RACE REPORT: Sallstrom, DeHart, Lau Win at West Branch Hillclimb

NEWS July 10, 2011

RACE REPORT: Sallstrom, DeHart, Lau Win at West Branch Hillclimb

WEST BRANCH, MI (July 10, 2011) - Ogemaw Hills Bike Week, in its 27th year at West Branch, MI, has a history of hosting various forms of motorcycle racing. This year's bike week featured, for the first time ever, an AMA Pro Hillclimb as the kick-off event. Pro hillclimbers from eight different states faced off on a 250-foot hill covered with a mix of sand, gravel, rocks, and clay that served up a tall challenge for riders and machines alike.

The hill seemed to have it in for the bikes attempting to scale its steep slope. The hill claimed numerous chains, a swingarm, and even sheared off every spoke of Xtreme class Jay Sallstrom’s rear wheel. The riders rose to the hill's challenge with the top riders in the pro classes all posting times of five seconds or less, and contenders in Pro Sport setting low six second E.T.'s. In the end, three riders emerged victorious: Jay Sallstrom in the Unlimited class, Anthony DeHart in the Xtreme class, and Ian Lau in Pro Sport.

Early in the Xtreme class first run, Nate Redmann crossed the finish line in 4.119 seconds for the lead. Redmann’s lead was short-lived though, as Anthony DeHart threw down the gauntlet with a 4.028 second ride, moving himself into first. Rider after rider tried to beat Dehart’s time, but none availed. Phil Libhart was the closest competition, coming within a quarter-second of DeHart's time before the intermission. At the half, it was DeHart, Redmann and Libhart in the first, second and third spots, respectively.

Next, Pro Sport riders prepared to take their first ride, with Amanda Campbell setting the pace at 6.837 seconds. Local favorite Kyle Klug, riding Pro Sport for the first time, was brought to a standstill at 177 feet. Andrew Coyne crested at 6.984, just behind Campbell’s time. Then Ian Lau, riding last in the order, flew over the bottom jump and blasted to the top in 6.680 seconds for the lead. Halftime standings were: Lau- first, Campbell- second, and Coyne- third.

Unlimited class hillclimbing got off to a rough start with the first five riders stopping short - mostly due to broken drive chains. Riding sixth, Redmann broke the pattern and crossed the finish line at 4.593 seconds and the race was on. Libhart rode three tenths faster, moving into first place. Walter “Tiger” Strank scored a 4.33-second ride, pushing Redmann to third. Paul Kops laid down a 4.533 second ride, but cartwheeled his bike over the crest, breaking multiple bones and taking a ride to the hospital. Sallstrom rode flawlessly in 4.108 seconds to take the lead. Colby McCutcheon followed Sallstrom- just 83-thousandths of a second slower. Shawn Farnsworth followed up with the fastest ride in the first half with a 4.090 second roar to the top. When the dust settled, Farnsworth stood in first place, followed in order by Sallstrom and McCutcheon.

By the second half, the hill was getting deeply rutted and finding the right line was tough. In the Xtreme class, Sallstrom and Vinny Nuzzolilli, whose bikes broke on their first ride, crested the hill and moved ahead to fifth and seventh respectively, but the podium positions remained unchanged. DeHart waited and watched to see if he would have to defend his first-place position, but it never happened. In the final standings it was DeHart, Redmann and Libhart, in order.

Pro Sport drama heated up in the second half with Koester carving a quarter of a second off Lau's time for the lead. After sorting out an issue with his bike, Lingle leaped into third with a 6.697 E.T., but Lau, riding last in the order, charged full speed up the hill in just 6.061 seconds for the win. Koester finished in second and Lingle, third. Lau and Koester agreed that flying over the bottom jump made all the difference for a fast time.

In the second half Unlimited action, Matt Luna, Adam Doubblestein, Greg Coyne, and Shane Green topped the hill to put times on the board, and Strank bettered his first ride by two-tenths to move into third place. Riding late in the order, Sallstrom blasted over the top in perfect form for a 3.980-second ride; the only rider under 4 seconds. McCutcheon, Farnsworth and Chris Wahl followed in the order but none could top that ride. Sallstrom took the win, his second win out of three races in 2011, followed by Farnsworth in second, and Strank in third. Sallstrom commented, “Everything had to work perfectly for the win... and it did!”

AMA Pro Hillclimbers return to Jefferson, PA for Round 4 and the All-Star Challenge on July 24th.

U/L: 1. Jay Sallstrom (Yam); 2. Shawn Farnsworth (H-D); 3. Walter “Tiger” Strank (Hon); 4. Colby McCutcheon (Yam); 5. Phil Libhart (Tri).

Xtreme: 1. Anthony DeHart (Hon); 2. Nate Redmann (Yam); 3. Phil Libhart (Tri); 4. Shane Green (Hon); 5. Jay Sallstrom (H-D).

Pro Spt: 1. Ian Lau (Hon); 2. John Koester (Suz); 3. Josh Lingle (Yam); 4. Amanda Campbell (Hon); 5. Andrew Coyne (Hon).


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