Before Winter X 15, Ross Martin said it was only a matter of time before someone would beat Tucker Hibbert again. He had hoped it would come in Aspen, but he'll take it a week late -- at the Vision Kia Eastern Nationals in Farmington, N.Y..
It's been almost a year since Martin won his last Amsoil Championship Snocross event last March in Lake Geneva, Wisc. By that time, Hibbert had already bowed out of the series to focus on his motocross career and Martin went on to win the Pro Open title without his fiercest rival by his side. In New York last weekend, Martin became the first rider to beat Hibbert in any type of snocross final since Tim Tremblay in Utah over a year ago.
With the Pro Super Stock main event win, Martin is now tied with Hibbert for the lead in points standings. The series is halfway through, with four rounds remaining. Of the eight finals in this season, Martin has finished second to Hibbert in six of them.
The victory has given Martin a jolt of renewed enthusiasm. "I just thought that if I kept trying every weekend, focused on myself, got good starts, won the heats and went from there, it was going to happen," he said. "He's got all the momentum from winning all the time and once you beat him it makes him rethink it and kind of makes it easier for everyone once they see it's possible."
Hibbert, who is racing his first full season of national snocross competition since 2002/2003, finished fifth in the Pro Stock final Friday but got back to his winning ways in the Pro Open final on Saturday, where Martin finished second. Hibbert said he almost crashed in the first turn and then quickly caught up to fourth before falling. "I don't know what I did," he said. "I think I hit something like an ice edge coming into a corner and just fell off. I don't know what else to say other than it was a dumb little mistake I guess. Everyone went by before I could get going. It happened in a real tight section so I had to wait for everyone to go by. I got up in 14th and charged all the way back to fifth."
Hibbert wasn't surprised that Martin had won the race. "He's a good rider. Ross has been doing a lot better job of qualifying than I have even though I've won almost every final he's been able to stay within fighting distance of the championship because he's been qualifying better than I have."
The loss has cost Hibbert his shot at the first perfect season in snocross history. He said it wasn't a goal of his but it was something he had thought about. "It's not a big bummer for me," Hibbert said. "My thought was 'If it happens, it happens.' I'm not bummed about not winning every race, but it seems like I haven't been straight up beat. It always seems like it's some kind of mistake I make that screws up the race. At the end of the day, I still didn't win, so it's not good for me."
The series moves inside February 12 for the Traxxas Michigan National in the Pontiac Silverdome, which held AMA Supercross races for almost 30 years.