Good day and welcome to another edition of the Honda Canada Racing Monday Gate Drop. We are now about a month away from the opening round of the 2017 Rockstar Energy Drink Motocross Nationals in Kamloops, BC. Last week the Honda Canada Racing GDR Fox Racing team conducted their photo shoot at their home track, Gopher Dunes. Even though it has been raining in epic proportions, James Lissimore was able to get some great shots as always. With the talented duo of Colton Facciotti and Dylan Wright, this Honda team is ready to go and ready to win in 2017.
Let’s jump right into it and talk about the subject that I’m sure everyone is talking about today. With the entire world watching, the 2017 Monster Energy SX Series wrapped up on Saturday night in hot and dry Las Vegas. On a track that by night’s end looked more like Interstate 15 than a SX track, it provided a stage that turned out to be perfect for the series’ final event. With story lines and more story lines, I’m not sure a Hollywood screenwriter could’ve come up with a better script for Round 17 of the SX series. With both the 450SX and the 250SX East series still up for grabs prior to the gate drop, fans on Saturday evening were no doubt waiting on the edge of their seats for the main events. Instead of talking about the entire evening of racing, let me just talk about the main players and their night at Sam Boyd Stadium.
I’m not sure Savatgy’s past week could’ve gone any worse than it did. After coming into the New Jersey SX a week ago with a decent points lead, Savatgy made one mistake after another and basically threw this title away. When they asked for Ricky Carmichael’s (Savatgy’s trainer) opinion after the race on the pass heard around the world, you could just hear the disgust in RC’s voice. In a perfect world with no pressure, Savatgy would’ve won last week and then carried a good lead into Vegas. Then he could’ve ridden around like he was in a parade and still would’ve won the 250SX East title. However, he let the pressure of the moment get to him, and failed to have eyes in the back of his head on the final lap of the main event. If he did, he might’ve noticed the big runaway 16 train wanting to use him as a berm. I’m sure Savatgy knew that Wacko Zacko was coming, but I’m positive that he was completely unaware that the situation was so dire. The good news is that Savatgy rode very well this season and will learn from this and be even better in 2018.
I will start off by saying that if anyone tells you that they still thought Zach had a chance to win the title as he was picking himself up in the first turn, they are full of crap! Even the CEO of the Zach Osborne fan club turned the television off after seeing the predicament that the Husqvarna rider was in just 20 seconds into the most important main event of his career. With a horror show going on at the front of the pack, Zach did exactly what we tell our own kids to do when they crash. He picked himself up and didn’t think about anything except going as fast as he could for 15 minutes plus 1 lap. The ‘one lap’ ended up playing a big part in this movie as it gave Osborne the time he needed to catch and pass Savatgy for the championship. It was an incredible come from behind ride and will no doubt go down in history as one of the best ever.
Osborne deserved to win this title, not just because of his ride on Saturday night, but because he was the fastest 250SX East rider in 2017. Like everyone, I was cheering for Osborne during the race and I had tears in my eyes after the race as he was celebrating his surprise win. However, whether it’s for a race win or a championship, when did it become okay in our sport to just torpedo someone in the final corner? Now, I’m not judging or saying that I wouldn’t do the same thing in that same circumstance, but OMG did Osborne ever clean Savatgy out. If I was Savatgy I would’ve wanted to lose my mind after that pass! I mean, as we’ve seen in this year’s NHL playoffs, you cannot knock the goalie out of the way and then score. I love aggressive racing and I’ve done my share of it, but that was a crazy move and one that appeared to be ignored by the AMA. However, like RC said, Savatgy put himself in that position and was left vulnerable. I guess this is a great lesson for every rider out there to learn, try at all costs not to put yourself in a bad spot like we saw on Saturday night. Anyway, it’s all history now and the Osborne/ Savatgy battle definitely provided us with some very memorable moments.
Did anyone else out there think that Tomac played his role perfectly on Saturday evening? On a track that didn’t really seem to suit the Kawasaki star, Tomac did just about everything he possibly could to win the title. I mean, he could’ve slowed right down and taken the champ completely out, but that type of ugly riding just isn’t in Tomac’s DNA. So, Tomac did what he could and made the main event as difficult as he could for Dungey. Like Savatgy, Tomac really lost the title last weekend in NJ and really should never have been in the position he was in Vegas. However, he was and he made the best of it. In the end, Tomac rode great and came up just short of his first SX 450 SX title. With outdoors right around the corner, Tomac should dominate and that will help him forget what happened in Vegas. Good on Tomac for being such a professional.
What can you say about Ryan Dungey that hasn’t been said before. Just like a Sidney Crosby or Tom Brady, Dungey performed about as well under pressure as anyone could. He had to sit on the starting line for the main event in Vegas, with so much commotion going on in front of him with regards to the exciting conclusion to the 250SX race. Also, with his season on the line and knowing that there was a #3 Kawasaki a few bikes down from him that wanted orange blood, to block all of that out and still pull the most important holeshot of his life was truly remarkable! Once the race began, Dungey was forced to decide just how hard to push and how close to stay to Tomac, all the while with three riders and a title-losing fifth place finish right behind him. His performance was amazing and in the end he is a very deserving 2017 Supercross Champion. With talk of retirement and riding off into the sunset, who knows what the future holds for Dungey? Regardless of what he decides , I doubt any race in the future will be as stressful, or as well ridden, as Dungey’s main event on Saturday night. Congratulations to Dungey and the entire KTM Team.
Well, those are my thoughts on what went down on Saturday in Las Vegas. I also was cheering for Chad Reed as he was definitely on the gas as well. Just think, if Reed had been able to stay in front of Anderson, then maybe, just maybe, it would’ve been him that crossed the finish line in first. Reed is another rider whose future is uncertain. From what I’ve heard, Reed still wants to race in 2018 but he has no deal in place. In the next issue of MXP Magazine, we have a really cool interview with Reed. He talks about wanting to race at least two more seasons, but with no deal, what will he do? He looks great on the Yamaha, but I’m not sure he likes how unpredictable the bike is in SX. If he doesn’t want to ride for Yamaha again then I think Factory Honda would be a great choice for his final two seasons of racing. The new CRF450 is amazing, and with Ken Roczen’s future even more uncertain than Reed’s, Honda could use someone like Chad Reed to ride alongside Cole Seely. At 35-years-old, Reed is running out of time and options to finish out his racing days on his terms.
Finally, I want to give a big shout out to the girl who covered the Monster Energy SX Series for MXP this season. Coming into this year, Krystyn Slack’s goal was to do all 17 rounds of this year’s series – 17 in ‘17 was her motto throughout the year. Even a blown-out knee halfway through the series couldn’t stop her from covering everything that went on at each round. Thank-you Krystyn for all of your hard work and for realizing your goal of 17 in ’17. We are proud of you and we’re sure your family is as well. I hope everyone has a great week and please ride safe!