We revealed in the October issue of SnoWest (don't worry, it'll be in the mail in a few days) that Yamaha was getting back into racing, focusing on the company's hillclimb efforts in that issue. We mentioned that Yamaha would also be competing in cross country racing and that Idaho racer Nathan Titus would be one of the team's top racers on the circuit.
Yamaha announced its return to snowmobile competition in late August and said it would field a factory-backed team on the United States Cross Country (USCC) circuits for the 2011-12 season. Yamaha-backed racers will compete on both of USCC's programs-the Midwest and USCC East.
Yamaha veterans Ross Erdman, as well as Titus, will ride the FX Nytro RTX in the Pro class, while the up-and-coming Ben Lindbom and Jake Jorgeson will saddle up for the Semi-Pro class in the USCC Midwest series. Rounding off the USCC team in the Sport class is Seth Thorsen and Steve Emerson on the Phazer RTX.
Longtime Yamaha snowmobile racer Erik Frigon will race Semi-Pro while mentoring Sport racer Michael Ewaschuk in the emerging USCC East division.
"We're really excited to get back into racing," Wade West, Yamaha's snowmobile marketing manager, said. "The increased interest in grassroots racing over the past few years makes our entry into cross country racing all the more important. We've found that the market is moving away from the prepackaged spectacle of stadium snocross and gravitating more toward the relatable cross country events that compete on the same trails we ride. That's where our high performance 4-stroke power shines and what our FX Nytro models were engineered to do."
The 37-year-old Titus isn't new to USCC racing. He competed two seasons ago on that circuit but without factory backing. "A couple of years ago we were pretty competitive and that was with no real support, no direction," Titus said. "Before when we were racing, it was kind of a side show. The cool part is to see at the corporate level them get back into it."
Titus will run the full USCC season, beginning with the season opener Dec. 17 in Grafton, ND. However, he will live at home and fly to each race, returning home after the race is done. He will compete in Pro Stock, Pro Open and Pro Vet classes. We asked Titus if that wasn't a lot of cross country racing every weekend. "Yes, we'll see how it goes," was his response.
And what are his expectations this season? "The sled's got plenty of motor; we're working on handling right now," Titus said. "I'd like to see top 5s in the Pro classes. Of course, Yamaha wants to be competitive."