After a two week absence from the snowcross circuit due to a shoulder injury, Team Monster Energy-Yamaha-OTSFF’s Iain Hayden returned to action at a regional CSRA event in Kitchener, Ontario this past weekend.
Although temperatures were well above freezing and snow was hard to find in southern Ontario, organizers of the event managed to produce enough white stuff so the races could proceed as planned.
In addition to a good spectator turnout, most of the CSRA heavyweights attended the penultimate race of the season to get ready for the final National Championship round on April 10th at Horseshoe Valley in Barrie.
Despite riding conservatively and not taking any chances that might jeopardize his still vulnerable shoulder, Hayden rose to the occasion and finished the weekend with a noteworthy second place finish in the Pro Open class. His onetime teammate Steve Taylor was the only rider in the field to keep Hayden from climbing the top level of the box.
The weekend started off on a positive note on Saturday, when Hayden cruised to a second place finish in his qualifier. In his two qualifying heats on Sunday, he piloted his explosive four-stroke Yamaha FX Nytro to victory at the checkered flag, which gave him first gate pick for the 20-lap final.
Hayden took optimum advantage of his lucrative starting position top peg the holeshot. Taylor, who was in the mix from the get-go along with defending champ Lee Butler, snuck inside of Hayden to take the lead before the end of the first lap. They quickly distanced themselves from the pursuit group and it looked like the race was going to be decided amongst the power trio.
About three laps into the race, however, Butler seemed to be experiencing some kind of mechanical issues and he was unable to keep up the blistering pace. This left Hayden battling Taylor way but challenges for the lead went unrewarded with Hayden settling for second at the finish line.
“It was a good weekend. I hadn’t quite expected to do that well. I was just hoping for a top three finish. All I really had in mind was to get in some seat time and give the team mechanics a final chance to work on the sled under racing conditions before the last round of the championship in two weeks. As usual the guys did a great job and our Nytro ran like a charm. We’re all pumped for Horseshoe Valley. It should be one heck of a race,” said Hayden.
Hayden will be looking to nail down his fourth CSRA National Championship title at the closing round. To do that he will have to beat archrival Butler, with whom he shares 412 points.