Hibbert, Martin win at WPSA
Arctic Cat’s Hibbert wins three of four Pro finals in season-ending doubleheader
Story by Lucas Cooney, Photography by John Hanson, Mar. 18, 2008Email a friend Print Friendly RSS
Hibbert rode his Arctic Cat to three victories and one third place finish in the four Pro races in the season-ending doubleheader, picking up the Pro Super Stock points championship in the process.
“It was kind of nice to finish out the year on a positive note,” Hibbert told Snowmobile.com. “We had a really good weekend, especially in the Stock racing with winning the championship and winning both main events. I think we won all but one of the qualifying rounds, so it was really good.”
Hibbert came into Lake Geneva 11 points behind Polaris’ Ross Martin in the Pro Super Stock points chase, but he simply couldn’t be touched in that class all weekend.
In the first Pro Super Stock final on Friday, Hibbert controlled the action and grabbed the checkered flag. Levi LaValle, Polaris, finished second, while Arctic Cat’s Matthew Piche was third.
Sunday played out much the same way. Hibbert again claimed the victory, while Martin finished second and Polaris teammate TJ Gulla completed the podium.
“It’s awesome to get another championship,” says Hibbert. “I’ve got two Mod championships and two Stock championships now, so it’s kind of nice to have a couple of each.”
Championships, however, were not really in the plans for Hibbert coming into the season. He has been focusing on motocross the past few years and was planning on racing snocross for only about half the season.
Since a couple of races were cancelled this year due to poor snow-making conditions, Hibbert found himself in the hunt for a title and couldn’t let the opportunity pass him by.
“We definitely didn’t plan on doing the whole series,” says Hibbert. “That wasn’t a goal of mine or something we really were working towards, but things change and it worked out that we were able to complete races to be in the championship final.
Though Hibbert’s performance at Lake Geneva ruined Martin’s chances at a Pro Super Stock championship, the Polaris rider still had plenty to celebrate at the end of the weekend.
Martin entered the weekend with an 11-point lead over Gulla in the Pro Open standings.
After struggling somewhat in the qualifying rounds of Friday’s Pro Open, Martin pulled it together in the final and fought off the field for the victory. Gulla was just behind Martin in second and Hibbert was third.
Despite the victory, Martin had a far from comfortable lead over Gulla heading into the final race of the season on Sunday.
“It was definitely really close,” Martin told Snowmobile.com. “It was kind of tough Sunday all day in my position, knowing I had the lead and one last final was going to determine who won and who lost.”
Gulla looked very strong in the qualifiers, winning two and finishing second in a third. Things looked even better for him after the final started, as Martin got hung up on the first corner and was sitting well back in 15th place.
Hibbert eventually took control of the race to pick up his third win of the weekend. Gulla made things interesting with another second place finish, while Ski-Doo’s Blair Morgan was third.
Gulla’s efforts, however, would fall just short. Martin fought is way back through the pack to finish fifth, which was just barely enough to hold off his teammate for the season title. Martin finished the season with 502 points, just a single point ahead of Gulla.
“Overall the whole season was definitely really good for me,” says Martin.
In fact, the season was really good to Polaris in general. LaVallee ended up finishing third in the Pro Open standings, giving Polaris the top three spots. Also, though Hibbert claimed the Pro Super Stock championship, Polaris riders took the next six spots it the standings.
Things were also rosy for Polaris outside of the two main Pro classes. Andrew Johnstad won both the Semi-Pro Open and Semi-Pro Super Stock championships, while Kylie Abrahamson took home the title in Pro Women Super Stock.
“Overall we won four of the six national championships, so I feel like we had a really, really good year,” Polaris race manager Tom Rager Sr. told Snowmobile.com. “I’m pleased with the effort and I’m pleased with the commitment that not only the drivers, but the teams and the mechanics gave us. It was 100 per cent whether it was a qualifying round or a final. I thought our guys did extremely well and I’m very proud of them.
“It shows the caliber of drivers we have and the commitment. Anybody can be a pro racer, but to be a pro racer at this level and be successful, it’s a tough thing to do. I asked the kids all to come to camp last fall in the best shape of their life and not one of them let me down.”
WPSA Pro Open Standings:
WPSA Pro Super Stock Standings:
|1.||Tucker Hibbert||Arctic Cat||493|