As the summer of 2016 rolls on, Honda Canada Racing has been tearing up the race tracks right across Canada. Whether it’s young Austin Watling in the amateur ranks, or Colton Facciotti in the pro class, Honda has been at the front of the pack. 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 day and Happy Monday to everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend and also a safe weekend. My weekend was amazing as I took in a Blue Rodeo concert on Friday night before heading to Quebec on Saturday morning for Round 9 of the 2016 Rockstar Energy Drink MX Nationals presented by Motovan. I know I’ve mentioned this a few times over the past few weeks, but honestly I cannot believe that it’s August 8th already. The Nationals only have one round remaining, the CMRC Motovan Grand National Amateur Championships just took place in Quebec, the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National also just wrapped up this weekend, and the Parts Canada TransCan is just around the corner. Yes, August is the month where champions are crowned!
Without going into too many details about who did what and who finished where, let me just say that I’m extremely proud of all of our amateur riders who performed so well during the past week, both in Quebec as well as in Tennessee. Judging by all of the photos and Social Media reports from Loretta’s, Mother Nature was not in a great mood all week. I’ve been at high profile and meaningful events during my racing career where it rained and the conditions have been awful. I always seemed to get lucky in the mud, but racing in the mud always made the stress level rise. To line up on the gate and stare down a start straight that is a foot deep with mud definitely calls for some serious mind over matter. As many of the riders experienced last week at Loretta’s, anything can happen when the rain is falling; sometimes you’re lucky, and sadly sometimes you’re not. So congratulations to all of our talented young riders who battled through the adversity this past week at Loretta Lynn’s.
Also on the amateur side of things, a host of fast kids hit the track in Deschambault this past week for the CMRC Motovan Grand National Amateur Championships. The crew in Quebec had the track and the facility looking better than ever, and by all accounts, the riders loved the sandy circuit. Over the years, racing in La Belle Province has always been very exciting, and for most Anglophones, a little different at the same time. Not only is there an obvious language barrier, but rightly so, Quebec has its own way of doing things, the same way all other Provinces do. However, when it’s hard to understand what people are saying, and vice-versa, that definitely adds to the entire experience. Over the years, I’ve raced in Quebec many times and while some of the things do leave me joyfully shaking my head, it really is something that every Canadian rider and their family should experience at least once or twice in their racing lives. Quebec is a uniquely passionate place and at the race track, that passion is multiplied in spades. As a rider from another Province, at times it can feel like it’s you against all of Quebec! But, that is part of the experience and it really is cool. Luckily, once the gate drops it doesn’t matter where you’re from as everyone is just a racer. This is what we saw last week in Deschambault as riders from a number of different Provinces from coast to coast descended on this awesome track.
After all of the amateur racing was complete, the pro riders took to the track for Round 9 of the 2016 Rockstar Energy Drink MX Nationals presented by Motovan. Heading into yesterday’s race, both Cole Thompson and Davi Millsaps were leading their respective classes and both could’ve ended the day as 2016 champions. When all was said and done, only Cole Thompson was able to clinch his title. Cole has had an amazing summer and without a doubt he’s been the most dominant rider in that class. Yesterday was no different as he won the first moto convincingly and then backed that up with a second place in Moto 2. Those finishes were enough to give him his very first pro outdoor title, and there are still two motos to go.
In the MX1 class, Davi Millsaps was able to go 1-2 on the day, however, it wasn’t enough to clinch his title. Barring any major disaster, Millsaps and his 56 point lead will have to wait until next Sunday to win his first pro outdoor title. The big news of the day was the incredible riding by Millsaps’ teammate and hometown hero Kaven Benoit. He has always ridden great at the Deschambault track and yesterday was no different. With thousands of screaming French fans cheering him on, Benoit went 2-1 for his very first MX1 moto win and overall victory. What an incredible moment it was for Benoit and his KTM team as they celebrated on many fronts. After watching Kaven ride in the first few rounds of the MX1 series, I predicted that he would win a moto before the summer was over. Although it took nine rounds for him to do it, he finally did in front of all of his friends and family. I don’t know what it is about racing in Quebec and pros winning their first nationals there? Over the years, there have been a number of us who remember winning for the first time in Quebec. As I said before, I guess it’s just a special place!
Of course yesterday wasn’t all good news as we had a few top riders hit the ground very hard. Brett Metcalfe took a very hard spill halfway through the final MX1 moto and ended up fracturing his cheek bone. I know that sounds bad, but trust me, it could’ve been a lot worse as he was in a tremendous amount of pain after he crashed. By all accounts he will be okay, but sadly he won’t be racing this weekend at RJ’s. Another top rider who got very lucky yesterday was Tyler Medaglia who crashed very hard on the final lap of Moto 2. Tyler finished the moto, but according to him it could’ve been a lot worse. Mike Alessi also had a hard crash yesterday and wasn’t able to finish. Mike now sits in 5th place in the MX1 standings and could fall back to 6th if he’s not able to race this weekend. We hope that all of these riders heal up quick and get back on the track. Metcalfe definitely won’t be at Round 10, Alessi is a maybe and I think Tyler is a for sure as he wants to keep his big #5.
So there you have it folks, the past week of racing at a glance. As you can tell, the past seven days was filled with many highs and many lows for a lot of riders. But that is what makes sport so interesting and why we’re able to draw so many life lesson from it. You can have good days and you can have bad days, but we find a way to preserver and keep going. I hope everyone has a great week and a safe week riding. See you at the races.