Martin, Malinoski earn Pro wins in ACCS snocross opener
Hibbert kept off the podium at Duluth National
Story by Staff, Photography by Gary Walton/Action Graphics, Nov. 29, 2011Email a friend Print Friendly RSS
Ski-Doo pilot Robbie Malinoski started his season off with a bang on Saturday, Nov. 26, pocketing a win in the season’s opening race and leading flag-to-flag.
Qualifying in the No. 3 spot, Malinoski charged hard out of the gate, nailing the $500 Stud Boy holeshot and pulling last year's Pro Open runner up Ross Martin (Polaris/Judnick Motorsports) and 3rd place Pro Open finisher last year, Tim Tremblay (Ski-Doo/Warnert Racing), to the first turn. Once into some clean air Malinoski ran flawlessly, holding anywhere from a 1.5 to three-second lead over Martin, with Tremblay roughly nine seconds back. The trio would finish in the same order, with roughly the same time separation at the checkers (Martin second, Tremblay third).
“Last year was a struggle with everything new and all. This year we hit the ground running,” says Malinoski, who placed fourth overall in the ACSS Pro Open last year. “And I'll tell you what - that thing was just cruising over the bumps ... and that's a nice place to be. It's been a long time coming being up here and it sure feels good to do it.”
On the opening lap the three-time defending champion at Duluth and defending Pro Open class champ Hibbert (Monster Energy/Arctic Cat) dropped off the radar - going from a fourth place start to dead-last 14th place. Off the track in turn three, Hibbert would gather his faculties and put on a solid charge back to fifth place.
On Sunday, it was Martin who would stand atop the podium. Joining Martin on the Pro Open podium was fellow Polaris pilot TJ Gulla (Hentges Racing) in second place Hibbert in third.
Martin got out of the gate on a rail, pulling the $500 Stud Boy Holeshot and leading the 15 of the world's top pro snowmobile racers through the first turn and into the early lead. In Martin's wake a massive wreck in the tricky downhill rhythm section collected Justin Broberg (Ski-Doo) and Brett Bender (Polaris), slowing a number of riders caught in the mess - including Hibbert.
As the carnage slowly cleared, Martin led Gulla, Johan Lidman (Arctic Cat) and a fast Tremblay - the day's No. 2 qualifier - through the opening lap. A mechanical issue on lap two would dog Tremblay, who pulled off the track in disgust. As Martin opened up on the rest of the field - including Gulla and Lidman - Hibbert put his head down and clocked in with a couple of the fastest mid-race laps of the day, including a low 33-second effort on lap eight.
When the crossed green and white flags at the finish line signaled the midway point of the race (ten laps to go), Hibbert had passed Lidman and moved into podium position. But his spirited charge at the lead would end up right there as Martin and Gulla rode equally strong, keeping the charging Hibbert at bay through the checkers.
This was the second success of the weekend for Martin, who also won Friday’s inaugural AMSOIL Dominator, an event that pitted 16 riders against each other in one-on-one, single-elimination competition. Martin took home a cool $10,000 for his efforts.
“It's been an awesome weekend,”’ says Martin. “We were prepared ... and I couldn't have done it without this team."
As for Malinoski, he could not transfer Saturday’s success over to Sunday and he failed get out of the qualifiers.