Mala, Sweden - In front of 8,000 Scandinavian and European fans, Monster Energy/Arctic Cat's Tucker Hibbert was crowned the first American FIM Snowcross World Champion. Riders from seven countries gathered in Mala, Sweden last Saturday afternoon to push Hibbert to his limit in his first competition outside of North America.
In the morning practice session, Hibbert posted the second fastest lap time behind the home country favorite and 2008 World Champion, Emil Ohman. After practice, it was clear there were strong riders prepared to challenge Hibbert. The course in Mala was wide, long and rough with minimal jumps and developed into the "roughest track" he had ever raced on. Visibility on the course was poor due to heavy snow and cold temperatures.
In the qualifier, Hibbert grabbed a monster holeshot, took the lead and checked out. He was awarded the No. 1 gate pick for the World Championship races. An overall score tallied from three 15-minute, 22-rider races would determine the champion.
In the first race, Hibbert got shuffled to the back of the pack after getting hung up behind a down rider in the first corner. He rode on the edge putting together creative rhythm sections and quickly moved to the front. He took the lead halfway through the race and pulled away for his first victory.
In the second race, he grabbed the holeshot and took the early lead but was taken off guard by the young Swedish champion, Johan Lidman. Lidman passed Hibbert and started to pull a gap. Hibbert reeled him in, passed him back and charged to the finish with over a 10 second lead.
Hibbert lined up for the final race focused on the championship. With a 12-point lead over Lidman, he had to finish seventh or higher to win. He took the holeshot and settled into a comfortable pace. After a crash in the second race, Ohman was out of championship contention but was determined to beat Hibbert. The crowd roared as Ohman snuck up on him and the two riders began a heated battle. After a few laps of chasing Ohman, Hibbert said he forced himself to back down and ride smart. He was clearly frustrated by not sweeping the event but congratulated Ohman on his win. With a score of 72, Hibbert was crowned the champion and for the first time in the 11-year history of the event, Arctic Cat swept the podium with Lidman in second and American Cory Davis in third.
Team USA (Hibbert, Davis and Brett Bender) took second in the "National Team Challenge" behind Sweden. The two countries were tied for points but Ohman's third race victory served as the tiebreaker.
Next up for Hibbert are select AMA Pro Motocross Championship events. Stay posted to www.tucker-hibbert.com for his summer race schedule.
Tucker Hibbert - #68 Monster Energy/Arctic Cat
"I'm proud to be the first American World Champion. We (the team) overcame a lot of challenges with racing overseas for the first time. We're honored by the opportunity to represent the USA and our sponsors in a worldwide competition. This event was a true test for me. I really enjoyed the track but it was so much more demanding than anything I've ever ridden on and I was surprised by the competition. It was exciting to race against riders from all over the world at first-class event. Everything was so professional. This win is really special. I'll never forget the experience and all of the wonderful people I met."