This weeks Monday Gate Drop is once again brought to you by the fine people at Honda Canada Racing. With their lead rider Colton Facciotti already training for the 2017 season, Honda Canada and the GDR Fox Racing Team is very excited for what lies ahead. We at MXP Magazine are very proud to have the backing of Honda Canada and we wish them luck on the race track in the future.
You know at the best of times, Mother Nature is a wicked and unpredictable old girl. Yesterday, I went for a hike on my parent’s 75 acre property. This is where I’m fortunate enough to have multiple tracks, which vary in difficulty and actually are made up of two completely different soil compounds. Anyway, the tracks were fairly dry and if I had a bike I probably would’ve gone riding to have some early December fun. Then today, in a complete turnaround, we awoke to 15cm of snow, and instead of starting a dirt bike up, I had to fire up my snow blower for the first time this season. Oh the joys of living in Canada eh!
So with it obviously being too cold to race outdoors these days, all of the action lately in this country has been indoors. Just as we did a month ago in Calgary, this past weekend we crowned yet another AX Champion, this time from the Future West Series in BC. After seven hard fought rounds, local BC rider Jess Pettis was able to hold on to win the 2017 title. Throughout this AX series, Jess had been one of the riders to beat on his MX101 FXR Racing Yamaha. He was aggressive, confident, and when it mattered the most, he was a great starter. Right from the first round of the Rockstar Energy Drink MX Nationals in Kamloops this past summer, Jess began building his confidence while racing for this tight knit team. Round after round, from coast to coast, Jess demonstrated to everyone watching that he was now a potential to win races and to challenge for championships. Well, after many ups and downs of varying forms, Jess Pettis finally did what we all knew he would eventually do, he won his very first pro championship in Chilliwack. Congratulations to Jess, his team, and the entire Pettis family. Hopefully this is the first of many titles in the future. I know I’ve mentioned this a few times, but with Jess seemingly getting better and better every time he races, I think he’s going to be a true championship contender next summer in the MX2 class.
As I mentioned before, this the second Canadian AX Championship for Yamaha in the past month. This is definitely a testament to not only the skill of Chris Blose and Jess Pettis, but also to the current Yamaha YZ250F. This bike is obviously a solid indoor machine, with a SX title in the USA, and now these two AX titles, there is something about this bike and how well it works. Part of this success no doubt comes from the motor. Anyone who has ever ridden one knows, it barks like a 250 two-stroke. Once you get the suspension and handling set-up for indoors, you have a great package that is built for AX and SX.
So from one 2017 MX2 title contended to another, let’s talk about the new Honda Racing GDR Fox rider Dylan Wright. Last week at the team’s home track of Gopher Dunes, MXP, GDR Racing, and Fox flew out James Lissimore to take the perfect shot for this month’s MXP cover. Not only was Dylan there for his first official ride on his new Honda, but also in attendance was Colton Facciotti and BMX mega-star Drew Bezanson. It was awesome not only to watch Dylan ride his new Honda for the first time, but to also sit down and chat with the rising star and get his thoughts on why he decided to sign with the GDR Team. You can read the full interview in the new issue of MXP, which goes in the mail this week. However, I can tell you that Dylan is very thankful to his former MX101 Team, he just felt he needed a change of scenery. These days in sports, it’s almost impossible for an athlete to remain with the same team for their entire career. In big money sports, you see athletes hit free agency and then they usually go for the best deal offered. In most cases, the team that they have been playing for since the beginning is hoping for a hometown discount from the athlete, but it’s usually to no avail. It’s kind of sad when you really think about it, when the team that brings the athlete through the amateur ranks, then drafts them and develops them for years and prepares them to even be in a position to make the big money, then that team loses the athlete for whatever reason. I guess it is human nature and the way the sports world works!
In Dylan’s case, even though he’s getting a raise to move to Honda, we’re not talking about millions of dollars here, so it’s not about the money. Dylan simply wants to win and he’s convinced himself that the Honda Racing GDR Fox Team will give him the best opportunity to do so. Only time will tell if he’s made the correct decision, but if he feels like this is the right move, then you have to respect it. It takes courage to leave a great group of people that have essentially brought you up from when you were a child, and as much as the GDR Team has a championship proven program, there is still an inkling of unknown for Dylan as he makes the move to red. So I not only applaud Dylan for making the decision to get out of his comfort zone, but I also want to congratulate the MX101 Yamaha program for the great job they’ve been doing on developing riders.
Now with Dylan gone, that obviously moves Jess Pettis to the number one spot on that team, but who else do they sign? Shawn Maffenbeier is available for MX2 (although I’d love to see him race the MX1 class), and Joey Crown’s name has come up recently as he actually tested with the GDR Honda Team before they signed Wright. With Metcalfe more than likely not coming back in 2017, does Maffenbeier sign with the Rockstar Energy OTSFF Yamaha Team as their second MX1 rider? One of my picks for the MX101 Team is New York State rider Justin Cooper, who is already riding a Yamaha south of the border. I witnessed this kid’s speed first hand at the Baja Brawl back in September as he won all of his pro sport motos with ease. He also won recently at the Mini O’s in Florida, so this stylish youngster is the real deal. I think a year in Canada is just what he needs before trying to make it in USA Supercross in 2018. With outdoor speed comparable to Crown and maybe even Cole Thompson, Cooper would be a good fit on the MX101 Yamaha Team.
Well, that is it for me this week. However, before I go I want to announce that together with Honda Canada Racing, we are giving away two pairs of tickets to the 2017 Toronto SX on March 4th. We will be announcing the question tomorrow on this website as well as on social media. The first two people to answer the question correctly will win two tickets to the massive event in March. The winners will be announced in my Monday Gate Drop on December 19th. My family and I are off to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico this Saturday for a week, so please wish us luck on our first non-moto getaway in almost five years! Have a safe week and I’ll talk to you next Monday from sunny Mexico!