Not just temperature mind you, but the attitude. The tight confines and short races that make up ice racing practically force it to be wild and aggressive. I recently attended an event for Cycle News, and here´s what I saw:
Jared Mees strengthened his points lead with another win in the Manufacturers Cup Bike class, after a hard fought battle with JR Shnabel.
The six-lap, eight-bike main saw Scnabel on pole with Mees beside him, followed by Jake Mataya and Brian McKenna to fill out the front row. None of them chose to take on the Motion Pro Challenge, where riders give up their grid spot to start last, but receive a cash bonus if they can win from the back. With a 6-lap main that can barely exceed one-minute, this is no small task!!! Mees had taken this challenge in the last two rounds and won both times, but knew that Scnabel had been fast all night. Starting near the back, rider Jeremey Deruyter had nothing to lose, and was more than happy to take a shot at the prize (a tough race would see DeRuyter finish fifth).
The holeshot went to Schnabel with Mees applying immediate pressure. Mees forced his way into the lead but went wide a lap later allowing Schnabel back into the lead with an amazing braking move into turn three. At the end of lap three, a pile up in turn four split the leaders, with Schnabel taking the outside, losing the lead as he clipped the outside wall.
Fighting to catch back up, Schnabel caught a huge slide exiting turn four. Narrowly avoiding being flipped off his bike, Schnabel recovered, but not in time to hold off defending champion Kevin Anderson, who took the second spot. Schnabel recovered quickly, but tapping Anderson´s rear wheel put Schnabel down on the ice, leaving Mees to take the win, followed by Anderson- who started from the inside of the back row- and Eric Rickman.
¨When those two guys crashed and I had to go to the outside and hit the wall and [Mees] got back under me, I was kind of in panic mode, thinking ´now I have to go after him again.´ I just pushed a little too hard and messed up,¨ said Schnabel after the race.
Anderson was pleased with his second place finish, having spent much of the race in third, waiting for an opportunity. ¨I was just waiting for one of them [ Mees or Schnabel] to screw up and hopefully screw up both of them, but they´re both top-notch riders and that´s kind of hard to come by.¨ Anderson has been on the podium in every event this season.
The series will begin to head east again as it continues into 2010, arriving at the Budweiser Event Center in Loveland, CO on Saturday, January 9. For the full schedule and ticketing information, log on to http://www.icespeedway.com.
Results (round 5 of 15):
MANUFACTURERS WORLD CUP BIKES: 1. Jared Mees (Hon); 2. Kevin Anderson (Hon); 3. Eric Rickman (Suz); 4. Bryan McKenna (Hon); 5. Jeremy DeRuyter (Hon); 6. Jake Mataya (Kaw); 7. JR Schnabel (Yam); 8. Sammy Wiggins (Hon)