The steep and rock littered ascent up the vertical face of Snow King Mountain in Jackson Hole, Wyoming has become the ultimate proving ground for both mountain man and his machine. This past weekend, it was Gavin Balls and his 2015 SRViper M-TX proving to the world Yamaha has returned to the snowmobile mountain segment in a big way, as Gavin and his Viper M-TX beat the best for the win in Improved Stock 700.
Just two weeks prior, Gavin and the SRViper M-TX did what many thought was impossible, finishing on the podium in second place in Pinedale. Turns out that was just a precursor to what most would consider the biggest stage in hillclimb competition, Jackson Hole.
After just missing the final field in several classes during qualifying the previous day, Yamaha racers and technicians set about making some last minute traction calibrations in hopes of turning the tide. “We had been working on our suspension and traction set-up for the past couple of weeks,” said Mountain Race Team Manager Troy Johnson. “None of our racers had seat time on the new sleds until a few weeks ago, but we were real good from the get go and just had to find that small edge to put us over the top.”
That competitive edge combined with Gavin’s acute ability to find lines other hadn’t is what put the Viper M-TX atop the podium.
“There was a real tricky section about two-thirds up where someone had trenched out,” said Gavin after his victorious run. “Everyone was having a hard time getting through.”
However Gavin found the line others didn’t, and using the smooth and predictable power only a four-stroke can deliver, and the balanced and maneuverable control of the new Viper M-TX, Gavin nailed the line perfectly and sliced his way through to the top.
The win backed up the Pinedale podium and clearly demonstrated the abilities of the new SR Viper M-TX. For an encore, Gavin went on to claim third in 700 Modified and finished in the top ten in 800 Modified; a huge accomplishment given the class was filled with more than 35 of the best riders in the world, many of whom were on more powerful sleds. Yamaha teammate Chad Jorgensen added a fourth-place finish in 700 Mod to cap off the historic weekend.
“We’ve had Jackson Hole circled on our calendars since early winter,” said Yamaha Snowmobile Product Manager Rob Powers. “We knew the new Viper M-TX would open some eyes once our racers had some seat time. It was rewarding to see the hard work by everyone involved in this project (SR Viper M-TX) pay-off in a big way. Our booth at the base of the hill was filled with other racers and fans not only congratulating us, but also looking at the M-TX in a new light.”
With momentum building, the Yamaha Hillclimb team will continue to test and tune in preparation for the final three Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Hillclimb Association (RMSHA) events on the calendar. The next race is slated for Crested Butte, Colorado, April 12-13. You can follow all the action throughout the season at facebook.com/YamahaSnowmobilesUSA and at youtube.com/user/YamahaSnowmobilesUSA