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Grand Prix Ski Doo de Valcourt

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Grand Prix Ski Doo de Valcourt Hold Great Weekend

by Scott A. Sumner

    One of the most exciting snowmobile race weekends occurs each February at Valcourt Quebec, the home of Ski Doo snowmobiles. A non  profit organization the weekend is supported by BRP. " 1983 it was  strictly an oval program but they wanted to put a big snocross event  in 10 years ago to make for the the biggest oal and snocross event," said ormand Prieur  Press officer for the Grand  Prix De Valcourt. "  Special Friday is the the pro racers  from the CSRA,  SCM from Quebec and Rock Maple Racing series  do a  special joint event.  Friday is always slow but Saturday and Sunday  we expect  quite  good crowd. There is  show at the arena where they  present a rock show with traditional Quebec artists. It is always a  tremendous weekend. "

Jacques Villeneuve, Oval Racer

Ryan Simons Alberta  won his first ISOC  National race of the year at the     Grand Prix Ski Doo de Valcourt  with a Pro Stock win. Ryan started racing in 1998 and  has been a  professional for 5 years. He also owns a trucking firm at home.  " Yesterday   we got first win of the season out of the way. We have   been having some tough luck this year but I got the hole shot and  hung on. TJ Gulla was behind me and is fast, fast so I had to stay  on my toes the whole race. There was no relaxing,"said Ryan Simons,  who races for HC racing based inThief River Falls in both Cross  Country and Snocross disciplines. "I have my cross country sleds  upstairs  as we will race cross country next weekend and  then   home.I raced the I 500 and broke the second day. We haven'thad a  weekend off. My team mate Cory Davis has been cleaning up in Semi Pro  classes.

    The race sleds Ryan used in both types of racing are the same or  are they. " They are the same sled but that is about it. . We take sno cross sleds and turn them tocross  country.The cross country has a 1 14 track and the suspension  is way softer. The snocross suspension would kill you trying to run them.  The cross country sled is completely different. The cross country  need a speed upwards of 100 MPH, "said Ryan.  " I have M series sleds  at home and they are  fun to ride in the mountains. I will be at  Revelstoke or Vailmount and McBride after the season. We load up some  people and go have some fun. "

Valcourt, Quebec (February 21, 2009) - A cloudy sky and snow  flurries characterized the early hours of the Saturday program of the  AMSOIL Championship Snocross Series at the Grand Prix Ski-Doo de  Valcourt, in the Eastern Townships of Québec. In the opening morning  practice session, Levi LaVallee (Polaris) showed his colors by  recording the fastest time, ahead of Ryan Simons (Arctic Cat), Brett  Bender (Polaris), TJ Gulla (Polaris) and Robbie Malinoski (Ski-doo).

With several drivers from the SCM, CSRA and Rock Maple circuits  attending the event, a total of 62 entries were tallied for the two- featured races of the day, Semi-Pro Open and Pro Super Stock.

The Semi-Pro Open First Round produced at least one surprise, as  Darrin Mees (Ski-doo) from Setanket, New York held off Dan Ebert  (Arctic Cat) in the first round of qualifying. In other qualifying  action, Bobby LePage (Polaris) won his flight; Tim Tremblay (Ski-doo)  crossed the line first in front of his home crowd with a strong lead  over Ryan Carey (Polaris); and the Swedish sensation Christian  Salemark won his qualifier handily.

The Pro Super Stock first round followed without delay as bright sun  was finally shining over Valcourt and its circuit Yvon Duhamel. Shaun  Crapo (Polaris) took instantly the lead in the first heat, ahead of  Brett Turcotte (Arctic Cat) and Bobby LePage (Polaris); T.J. Gulla 
and Garth Kaufman (Arctic Cat) led the second heat with Malinoski as  a distant third.  Ryan Simons went quickly off the block and took the  lead of the third heat followed by Levi LaVallee. Behind them, an  interesting battle took shape involving Brett Bender, Dave Allard 
(Ski-doo) and Dave Asselin, the leader of the Québec circuit. Bender  broke halfway into the race and Asselin move to third keeping behind  fellow Quebecer and ISOC regular Allard.

The long and fast Valcourt track didn’t produced any major battles  during the qualifying rounds, despite its character of several tight  corners, but would retribute the spectators later in the day. Morning  flurries and clouds gave way to sunshine when the Pro Super Stock 
final drew to the line. At the green, Ryan Simons bolted out of the  gate and quickly established himself as a strong leader after the  first corner and through the long washboard section. On his heels,  T.J Gulla rode a determined race all they way to the checkered but 
could not overtake Simons. LaVallee finished as a distant third.

“It was a fun race,” said the Albertan Simons after the race. “I  love to battle with TJ and I could feel he was right behind me the  entire race. He gained ground on me in the corners but Arctic Cat was  wicked fast in the straight sections and it was well suited for this  track.” The win for Simons was his first at Valcourt since he first  raced there in 2003.

The Semi Pro Open scheduled for the end of the program was also a  spectacular final animated mainly by local star Tim Tremblay. The Ski- Doo driver left the gate just behind eventual winner Bobby LePage and  never let him breath a second. Tremblay came close to pass the leader  on at least four occasions, but was unable to make it stick. At mid-
race, the challenger tangled with LePage and was forced off the  track. Tremblay however, managed to get back on track keeping his  second place position and one again put the head on LePage.

“I really wished to win. But I’m feeling good about tomorrow and  I’m confident the Super Stock final will be mine”, said a  confident Tremblay who despite LePage’s win took the lead in the  Semi-Pro Open year-end standings.

Bender Shocks the Field with First Career Pro Win
Arctic Cat Sweeps Semi-Pro Super Stock Final with Ebert, Davis and 

  Valcourt, Quebec (February 22, 2009) – It was perhaps fitting that  it was at Valcourt’s circuit Yvon Duhamel during the Grand Prix Ski- doo de Valcourt, that young Brett Bender (Polaris) championed his  first pro victory of his career. In a community known for its passion  for snowmobile racing and at a venue rich with racing lore named after famed ice oval racer Yvon Duhamel, Bender scored his memorable  victory where his father, world champion oval racer Tim Bender, also  competed.

It was only a few weeks earlier in Brainerd, Minnesota that Bender  found the podium for the first time in his fledgling pro career,  finishing second behind snocross king Tucker Hibbert. At the time it  was one of the most emotional moments of his young racing career, but  in hindsight it will pale in comparison to his AMSOIL Championship  Snocross Series victory at Valcourt.

Bender emerged from the 16-sled Pro-Open main event field in second  place with his teammate TJ Gulla (Polaris) in tow, both following  crowd favorite Robbie Malinoski (Ski-doo) who drilled the holeshot.  For much of the 20-lap final, it appeared Malinoski had the race well  in hand, as he flawlessly negotiated the long and blazingly fast  Valcourt track. But suddenly Malinoski fell of the pace, later to be  attributed to engine woes. That opened the door for Bender, who had  been running consistent and equally as fast lap times as, to overtake  Malinoski and the lead on lap 15. It was a position he would not  relinquish.

Malinoski managed to massage his wounded Ski-doo to a second place  finish, holding off a charging Gulla, who now leads the year-end  point battle in the premiere Pro Open class. “My engine was going  down,” said Malinoski after the race. “I wasn’t sure I could  hold on until the end, and I knew TJ was coming.”

Arctic Cat Sweeps Semi-Pro Super Stock
Turn one was a sea of green when the Semi-Pro Super Stock field  launched from the start line earlier in the day, as top qualifiers,  Dan Ebert (Arctic Cat), Cory Davis (Arctic Cat) and Christian  Salemark (Arctic Cat), all vied for the lead position as the field  stampeded into the opening lap. It was an image which played out  twice during the Semi-Pro final, as a red flag forced a restart to  the race after Mike Bauer (Polaris) and Tim Tremblay (Ski-doo) were 
involved in a opening lap tangle which saw Bauer unable to continue.

At the restart, the trio of Cats once again bolted to the front and  this time it stuck. Meanwhile hometown favorite Tremblay suffered  another get-off yet recovered albeit deep in the pack. At the  checkered it was the Cat trio of Ebert, Davis and Salemark  respectively, followed by crowd yellow faves Justin Broberg (Ski-doo)  and Paul Bauerly (Ski-doo) completing the top-five.

“These fans here are crazy. They love their sport… I think I need  to learn some French,” said an excited Ebert after the race. Ebert  won the Semi-Pro open final in Valcourt a year ago.

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Scott Sumner