Yes, you read right. Yamaha will be fielding a factory-backed race team for the Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Hillclimb Association this winter. Yamaha will also be fielding a team for the USCC circuit.
Cable Willford, Fruita, CO, and Kody Malmborg, Cheyenne, WY, will compete in the RMSHA Pro classes for Yamaha while Kolton Malmborg, Cheyenne, WY, will run in the Semi-Pro classes. Yamaha's last factory-backed effort on the hillclimb circuit was in 2001.
Willford competed on the RMSHA circuit last winter as a privateer and managed three top 10 finishes without any factory support.
"Racing the 2011 RMSHA series as a privateer and the only competitor on a Yamaha was a humbling experience to say the least," Willford said. "The continued support from fans, as well as my fellow racers, gave me inspiration throughout the season. I am very encouraged going into the 2012 race season with full factory support from Yamaha."
Willford said the highlight of the 2011 race season was earning three rides at the World Championship Snowmobile Hillclimb at Jackson, WY. "Climbing Snow King is one of the most challenging, rewarding, thrilling and all out awesome experiences I have ever had on a snowmobile," he said. His best finish at Jackson was finishing eighth in Pro Mod 800 qualifying.
Willford said the entire 2011 race season was an "experience." He commented, "Going up against the best of the best in the Pro classes, on their turf, race after race taught me some valuable lessons. I was most concerned about my level of competitiveness as a first year racer on unproven equipment. As the season went on, I learned how to keep my anxiety in check and found the comfort level I needed with my sled setup, which allowed me to focus on going fast. Ultimately, 2011 was a huge learning curve that transformed my fears into knowledge and provided me with a level of discipline that is crucial for producing favorable results on the race track."
Willford will compete in Pro 600 Mod, Pro 700 Mod, Pro 800 Mod and Pro Open. Kody Malmborg will compete in the same classes as Willford while Kolton Malmborg will compete in Semi-Pro Stock, Semi-Pro Imp. Stock and Semi-Pro Mod.
You'll be able to follow Willford and the other Yamaha factory hillclimbers this winter on www.snowest.com as Willford will be writing a blog for SnoWest Magazine, which we'll post after each race.
Also, in an upcoming issue of SnoWest we'll provide an interview we had with Nathan Titus, who will be racing in the Pro classes on the USCC circuit. Titus is from Nampa, ID.