The first victory of the season was ripped from the hands of Marcus Johansson as he bombed the uphill run during Sunday’s Pro-Lite final at Spirit Mountain in Duluth, Minn. With both Johan Lidman and Andrew Carlson experiencing misfortune in Pro-Open and Pro-Lite respectively, it was the young Swede who set the tone early during Sunday’s Pro-Lite final, leading the 15-sled field for nearly the entire race.
“Up until that race we were feeling pretty down,” says team owner and manager Chris Carlson. “Marcus came out of the hauler on Sunday with fire in his eyes and he hit the track like an animal. I think everyone on the team was impressed with his tenacity.”
Johansson won his first heat race and found himself on the front row for the final. After a blistering holeshot, Johansson slowly began to open up a lead over the rest of the field and stretched it as the 20-lap race wore on. Then fate struck, as a previous lap yellow flag atop the hill tightened up the pack, Johansson bobbled on the up-hill run and ejected himself from his sled. By the time he remounted, he found himself out of podium contention.
With a relationship forged with the Carlson Motorsports team in seasons’ past, the team invited the young rider to race out of the Carlson mega hauler for the first two national events this winter before Johansson returns to his homeland for the holidays.
“We took a few lumps this weekend,” says Chris Carlson. “Being the first race of the season, Duluth is always a challenging place. So many things can unexpectedly come out of nowhere and bite you.”
For the Carlson Motorsports team a big “bite” was an unexpected snow ingestion issue with the recalibrated for 2013 Polaris race sleds. Pro-Open athlete Lidman was dogged by the issue both Saturday and Sunday, forcing him to qualify for the round one final from the LCQ and was unable to make the final during round two.
Pro-Lite talent Andrew Carlson didn’t fare much better aboard his Arctiva, Best Western powered Polaris; highlights included a second place qualifying run and a victory in the LCQ on Saturday. In the final however, heavy traffic, a difficult to pass on track, and a few mishaps added up to a sixth place finish at the line.
“It’s good to get these first races behind us,” says Andrew Carlson. “We got those butterflies out… and it was great to see big crowds cheering us on all weekend. Hopefully we can really give them something to get excited about in a couple weeks.”
With the next national two weeks out, the Carlson Motorsports crew will have time to resolve the air-ingestion gremlin and log some valuable laps at both their practice facility and possibly in regional action this weekend. The Blackjack National is slated for December 7-8 in Bessemer, Mich.