The Rockstar Energy Drink Motocross Nationals is half over now with five rounds remaining. It feels like the summer is once again going by way too fast. Located just east of London, Ontario, Gopher Dunes was the first race in the east and was the fifth on the list. Any rider that does not do well in the sand will curse this event every year, but if you’re a good sand rider this can be the time to redeem yourself; you can hardly wait to hit this one. Watching the riders you can tell who grew up pounding laps in the sand.
The one rider that stands out in this category is Matt Goerke on the Rockstar OTSFF Yamaha team. He sure knows how to carve around in the sand and make it look easy. I would have to say he is the only rider still charging at the end of both motos. If you have ever ridden in the sand, you know that it takes a lot of skill to keep your balance and momentum. Try racing at a high speed for 35 minutes while passing riders and then compound the heat and humidity into the equation. This makes for a tough day at the track. I know almost every rider felt like throwing up at the end of each race, and the amount of sand you swallow is unreal. Goerke was by far the fastest guy all day finishing 1-3 for first overall. Finishing first was not easy; Matt went down early in the second moto while he was up front. Once back on the Yamaha, Matt put on a charge from seventh and pushed hard until he made the pass on Benoit for third. That gave him the overall for the day. Looking at Matt’s lap times, he was 3-5 seconds faster than the entire field during the last few laps of the race. That’s impressive!
Teammate Brett Metcalfe had his best race of the series by going 4-1 for second overall. Brett looked like he has been doing some testing because his Yamaha Rockstar 450 looked way more balanced in the sand. This is the Brett we expected all season. It was good to see a big smile on his face up on the podium. Third for the day was points leader Davi Millsaps. Yes, he can ride in the sand, people! Could he have won the overall? Yes, but when you fall down while Matt Goerke is hounding you, it does not help. Davi went down hard a couple of times in the first moto while leading, which handed the win to Matt. In moto two, Millsaps started around fifth and slowly moved up to second for the moto. On the podium Davi was complaining about how he hit his chest hard in a first moto crash. He just wanted to finish well to keep the points lead. Finishing fourth for the day was local rider Colton Facciotti on the trickest looking Honda I have seen in a long time. Colton looked solid, rode well and was able to battle with the leaders all weekend. I feel like we will see more of him when we get to Ulverton next weekend. Finishing fifth for the day was Kaven Benoit. He should have finished top 3 easily but with a few crashes and tip overs, it pushed him back to fifth. I also expect to see Benoit up in the front next weekend in Quebec.
The MX2 class was full of action too. Cole Thompson showed everyone that he knows how to ride in the sand. Posting a 1-1 for the day is pretty damn good. It wasn’t easy for the Ontario resident, coming from a first turn pile up to winning that moto in that crazy heat. Second overall went to Dylan Wright on his MX101 Yamaha. It started off rough as Dylan hit the gate in the first moto, which put him last going into the corner. Lucky for him there was a good size pile up in that first corner. Dylan has podiumed at Gopher Dunes before, so he knows how to ride the sand. He proved himself and he worked his way through the pack. Moto two started better for him with a top seven start. Finishing third was a newcomer to the series, Dakota Alix from Vermont. Moto one Dakota had a great start and was gone until points leader Thompson caught and passed him. Moto two started off with a good start, unfortunately he couldn’t move up the list and had to settle for fourth in moto two. On the podium, Dakota said he plans to compete at a few more Canadian rounds. Fourth for the day was Shawn Maffenbeier on his KTM 250. Shawn looked really relaxed in the sand. If he didn’t crash in the first moto we would have seen him on the podium for the overall. Finishing fifth was Monster Kawasaki rider Mark Worth. His first time riding at the Dunes. I was impressed that he put in solid results by going 4-5 for the day. It was good to see Jeremy Medaglia back after his crash at Round 2 in Nanaimo. Unfortunately, Jeremy had to pull off the track in moto two after pulling a holeshot because he was experiencing blurry vision. I hope he bounces back soon. Jess Pettis really surprised me with his results at Gopher. Last year Pettis didn’t look like he really wanted to be there, but this year he looked like he has put in loads of practice in the sand over the winter.
This next round is at Ulverton, Quebec, which is about twenty minutes south of Drummondville. This track has some great elevation and very fast straightaways. The fans in Quebec will be out in full force cheering on their favourite riders. Kaven Benoit and Tim Tremblay will put on a good show for their local fans.