Race Report from Kirkenes, Norway

In Motociclismo, Motoslitte, News, News motoristiche

Norwegian swoop as Reiten and Cottew become SNX and WSNX World Champions while Pihlaja claims second round in a row

KIRKENES (Norway) 20 April 2024 – The final Race Day of the 2024 FIM Snowcross World Championship in Kirkenes brought a breath-taking display of winter wonder, with freezing temperatures and the amazing glow of the aurora lights illuminating the night sky at -12°C. As dawn broke, the weather remained chilly at -3°C, with intermittent snow showers. This has not discourage the 1,500 SNX fans to come and cheer for their favourite riders.

The Opening Ceremony commenced with a grand presentation of riders, accompanied by speeches from esteemed officials on stage. Andrea Barbieri, FIM delegate, and Odd Georg OstbyhaugFIM Europe Delegate, set the stage for an exciting day of racing. Tore Frederik Nilsen, representing Sør-Varanger Kommune, was honored for the region’s unwavering support, receiving a plate from Infront Moto Racing Representative Patricia Maskarova as recognition for their contributions to the event.

The racing day kicked off with a thrilling freestyle show by Rasmus Johansson and Daniel Bodin, setting the adrenaline-fueled tone for the races ahead.

In the SNX Race 1, it was fast starter Aki Pihlaja who surged to the front with an impressive holeshot once again, closely pursued by the championship leader Magnus Reiten and Gustav Sahlsten who could keep the pace of the Finnish.

Swedish rider Gustav Sahlsten bravely defended his third position against charges in the early stage from Kristoffer Holm first who started also well until Holm got issues that relegated him down the rank, finishing 11thin the end. Then, it was Emil Hansson who battle with Sahlsten in a give and take lasting over few laps. The advantage was for Sahlsten who took the third place again until an agonising problem with his sledge ended his hopes for a top 3 finish. Hansson finished 3rd while Sahlsten 13th.

As he showed in Finland and in the Qualifying Heat, Pihlaja was the best and won the race, his second of the season while Reiten confirmed his rank at the top of the championship with a 2nd place. It was more complicated for the ex-red plate, Jesse Kirchmeyer, who finished 9th.

Before SNX Race 2 began, Martin Johansson who was fighting for a podium after his 4th place in Race 1, and Sahlsten could not start the race due to arriving after the waiting zone closed.

The race began nonetheless and unfolded with Pihjala securing yet another holeshot, showing his impressive starts and setting the pace for the rest of the pack. Surprising the crowd, Aki Pesonen swiftly claimed the second place, showcasing remarkable skill until an unfortunate turn of events led to the breakage of his back suspension, forcing him to move down to 11th.

Stepping into the breach, Reiten seamlessly took over the position, wisely maintaining his pace knowing that securing second place would be sufficient to clinch the SNX World Championship title. This is exactly what he did as he clinched the 2nd place to go on the 2nd step of the Norwegian podium. Hansson rounded the podium with a 3-5 to finish the season on a superb note.

Meanwhile Pihlaja showed that he was one of the most impressive riders this season with another easy race win, claiming his 2nd Grand Prix victory in a row and a perfect 1-1-1.
However, these amazing performances, after missing the round in Turkiye, were not enough to overthrow Reiten of the Championship lead, as the Norwegian showed excellent composure to maintain his advantage, thanks to his incredible consistency in 2024.

Thanks to his results, Magnus Reiten who clinched the first Grand Prix of the season in Turkiye, finally won the gold medal to become the 2024 FIM SNX World Champion on home soil for the greatest pleasure of Norwegian fans.

Getting the Silver Medal was the American Jesse Kirchmeyer who was a bit quieter in Norway as he finished 6th overall but it was enough to become Vice World Champion.

Thanks to his impressive run, Aki Pihlaja managed, in the space of only two rounds, to step on the Championship podium in 3rd position and get the bronze medal.

Magnus Reiten: “My dream came true! We work very hard to get where we are and it paid off. I’m the SNX World Champion, first from my country. This is really a dream!”

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