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Hometown riders steal Snowcross Series spotlight in Timmins


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TIMMINS - Hometown riders once again stole the show as Timmins welcomed the Canadian Snowcross Racing Association (CSRA) Eclipse Financial Cup over the weekend.

Angela Vacchino put a brief pause on her retirement from the sport to win the Pro/Am Women's race on Saturday, Cochrane's Dave Joanis raced to first in the high-flying Pro Open division, while Porcupine's RJ Roy all but secured his overall Pro Lite points championship with a first-place finish in the second-to-last event of the CSRA Snowcross Series season.

"It's nice to come race in front of the hometown crowd," said the 22-year-old Roy whose parents, Rob and Colleen, still live in town and were in attendance over the weekend. "Growing up here, there was never any racing, but you always wanted to race in front of your hometown.

"It's cool to come and do it finally, and to be here in a trailer like this, it's unreal. It's been an amazing year so far."

Though last year's performances in his hometown allowed him to seal the 2016 Pro Lite national title, this Saturday's victory actually marked Roy's first-ever win in a final in Timmins.

"I felt good," said Roy, who races under the banner of Team Rockstar Energy/Polaris Racing/Piller's presented by Huber Motorsports. "I can't complain about the track. It was a little icy, but that's what we have to deal with.

"Other than that it was a lot of fun. I was happy to get the win, that's for sure. Finally, my first time getting a win in a final my hometown, so it feels good."

The races have been held at the snow dump at the end of Spruce St. S. over the past three years since the course was moved from its previous location in Cochrane

At last year's event, Roy escaped unscathed from a scary fall in Timmins en route to his overall title.

It was a less adventurous outing this time around, but he still had to make a high-risk pass late in Saturday's Pro Lite final to secure top spot.

"No crashes, good starts so I'm happy with the day for sure," said Roy, whose team is based in Maryhill, just outside out Guelph.

Conditions permitting, the CSRA regular season will end on March 25-26 in Kitchener, with national finals to follow in Barrie. Another Pro Lite title is well within Roy's grasp.

"I haven't really paid attention (to the points standings)," said Roy. "I'm just treating it race by race, trying to win every one, that's all I can do. It's been a good year. Huber Motorsports, these guys have got my sleds dialed up all the time, absolutely dialed, I can't thank these guys enough."

Though he has a few more weeks to focus on this season, Roy touched on some long-term goals and the philosophy he'll take in approaching them.

"Of course, you always want to be Pro Open champion, you just keep progressing," explained Roy. "Really for me, it's just to have a long, healthy career with a lot of success and just to have fun at it.

"This is fun. The moment it doesn't become fun anymore is the moment I'll start to think about stopping. The only reason you do this is to have fun, right? And that's what I'm here doing, having a blast."

After his own race, Roy scampered out of his trailer to watch Saturday's Pro Open final which featured his Huber teammate, Colby Crapo, who hails from the unlikely locale of Idaho. Crapo, who was in the Pro Open overall points lead going into Sunday, finished a solid second in the Saturday final.

Cochrane's Joanis, a regular atop the podium who has competed at international level events including the X Games, seized first place.

"I kind of jumped it, really, at first," said Joanis, who credited Mikey's General Sales and BRP Ski Doo for keeping his sled in top shape. "Everything happens so quick out there and you're just basically in reaction (mode) more so than deciding what you're going to do. It kind of just happens.

"My team in No. 1, man, they're the guys. They make it happen. They needed this victory to ensure (everyone knows) we're not messing around and we're working hard and we're here to stay."

In other Saturday action, Porcupine's Brett Bielaski won the Trail Sport 600, while Dave Bielaski finished atop the Pro/Am Vet 30+ race.

Angela Vacchino was followed by a pair of New Liskeard racers, Rebecca Ramsay and Taylor Desjardins, in Saturday's Pro/Am Women's division. Ramsay also seized top spot in the Junior Girls 14-17 race.

Vacchino helps organize the Timmins event every year with a team including her brother, David.

"That RJ (Roy) pass in that back corner on the last stop was awesome!" exclaimed David Vacchino as the sun began to set on a near-perfect Northern winter day. "Good for him, I'm happy for him, he's doing a great job. Davey (Joanis) won the Pro (Open), so that's good.

"The track is hard; some people seem to like it, some people don't. I'd like to see it a little gnarlier, but it was a good time. The No. 1 priority is always keeping the riders safe.

"We always want to see if bigger and better, but hey, you've got to keep that stuff safe for everybody too. There were a couple of crashes, everybody came out alive, nobody got hurt, so it's all good. Racing is bumping and bumping is racing. That's what happens."

Despite perhaps the best weather conditions the event has seen over its three showings in Timmins, the crowd appeared slightly sparser than in previous years – if only slightly.

"With everything going on this weekend, I'm happy with the turnout," said David Vacchino. "I love seeing the people come out. I'm hoping they're enjoying it.

"If there's some feedback they can give us, we'd love to have it. I'm happy to help Angela bring it back. Mother Nature is usually good to us, so I'd like to see it grow even bigger and better and see everybody have a good time."