Press Release –
The World PowerSports Association (WPSA) opened the 2006-07 snocross campaign in traditional fashion with the Duluth National, held Nov. 24-26 at Spirit Mountain.
When the snow dust settled, Team Arctic racers had collected double digit podiums in the top classes and a pair of Arctic Cat drivers earned hard-fought invitations to Winter X Games ’07. It looks to be a banner season for Team Green.
In one of the most eagerly-anticipated snowmobile racing events in recent memory, Tucker Hibbert returned to a WPSA National for the first time since the 2002-03 season.
As always, Hibbert was fast; he scored the No. 2 seed through qualifying in both Pro Open and Pro Stock and took a strong 5th in the Open main.
In the Stock final, Tucker – who has the second-most National victories in WPSA history – got a great start but was caught up in another driver’s accident.
While the crash kept Hibbert from the podium, nothing could stop Garth Kaufman. The 22-year-old got nailed in a corner by Blair Morgan but still found a way to pass Morgan.
In the process, Kaufman earned his first career Pro-class top-three and he wasn’t done, either: Kaufman got another third in Pro Open. “It’s certainly a great way to start the year, especially for the team” said the Star Performance/Arctic Cat rider. “The crew has all worked so hard. I don’t know if we were expected to be a threat, but this should show people we’re for real.”
“Garth has a lot of skill; I wasn’t surprised at all that he performed like that,” said Arctic Cat Race Manager Russ Ebert. “He and Star Performance are going to be very good.”
Speaking of very good, Dan Ebert and Ryan Simons both earned Winter X Games ’07 invites by finishing second and third, respectively, in their Winter X races. Simons – who placed 6th and 7th in the Pro finals at Duluth – will certainly be a medal threat in Aspen: He was 5th in the snocross showcase in both ’05 and ’06.
Competing against Pro drivers for the first time, Ebert impressed everyone with his great showing. It was part of an excellent weekend for him; Ebert sandwiched a pair of Semi-Pro podiums around his Winter X-worthy ride. “Danny is so dedicated and still improving as a racer,” said Cat’s Mike Kloety. “His work ethic and how he studies the track and communicates with his team sets him apart from most his age.”
In the 35 Pro Plus division, Cat’s Kirk Hibbert and Tuffy McDonald both landed on the box, as did Angela Vacchino in the Women’s class and Bill Smith in Sport Stock. Johan Lidman drove to victory in Junior 16-17, with Kyle Pallin second.
“We got our share of podiums and we’re pleased with that,” said Ebert. “Our equipment is very competitive and the machine’s durability seems to be excellent, which is a tribute to engineering. I think additional seat time for our riders will make a tremendous difference.”
In one injury update, Carl Schubitzke was landed on while leading a Winter X Invitational heat race.
He eventually left the track under his own power, and Ebert reports that Schubitzke should be fine and is expected to compete again this coming weekend.