Polaris pilots split Pro Open class wins in Minnesota
Tucker Hibbert’s perfect start to the AMSOIL Championship Snocross series came to an abrupt end this weekend in Minnesota as Ross Martin and Kyle Pallin kept him out of the top spot on the podium in both Pro Open main events.
All eyes were on Hibbert (Monster Energy/Arctic Cat/Ram) at the start of Friday’s Pro Open main. The No. 1 qualifier was a perfect 4-0 this season and sitting on 99 career wins. But Hibbert got pinched at the start, forced to the outside (eighth place off the line), while former Pro Open champ Tim Tremblay (AMSOIL/Scheuring/Ski-Doo) pulled the Stud Boy Holeshot, followed closely by Martin (Judnick/DuPont/Jack Links/Polaris).
Tremblay and Martin briefly swapped the lead a couple times in the first few corners before Martin set Tremblay up by tripling out of the finish line jump and railing to the lead around the first turn. From there Martin was absolutely masterful, with famed AMSOIL Championship Snocross announcer Mike Schroeder calling out “The Boss is back!” to the Canterbury faithful that braved the cold temps to watch what amounted to the best main event of the year thus far.
“Unbelievable,” said Martin atop the podium. “This is where I belong. My confidence is back and I’m going for it … so look out!”
With Martin up front attention turned to the battle for second and third between Tremblay and Kody Kamm (Hentges Racing/Polaris). Tremblay rode a wide sled and held off Kamm, the two bumping but keeping the momentum going. This allowed Martin to extend his lead, while Hibbert was charging up through the pack.
Great racing continued through the mid-race laps as Hibbert moved past Kamm and into third, then got past Tremblay on lap seven – setting his site on frontrunner Martin, who had a five-second lead. With six laps to go Hibbert cut Martin’s lead to four seconds, but came down awkward off the triple behind the finish line (where he previously passed Tremblay) and had to throw it away so he wouldn’t overshoot the first corner. Hibbert was able to remount, but by then Martin, Tremblay and Kamm were gone – as was the hope for his 100th win.
As Martin continued to rail up front, his lead grew to 7.5 seconds over Tremblay. Riding consistently and hitting all his marks, Martin scored his first win of the year, upsetting both Hibbert’s four-race undefeated streak and his quest for 100 wins.
Tremblay ran pretty much uncontested into second place, with Kamm following in third.
Rounding out the top five were Logan Christian (Christian Brothers Racing/Arctic Cat) in fourth and Hibbert in fifth.
In Saturday’s Pro Open main, Kyle Pallin (Mystic/Loctite/Polaris) parlayed the Stud Boy Holeshot into the early race lead – much as he’s done in numerous main events the past two seasons. But this time Pallin managed to hold on to the lead from start to finish, scoring his first-ever Pro Open class victory.
“Oh my gosh – I could not be more pumped,” says Pallin. “I got the holeshot and got out in front and just kept telling myself ‘This is my night and nobody’s going to take this lead from me.’ So the holeshot was huge and this was a great win for the Mystic/Loctite/Polaris team!”
Rocketing out of the start alongside Pallin was Ross Martin. Martin showed a ski to Pallin a couple times on the first lap, while also playing a bit of a cat and mouse game with line selection. But by lap two Pallin had opened up a 1.2 second lead on Martin, and continued to build on that throughout the course of the rrace.
Joining Pallin and Martin up front early on was Tim Tremblay. The three separated from the rest of the pack, clicking off fast lap after fast lap – all at pretty much identical times.
Stuck back in the pack after a self-described “terrible” start was Tucker Hibbert. Again the No. 1 qualifier, Hibbert was running in seventh place as the race neared its midway point and it was looking like he would not have enough time to catch Pallin. But he sure did try.
Moving up to fifth place by the end of lap eight, Hibbert was 9.5 seconds back of Pallin. By lap nine he’d made it up to fourth, getting past Hentges Racing/Polaris’ Kody Kamm. But that effort alone took two laps, and it wasn’t until lap 12 where Hibbert caught up to Tremblay and made a pass for the podium.
“I rode really bad for the first five or six laps,” says Hibbert. “I gave it everything I had, but Kyle and Ross rode really well tonight.”
With Pallin’s pending victory never really much in doubt, Hibbert caught and passed Martin on the white flag lap, but just flat ran out of time in his pursuit of Pallin. Rounding out the top five on Saturday were Tremblay in fourth and Kamm in fifth.