In a recent issue of MXP Magazine, we not only featured 2014 Canadian MX1 Motocross Champion Colton Facciotti on the cover, but we also looked back to Mike Harden’s unbelievable 1984 500cc Canadian MX Championship. These two championships for Honda Canada are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Honda and winning titles in Canadian motocross. In the 1990’s it was Carl Vaillancourt and Marco Dube who rode a Honda to their Championships. From 2001 to 2006, it was Blackfoot Honda’s Jean Sebastien Roy and Dusty Klatt who reaped the rewards of riding red. Fast forward to 2016 and it’s the Honda Canada Fox GDR Racing Team of Colton Facciotti and Jeremy Medaglia looking to add to Honda’s rich history of success on the track. We would like to welcome Honda Canada as a proud new supporter of this Monday Gate Drop column. If you want to see all of Honda’s line up for 2016, just log onto www.motorcycle.honda.ca.
Good Morning and Happy Monday to everyone! Is it just me or have any of you noticed that whenever the temperatures are either cold or very warm, it takes a lot of energy to keep your body in its happy place? When it’s hot outside your body obviously uses more energy to try to stay cool, then on the flip side of that, there are days like yesterday at Gopher Dunes when it’s all you can to not freeze to death. But one of the great things about the track at Gopher Dunes is that regardless of the weather, the conditions are almost always good. This is what the riders had on Sunday as the Gopher Dunes track got rough, deep and challenging for everyone who was brave enough to race.
Also, just like last weekend at Gopher Dunes, we also got to witness some pretty good pro racing as a few of our top Ontario pros were able to mix it up with a few of the top riders who will be lining up in Kamloops on June 5th for Round 1 of the 2016 Rockstar Energy Drink MX Nationals. Colton Facciotti, Kaven Benoit, Cole Thompson and Shawn Maffenbeier were all on hand yesterday to compete against Ontario heroes Zeb Dennis, Jay Burke and Nathan Bles. The line-up reminded me of the late 1990s when it wasn’t uncommon to see 4 or 5 of the top ten pros in Canada lining up for an Ontario Provincial race. It’s always an awesome thing when you’re at a regional event and when you hear the announcer say that the pro class is on the line and everyone in attendance rushes to the fences to watch. For most, they don’t get to see these top riders much so it’s always a treat, even for an old pro rider like myself! I actually remember very well back to when I was kid at the races and every time the pro class hit the track, I was glued to what was going on. Back then it was riders like Doug Hoover, Kevin Moore and Glen Nicholson who put on the show for all of us excited fans. I also remember studying Hoover and Kevin Moore in particular to see what lines they took, how often and where they would stand up and also their body position on their bikes. Then when it was my turn to hit the track I would try to imitate them as I battled for a mid-pack finish in the 80cc class. I definitely enjoyed watching the pros back then, just as I did yesterday. In fact, I made a strong point to remind my own son to make sure he was front and center on the sidelines when the gate dropped for the pro motos so he could study everything that they were doing on the rough Gopher Dunes track.
I know that over the course of this off-season there has been a lot of discussion about the talented line-up for the upcoming Canadian Nationals. We’ve spoken about names like Goerke, Metcalfe, Facciotti and Alessi, definitely a group of grizzly veterans who will no doubt be battling for moto wins as well as the MX1 championship all summer long. However, one of the other names who I think will be very good is KTM Thor Racing rider and rookie Kaven Benoit. I’m not just basing this on his performance yesterday at Gopher Dunes where he dominated both pro motos, I’m basing on the simple fact that this guy just quietly knows how to win races. I say ‘quietly’ because you never really hear much from Benoit, he just goes about his work and tries to improve every time he throws his leg over a motorcycle. He also is coming into 2016 will very little outside pressure to win as no one ever expects a rookie to be on top. With the other top names that he will be lining up against, Benoit is coming into the 2016 Rockstar Energy Drink MX Nationals a little bit under the radar and this may play right into the two-time MX2 Champion’s hands. Regardless of what happens, how Kaven Benoit does this summer is just one of the many cool storylines that will be playing out in the months to come.
In talking about how Benoit will fare this summer brings me into the signing of a very big name to be his teammate. Although it’s been talked about for some time, last week it was officially announced that Davi Millsaps will race in Canada this summer aboard a KTM Thor Racing KTM. By all accounts, Davi will be bringing his factory bike with him from the USA so he will have all of the tools he needs to be successful. With a great bike and a championship winning team behind him, I suppose the biggest question is how will the incredibly talented Millsaps do in the MX1 class this summer?
That is without a doubt the million dollar question as the people I’ve spoken to are split right down the middle with their opinions. I think that when you’re dealing with an athlete of Millsaps’ talent and past experiences, I believe that he’s capable of finishing wherever he wants. He’s so talented and comes with so many years of top level racing experience that learning new tracks will be no issue for him, and, as I mentioned above, there will be no problems with getting used to a new bike. Also, he knows most of the riders that he will be battling with, so he should know what to expect from a few of them. It’s my belief that if Millsaps gets comfortable and decides that he wants to win motos and battle for the 2016 MX1 Championship, then that is exactly what he’ll do. He’s that good! But so are that riders that he will be racing against this summer, and that is why this summer could be the best we’ve ever seen in Canada. Signing Davi Millsaps is not only great for the KTM Thor Racing Team, but it’s also great for the sport in Canada as our fans are in for a real treat! I’m sure this summer will not only see some of the best racing that we’ve ever seen, but I also believe that we’ll see the best attendance numbers at every round of the 2016 Rockstar Energy Drink Nationals. We’re definitely in for a wild ride this summer and I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say that the opening round couldn’t come any sooner.
That is it for me this week as it’s time to put the finishing touches on the program for the upcoming pro nationals. I also have to begin preparing for this weekend’s opening two rounds of the 2016 Moto Park Cup. These races have quickly become a few of the ‘can’t miss’ events on the Ontario motocross calendar. With prizes, holeshot awards, camping, a great pro payback and of course, non-stop action on the track, the Moto Park Cups are fun for the entire Family. If you aren’t able to make it to Moto Park this weekend, thanks to Conx2share there will be live streaming available. So all you have to do is log onto www.conx2share.com and watch the live feed with Dave Bell announcing. Then on Monday you read about all of the action right here on www.mxpmag.com. Also, throughout the weekend I will be doing live updates on our Instagram (@mxpmag) as well as on Twitter (@mxpmagazine). I hope everyone has a great week, ride safe and please enjoy everything that life has to offer.