Two weeks ago, after the running of the AMSOIL ISOC Pro Snocross series 4th round, Tucker Hibbert, the then leader in both Pro classes standings confirmed the expected: he was ending his winter racing season. The announcement also signified his absence at the 27th Grand Prix Ski-Doo de Valcourt scheduled for this coming weekend. As Hibbert, who had been the winner of all the races he entered up to his retirement, decided to devote his time to the preparation of his upcoming motocross campaign, it send a clear signal to his peers: the chase for the titles was reopened. It also mean that other racers had suddenly the possibility to shine on the famed circuit Yvon Duhamel course where another great will be miss this year: Blair Morgan who has simply been the king of Valcourt over the last decade.
The Saskatchewan native who has been severely injured at the Montréal Supercross in September will in fact be the undisputed missing star at the 27th Grand Prix Ski-Doo de Valcourt. Morgan fascinated the Valcourt crowd over the years and earned there eight wins since 1999. Mike Schultz who has seen his career end in December at Ironwood, Michigan and Québec’s Mathieu Morin, currently injured are other drivers that the Ski-Doo won’t be able to line up this year on his home turf starting line. Without Morgan, Schultz and Morin, American Robbie Malinowski and Québec’s Dave Allard will be the entries of the Ski-Doo team in the Pro classes. Allard who regularly makes his way into the finals, earned a 5th and a 7th place finishes at the most recent ISOC series event, over the last weekend in State of New York. Malinowski provided excitement to the Ski-Doo team as he finished second to Hibbert at the recent X-Games. Following the Games, the Minnesota driver who had a slow start earlier in December, earned a 6th place in Brainerd but missed one of the two finals in the Finger Lakes event last week.
If Allard and Malinowski may have as legitimate objective to record good showings in both Pro classes for Ski-Doo at Valcourt - especially when the brand holds its 50thAnniversary celebration -, other drivers already well-positioned in the standings have seen the leader’s premature retirement as “the” opportunity to surpass him and earn a, if not two titles. With 38 points available for each race, shortly Hibbert will slip in the standings. In fact, after one weekend without him, the Pro Open standings are now showing Levi LaVallee and T.J. Gulla, both on Polaris, even in 2nd place with 142 points, just six points short of Hibbert current position. Brett Turcotte (128 points) and Ryan Simons (121 points), both Arctic Cat drivers are following. Ross Martin (86 points), last year’s winner in Valcourt is eleventh. All of these drivers reached the podium steps this season. LaVallee also concluded the X-Games final in 4th place, ahead of Simons and Québec’s Allard.
In Pro Super Stock, LaVallee, now only one point behind Hibbert is 12 points ahead of Garth Kaufman (Arctic Cat), 28 points from Alberta’s Ryan Simons and Idaho’s veteran Shaun Crapo. LaVallee, from Longville, Minnesota, has been the most regular with presences at the podium at each of the five first rounds.
Following the qualifying heats earlier in the day, the Pro Super Stock final will be the main feature of Saturday February 21, at the Grand Prix Ski-Doo de Valcourt. The Pro Open final is scheduled to be the last feature of the event’s 27th edition, Sunday February 22.
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THE AMSOIL ISOC SNOCROSS SERIES DRIVERS EXPECTED IN VALCOURT
# Driver Team
2 Steve Taylor Yamaha Factory Snocross Yamaha
3 Shaun Crapo Amsoil US Air Force Polaris
4 Robbie Malinoski Boss Racing Ski-Doo
6 Carl Schubitzke Team Arctic Cat Arctic Cat
16 Brett Turcotte Christian Brothers Racing Arctic Cat
19 Brett Bender Hentges Racing Polaris
25 DJ Eckstrom Amsoil US Air Force Polaris
44 TJ Gulla Hentges Racing Polaris
48 Garth Kaufman Christian Brothers Racing Arctic Cat
51 Matt Piche Christian Brothers Racing Arctic Cat
58 Matt Judnick Judnick Motorsports Polaris
67 Ryan Simons HC Racing Arctic Cat
93 Iain Hayden Yamaha Factory Snocross Yamaha
99 Zach Pattyn Warnert Racing Ski-Doo
108 Levi LaVallee Hentges Racing Polaris
119 Parker Brown No Limits Racing LLC Polaris
167 Dave Allard Boss Racing Ski-Doo
255 Andrew Johnstad Avalanche Racing Polaris
837 Ross Martin Judnick Motorsports Polaris
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It is still possible to order tickets for the 27th Grand Prix Ski-Doo de Valcourt. General admission is at $ 10 for Friday, February 20, at $ 20 for either Saturday or Sunday, February 21 or 22. Three-day admission is at $ 55. Indoor heated suite passes (now in limited numbers) are still offered at $130 for the three days. All prices include taxes. It is possible to order by phone until Wednesday February 18, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at 1 866 532-7453. Packages including accommodation are still available. Tickets will also be on sale at circuit Yvon Duhamel ticket office, opening at 8 :00 am, Friday, February 20. For more information, visit www.grandprixvalcourt.com