John Koester sweeps AMA Pro Hillclimb round nine

JEFFERSON, Penn. (Sept. 29, 2016) - John Koester made a clean sweep of the AMA Pro Hillclimb round nine at Jefferson, Penn., chalking up wins in the Unlimited, Xtreme and Expert Singles classes. Koester's wins closed the series points lead held by rival Jay Sallstrom’s 12, 5 and 7 points in each category.

Xtreme class riders rode first as Nick Briggs set the pace at 8.262 seconds. Sallstrom broke the seven-second barrier with a 6.953 E.T. Koester laid down a perfect ride, stopping the clock at 6.097 seconds for the lead, and the eventual win. Jockamo Baldina posted a 6.872-second time and moved into second. Riding late in the order, Phil Libhart crested in 6.749 seconds to take over the second-place position and bumped Sallstrom off the podium.

In the second-half of the Xtreme action, Koester sat out waiting to see if his winning time would stick – it did. Only Baldina upset the order, posting a 6.470-second E.T., taking over second and knocking Libhart to third.

Sallstrom led the Expert Singles class with a super-fast 7.974-second ride. Devin Sweitzer slotted into second with an 8.868-second E.T. Libhart rode mid-order and bested Sweitzer by less than a 10th to take over second. Koester posted an 8.979-second ride, which was not enough for a podium spot. Briggs rode last and moved ahead of both Libhart and Sweitzer with an 8.735-second time.

Sallstrom waited through the Expert Singles second-half, hoping his time would hold up. Both Baldina and Brent Nelson posted times in the eights but not enough for the podium. Koester upped his game and answered Sallstrom's challenge as he topped the hill in 7.732 seconds for the lead. Sallstrom battled back and finished 0.068 seconds behind Koester for second place.

Jack Mason kicked off the Unlimited class with an 8.578-second ride. Sallstrom cut off two seconds for the lead with a 6.231 E.T. Koester crossed the line in 6.227 seconds to take over first place. Baldina and Libhart both posted high six-second times with Baldina holding third at the half.

After intermission, Sallstrom chopped off nearly a 10th for the Unlimited class lead. Koester answered Sallstrom's ride and flew to the top in just 5.965 seconds for the win, bumping Sallstrom to second. Baldina bettered his own first-half time with a 6.222-second ride, holding onto third.

Sallstrom retains the series points lead in all classes, albeit by a smaller margin after round nine. The three heavy-hitters, Sallstrom, Koester and Libhart head into the final round for a run to clinch the Championship in the Unlimited and Xtreme classes. Sallstrom and Koester are separated by only seven points in Expert Singles, while Joseph Lowe sits in third.

AMA Pro Hillclimb's champions will be crowned at the final round in Oregonia, Ohio on October 9.