that Pro Open final but ran most of the race in third place. #837 Ross Martin came from the tenth qualifying spot to grab the lead. A first place would have meant a sweep for him and Polaris, repeating his double wins last year in both Pro Open Pro Stock classes. This year he won Pro Super Stock, which has a new name after the racers upgraded from 440 ccs to 600.
Fellow Polaris rider #105 Levi LaVallee passed Martin first in the race for the Pro Open checkered flag, but lost the lead after throwing off his goggles. “I thought I was a snocross racer, not a boxer!” he joked. “I was taking some pretty good shots there. I had a good charge going and then I put my head down for some roost and knocked the strap underneath my helmet and it was coming down on my eyelids. I was doing eyelid curls with my goggles, and I thought, ‘Aw, man, this isn’t going to work,’ so I peeled those bad dogs off, and that was a bad move.”
Soon after throwing off his goggles in the last turn he saw the green and black charge from Hibbert through the dangerous snowy haze. “I could see everyone pointing, and I saw him in the top turn, I saw him just squirt out and I was like, ‘Oh, man,’ LaVallee recalls. The rough track is one reason he was in the lead, he adds. “Once it gets rough and crazy like that, I usually do better. I just keep plugging away and my endurance helps out a little bit.”
LaVallee lives two hours from Duluth and calls the Spirit Mountain track his hometown track. “The fans here are always loud and rowdy, so you’ve got to love that,” he says.
Martin means to step up twice on the podium at the next race in Shakopee Jan. 11-13. “Tucker rides really well and I think he’s going to be some tough competition, but I’ve done it before, I think I can do it again,” he states.
It was his first race weekend after shoulder surgery this summer “I’ve always had it where it’s really loose and any sudden movement could make it pop and now I’m not really worried about it,” Martin says. “My shoulder feels great. I’m pretty happy now that I got it fixed.”
He’s also happy for his brother Dylan, who stood at first place for the first time ever on the Semi Pro Super Stock podium. “It’s kind of a mental game with him. Nobody else can do it for him. He’s got everything behind him. He’s got the same sled I have. It took him to really do it,” says Ross. “One is just going to lead to another.”
#937 Dylan Martin admits it’ll be hard to overcome his brother’s winning history. “It’s hard to top it. It’s such a good team. We just fire it up every weekend,” he says. A review after the races closed pulled Martin from first to fourth when WPSA officials ruled that he passed under a yellow flag after another racer had crashed. The disqualification put him at 15th and brought #19 Brett Bender to first. “I’m sick of this second place stuff,” he said after the final, “First Bobby (LePage) was ahead of me and I couldn’t see anything, then Dylan jumped ahead of me and I couldn’t see anything, so I don’t think I saw anything out there.”
He fared better than #244 LePage, who earlier grabbed the Semi-Pro Open win from Bender, who lost his lead after some hard landings in the final. LePage was streaking to a sweep in the Semi Pro Super Stock when he fell off his Polaris in the tenth lap. He scrambled back on and salvaged his lead for six more laps to finish third (which became second after Martin’s disqualification.) “We had a good weekend. It would have been better if I didn’t fall off on that turn, but that’s racing,” he says. “I’ll settle for third place any day.”
The first and second wins made it an incredible weekend for LePage, who nearly died in 2005 at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn. when a snowmobile fell on top of him.
SPORT WOMEN 600; First place Stephanie Simard,Chibogamau, QC, riding Polaris (Royal Distributing/Bourque Auto/Polaris Racing). Battling her for second was Michaela Lemieux, Bennington VT, on a Polaris (Lemieuxs Lawn Care/Cycle Worx/Edelmann Sales). Melanie Acker, Bristol, VT also on a Polaris finished third.
SPORT STOCK; First place, his second victory of the day, went to Christian Salemark, Vindeln, Sweden, riding his Arctic Cat. Second place was Jared Selsmeyer, Crandon, WI, on an Arctic Cat (Torco Racing Fuel/ NGK Spark Plugs/Stud Boy Traction) with Jacob Mueller, Richmond MN, Arctic Cat (Zandstra Motorspors/Fly/Studboy) taking third.