“We’re going to Utah!”
Those are the words left playing over and over in my head following the Parts Canada Walton TransCan. Why? Well, on Sunday evening following the Walton Pro National, Team Canada’s Ryan Gauld organized a Motocross of Nations BBQ under the GDR Honda tent and Ryan Lockhart found the microphone. He kept hollering “We’re going to Utah!” (…and between that “We’re going to Latvia!”) in regards to newly crowned MX1 champ Colton Facciotti signing up for this Saturday’s AMA Motocross at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, UT.
It was difficult to tell if there was any seriousness to Lockhart’s comments as he did have a few Rockstars in him and his shirt had only more button to go before it was off…. Right away I grilled GDR TLD Honda’s Team Manager, Derek Schuster, on the idea and he said there was a good possibility they were going south. Well, as many of you know by now it’s true: Lockhart can read minds because our Champ is “Going to Utah!” this weekend.
“Just Colton and I are flying down,” said Schuster this afternoon. “We’ll be pitting with TLD Honda and they have a bike and parts set aside for us. We’re taking a few of our custom parts that work well for Colt. It was last minute and it’s a lot of work, but we’re going to Utah [laughs]! We need to thank Honda Canada and Troy Lee Designs Canada for really stepping up and making this happen, along with all of our sponsors for supporting Colton as he races this weekend on a different bike and team.”
Great news, for sure, and surprising to me because I did ask all three of Team Canada’s riders – Facciotti, T. Medaglia and Benoit – three weeks ago if they planned on racing an AMA event to prepare for the MXoN in Lativa at the end of September. All three replied “No…too far…too expensive,” but with a crown and #1 plate in hand, funny how fast things change. Obviously Colton must be feeling confident right now after taking down superstar Mike Alessi, and with him back on top of his game, it only makes sense to keep it going. A great ride in Utah would put him over the rev limiter before Latvia.
Is Mike Alessi racing Utah this Saturday as well? Let’s ask his dad and Smartop MotoConcepts Team Manager, Tony Alessi, right now….and he says: “Not a chance (haha)!”
I said, “Oh come on Tony, you guys are racers, you’ve got to be in Utah,” but it’s not going to happen. “We had a good time in Canada,” he says. “We won the most races, got the most holeshots and led the most laps, unfortunately we didn’t win the title. We are happy with that for now. Now we’re planning the next steps. We’ll see about coming back next year…”
Colton and the GDR team deserve the title, and not that Alessi or others on the line don’t. Compared to other teams and staff on the circuit, the GDR unit is much younger and less experienced when it comes to organizing and operating a major racing team. It’s been a few years in the making and Schuster isn’t just riding around on his Honda Rukus all weekend; I’ve taken a tour of his set up and he’s got his hands into everything. I used to spend a lot of time around “Diggs” and he has skills with a wrench and building a bike. He likes being involved in the whole process whether it’s designing the race team posters, creating marketing projects, ordering parts and supplies or hosting a Team Canada BBQ. Don’t think the brass at Honda Canada, Troy Lee Designs and other sponsors aren’t paying attention, especially with him and Colton taking their first #1 plate together.
Honda appears to have some new blood flowing in their corporate chain, and they could be seen at Walton keeping Schuster company all weekend. In fact, they’re on board for supporting the Team Canada effort as well, which is awesome to see. Admit it, we all have a little “Red” in us since most of us enjoyed our first dirt bike ride on a Honda Z50, so definitely good to have the legendary brand enthusiastically involved in Canadian motocross again.
What happened at the final round of the Rockstar Energy Drink Motocross Nationals in Walton, Ontario? Well, this super fan was hoping that a tiny amount of the Friese vs. Benoit drama would spill over from Ulverton into Walton, but that never materialized. Rather than rehash the race results (Alessi is the King of Walton, Facciotti and Benoit won their titles and Friese is starting a zoo full of Canadian monkeys), here is a breakdown of highlights from the Walton Pro National:
Walton Photo Report: http://mxp.ppmghq.com/behind-lens-walton-pro-national/
And here is a great VIDEO look at the Walton National from Matt Koeleman:
What does the “Big Cheese of Canadian Moto,” Mark Stallybrass, have to say about this year’s ROCKSTAR ENERGY DRINK Canadian Motocross Nationals? Take a read here.
In that interview, series promoter Stallybrass says he thinks 2015 will be even better. How much bigger than Alessi and Josh Hill can we get? Probably not much, unless some teams are holding back on their budgets and not telling us something, but I did catch wind in the Walton pits that 2013 MX1 champion Brett Metcalfe is considering a return to Canada – and the MotoConcepts Team seems quite positive on returning again as well. I tried getting a rumour going that James Stewart is coming up, but nobody really sunk their teeth into that one. Hey, you never know – did you think one day Mike Alessi would be racing in Canada?
Who would have thought at the start of the season we’d see TWO Canadians standing proudly on top of the Rockstar Energy Drink podium?
I wasn’t sure if Colton could make it through a full series, but he couldn’t have been anymore sturdy in his 10 round championship run. From Nanaimo to Walton, “Colt 45” never looked stressed (does he ever?), took wins when he could, podiums when he had to, and never made a big mistake. A couple of tip-overs here and there but it was near perfection for Facciotti in his fourth championship in the MX1 class.
How “cool” is Colt? At Walton, TLD’s Derek Farthing said he was asking Colton what he’ll do for preparing for the sands in Latvia, a track he has no knowledge of.
Colton’s response? “Oh, I’ll just do one lap and pretty much know where every line is and where they’ll build up.” But when you hear Colt say it, you don’t know if it’s a joke or if he’s being serious. Vince Friese isn’t the only one who plays ‘mind games’.
Colt’s been there before, but for KTM’s Kaven Benoit, 2014 marks his first year as a Canadian Champion and he earned it.
The 25-year-old has seen and done it all in Canadian motocross. He rode as a privateer for years with nothing more than a bike, bag of parts and his good friend Jerome Therrien there to keep everything together. In 2010, he earned a ride with KTM Canada, and despite finishing second overall in the MX2 class, he lost his ride when KTM could only afford one MX2 rider – and they went with Jeremy Medaglia. Chin up, Benoit stole the show in the eastern rounds of the 2012 MX2 series as a privateer for Duroy KTM, winning motos and taking more points than any other rider in the final five races.
He was again rewarded a spot on the KTM factory team (Jeremy moved over to MX101 Yamaha) and showed he deserved his old job back, giving Austin Politelli fits in the first three races of 2013. Unfortunately, an ankle injury while practicing before the eastern rounds put Benoit on the sidelines until after Walton.
After a good winter’s rest, Benoit came into 2014 healthy and fit – and with two different ‘strokes’ at his disposal. With the CMRC allowing 250 two-strokes to compete in the MX2 class, Benoit and KTM saw it as an opportunity to show that KTM builds two great bikes – 250 SX-F and 250 SX – for the MX2 class, and for Benoit, he could prove to his competition that he can win on either bike. And that’s just what happened! Despite one of the deepest fields in years and intense mind game action with Vince Friese, Benoit would go to win his first ever Canadian title riding two different bikes; a four-stroke in the west and two-stroke in the east. I would love to be the marketing man behind that advertising campaign!
Congratulations to Benoit and KTM Canada on taking the MX2 title in 2014! It’s been a hard go for both parties in the last two years with injuries and bouts of bad luck. Good to see things finally coming together along with their MX1 rider, Tyler Medaglia, again taking third overall behind Alessi and Facciotti.
What a week we had at the Parts Canada Walton TransCan! I was there Monday to Monday and let me tell you it felt more like a month. (A good month when the sun was shining, a bad month when the skies darkened and heavy rains and winds covered our moto community at Walton Raceway.) Regardless, no matter what we woke up to every morning at the TransCan, everyone did their best to enjoy the moment.
By all accounts the TransCan was another good showing; entries were up, more provinces than ever were represented at Walton and we even had more western women on the line than eastern. With 24 classes and more than 500 riders, there’s a lot to watch during the five day celebration of Canadian motocross.
But the TransCan goes beyond holeshots, motos and podiums on the track. The week-long event means something a little different to everyone who attends the amateur national. Of course, the core of it is watching Canada’s best amateurs going head-to-head on the track, but many of the riders out there understand they’re not in a position for a championship but enjoy themselves regardless.
For many vet riders, it’s a chance to unwind after working 9-5 and take some time off to enjoy dirt bikes and good times around the campfire. For families it’s a chance to spend time together and learn life lessons through friendly competition. There’s a long list of reasons why people mark down Walton on their calendar every August. If you haven’t had a chance to experience one yet, sign up next year – even if you’re not racing you’ll have a blast, maybe more so than the actual racers!
HEY – We’re going to Utah!