Koester Takes It All at Freemansburg Hillclimb
John Koester pulled off a first in AMA Pro Hillclimb history by winning all four classes at round 4 of the series on the Bushkill Valley Motorcycle Club’s hill at Freemansburg, PA. Koester needed only one ride each in the Unlimited, Xtreme, and 450 Pro classes and he won the exhibition Verticross class with a win in heat number two, followed up by a win in the final.
In the Unlimited class, 2016 Champion, Jay Sallstrom rode first but stopped short at 425 feet. Cory Strickler set the pace with a 15.389-second ride. Joseph Lowe bested Strickler by a tenth with a 15.246 E.T. Justin Fowler slipped into third behind Lowe with a time of 15.264 seconds. Then Koester rode and lopped off four seconds from the top time, cresting the hill in just 11.323 seconds for the lead after one run.
Sallstrom tried to unseat Koester in the second half, but fell just short with a 12.225-second ride. Vinny Nuzzolilli, in tenth-place after one run, posted a fast 12.028-second E.T. to take over the second step on the Unlimited class podium from Sallstrom. Koester’s win catapulted him to the series lead with 92 points, followed by Sallstrom and Nuzzolilli, trailing by three and five points respectively.
Molly Carbon- the series only female rider, posted a 17.749-second time, making her the first rider over the top in the Xtreme class. Then Koester stopped the clock at a stunning 11.49 seconds for the nearly invincible lead. Jack Mason and Sallstrom posted E.T.’s in the high thirteens, with Sallstrom ahead by a whisker. Heavy hitters, Phil Libhart and Jockamo Baldina found themselves near the back of the pack with distances rather than times. Nuzzolilli finished out the half with a 12.753-second time, taking over second-place after one run.
Koester waited out a nerve-racking second half watching to see if any competitor would force him to ride. Mason came closest by cresting the hill in 11.89 seconds, taking over the second step on the podium. Libhart topped the hill in 11.935 seconds for third. Koester has a perfect score of 100 points with four wins in four rounds and enjoys a commanding 18-point lead over Sallstrom. Libhart trails Sallstrom by five points for third-place on the series.
Joseph Lowe was first up the hill in the 450 Pro class and crested in 19.266 seconds. Dan Storm posted a 23.586-second E.T. for second, briefly. Sallstrom and Fowler topped the hill in 20.358 and 19.189 seconds, respectively. Then Koester bested the best by six seconds- he laid down a perfect 13.634-second ride. From then on, it seemed the battle would be for second and third places. Mason moved into second ahead of Fowler with an 18.901 E.T.
In the 450 Pro second run, Sallstrom took over second with an 18.258-second ride. Fowler battled back with a 17.485 E.T., only to be bested when Mason topped the hill in 17.42 seconds. Bryan Rusnak took over second, cresting in 16.928 seconds. Libhart, who, like Rusnak, scored only a distance in his first attempt, snatched second-place with a 15.553-second E.T., forcing Rusnak to third. Koester holds just a one-point lead over rival Sallstrom in 450 Pro series. Libhart trails Sallstrom by four points.
AMA Pro Hillclimbers race next on September 24 at Jefferson, PA.
The AMA Pro Hillclimb Series receives sponsorship from Wiseco, PsychMXGraphix, Dyno Port, and Earl’s Indy.
Results Round 2:
Unlimited: 1. John Koester (Hon); 2. Vinny Nuzzolilli (Hon); 3. Jay Sallstrom (Yam); 4. Joseph Lowe (Suz); 5. Cory Strickler (Yam).
Xtreme: 1. John Koester (Hon); 2. Jack Mason (Hon); 3. Phil Libhart (Tri); 4. Jay Sallstrom (Yam); 5. Vinny Nuzzolilli (Hon).
450 Pro: 1. John Koester (Hon); 2. Phil Libhart (Yam); 3. Bryan Rusnak (KTM); 4. Jack Mason (Hon); 5. Joseph Lowe (Kaw).
Verticross: 1. John Koester (Hon); 2. Phil Libhart (Yam); Jay Sallstrom (Yam).