Words and photos by Keven Lefebrvre
The 2019 Western Canadian Amateur Nationals took place June 27-30, 2019 at the Whispering Pines Motorsports Compound, located in beautiful Kamloops, British Columbia. This weekend also marked Round 4 of the Canadian Women’s National Motocross Series, and moto fans were treated to race action that truly came down to the wire! The week leading up to the MRC/Future West Moto event, brought cloudy skies, thunder showers and cooler temperatures; all this simply made for pristine track conditions on the race days.
The anticipation of the biggest motocross event in Western Canada was the highest it has been in recent years, as 432 total entries were registered, with western riders competing against racers from as far away as Prince Edward Island, Washington, Wyoming and Montana. The attendance in the Ladies class was especially impressive as 39 women lined up behind the gate to find out “who is the best in the west!” It’s little wonder as to the reason why the event was so well attended, as the MRC/FWM crew had events and activities for every member of the family, including a KX65 giveaway, Shift Holeshot Challenge, live DJ, Start Moto Mom Fitbit Challenge, and a silent auction for the FXR Rockstar helmet worn and autographed by Brock Hoyer. The money raised was put toward the Canadian Women’s Motocross Series. The band “Someone to Blame” did a great set on Friday night, playing covers for a couple of hours, while families and racers relaxed and reconnected with one another. The smaller kids were entertained by a scavenger hunt, relay race, egg race, tug of war, and prizes.
This final round of the WMX series saw some of the closest race action out of any of the classes, and fans were treated by an epic battle between the top two series contenders, Washougal Washington’s Eva Berry and Baron, Alberta’s Shelby Turner. Turner had a very difficult racing incident to overcome, as the day before, she collided hard with another rider. Although it was just a “racing incident,” and not the fault of either racer, it took a toll on Turner and had the potential to derail her race game for the national. Turner, who was already in a 7-point deficit before the final round, dug deep to clear her mind and return to focusing on her racing. In the first moto of the Ladies National, Shelby started behind Berry and could not get past her until about the half-way mark in the moto. As lappers became more and more prevalent, Turner would gap Berry by a slight margin, to win the moto by about 6 seconds. In the second moto, Turner grabbed the holeshot and led wire-to-wire, although there was really no gap whatsoever; timing and scoring showed that the two riders were separated by less than 2 seconds for the entire moto, with Turner’s win shrinking to 1.6 seconds as the two ladies crossed the line! Unfortunately for Turner, it wasn’t enough, as Berry took the championship by a single point! Prince Edward Island rider, Kawasaki mounted Liz Burke took third with 3-3 finishes, while Montana racer Lexi Dyekman and Calgary’s Dominique Daffe tied in points for the day, with fourth going to Dyekman for her better finish in Moto 2.
In the 250 and Open Junior classes, the finish positions say nothing about the intensity of the racing itself. Although Maple Ridge Motorsport racer Devyn Smith emerged as the victor in both classes, he had a number of riders who kept him honest. In the 250 class, Rocky Mountain House racer, Zeth Franklin, swapped the lead with Smith in the first two motos, and finished a scant .0189 seconds behind Smith in Moto 2. Unfortunately, Franklin hit a kicker on the finish line tabletop after the checkered flag and ran straight into Smith’s bike. The impact sent Franklin over the bars and down the slope of the tabletop, where he and his bike landed hard, injuring his arm. Franklin wasn’t able to start the third moto in either the 250 or Open Junior classes, limiting his chance of a strong finish for the weekend. Kawasaki mounted Alex Gatt won the final 250 moto after working his way up from a 4th place start, actually setting the fastest lap for the class in the third moto. However, his 4th and 3rd place moto finishes in the first two races cost him any chance at the overall. Yamaha mounted Cameron Lankinen finished third in the 250 class. In the Open Junior class, Smith took the overall with 3-1-1 socres, Zane Mellafont in second with 1-2-3 scores, and Gatt rounded out the top three with 2-3-2 finishes.
The Pro-Am class saw MRC National series contenders competing in the class, alongside of some very fast Intermediate riders. Now living in Kamloops, Yamaha-mounted Shawn Maffenbeier not only set an absolute blistering pace but had the most consistent lap times of any rider at the track, with the variance as low as 2 seconds between his fastest and slowest lap in the Under 30 class, the variance at about 8 seconds in the Pro-Am class. Maffenbeier took the win in both classes with perfect 1-1-1 scores. Impressively, second place finisher Jacob Piccolo got faster and faster over the course of the race weekend, and by the half-way mark of the final Pro-Am moto, Piccolo was only 2.3 seconds behind Maffenbeier! The gap grew by the end of the moto, but for a kid who has not yet lined up at a National event yet, it was amazing to watch. Yamaha’s Casey Keast, whom Piccolo battled with in the Supermini class a few years ago, battled with illness over the weekend and finished 3rd in the Pro-Am class. Keast looked much better on Day 2 and Day 3 than he did on Day 1, but was still quite a distance back from Maffenbeier and Piccolo.
Every class had battles worth writing about, and unfortunately, there is not enough time or space to include an account of them all. However, one thing is certain: the 2019 WCAN was, by all accounts, an absolute success, one that a lot of racers will be talking about for years to come! And if this event is a precursor to the Grand National Championship at the Walton, Ontario TransCan event in August, we are going to be treated to some absolutely incredible race action this summer.