Polaris cross-country racer Gabe Bunke rode a Polaris 600 RUSH to victory in the Pro Open class and the team title during the United States Cross Country (USCC) Red Lake I-500 held in northwestern Minnesota on January 15-17.
The 600 RUSH is the snowmobile industry’s best-selling new sled for model year 2010, so performance-minded recreational riders are enjoying the Terrain Dominating Control of its PRO-RIDE Chassis on the trails and in the ditches. A race-tuned version of this popular sled carried Bunke to second place overall in the I-500, where the appropriately named “Team RUSH” won the team title. The winning team consisted of 600 RUSH riders Jeff Klein, Chad Colby and Bunke.
In this year’s Red Lake I-500, the racers ran approximately 170 miles per day for three straight days. After the first day of racing, Bunke was seventh in the Pro 600 standings and fifth among Pro Open racers. The combination of his strong, steady racing style and the 600 RUSH moved him up the leader chart on day two, when he finished fifth in the Pro 600 standings and second in Pro Open.
On the final day, Bunke raced as hard as possible in flat light that made the terrain difficult to read, and he posted a time strong enough to give him the Pro Open win and put him second in Pro 600.
Fellow Polaris racer Aaron Christensen of Metiskow, Alberta, Canada, finished third in Pro Open. In the Pro 600 class, Christensen was fifth, Jesse Thelen of St. Martin, Minnesota, was seventh, Paul Anderson of Lewiston, Minnesota, came home 12th, and Doug Cymbaluk of Crookston, Minnesota, finished 14th.
Polaris racer Dennis Topp of Baudette, Minnesota, won the Legends 50+ class and Anderson finished second.
In Semi-Pro 600, Dustin Holmstrom of Newfolden, Minnesota, finished second and Jeff Ignaszewski of Wells, MN, was third. Ryan Faust of Rubicon, WI, finished seventh in Semi-Pro 600 and second in Semi-Pro Improved
Bunke Still Running Strong
At age 33, Bunke is as much as a decade older than many of his fellow racers, but he continues to deliver consistently strong performances that put him in the thick of the USCC points battle. Last season he received the USCC Iron Man award for having raced at every USCC event to date (43 consecutive races at the time). In last season’s final USCC points standings, Bunke was second in Pro 600 points and fifth in Pro Open. He is also a two-time winner of the Soo I-500.
A Polaris racer for all 13 years of his career, Bunke is playing a key role in fine-tuning the cross-country race setup of the 600 RUSH. After strong finishes on the 600 RUSH in the first two USCC races this season, he is the Pro points leader.
600 RUSH on the PRO-RIDE Chassis
The Polaris PRO-RIDE Chassis is the only snowmobile with true progressive rate rear suspension. 600 RUSH recreational riders and cross-country racers experience the ability to ride through bumps like a motocrosser because the progressive-rate rear suspension isolates the rider from the impact. The PRO-RIDE suspension gets progressively stiffer through its travel for a smoother, more controlled ride and protects against bottoming out on big bumps. The result is that riders are spared the “spine tinglers” conventional suspensions can deliver at the bottom of their travel.