Shakopee, Minn. ~ The official start of winter started a little later this season, with a mid-January arrival applying a vice-grip across much of North America. Despite the harsh reality of winter’s frigid comeuppance, it was business as usual for the top snocross circuit on the planet went to work in frigid temps in Shakopee, Minn.
The Pirtek Snocross National has delivered the unexpected for nearly three decades, and it didn’t disappoint a standing-room-only crowd despite a wind chill that clocked in at negative 20 during Saturday night’s opening ceremonies. Those fans saw the familiar with dominant rides from the defending champions and some abnormality as the snow dust rose and the mercury dipped well below freezing.
Harr Capitalizes as Ishoel Slips a Ski
Last season, Emil Harr made a late-season run at Elias Ishoel’s points lead thanks to his incredible strength and smooth speed. He was also an unstoppable force once the series switched to the Triple Crown format, winning more of the three-race formats than any other rider in the Pro field.
Ishoel also found success last year in the Triple Crown races, and he handled the grueling format well on Friday, winning two of the contests and taking the night’s overall win. On Saturday, Ishoel was determined to sweep the night, winning a come-from-behind race one and going on cruise control in the second. But Ishoel’s quest to sweep and take another overall victory was strained when he broke a spindle early in the contest. With his ski flopping, Ishoel’s lead evaporated as he quickly dropped down the leaderboard, finally finishing 12th.
That left the rest of the field to recalculate their overall podium chances on the fly. With rookie Jordan Lebel flying around the track on his way to his first career Pro finals win, the positioning behind him in the third stanza grew in meaning. Harr found his grove in the second race and was looking to track down Lebel in the third for his first win of the season. He settled into third behind Francis Pelletier and pumped his fist in the air as he crossed the finish line, knowing his 5-2-3 (10 points) was good enough for the overall.
“I had a hard day yesterday, and I was not happy about it,” said Harr. “So, I tried to calm down and focused on having fun. We were able to bounce back and get it done.”
Pelletier just missed on the overall. He went 6-3-2 (11 points) to finish one point behind Harr and landed on the box for the second straight race. Despite Ishoel’s 12th, his two wins gave him an improbable 1-1-12 (14 points) line that was good enough for third overall.
Dillon Double Dips in Shakopee
Crayden Dillon put a perfect bow tie on an exceptional weekend of racing in Shakopee. One day after winning his second straight Pro Lite final, the rookie points leader won both heats and entered the final as the number one qualifier. He promptly charged around the first turn neck-and-neck with Anson Scheele and got some space a few turns later. That laid the groundwork for the young rider to sweep the day and the weekend with his third straight Pro Lite victory.
“In the trailer, I’m not even thinking about the last race, and just kind of getting over it and moving on to the next one,” said Dillon. “It really helps out a lot the track. That was great, and my team had that sled rippin’, and yeah, it was a great weekend.”
With Dillon out front, there was a lot of late-race shuffling for the final podium positions. Topi Posti found his way around Scheele on lap three and looked to have the position locked down with a few turns remaining. But Nick Lorenz navigated lapped traffic better than anyone else on the track and stormed past Scheele and Posti on the final lap to grab the runner-up spot from Posti with an authentic photo finish.
PRO-AM WOMEN: There are several racers across all classes that, if you are lined up next to them, you don’t want to see them grab a clean start because if that person hits the light cleanly, you will likely be seeing their taillight in a hurry. Malene Cottew is one of those riders.
On Saturday, the defending Pro-AM Women’s champion found perfect timing in the final, clearing the first turn a led length ahead of the field and was on the charge looking for her third straight win.
Inanna Hauger, who matched starts with Cottew all weekend, settled into the second position, driving to her fourth podium of the season. Tausha Lange followed Hauger through traffic to the finish line for her second straight podium.
PRO AM PLUS 30: The Pro-AM Plus 30 class racing over the past few years has been exciting, and the talent level is getting a big boost with the addition of former Pro rider Corin Todd.
Todd and defending champion Andy Lieders picked up their reestablished rivalry in Ironwood, with Todd earning a late race win. He would replicate his opening round success in Shakopee, taking the victory on Saturday night, with Lieders following in a close second. Bjarki Sigurdsson made his season debut with a third-place finish.
PRO SNOW BIKE: Friday night’s math to determine the overall Snow Bike winner took a few extra eyeballs to figure out, but Saturday’s calculation was much cleaner.
That’s because Friday night’s overall winner, Yanick Boucher, made the mathematician’s life easier by convincingly winning both motos. His 1-1 scores easily gave him his second straight win.
RJ Marnoch, who won Friday night’s second moto, went 2-3 on Saturday for second overall. Bobby Pagel avoided trouble, finishing 3-3 for third overall.
SPORT: Dylan Lebel has missed two straight FXR Sport podiums since opening the season with a win. After finishing 5-4 in his heats, he had some work to do in the final to get back on the box. But Lebel bolted off the line, and after an early battle with number one qualifier Brandon Nelson, he switched up his lines and pulled away from the field for his second win in four tries this season.
Nelson looked to be in control of the runner-up spot, but Kellen Chapuran went on a charge, and the two riders had a great race over the final two laps, with Chapuran getting the second-place spot on the last turn.
SPORT LITE: What a weekend of racing for Colin Taggart in Shakopee. After picking up his first Sport Lite win of the season on Friday night, Taggart nailed the start and pulled drove to a nail-biting finish as Trenton Hilmerson never quit and crossed the line .165 of a second behind Taggart at the line.
Taggart notched his second straight win, while Hilmeron’s runner-up finish marked his season’s first podium. Kamden Duffy finished in third place, his second-third place of the season.
STOCK 200: Sullivan Bergman grabbed the holeshot in the Stock 200 final and never looked back as he notched his first win, which was also his first race of the year.
George Boettger earned his second podium of the season as he slid past Brock Wilson at the finish line for second.
TRANSITION 9-13: Cody Moras picked up his first Transition 9-13 win of the year in another close finish Saturday. Jimmy Stanisich moved around Easton Kuhn with two laps remaining, and the pair chased down Moras. They would catch the race leader, with Moras edging out Stanisich by 3/10ths of a second for the win. Kuhn would finish right behind Stanisich in third.
JUNIOR 14-15: Kamden Duffy found a nice line to get past Carter Meyeraan on the first lap to take a lead he wouldn’t relinquish. Duffy rode smoothly and fast as he notched his second win. Brothers AJ (second) and Wyatt Skogquist (third) rounded out the Junior 14-15 podium.
TRANSITION 8-10: Kody Krantz now has three wins in the season’s first four races after putting in a dominant performance on Saturday. Krantz grabbed the Transition 8-10 holeshot over a 20-sled field and was never challenged for his fourth podium of the year. Axel Kruschke followed Krantz to the line in second, and Friday night winner Noah Gillis finished third.
120 CHAMP: Ryan Shimanski has been perfect through two rounds of 120 Champ racing this season. The Ironwood winner picked up his second win of the year on Saturday and was perfect in his four heat races. It was a tight race behind Shimanski as George Boettgerr and Kody Krantz crossed the line with only .013 of a second separating them. Boettger would secure the runner-up spot, and Krantz, who started in the back row, finished third.
JUNIOR GIRLS 9-13: Two rounds and two wins for Avery Hemmer in Junior Girls 9-13. The current points leader grabbed her second straight win by grabbing the holeshot on Saturday and never relinquishing the lead. Number one qualifier Victoria Dillon finished second, and Eleanor Schmidt was third.
JUNIOR 10-13: Jimmy Stanisich had a perfect record in Shakopee’s Junior 10-13 class. Stanisich, who also won both heat races, grabbed the hole shot and rode to his second win of the season. Tavin Knudson finished in the runner-up slot for the second straight race. Cody Moras rounded out the podium in third.
The 2023-2024 AMSOIL Championship Snocross season will return to action in Deadwood, S.D. January 26-27 for the U.S. Air Force Snocross National. For more information about the 2023-2024 AMSOIL Championship Snocross season, visitwww.snocross.com. You can tune in all season long, live onwww.FloRacing.com. Event day schedules and tickets will become available in the coming months atsnocross.com.