Yamaha snowmobiles had a successful Jan. 26-27 race weekend in everything from the snowy X Games in Aspen, Colo. to frigid cross-country competition in Minnesota and Maine.
Leading the charge for Yamaha was Doug Henry, formerly a motocross champion and now a snowmobiling inspiration, who led most of the X Games SnoCross Adaptive race aboard his FX Nytro RTX before ultimately finishing a close second. In Minnesota, Ben Lindbom won the 50-mile USXC Semi Pro Improved event, while in Maine, Erik Frigon grabbed a strong third in the 20-mile USSC East Pro Open race, both aboard Nytro RTXs.
Henry rewrote the motocross rulebook when he won the 1998 AMA Motocross title on Yamaha’s YZ400F four-stroke. After suffering a career-ending spinal injury in 2007, he then rewrote the rulebook for handicapped athletes by outfitting a Yamaha snowmobile with a special shock-absorbing seat to race snocross. After taking a bronze in X Games 14, this weekend Henry returned to Aspen and led nearly the entire final aboard his specially outfitted sled before finishing second to Mike Schultz and claiming a silver medal.
“My Yamaha gave me a great start and put me out front, and after that I just tried to have fun,” says. Henry. “Thanks to Yamaha Snowmobiles for getting me the equipment and to ESPN for putting on the event.”
Yamaha Snowmobile Racing’s Eric Josephsen added, “Doug started the four-stroke motocross era for Yamaha, and it’s awesome to see him continuing today with the four-stroke Nytro RTX. But even more important, Doug continues to prove that even the toughest challenges can be overcome with vision, focus and hard work.”
Cross-country racers in Oslo, Minn. faced brutal weather for the USXC Oslo 100, with temperatures of -5 degrees plummeting to -25 degrees due to icy winds. The 24.6-mile course was just as difficult, with half made up of natural terrain and the other half following a winding river – and plenty of concrete-hard snowdrifts in the ditches.
“Racing over this type of terrain is like driving a car over railroad tracks,” says Yamaha Snowmobile Racing technical coordinator Brian Strawsell. “It’s so unpredictable that it makes setting up the sleds particularly hard.”
Nonetheless, despite various challenges during the day, Lindbom had it all sorted out by the time the Semi Pro Improved race lined up. Although he drew the last starting position of 16 drivers, he passed every other sled in his class after two long laps to win by an amazing 2 min. 30 sec. – a total domination of the event. In other results for Yamaha during the day, Ross Erdman and Lindbom both put in top-10 performances in the morning Pro Open event. Yamaha’s Josephsen added, “I’m proud of Ben and Brian for working through their early setup issues, and then coming back to win the Semi Pro Improved race.”
Over in Parlin Pond, Maine, the 2013 USCC East series began with the equally frigid Lake Parlin 100. Here a five-mile course featured half woods trails and half frozen lake surface. Besides brutal wind chill, snow dust was a significant challenge, regardless of whether you were a race leader catching lappers or else a lapper yourself. Erik Frigon found this out after starting in fifth place and then working his way past the four sleds ahead of him one by one, ultimately setting the third fastest Pro Open time to grab a podium in the top race of the day.
“It’s awesome to ride this Nytro RTX on such cold days – the motor runs so good,” says Frigon. “Some of the two-stroke teams have to mess with jetting on a day like this but the Yamaha’s EFI gets the mixture right automatically. Plus the motor has a great powerband and tons of torque!”
Backing up Frigon’s podium finish, 19-year-old Raymond Petrin finished second in the Pro 600 race on another Nytro RTX, a great result for his first-ever event on a Yamaha. As well, Scott Brownell finished third in Semi Pro Improved on a Nytro RTX and Michael Ewaschuk finished third in Sport Improved on a Nytro XTX.