When Pro Hillclimbers converged on Poags Hole in Dansville, N..Y, last weekend, Harold Waddell had a great day, winning the Unlimited Class and exhibition Verti-Cross Hillclimb and taking second in the Xtreme Class.
Jason Smith won the Xtreme Class and rookie John Koester took the win in his first Pro Sport appearance, making hillclimb history by being the first Pro Sporter ever to crest Poags Hole.
Heavy rain soaked the hill and pooled in the pits the morning of the race, leading some to wonder if the race would run. But hillclimbing is an all-weather sport and with a growing crowd of hardy fans, the show must go on.
Poags Hole draws a large number of entries- AMA riders vying for championship points plus NAHA riders gunning for a chunk of the winnings. 2010 topped out at 74 pro class bikes and eight Verti-Cross machines.
Pro Sport launched promptly at noon, with the rain still falling. Scott Hoke rode fifth and reached 685 feet- almost to the crest. Then John Koester rode, cresting in 21.141 seconds- a Pro Sport hill record. In Pro Sport’s second run, David Jude II edged out Hoke by a scant two-feet for second place. Points leader, Josh Lingle, finished a disappointing eleventh, giving up nearly half of his lead against Hoke.
In Xtreme Class, Phil Libhart topped the hill first at 21.841 seconds. Chris VanHyning posted a 22.835 ride, a second off Libhart’s pace. Then Waddell rode flawlessly at 19.325 seconds, the time to beat. Travis Whitlock rode last and crested at 21.759. At the half it was Waddell, Whitlock and Libhart in the top three.
In second half Xtreme action, VanHyning fought back with a 21.391 temporarily in second. Riding third from last, Jason Smith screamed over the top in 17.999 seconds for the lead, forcing Waddell to defend his position. He rode faster than the first round by three tenths but settled for second behind Smith. At the final it was Smith, Waddell and VanHyning on the podium.
The fastest rider in the Unlimited Class first half was a brand new rookie, Jay Sallstrom, licensed days before the race. He’d never before seen Poags Hole nor ridden a nitro bike. Riding last in the order, right after a sizzling 17.823 second performance by Waddell, Sallstrom blasted up the hill and over the top in 17.742 seconds to the amazement of riders, fans and himself. He was on top at the half.
Dusty Beer posted a 19.016 ET in the Unlimited Class second half, squeezing into third. Then Whitlock knocked him back by jumping from ninth to first with a 17.511 second run. Waddell rode next to last and broke 17 seconds, pushing Whitlock and Sallstrom back one spot each. Sallstrom rode last but couldn’t beat Waddell or Whitlock, remaining third.
In exhibition Verti-Cross (think- vertical moto-cross), eight riders faced off in four heats. The winners moved on to the semi-final with Stephen Carlin facing VanHyning and Waddell opposing Smith. In the final Waddell took on Carlin and came out on top for the win.
Series points leaders, first through third, are: Unlimited- Colby McCutcheon, Scott Campbell and Benner; Xtreme- Nate Redmann, Libhart and VanHyning; and Pro Sport- Lingle, Hoke and Mosko.
AMA Pro Hillclimbers will race next at Canaan, NH for round 6 on August 29.
AMA Pro Hillclimb Dansville Results
U/L: 1. Harold Waddell (Suz); 2. Travis Whitlock (KTM); 3. Jay Sallstrom (Yam); 4. Dusty Beer (Kaw); 5. Chris VanHyning (Yam).
Xtreme: 1. Jason Smith (Yam); 2. Harold Waddell (Suz); 3. Chris VanHyning (Hon); 4. Travis Whitlock (KTM); 5. Phil LIbhart (Tri).
Pro Spt: 1. John Koester (Suz); 2. David Jude II (Hon); 3. Scott Hoke (Suz); 4. Brandon Novak (KTM); 5. Matthew Gillespie (Hon).
Verti-Cross: 1. Harold Waddell (Suz); 2. Stephen Carlin (Suz); 3. Jason Smith (Yam).