AMA Pro Hillclimbers competed in round 6 on Aug. 29 in Canaan, N.H. – the first time the series has visited the "Granite State."
Shawn Farnsworth won the Unlimited Class with the fastest time of the day in a wild body-flipping crash at the finish line. Nate Redmann scored a win in Xtreme Class and strengthened his lead in the series points. Sixteen year old rookie, John Koester won his second in a row in the Pro Sport Class. In exhibition Verti-Cross, Ryan Thibault took the trophy.
To welcome hillclimbers on their first visit, New Hampshire served up the best weather of the summer: clear blue skies, low humidity and an uphill breeze to clear away the dust. Ridge Runner Promotions, the event hosts, created a very technical hill to test the riders’ mettle.
The flat section at the start line rose to a jump over a rough pit and then got progressively steeper with each jump. The approach to the crest from 300 to 375 feet was a "wall" that made quite an impact with bikes and riders alike.
First up were the Verti-Cross riders with four heats followed by two semi-finals. Colby McCutcheon faced Thibault and Walter "Tiger" Strank raced against Vinny Nuzzolilli. Thibault and Nuzzolilli advanced to the final- held at intermission between pro bike runs. In the final Thibault took the win with a crowd-pleasing style over the crest while Nuzzolilli flipped his bike over backwards at the top in a side by side finish.
In the first run of the Xtreme Class, the advantage clearly went to the early draws. Redmann drew third, picked a good line and held on for a 5.922 second ride that set the bar for all who rode later.
Phil Libhart and Robby DeBusk followed and both rode in the high sevens. Then Alex Benner exhibited his all-out style for a 6.901 second ride- propelling him solidly into second at the half. Thibault edged Libhart out of third with a 7.488 second ride in the middle of the order.
The Xtreme Class order did not change in the second half, but not for lack of trying. Six riders bettered their performance, most notable was Thibault who shaved three tenths off his time- better, but not enough to move up. Redmann sat out and watched as no one came close to his time. The finish was Redmann, Benner and Thibault in 1,2,3 on the podium.
Points leader, Josh Lingle, lead off the Pro Sport class with a 9.026 E.T. Koester followed with an 8.674 second time to jump ahead. Ian Lau laid down a respectable 8.889 second ride for second at the half.
In second half Pro Sport action, like Xtreme Class, the order remained the same. Koester sat out and never needed to defend his position. The Pro Sport podium had Koester on top, Lau in second and Lingle in third.
Thibault blasted to the top of the hill and the front of the Unlimited Class in the first run with a 6.800 second ride. Jay Sallstrom crested very smoothly in 6.947 seconds, just behind Thibault. Shane Green let it all hang out for a 7.090 second ride with an over-the-bars inverted flip at the finish line. The impact broke half the spokes in his rear wheel forcing him to scratch for the second half.
Second half Unlimited action sure lived up to its name. Riders, desperate for a win, threw caution to the wind and one after another hit the "wall" at 350 feet until it and they bore the scars to prove it. Matt Luna crashed over the finish line, temporarily in second with a 6.920 ride.
Shawn Farnsworth hit, crashed, flipped and landed on his feet over the line for fast time of the day at 5.676 seconds. Sallstrom battled back into second place with a 6.613 E.T. Then, late in the order, Benner stopped the clock at 6.126 seconds to snatch the number two spot from Sallstrom. At the finish it was Farnsworth, Benner and Sallstrom in 1,2,3 for the Unlimited Class.
Series points leaders, first through third, are: Unlimited- Colby McCutcheon, Benner and Scott Campbell; Xtreme- Redmann, Libhart and Chris VanHyning; and Pro Sport- Lingle, Hoke and Mosko.
Round 7 of the AMA Pro Hillclimb will be hosted by the Bushkill Valley MC at Freemansburg, PA on September 12.
U/L: 1. Shawn Farnsworth (H-D); 2. Alex Benner (Hon); 3. Jay Sallstrom (Yam); 4. Ryan Thibault (Hon); 5. Matt Luna (Kaw).
Xtreme: 1. Nate Redmann (Yam); 2. Alex Benner (Hon); 3. Ryan Thibault (Hon); 4. Phil Libhart (Tri); 5. Robby DeBusk (Yam).
Pro Spt: 1. John Koester (Suz); 2. Ian Lau (Hon); 3. Josh Lingle (Yam); 4. Scott Hoke (Suz); 5. John Mosko (Hon).
Verti-Cross: 1. Ryan Thibault (Hon); 2. Vinny Nuzzolilli (Hon); 3. Colby McCutcheon (Hon).