Hometown heroes

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The Eeyou Istchee snowmobile-racing season continued in earnest over the February 16-18 weekend, with 15 teams hitting the trails in pursuit of a $50,000 top prize in the 2018 Chisasibi Snowmobile Challenge.

A competition that’s not for the faint of heart, the Chisasibi Snowmobile Challenge puts two-man teams through a gruelling three-day, 1525-km cross-country race along some of the finest trails in northern Quebec.

After dominating the field with an impressive time of 7:41:56 in Stage One of this year’s race – a full 42 minutes ahead of its nearest competitors – Team Mookabi Pimpichuu never looked back.

The team of Chisasibi’s own Robert Rupert and Elmer Sam followed up with a first-place finish by just over six minutes in Stage Two, before closing out the weekend with a comfortable second-place run, to emerge as this year’s Chisasibi Snowmobile Challenge champions, and take home the $50,000 grand prize.

The trio of Brian Rupert, Sean Langer and William Chakapash powered the Skyhawks Racing team to a solid second-place finish, earning them a cool $20,000 in prize money.

The Skyhawks represented the lone legitimate threat to Team Mookabi Pimpichuu’s dominance at this year’s event, finishing second to the champions in Stages One and Two, and powering to victory by a margin of 13:44 in Sunday’s final-stage action.

Team Mithamin, comprised of drivers Adam Gates and Archie Moar Jr., stormed to a third-place finish, while Glen and Dylan Salt drove Team Salt to the fourth and final money position in this year’s race.

With a time of 8:52:40, Gates and Moar remained in contention after Day One, and continued their steady pace with a 9:51:59 run in Stage Two. Team Mithamin struggled on the final stage, finishing sixth on the day with a time of 9:21:36. But that proved to be enough to secure the Chisasibi duo a place on the podium, and a tidy $10,000 prize.

Team Salt hoped to build off a solid performance in Chisasibi as they prepare for the Cain’s Quest Snowmobile Endurance Race, a daunting 3200-km cross-country race across Labrador, which is scheduled to commence on March 2.

The Salts recorded fourth-place finishes in all three stages of the Chisasibi Snowmobile Challenge, finishing with a combined time of 28:21:06 to take home a $5000 prize. Team Salt was also on the receiving end of a heartwarming gesture by the Seahawks, who generously donated $2000 from their second-place winnings to help the Salts pay for their dream run in Labrador.

A disappointing 11:13:30 run in Stage Two doomed Team Capsawii, made up of Donovan Lameboy, Brandon Coon and Travis Chiskamish, to a fifth-place finish and out of the money.

Team Mookabi followed in sixth place, ahead of Team Swallow, Team Sam and Team Eastmain, while Team Wemindji rounded out the Top 10.

With this year’s Chisasibi Snowmobile Challenge in the books, the action returns to Chisasibi March 9-11 for a weekend of cross-country action, dominated by races featuring boys and girls aged 15 to 17.

Boys and girls, aged 13 and 14, riding 550cc machines will chase a $750 top prize, while 15- to 17-year-olds will be gunning for over $3500 in cash prizes.

In the meantime, Mistissini will play host to the Big Rock Racing Association Cross Country Challenge on the February 24-25 weekend. Five competitive categories are on the slate at the Mistissini event, including Junior, Women, Sport and Professional, with over $35,000 in prize money.

A top prize of $10,000 is up for grabs in the Professional category, which will feature a two-stage race on a trail stretching 150 km, while the women will battle it out in a 76-km race for a top prize of $1000.

Riders will vie for a share of over $20,000 in cash prizes at one of the most popular snowmobile events of the season in Quebec when the Cross-Country Festival Folifrets gets underway on March 3, while the Oujé-Bougoumou Cross-Country Snowmobile Rally is expected to close the season March 24-25.

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