Despite a five-week lapse in the schedule, reigning Pro Open champ Butler and No.2 ranked Hayden were suffering from anything but a bout of the racing inactivity blues.
Their domination at the Rouyn-Noranda Coors Light International Grand Prix—on a very snowy and chilly -29°C (-20°F) race track—left no doubt in anyone’s mind that the two Rockstar Energy Polaris Racing teammates were focused on keeping their status as top dogs intact as the championship series resumed.
The northern Ontario boys—longtime friends off the track but archrivals when they have their race faces on—got plenty of saddle time on their Polaris backup sleds during the past month. They were ready, able, and anxious to take up where they had left off in early December—and that was to put their potent Polaris IQ sleds in the winner’s circle as they went head-to-head in the Pro Open points chase.
On a very tight supercross style track, which included a hair-raising 100-foot double, good starts were essential if a driver wanted to be in the front-runner mix. Butler and Hayden proved they were more than up to the task to finish in the top-five both days.
In the feature race on Saturday, Butler finished a barnstorming second while Hayden had to take satisfaction with fourth place at the checkered.
In Sunday’s feature race, a reborn Hayden pulled out all the stops to lead Butler to the finish line while the rest of the field battled some distance behind them for the remaining positions.
On the strength of 2-2 results, Butler claimed the overall for the weekend. Meanwhile, Hayden snared second overall, thanks to his 4-1 finishes.
After two rounds Butler holds down the lead position in the title hunt while Hayden sits comfortably in second place.
“Lee, Iain, and the team staff worked hard to deliver top results this weekend. We wanted to come out of there with 1-2 and we did. They had a strategy on how to get their points and it paid off,” said team owner Andre Laurin.