Shakopee, Minn. ~ AMSOIL Championship Snocross, POWERED by RAM has finally completed six full rounds of racing. After a blizzard knocked out racing in Duluth, the series split the make-up days over the next two weekends, and the start and finish of the second round was a perfect mix of old and new, with familiar results from the front runners as well as returns to the spotlight by several seasoned veterans.
Ishoel Back on Top, As Veterans Find Their Groove
Make no mistake, Ski Doo’s Elias Ishoel is a seasoned veteran. He has raced in the pro class for the past several seasons, but really burst into national prominence while winning the Pro title last year. While he has led the recent charge of younger riders in recent years, he was joined in the celebration at Canterbury by some well-respected experience on Sunday.
Ishoel bounced back after a solid day of racing that still saw him off of the podium for just the second time this year. As the number one qualifier, the Norwegian had the last pick on the front-row and ended up lining up on the far outside, which can cause problems trying to slingshot around the first turn. Based upon his start in the final, the Viking Rocket lived up to his nickname, hurtling off the line like a missile and through the first turn unchecked. Early pressure from Saturday nights winner Lincoln Lemieux kept the Boss Racing driver honest, but he quickly pulled away from the pack to pick up his fourth win of the season.
“It was so fun out there,” said Ishoel, who finished with two wins and a fourth at Canterbury. “The snow was really sticky, and it was difficult to get the speed up. But I was able to hold up and it was just an awesome race.”
The racing also held up nicely behind Ishoel, with a large dash of accomplished veterans getting back in the groove of championship contention. Arctic Cat’s Logan Christian was close to a podium on Saturday night, but a late incident knocked him off the box. On lap four, Christian found smooth lines to get past Lemieux and into second. A few laps later, Lemieux swapped out and went off the track, opening the door for Polaris’ Kyle Pallin to move into podium contention. Pallin had worked his way to the front by holding Oskar Norum and Aki Pihlaja. Once in third, Pallin kept charging towards his old nemesis, finally catching him and making the pass stick on lap 12. It was the second podium in a row for Pallin after finishing third on Saturday night.
“I would make a little run on Logan, then a mistake and lose it,” said a smiling Pallin on the podium. “Then I’d make another move and get the pass. It was so much fun racing with him. Logan’s always been a super clean racer and he made me work for it.”
The third place finish marks the first trip to the podium this season for Christian. The Christian Brothers Racing riders has been a longtime anchor of the Arctic Cat program and showed great speed and consistency all weekend long. Getting back on the box after a memorable race against a longtime friend made the moment even better for the Minnesota-native.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Christian. “Kyle and I have raced together since we were in the 10-13 class. Racing with him is how I grew up racing. He had a couple of better lines and was able to pursue his lines and get by me. It’s nice to get on the podium again and get that confidence back up.”
Pihlaja and Norum rounded out the podium in fourth and fifth, respectively.
Patenaude Rolls Again in Pro Lite
In the most positive way, Ski Doo’s Hunter Patenaude might be considered a very mechanical rider. The defending Pro Lite champion is flying around the race track this year, finding near perfect rhythm with each passing lap and just not making mistakes.
He proved his worth again on Sunday, picking up his third straight win, and fifth out of six races this season. Other than some bumping off the start, Patenaude held true to form by taking control of the race on the front stretch, getting ahead of Francis Pelletier. Patenaude put in an extremely smooth ride on Sunday, hitting his spots and pacing the field for the entire 12-lap final.
“Off the start, I got a great hole shot, a great jump thanks to the guys in the trailer,” said Patenaude. “I got into that first corner first and I must have checked up a little bit and felt a couple of people behind me. But I was just happy to get out front, so I didn’t have to worry about any roost.”
Pelletier is doing everything in his power to keep Patenaude honest. A winner in Fargo this season, Pelletier has been pulling off the line equal to the points leader but couldn’t find the right mix to get back on top at Canterbury. The Warnert Racing/Ski Doo rider ran a flawless race to finish second, his third straight runner-up on the weekend.
“I didn’t get a good pick today, so I tried to go inside and tried to make my lane work,” said Pelletier. “(the track) has been rough today, but we are back (on the box) and will get ready for Deadwood.”
Ski Doo’s Korbyn Anderson had a very good weekend of racing at Canterbury. The Michigan-native’s second straight third place finish was his third podium of the season, and enough to move him into third overall for the year.
“The track was a lot better than Fargo, and I think it showed more for the dominant riders in the class,” said Anderson. “This track was super, super technical and hitting that triple into the whoops every time was really the ticket. I don’t think I messed up that section once. I think that’s what paid off for me.”
Nickolas Lorenz and Riley Bester put on a good show to challenge for the final podium spot. The Polaris riders pushed up from mid-pack starts to finish fourth and fifth.
It’s six straight wins now for defending Pro Women’s champion Megan Brodeur. The Ski Doo rider grabbed another big hole shot on her way to the third win of the weekend. Taven Woodie slotted into second and Tasha Lange came across in third.
Despite the string of success, each race still has its share of challenges for Brodeur.
“Of course, there’s always a way to get better,” said Brodeur. “The track especially today, but just to be consistent, try my best and get the win.”
Yamaha’s Cody Matechuk took the first Moto win in Pro Snowbike, and KTM’s Jesse Kirchmeyer grabbed the top spot in Moto 2. Matechuck’s second in the second race helped him grab the overall on Sunday. He was joined on the overall podium by Brock Hoyer (3-3) and Yanick Boucher (2-4). For most of the riders, it was a great test before heading to Winer X Games at the end of the month.
“When we go to X-Games, we race on an outdoor style, motocross track,” said Matechuk. “This is very technical, tough. You make a mistake like I did there two laps in a row and Jesse got the best of me. The track was super gnarly today with that rhythm section, a little bit bigger, but it was fun.”
The first final of the day was a great race between Saturday Champ 120 winner Avery Hemmer and Wyatt Skogquist. The pair led from the field from the start, but Hemmer grabbed the early lead and was able to hold off the constant charge by Skogquist for the win. Aiden Pierson finished third.
AMSOIL Championship Snocross, Powered by RAM returns to Deadwood, S.D. January 24-25.