John Koester wins AMA Pro Hillclimb 2015 season-opener at Middle Tennessee Dragway

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (May 30, 2015) - The 2015 AMA Pro Hillclimb series kicked off at Middle Tennessee Dragway in conjunction with the Tennessee HOG Rally on Saturday.

John Koester won the Unlimited Class with Phil Libhart and rookie John Curry taking the Xtreme and Pro Sport classes, respectively.

Koester set an early Xtreme Class pace at 7.979 seconds and was in first place at the half. He was followed by Robby DeBusk in second and 2014 Pro Sport champion, Matt Walker in third.

Libhart used the break to adjust to the brand new hill and chopped four tenths of a second off Koester's time. Vinny Nuzzolilli moved into second with a 7.907 E.T. Koester fought to regain the lead but fell short, settling for third. Libhart dedicated his win to his late brother and fellow hillclimber, Todd Libhart.

Nick Briggs set the Pro Sport bar at 10.575 seconds for the lead at the half, followed by Curry in second and Adam Holmes in third. After intermission, rookie Joseph Lowe moved into third, only to be eclipsed by Holmes. Then Curry topped them all with a 10.420-second ride, bumping Briggs to second. Briggs rode last but finished a second off the mark.

The Unlimited Class featured a battle of champions between Koester, Jay Sallstrom and Nuzzolilli, with Nuzzolilli setting the mark at 7.820 seconds on his first ride. Sallstrom topped the hill in just over eight seconds for the second spot, but Koester rode a flawless 7.678-second ride for the lead at halftime. Koester waited out the second half to see if he needed to ride, but no one bettered his time. Only Sallstrom changed the order, taking second away from Nuzzolilli. The podium finishers were separated by a scant 0.144 seconds.

Next up for AMA Pro Hillclimb is Round 2 from the White Rose Motorcycle Club in Jefferson Pa., Sunday, June 7.

Results from Round 1
Unlimited Class
1. John Koester (Honda)
2. Jay Sallstrom (Yamaha)
3. Vinny Nuzzolilli (Honda)
4. Matt Luna (Kawasaki)
5. Phil Libhart (Triumph)

Xtreme Class
1. Phil Libhart (Triumph)
2. Vinny Nuzzolilli (Honda)
3. John Koester (Honda)
4. Robby DeBusk (Yamaha)
5. Jay Sallstrom (Yamaha)

Pro Sport Class
1. Johnny Curry (Yamaha)
2. Nick Briggs (Yamaha)
3. Adam Holmes (Honda)
4. Joseph Lowe (Kawasaki)
5. Eric Comer (Honda)