ECS 2012 East Burke Recap
December 12, 2012
EAST BURKE, Vt. (Dec. 10, 2012) - Veteran snowmobile racers Corin Todd and Danny Poirier stole the show Sunday, splitting the Pro Open finals as East Coast Snocross (ECS) opened its 2012-13 season at the beautiful Burke Mountain ski area.
Todd, a rising star from Otego, NY, powered his Bailey Motors/Hulten Speed Sports/ Utica National Insurance Polaris past early leader Lucas Brunelle on the challenging uphill section of the track, then pulled away to a convincing win in round one. Poirier, the two-time and defending champion from St. Theodore, QC, passed local favorite Lincoln Lemieux (Lemieux Racing/Ski-doo) midway through the grueling 15-lap battle and blasted on to victory in round two Sunday afternoon.
Despite unseasonably warm temperatures and heavy rain the week prior to the event, officials were able to capitalize on 36 hours of below-freezing conditions to produce an acceptable track. With winter playing cat-and-mouse yet again this December, it was a miracle this event could be held at all.
This Pro class sweep was huge for longtime team owner/manager Steve Bailey, of Malone, New York. With both Todd and Poirier as teammates to his son Andrew (Pro Lite) and strong ties to Hulten Speed Sports and Polaris, Bailey's smile was wide as the outlook for 2013 appears very bright.
Todd, now on his third brand of sled since the start of last season, proved his incredible skills on his new red machine at Burke Mountain. He was also quick to give credit to those behind the scenes who labor on his behalf. Lemieux and Derek Ellis (Jess Racing/Arctic Cat) filled out the podium
"I can't say enough about how blessed I am to be riding for this team," Todd said. "Steve is on top of sled preparation in every detail, our engines make great power and my sled handles perfectly thanks to Walker Evans shocks. This is exactly what I needed to start a new season; it boosts my confidence and shows what this team is made of. I can't wait to get to Plattsburgh and see what we can accomplish."
Poirier, who, like a fine wine or imported cheese, keeps getting better with age, also praised his team after starting his title defense with another victory. Lemieux bagged another second-place finish, while Mathieu Morin (Damexco Racing/Ski-doo) was rock solid in third.
"We had a few issues with the sled on Saturday," explained Poirier after his win. "This team worked overtime on it and corrected the problem. It ran great today, and once I got by Lincoln it carried me to the win. I'm happy to complete this sweep for Steve and start off strong in the points.
From any angle the big story in Pro Lite action at Burke was the "pride of Fall River," Mike Pilotte. The former ATV racer from southeastern Massachusetts had been pretty sick the previous week; sick enough in fact to require a brief stay in the hospital and the right medicine.
Just don't tell the personable and talented Pilotte that should affect his performance. In Saturday's Pro Lite final, Adam Sedlmeier (Damexco Racing/Ski-doo) grabbed the holeshot but Pilotte was in front at the end of one full lap. He was challenged by rising star “Fast Eddie” Bandel for several laps until Bandel parted company with his No. 212 machine.
On Sunday, Bandel (Team Southside/Polaris) mounted a tremendous late-race charge and fell just inches short at the line. It was, without argument, the most dramatic finish of the weekend. Pilotte is humble even after completing a weekend sweep for himself and Polaris.
"Some rest and proper medication made a big difference," Pilotte said. "I was pretty sick, but luckily rebounded quickly and rode smooth all weekend. My Team, Southside Polaris, runs like a charm. I thought the track was tough but managed to stay on the sled and sweep the finals. I’m thrilled with how the whole weekend turned out."
Veteran racer Bruce Gaspardi Jr. was the man to beat in Sport competition at Burke. Gaspardi and the entire Team Southside organization were racing with heavy hearts, having lost one of the original "Team 99" riders the previous week. Matt Luczynski made a big mark on northeastern snocross racing and will be sadly missed by many. Gaspardi's strong performance at Burke was a fitting tribute to his friend who was a role model to young riders from around the northeast.
Among other highlights over the weekend at Burke Mountain was a thrilling last-lap pass by Todd Smith over local favorite Joe Lemieux to win Saturday's Pro Vet final. Lemieux is still tough-as-nails at 51, and it took a little aggressive riding on Mr. Smith's part to get the victory. Smith, along with Lemieux and fellow Vermonter Rene Desrochers prove year after year the “over the hill gang” can still get it done.
Other final-round winners at Burke Mountain include Melanie Acker (Pro Women Sat. & Sun.); Hunter Patenaude (Sport Super Stock Sun., Jr. 16-17 Sun.); James Obine (Sport 600); Rene Desrochers (Plus 25/35 Sat.); and Zac Roberts (Jr. 14-15 Sat. & Sun., Jr. 16-17 Saturday). Congratulations to all final round winners over the weekend for kicking off a new season in fine fashion.
East Coast Snocross