Ironwood, Mich., ~ Snocross made a triumphant return to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on Friday as the 2023-2024 AMSOIL Championship Snocross season kicked off with a full day of bar-to-bar racing. Fans crowded the Ironwood, Mich. ski resort to see the top Pro and Pro Lite riders go head-to-head in the 13th annual AMSOIL Dominator, a bracket-style race offering the winner up a $10,000 payday.
The trip to Mt. Zion marks the series’ first visit to Ironwood since the 2011-12 season when Tucker Hibbert and Ross Martin split the Pro Open wins. All eyes will be on one of the deepest pro fields in recent years, led by five-time defending champion Elias Ishoel, Emil Harr, Kody, Kamm, and Hunter Patenaude, and will also include rookies to watch Jordan Lebel, Ryley Bester, and Marcus Ogemar.
AMSOIL DOMINATOR Goes to Swedish Rookie
The AMSOIL Dominator has brought intrigue and excitement to the start of the snocross season for more than a decade. It has been won by the sport’s most established stars and riders on the cusp of greatness. But a rider has never taken the $10,000 payday on his first day of racing in the Pro Class, in his first race in the United States, until Friday night in Ironwood came about.
Several moments on Friday played vital roles in Gustav Sahlsten winning the sport’s biggest payday. Elisa Ishoel led Sahlsten in the second round when the defending champion was bucked from his sled. Hunter Patenaude was given a black flag when he jumped the start in round three. Then there was Sahlsten’s big moment when he hit an early jump in the final, allowing him to skip the deepening hole on a trick right-handed turn. It gave him the space and confidence to outlast Emil Harr and Kody Kamm for the Dominator victory.
The track was very tight, and I knew it was important to be out front in a race like this,” said Sahlsten. “I had to make a big move, and it worked out. This is good for my confidence going into tomorrow.”
Harr would finish second, with last year’s winner, Kamm, in third.
PRO AM WOMEN: Malene Cottew was looking for a fast start in her title defense in Pro AM Women, but it was a little too quick as Cottew jumped the start and had to shuffle to the back of the 12-rider field.
That put Inanna Hauger into the lead, and it was something that she wasn’t willing to give up. Hauger was on rails out front, leading the race from start to finish. Tasha Lange had to work through an early fourth-place position and into the runner-up spot behind Hauger on lap four.
As for Cottew, she charged through the field, making her way into the final podium position on the last lap.
PRO AM PLUS 30: Andy Lieders has been the top rider in Pro AM Plus 30 over the past few years, and he looked to open up his 2022-23 title defense with a win on Friday night. But former top Pro racer Corin Todd played the role of spoiler in Ironwood.
Lieders held the point for the race’s first half, but Todd found a tight alley to sneak through on lap four and won his first Pro AM Plus 30 race. Lieders kept him honest, finishing in second, one spot ahead of Adam S. Johnson.
SPORT: Dylan Lebel’s move into the FXR Sport class was a fist-pumping success as Lebel hit the start cleanly and led from start to finish for his first career class win. Kenny Goike got into the second position by the end of the second lap, crossing the line as the race’s runner-up. Kellen Chapuran was third.
SPORT LITE: Kye Doran’s debut in the Sport Lite class was a success. Colin Taggart grabbed a monster lead off the start but broke a belt with just over one lap to go, putting Doran in the lead. Doran was able to hold off a Caden Pflipsen for the win. Pflipsen finished a tight second, with Kamden Duffy in third.
STOCK 200: Jack Gelinas opened up the defense of his Stock 200 championship with an opening-round win in Ironwood. Kody Krantz worked his way up from fourth to second with a last-lap pass into the runner-up position. Connor Muir finished third.
TRANSITION 9-13: Defending class champion Tavin Knudson ran a perfect opening-round of racing to win Friday night’s Transition 9-13 final. Jimmy Stanisich was able to sneak around Victoria Dillon with two laps remaining for the runner-up spot ahead of Dillon.
JUNIOR 14-15: Wyatt Skogquist held off AJ Skogquist to take the opening round win in Junior 14-15. Wyatt Skogquist led AJ from start to finish, while AJ never relinquished the runner-up spot, finishing .699 of a second behind Wyatt. Hampus Hoeglund finished third.
TRANSITION 8-10: Kody Krantz had a great showing in Friday night’s Transition 8-10 final. He held the lead until the second to last lap when he and Tripp Knudson swapped positions. Knudson’s lead was brief as Krantz got the position back and picked up his first class win. Jack Gelinas finished second, and Beau Engel was third.
The 2023 season continues with the first round of Pro and Pro Lite racing on Saturday, December 16, at Mt. Zion in Ironwood, Mich. For more information about the 2023-2024 AMSOIL Championship Snocross season, visitwww.snocross.com. You can tune in all season long, live on www.FloRacing.com. Event day schedules and tickets will become available in the coming months atsnocross.com.