Davidson Teams With Travis Hjelle for Record 22nd I-500 Win for Polaris
Polaris Terrain domination extends to the legendary ice oval at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, where on Saturday, February 5, Polaris enduro racer Corey Davidson won the Soo I-500 for a record seventh time, more than any other driver in race history. Davidson teamed with co-driver Travis Hjelle for the victory that gave Polaris a record-extending 22nd Soo I-500 win.
It was the third Soo I-500 win for the team of Davidson, a 40-year old from Holt, Minnesota, and Hjelle, who is from Thief River Falls, Minnesota. Davidson was on the XLT Engineering/Stud Boy sled near the end of the race and he took the lead for good with eight laps to go. There was a late caution flag that bunched the field, but Davidson used the Polaris Liberty engine power to pull away in the final laps and win by 4.2 seconds.
Seven of the top nine teams to finish were on Polaris race sleds. Along with the winning duo, other Polaris teams included: Brent Vermeersch (Piche Performance Polaris) in third, Gabe Bunke (Bunke Racing) in fourth, Jeff Klein (Bunke Racing) in fifth, and Doug Kammeraad (Kammi Racing), who earned the pole position for the start of the race with a qualifying lap of over 91 mph, in sixth. Thomas Bell (R&R Racing) finished seventh on a Polaris and Cameran Rittenour (Wuppet Wace Team) finished ninth.
Thirty-five sleds started the race, which is the sport’s premier annual enduro event, and only two completed all 500 laps on the 1-mile ice oval.
Davidson, who is a United States Cross Country Snowmobile Racing Series (USCC) champion and is the current points leader in multiple USCC classes, also won the Soo I-500 in these years: in 2008 as a solo driver, in 2006 and 2003 with Travis Hjelle, and three straight years, 1998-2000, teamed with Steve Olson.
Among the record 22 Soo I-500 wins by Polaris sleds, several were achieved by drivers who achieved multiple wins in their careers. Along with Davidson, they include: John Wicht III, who drove alone to victories in 1988, 1992 and 1993; Troy Pierce and Todd Krikke, who teamed for wins in 1996 and 1997; and Gabe Bunke, who won with co-driver Mike Gentz, Jr., in 2002, and with Josh David and Davidson in 2005.
In the Pro-Am race held two days before the 500-miler, Dustin Fierek teamed with Todd Krikke for the victory aboard a Polaris. The Pro-Am is designed to give new or relatively inexperienced Soo drivers the chance to get accustomed to track and run in lighter traffic that they will encounter in the I-500. The newcomers run 20 laps, then their Pro teammates run 20 laps. Fierek ran well in his 20-lap segment and Krikke dominated in his 20 laps to give the Fierek-Krikke Polaris team the Pro-Am victory.