SNX: Pihlaja and Cottew keep showing dominance as they top their Qualifying Heats in Norway

In Motociclismo, Motoslitte, News

Pihlaja and Cottew keep showing dominance as they top their Qualifying Heats in Norway

Kirkenes (Norway) 20 April 2024 – The final round of the 2024 FIM Snowcross World Championship got underway on Friday at the VM Arena Kirkenes, which is running its circuit in the opposite direction to last year’s event as the Kirkenes Motorclub celebrates its 21st Anniversary.

With temperatures in the night running to -12 degrees, the track was in a particularly icy condition despite the sunshine getting onto it from just before 4 am!

In Heat 1 of the premier Snowcross class, reigning World Champion Aki Pihlaja fried his Lynx sledge into the lead from the start, and was never overtaken, winning by 7 seconds at the flag from Sweden’s Martin Johansson.  Joint Championship leader Jesse Kirchmeyer could not lift his Polaris any higher than 6th position.

In the second heat, for the second group of riders, it was Kirchmeyer’s Championship rival Magnus Reiten who came out on top, fending off a determined Emil Hansson on another Lynx sledge to win by just 1.6 seconds to the cheers of Magnus’ home supporters!

Pihlaja was a clear winner again in his second heat, this time ahead of  Ski-Doo pilot and fellow Finn Aki Pehsonen. Kirchmeyer languished at the back in 7th place, seriously hurting his chances of taking the title in the points-paying races tomorrow.

Another local favourite, Robert Lunden, locked in a battle with Johansson for the bronze medal, took his Ski-Doo to the final heat race win, with Reiten only 4th but still looking favourable to take the crown with a good day tomorrow. Swede Gustav Sahlsten was close at the finish in 2nd place, with Hansson this time in third position.

In the Women’s Snowcross World Championship, Malene Cottew took her Ski-Doo to victory in both of her qualifying heats, with Emma Laamanen and Wilma Jonsson swapping the other positions in the top three.

In the second group, Saga Forsell took her Polaris to a narrow victory over the charging Lynx of Jenny Lundström,and Jenny again challenged in the second heat with great overtaking from 4th to 2nd through the race, but she was unable to catch the Ski-Doo of Venla Kauvosaari, as the Finn recovered from finishing last in the opening round’s final last weekend to win heat two today.  Lundström will need to start better tomorrow to reel in Cottew’s 9-point championship lead!

The European Snowcross Championship heats were won by Emil Mikalsen, and Mille Andersson, the top two in the Championship who will battle for the title tomorrow!

The final two World Championship races will conclude this brilliant Championship tomorrow, Saturday the 20th!  The sledges will continue to make the snow fly!

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