AMSOIL Championship Snocross rounds five and six at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minnesota are always considered pivotal races in the 17 race series. If you don’t have your program on track by the time you leave the big horse racing facility, chances are it is going to be a long rest of the season.
Canterbury also tends to put all the cards on the table with an elevated drop-off start that takes some of the instant torque/horsepower out of the holeshot equation and a sizable Supercross-style track that places equal emphasis on speed, technique and rider conditioning. And yes, it is traditionally quite cold on the opening weekend of the new calendar year, so you have to check your excuses at the door because nobody wants to hear them at this point.
A number of new faces made their way to the podium during the weekend and parity among brands was as high as it has been all season. But a quick review of the results sheet showed two names, Kody Kamm and Tucker Hibbert, at the top that most would expect to be there all season. In fact, after witnessing the first four rounds coming in, many observers, ourselves included, thought this could be a season that Tucker Hibbert could go 17-0 on his potent Monster Energy/RAM/ Arctic Cat, barring anything crazy happening in the first turn at say Deadwood.
Ironically, it was the fast sweeper at Canterbury that derailed the T-Train. After winning both qualifying heats on Friday, Hibbert lined up on the outside of the Pro main event and was pushed wide and off the track in a melee that saw several riders tumble in the wreckage. With his right side handlebar completely sheared and dangling by the throttle cable, Hibbert threw his hands in the air in frustration only to then gather himself up, remount the sled and slowly ride away accessing the situation.
In the meantime, Kody Kamm, the one man who has beat Hibbert straight up this year, albeit in a two lap head-to-head race, was sprinting away from the field. Kamm, too, had swept his heat races and looked as good in the 20 lap final has he has at any time in his career. Adding to the victory lane celebration was Pirtek Polaris teammate Petter Narsa in second place, making for a 1-2 podium sweep for Hentges Racing at their hometown race in front of their title sponsor.
Tim Tremblay rounded out the podium injecting new life into his campaign after starting off with a pre-season practice crash injury and bronchitis which plagued him through the first four rounds. Tremblay’s teammate Lincoln Lemieux was also in podium contention until a broken belt parked him at the end of lap nine.
Hibbert, who made a brief stop in the mechanics area, returned to finish the race with one hand on the good side of the bars and the other somehow running the dangling throttle. With Lemieux and a couple others dropping out, he was able to salvage a few points that could come into play at the end of the year. Interesting comparison to watch Eli Tomac stop to zip his pants in the middle of a 450 Supercross main while Hibbert didn’t think twice about soldiering on one-handed. Although he may have had a little encouragement from his dad Kirk when he stopped in the mechanics area.
On Saturday Hibbert led wire to wire on a night where Kamm had a first lap problem of his own. The current champ raced his way from dead last back up to sixth, whereby finishing the weekend with a net gain in points on Hibbert.
Kyle Pallin had his best ride of the season finishing second. The podium not only was big boost to KP and the his team but it backed a solid performance on Friday in which he started on the back row, was off the track in the noted first turn pile up and came from 14th to fourth. Lincoln Lemieux turned his luck around to finish third on his AMSOIL Ski-Doo, his third podium of the season.