STRANK LAUNCHES AMA HILLCLIMB TITLE DEFENSE WITH MANY UNKNOWNS PICKERINGTON, Ohio (April 19, 2007) -- Walter "Tiger" Strank, of Johnstown, Pa., swept the 2006 AMA Hillclimb Championship in both the 800 and 540 classes for the second straight...
STRANK LAUNCHES AMA HILLCLIMB TITLE DEFENSE WITH MANY UNKNOWNS
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (April 19, 2007) -- Walter "Tiger" Strank, of Johnstown, Pa., swept the 2006 AMA Hillclimb Championship in both the 800 and 540 classes for the second straight time. In 2007 Strank will return, riding a pair of Bob Shreiner-built Yamahas, in the newly restructured series which now features three classes - Xtreme Hillclimb, Unlimited Hillclimb and new to the championship, Pro Sport Hillclimb.
The series will feature ten rounds, plus the annual mid-season All Star Challenge. The championship kicks off on April 29 in Haydenville, Ohio and will visit hills in Pennsylvania, New York and Michigan, culminating with the popular traditional season-ending series round in Oregonia, Ohio on Oct. 14.
The Xtreme Hillclimb class will take the place of the old 540cc class and the 800cc class now becomes the Unlimited class. Pro Sport Hillclimb will feature 400cc-450cc four stroke, single-cylinder engines. The Pro Sport class is intended to allow amateur climbers a smoother transition into the professional ranks.
Ken Saillant, AMA Racing Flat Track Director said, "We're very excited about the '07 AMA Hillclimb season, especially with the addition of the 450 Pro Sport class. This class offers a great opportunity for new riders who have not participated in Hillclimb to come onboard."
For Strank the changes in the class structure will not alter his approach, but he admits that there are going to be unknowns that all competitors will have to overcome.
"We're not sure with a third class added how that's going to affect the condition of the hills," Strank said. "Hopefully they'll schedule the Unlimited and Xtreme classes before the Pro Sport, but that's something we'll have to deal with. Plus with the new classes this year, they're allowing some different types of motors into each class. So it could be interesting to see what kinds of bikes are developed. I already know of one team working on a nitrous KTM, so it could get pretty wild out there with bikes that we've never seen before."
Strank was injured in a training accident in January. The six-time national champion separated his shoulder, but said he was fortunate to be able to avoid surgery.
"I'll probably be a little gun-shy in that first race until I see how I feel," Strank explained. "I just haven't had the chance to ride like I normally do leading up to the season, but I should be OK."
Strank went on to say he sees Ryan Thibault and Phil Libhart as his primary competition this season.
"Ryan was really tough in the amateurs and he's young and has no fear. And Phil is a veteran and his Triumphs run as good as they look."
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2007 AMA Hillclimb Championship Schedule
Apr 29: Haydenville, OH: Professional Hillclimb Promotions; (574) 272-8329
Jun 3: Jefferson (York Co), PA: White Rose MC; (717) 938-2556
Jun 10: Steel City, PA: Bushkill Valley MC; (610) 258-3208
Jun 17: Avoca, NY: Avoca-Howard Hillclimb; (607) 382-8613
Jul 22: Grant (Bridgeton Township), MI: Muskegon MC; (231) 828-6360
Jul 29: Jefferson (York Co), PA: ALL STAR CHALLENGE: White Rose MC; (717) 938-2556
Aug 19: Dansville, NY: Poags Hole Productions; (585) 335-2341
Sept 9: Steel City, PA: Bushkill Valley MC; (610) 258-3208
Sept 23: Haydenville, OH: Professional Hillclimb Promotions; (574) 272-8329
Sept 30: Jefferson (York Co), PA: White Rose MC; (717) 938-2556
Oct 14: Oregonia, OH: Dayton MC; (937) 429-4359