AMA

Hillclimb: 2004 Champions announced

Disbennett and Strank win AMA Hillclimb Championships It's a first for Disbennett, second time for Strank PICKERINGTON, Ohio (Oct. 18, 2004) -- Chad Disbennett and Walter "Tiger" Strank each earned titles in the 2004 AMA...

Disbennett and Strank win AMA Hillclimb Championships
It's a first for Disbennett, second time for Strank

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (Oct. 18, 2004) -- Chad Disbennett and Walter "Tiger" Strank each earned titles in the 2004 AMA Hillclimb Championship that concluded at the Oregonia, Ohio round. Disbennett was crowned in the 800 class. It was the first national title for the second generation hillclimber from Logan, Ohio, and marked the first AMA National 800 Hillclimb Championship by a Triumph rider in over 30 years. Strank took the No. 1 plate in the 540 class riding a Yamaha R6-based rig. It marked the second national title for the Johnstown Pennsylvania resident.

Disbennett won the championship with a string of consistent podium finishes. He took wins at the Middlebury round in May and Steel City in September and scored on the podium in every round but one. Disbennett is the son of former AMA national champ Doyle Disbennett.

"How sweet it is," said Disbennett, who returned from a broken back suffered last year to win the championship. "It was a great season. I needed to get a few breaks to get the title and everything came my way. John Hamilton and my dad did a great job preparing my Triumph. The bike is over 30 years old and the frame is the same one my dad raced. There's no margin for error when you're racing a vintage machine like that and our team really came through for me."

Disbennett, who turned pro in 1997, can also lay claim to being one of the best athletes in the history of AMA Hillclimb. He is a former collegiate All-American in steeplechase cross-country running for the University of Cincinnati.

For Strank a broken wrist suffered at Freemansburg meant he had to hold on to win the 540 class, but it cost him a chance at a second national title in the 800 class. He found a former hillclimber who is now a doctor to treat his injured wrist.

"The broken wrist forced me to come up with a new way to land," Strank said. "I had to pull out the one-hander-lander, something I can do easy enough on my motocross bike, but is a little tricky on one of these big hillclimb beasts."

For Strank the 540 title was the culmination of several years of hard work on the Yamaha R6 climber.

"I've spent the last two years trying to get this bike set up," Strank added. "We finally got it all ironed out this year and it was almost as fast as the 800s. It's an impressive little machine."

Strank credits his builder Bob Shreiner with coming up with solutions to nagging clutch and fuel delivery problems. Strank earned his first victory on the Yamaha early in the season and said that getting the first win on the bike felt almost as good as winning his first championship back in 2001. "We had the top time of the day," he said. "When we did that I knew we were on to something."

Strank has been a consistent contender since coming into the series fulltime in 2000. In addition to earning the 800 championship in 2001, Strank has been ranked in the top-three in either the 800 or 540 class every season. He plans on making an assault on both classes again next season.

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