RACE REPORT: Libhart Doubles at Freemansburg Hillclimb

NEWS June 12, 2011

RACE REPORT: Libhart Doubles at Freemansburg Hillclimb

FREEMANSBURG, Pa. (June 12, 2011) - Phil Libhart won double at Round 2 of the 2011 AMA Pro Hillclimb series at Freemansburg, PA, taking top honors in both the Xtreme and Unlimited Class. John Koester took the win in Pro Sport, moving up from his second place finish from the previous week. History was made in Exhibition Hill-Cross (think uphill Moto-Cross) when a series-first saw four bikes launch up the hill simultaneously, handlebar to handlebar, in a mud-slinging free-for-all to the top. In the end, it was Stephen Carlin who battled the hardest and captured the win.

Pro Sport rode first with a field of nine riders, yet only Koester, Joey McKrush and Ian Lau were able to conquer the hill in the first half and make it to the top. Koester rode solidly and posted the fastest time at 19.177 seconds. Last week's champion, McKrush, topped the hill in just less than 22 seconds. Ian Lau seized second place when he flew up the hill in 19.225 seconds. Most of the other competition stopped or crashed between the 200 and 300 feet markers.

Pro Sport riders grasped a new game plan from their first run experience, and in the second half, Matt Gillespie and Amanda Campbell were able to put their front wheels over the finish line. Gillespie rode over the finish line in 21.357 seconds, moving into third place ahead of McKrush. Campbell scored a 22.26 second time, just off the pace needed for the podium. McKrush battled back, vying for a spot with the winners, but came up short, crashing at a heartbreaking 20 feet shy of the finish line. Koester sat out the second run to see if anyone could beat his time. Lau rose to the occasion, shaving off more than eight-tenths of a second from the time to beat. With the tides beginning to turn, Koester was given no choice—he had to ride. He responded to Lau's challenge in a big way, knocking off a whopping two seconds to crest at 16.172 seconds. The Pro Sport podium featured Koester, Lau and Gillespie (his first Pro Sport podium appearance).

Exhibition Hill-Cross followed the Pro Sport final. In the first heat, Chris VanHyning and Shane Green moved ahead to the winner's bracket leaving Jay Sallstrom and Colby McCutcheon in the mud. Heat number two started out with a false start, but after the restart, Stephen Carlin pulled ahead with Bryan Rusnak close at hand. Together they pummeled Libhart and Greg Coyne with flying mud and rocks. Coyne commented on the muddy battle stating, “I’ve never eaten so much dirt in my life”.

Hill-Cross heat three ran during intermission, moving Carlin and Rusnak onto the final and leaving Green and VanHyning to fight to remain in the competition. Green and VanHyning made it through and eventually faced Carlin and Rusnak again in the final. At the finish it was Carlin on top, followed by Rusnak, VanHyning and Green. When asked about his winning edge, Carlin stated, “It’s coming out of hole fast, holding a good line and just keep on pulling.”

The Xtreme Class got off to a smooth start with Rusnak stopping the clock at a fast 11.907 seconds. 2010's third place Pro Sport rider John Mosko moved into the Xtreme Class this season. He was stopped at a wrenching 450 feet, just 50 feet from the top. VanHyning became mixed up near the bottom, but recovered and moved ahead of Rusnak by nearly two-tenths of a second. Robby DeBusk, riding with a broken wrist, moved into third with a 12.305 E.T. Tiger Strank took a hard hit on a bad landing after the first jump, triggering a crash and subsequently sending him to the hospital. Although treated and released, he was scratched for the day. Riding late in the order, Libhart picked the far right hand line and drove hard, setting the time to beat with a smooth and powerful ride at 10.532 seconds. At the half it was Libhart, VanHyning and Rusnak standing in the top three spots.

In the second Xtreme Class run, each rider was gunning to beat Libhart’s time, as he sat out to see if he would have to ride at all. Redmann was the closest with a heart-stopping 10.553 second ride, a mere two-hundredths behind Libhart, pushing VanHyning to third. Coyne was stopped at 499 feet, just one foot short of the finish line. Rusnak, Sallstrom and DeBusk all clocked in around the high 11's, nipping at VanHyning's heels, but not enough to bump him off the podium. In the end, Libhart, Redmann and VanHyning made it to the podium.

In the Unlimited Class, Colby McCutcheon had a swift ride at 12.9 seconds, despite nearly getting thrown of the bike at the 200 feet marker. Following close behind, newcomer Vinny Nuzzolilli rode fast and smooth at 12.944 seconds, just a hair behind McCutcheon. Scott Campbell charged into first with a skillful ride with an 11.552 E.T. In a sudden turn of events, Redmann took over first with a 10.865 second ride, while VanHyning squeezed into second at 11.272 seconds. But, riding last in the order, Libhart showed them how it's done in just 10.761 seconds for the ultimate lead. At the half Libhart was in front, followed by Redmann and VanHyning.

For second half Unlimited action, Libhart played the waiting game again on the sidelines, while the field aimed to trounce his time. McCutcheon moved ahead, pushing VanHyning off the podium. Nuzzolilli knocked more than a second off his own time, Campbell rode fast, as did Redmann, but none were able to challenge Libhart. At the final it was Libhart with the win, followed by Redmann in second and McCutcheon in third.

Libhart was all smiles at the awards stating, “This is the first time that I have doubled since '07. The biggest part was getting through the bottom clean.”

The next face off for AMA Pro Hillclimbers will be at the Ogemaw Hills Bike Week Hillclimb at West Branch, MI for Round 3 on Sunday, July 10th.

U/L: 1. Phil Libhart (Tri); 2. Nate Redmann (Yam); 3. Colby McCutcheon (Yam); 4. Chris VanHyning (Yam); 5. Scott Campbell (Suz)

Xtreme: 1. Phil Libhart (Tri); 2. Nate Redmann (Yam); 3. Chris VanHyning (Hon); 4. Jay Sallstrom (Hon); 5. Bryan Rusnak (KTM)

Pro Spt: 1. John Koester (Suz); 2. Ian Lau (Hon); 3. Matthew Gillespie (Hon); 4. Joey McKrush (Suz); 5. Amanda Campbell (Hon)

H/X: 1. Stephen Carlin (Yam); 2. Bryan Rusnak (Suz); 3. Chris VanHyning (Hon); 4. Shane Green (Hon)

For complete results for this event, as well as up to date points standings, please visit the AMA Pro Racing Hillclimb page.

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