Corey Davidson and his Yamaha Apex made history by becoming the first four-stroke to win the nation’s oldest and fastest snowmobile race, the grueling International 500 held in Sault St. Marie, Mich. on Feb. 4.
Davidson, sharing the driving duties with teammate Travis Hjelle, took command about 451 laps into the 500-lap event on the famous one-mile oval, then stretched out a lead over the Pierce Racing team of Todd Krikke and Chad Gueco, who placed second on another Apex.
Yamaha’s domination at this storied event was made even more impressive by the fact that Yamaha four-strokes captured five of the top 10 positions.
A combination of speed and durability was the secret on race day as warm weather caused soft ice conditions, with the course eventually becoming so ragged that the clay base showed through.
With fuel stops every 85 or 90 laps and the occasional driver change, Pierce Racing’s Krikke and Gueco rode hard and stayed in front for most of the race. However, Davidson’s strategy was to set up his Apex to handle best when the track got rough, save his equipment during the early part of the race, and be ready to make his move during the last 100 miles.
With less than 50 miles to go things got interesting as Davidson caught and passed Krikke, then pulled out a lead of almost 30 seconds.
All of the racers competing on the new Apex seemed blown away by its responsive engine, speed and handling. “It worked awesome all day,” Davidson said. “I love it. That thing is so smooth and fast, it’s the best sled I’ve ever had!”