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Defending champion Corey Erhardt of Billings will be back to defend his title at the ninth annual Big Sky Challenge professional motorcycle hillclimb at the Billings Motorcycle Club Friday through Sunday.

The event kicks off the three-part Rockwell Professional Hillclimb Series that also includes the Widowmaker in late June in Utah and the Great American in late July in Billings.

Erhardt was the overall points champion for the Rockwell series last year as he also won the Great American.

The purse for the Big Sky Challenge is just over $37,000 said promoter Bob Spadt, who said there are 700 combined entries for the pro and trophy classes.

The overall professional champion will be crowned on Saturday after the conclusion of the 0-600cc and 601cc-open rubber tire classes based on placing in those two events.

Competition begins at 5 p.m. Friday and will run until approximately 8:30 p.m. Spadt said there are 87 riders in the 450cc pro-modified and the top 16 in that class will compete in side-by-side racing Friday night.

The start time on Saturday and Sunday is 8 a.m. and racing should be done by 4 p.m. both days. The trophy hillclimb will start on Saturday at 9 a.m. Admission is $10 per person and those 10-and-under are free with a paying adult.

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