Two of the top four spots belonged to FOX athletes when the 44th annual Soo I-500 Enduro race drew to a close this past February 4, 2012 in Sault Ste. Marie, MI.
Regarded as one of the most prestigious and grueling snowmobile races in the world, competitors race for 500 miles on a heavily rutted and worn 1-mile ice oval. After more than 9 hours of racing, Ryan Simons and D.J. Ekre finished just 16.475-seconds behind the leading team.
Qualifying 20th overall in the 38-sled field, the number 52 sled of Simons and Ekre moved up to the front of the pack quickly and was joined by fellow FOX athletes, Brian Dick, Gary Moyle, and Chad Lian aboard the number 66 snowmobile.
With warm temperatures and four days of racing, qualifying, and practice leading up to race day, the track had deteriorated dramatically–within 100-laps of the race, dirt was coming through the ice in several areas.
As the race wore on, the track worsened, and riders fought through dirt and exceedingly rough conditions—a scenario, which proved to be near perfect for cross-country veterans Dick, Simons, Ekre, and Lian.
As the race headed into the closing laps, Ekre and Simons was one of only two sleds still on the lead lap. They gave chase for the lead, but ran out of laps, settling for second place. The number 66 sled with Dick at the helm, finished just one spot off the podium, in fourth.
“The Soo (I-500) poses a unique challenge for suspension tuning,” said Rick Strobel, Snowmobile Race Manager at FOX. “Early in the week, the track is smooth and more like a typical ice race, but as you get closer to the end, the track becomes more like a cross-country race. We have to work closely with all our athletes in order to come up with a set-up that works across a wide variety of conditions.”
Next up for FOX athletes on the cross-country circuit is the USCC Grafton 100 in Grafton, North Dakota, Sunday February 12, 2012. FOX Snocross athletes will compete inside the Silverdome this Friday, February 10, 2012 as the ISOC tour stops in Michigan.