Regardless of what sport you’re involved in, there is nothing like opening day. For the fans, it is a chance to see all of the new athletes for the first time in months, and for the athletes themselves, it’s a chance to start a new season fresh. For the riders of the 2017 Rockstar Energy Drink MX Nationals, the opening round in Kamloops could be their very first race of the year so there may be even more uncertainty than for those who have been involved in a few races prior. Anyway, with two long motos ahead on Sunday, every rider who lined up on Sunday had their share of nerves running through their veins. However, through all of the nerves and the racing on a very difficult race track, there were a few riders that really stood out this past weekend. Here are this week’s FXR Racing Top Performer Tuesday.
First there was Shelby Turner, who was just on fire on Saturday in the opening round of the CMRC Western Canadian Women’s Nationals. The KTM rider holeshotted both motos and never looked back, taking the win over a hard charging Lexi Pechout. Then there was the overall MX2 winner, Shawn Maffenbeier, who dominated, I mean dominated both MX2 motos. Shawn and his MX101 FXR Yamaha were on rails, and from my vantage point, Shawn had one of those days where he could just put the bike wherever he wanted. I know, you’d think that a perfect 1-1 moto score would be good enough to get Shawn this week’s award. Well, as good as his performance was on Sunday, it didn’t, in my mind, come as a surprise as he won in Kamloops last year and he just generally rides well on miserable tracks like Whispering Pines. Every rider wants to win the opening round, that is what they dream about during the long off-season. Shawn did that and congratulations to him, now it’s on to Round 2 and the expectations of carrying the red plate.
My pick for this week’s #1 top performer is MX1 winner Christophe Pourcel. Yes, I know he came into Round 1 with a long list of accomplishments, including a World Championship, as well as a Lites Supercross title. Coming into Kamloops there was very little doubt that this kid can ride a motorcycle, but there was a tiny bit of doubt of how he would react to his new surroundings and his new competition. Well, with all things considered, I think Pourcel passed the test with flying colours as he battled with just about every top rider on the way to his 3-1 moto scores. During both motos there were times like he looked as if he was going to throw in the towel and settle for just a podium spot. But, then he would take a lap or two to regroup and start charging again. His line choices in moto two was impeccable, he stayed strong right to the finish, and he served notice that he was in Canada to win a MX1 Championship. Even when I spoke to him after the day ended he was smiling and looking confident. Christophe and his team are even planning on staying in BC for this week to take in some scenery and prepare for Round 2. This impresses me also as most visiting riders are very eager to fly in and out of each race and never really take any time to look around. Perhaps this is Pourcel’s MXGP experience shining through. He knows how important it is to acclimatize yourself to the area you’re racing in. Either way, Pourcel looked great on Sunday and this is why he’s this week’s #1 FXR Top Performer.