Bunke Racing launched into the snowmobile enduro racing season in winning style as co-drivers Gabe Bunke and Aaron Christensen teamed up to win the Kinross (Mich.) Lions Club 500 on January 10.
They led a Polaris sweep of the top three spots, and the victory put the Bunke Racing team in the lead in both Midwest International Racing Assn. (MIRA) points and in the No Bull Triple Crown competition.
The 500-lap Kinross race was trimmed to 400 laps because of darkness, and the winning Bunke Team was one of just four teams to complete all 400 laps.
They won by just over 3 seconds ahead of the Team Blu Polaris sled raced by Cardell Potter and James Hicks. Finishing third, 12 seconds behind the Bunke sled, was the Hoos Racing Polaris piloted by Tyler Nickel and Cody Bauer.
The Hoos Racing entry had qualified fastest and started on the pole, while Team Blue started second, and the winning Bunke Racing sled started 17th.
The top three Polaris teams ran near the front of the field for most of the race, but their positions changed significantly over 400 laps. On Lap 154, for instance, Team Blue led, Bunke Racing was one lap back in fifth place, and Hoos Racing was in ninth, three laps behind the leader.
Bunke and Christensen are the three-time defending champions of the premier event in enduro racing, the Soo I-500, which is the second race in the No Bull Triple Crown. The winners of the new Triple Crown series will be determined by their finishes in three enduro races: The Kinross 500, the Soo, and the Michigan Cat 500 in Lincoln, Michigan. The Soo will be run on Feb. 7 in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and the Cat 500 will be held Feb. 21.
The Triple Crown purse totals $30,000, with the winners guaranteed to win at least $15,000.
With the Kinross win, Bunke Racing lead in MIRA points with two points races to go: The Caro (Michigan) 150 on January 24-25, and the Cat 500. The Soo I-500 is a non-points race.
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