John Koester, Greg Dunbar take the All Start Challenge Sweep at AMA Pro Hillclimb Round 3 in Canaan NH.
The action at Round 3 of the AMA Pro Hillclimb Series was definitely worthy of the All Star Challenge event format. Laconia Bike Week enthusiasts traveled to Canaan, NH to take part in the 2nd Annual Shawn P Farnsworth Memorial Race. Traditionally, the All Star Challenge was hosted alternating years between White Rose MC and Muskegon MC. 2013 brought a change of venue, including the All Star Challenge as part of the Laconia Bike Week events.
The hill featured new changes from previous seasons, included a step up jump and the All Star Challenge Wall that proved to add some show and technique to the runs. The Xtreme Class was the first Class to take on the challenge. Chris Chartier, Jr was the lucky rider to make the first run on the new hill layout. He posted a solid time of 8.881 but that was quickly bested by Vincent Nuzzolilli’s 7.944. Jay Sallstrom stepped up and ran a 7.882 second run that would hold for the fastest time of the first run. It was Sallstrom, Nuzzolilli and Anthony DeHart sitting in the top three spots after the first run. The second run showed several improved runs, including that of John Koester, edging out Sallstrom for the win and the only run in the 7 second range of the second round. Sallstrom’s first run time held for second place on the podium, while Phil Libhart cut nearly a second off his first run time to put him in the third place position.
The Pro Sport Class was exciting to watch, as the 450cc bikes took to the line. Angie Farnsworth was the first rider in the class and posted a time of 13.435, which held for several riders until Molly Carbon made a solid pass for a 12.834 second run, putting her in the third position for the first run. Josh Kobel and Nicholas Bleau closed out the first run with times of 11.112 and 11.719, respectively, for the top 2 positions. The second run only saw two riders better their times, with Devin Sweitzer going all out and posting the first 10 second run in the class but his 10.896 was edged out by Bleau with his 10.728, leaving Kobel to take the third podium position, handing Bleau his second win this season.
The Unlimited Class would prove to be the fast class of the day. Sallstrom almost duplicated his Xtreme Class run by posting a 7.9 second run. DeHart, Green and Libhart followed with low 8 second runs. Nuzzolilli blasted the wall, hopping up into the breaker and gained three tenths on Sallstrom with a 7.699. After learning from his first run in the Xtreme Class, Koester charged the step up jump, landing close to the wall. He had his run dialed in to post the fast time of the round, 7.610. The second runs in the Unlimited Class proved challenging for several riders, with mechanical problems and the hill taking its toll on the riders. None of your podium finishers bettered their runs but Chartier was able to gain a couple of positions to finish just off the podium in fourth. It was Koester, Nuzzolilli and Sallstrom on the podium for the top positions. Koester took the double win in the Expert Classes and finds himself 7 points ahead in the standings of Sallstrom in the Xtreme Class, with DeHart currently in third. He gained some points in the Unlimited Class standings on leader Sallstrom and reigning champion Nuzzolilli, who is in second, to be sitting in the third spot of the standings.
The All Star Challenge Shootout for the third round brought the action everyone expected. This is a one run shot for the top ten riders in each of the Expert Classes to take home the purse money. The running order is inverted so that the tenth place finisher from the first two runs will be the first to hit the hill. The Xtreme Class saw Shane Green have to sit out due to a smashed oil pan from his second run when he landed on a rock and damaged the bike. No one would touch the seven second range, but five riders would see 8 seconds, with Jockamo Baldina breaking in with an 8.9, giving him the fifth fastest time in the third run. Phil Libhart ran a 8.409 for third, Sallstrom 8.447 for fourth, and Nuzzolilli 8.384 for second. The inverted order left Koester, taking the class win, to run last. He backed up his class win by repeating his other winning runs and clearing the hill in 8.2 seconds to be crowned the 2013 All Star Challenge winner in the Xtreme Class.
The Unlimited Class was missing Nuzzolilli who decided to sit the round out and not take any chances after a crash on his second run in the class. James Green brought the event’s only Harley to the shootout round and got the support of the bike week crowd. Scott Campbell almost duplicated his first round time with a 9.0, which was good enough for fifth. The top 4 runs were all in the mid and low eights, with S Green making the hill in 8.577 and DeHart was just a bit faster with a 8.55 to take third place. Greg Dunbar, 2012 All Star Challenge Shootout winner after riding S Green’s nitro bike, surprised no one when he posted a fast time of 8.0 his first event on the Yamaha of Dr Bob Racing. Sallstrom and Koester were shooting for the win and were your last two riders left. Sallstrom came up two tenths short and Koester found his run to be off pace from his others and had to settle for sixth in the shootout round, leaving Dunbar to repeat his All Star Challenge win for a second year in a row.