Photos by James Lissimore
From Vancouver to Moncton, coast to coast, the 2014 Rockstar Energy Drink Motocross Nationals continue to deliver on some of the best racing we’ve ever seen in the CMRC Nationals. This past weekend was Round 8 (that’s right, round 8 – only two more races left) of the series at the beautiful Riverglade MX Park in Moncton, New Brunswick. Every round of the Canadian series brings a different and unique flavour to the diverse track and town offerings along the tour.
The East Coast may not feature as big of a population to draw from, but nonetheless, Martitimers are some of the most passionate fans in the sport and this year was no different. Overall it was another successful rodeo in Atlantic Canada with Mike Alessi and his Smartop MotoConcepts teammate Vince Friese taking the MX1 and MX2 wins.
Results aside, probably the most entertaining and fan charging element to this year’s Riverglade National was watching riders testing out the Klatt-A-Pult. A tricky table-to-table jump that can shave lap times, but also comes with a high amount of risk.
As you’ll see below, Monster Energy Leading Edge Kawasaki’s Josh Hill won over the East Coast crowd by going for the big leap, along with Bobby Kiniry and Nathan Bles who also successfully cleared the canyon.
BIG NEWS also is that Team Canada has been named for the 2014 Motocross of Nations in Latvia with current championship leaders Colton Facciotti and Kaven Benoit getting the nod, along with Benoit’s KTM teammate Tyler Medaglia. Team Manager Ryan Gauld made the announcement this past weekend at the Moncton National. A very potent threesome for sure, good job Gauldy! Be sure to support our troops anyway you can whether it’s donating to the team or offering words of encouragement at the next race. Every inch counts.
We had a feeling Monster Energy Leading Edge Kawasaki’s Josh Hill would enjoy the Riverglade track. It’s a bit smaller than say Kamloops or Regina, but Moncton features a fun, creative layout with some technicality to it. Arguably the most technical jump on the Canadian National circuit, the Klatt-A-Pult is made of up two tabletops and was first turned into one massive jump back in 2010 by Dusty Klatt.
Since then, we’ve seen Klatt, Kiniry, Bles, Beaton and some others attempt the leap but none have been quite as consistent with it as the supercross-star Hill. Every lap it seemed like he was hucking the impossible gap. It certainly helped him cut down lap times as Hill charged from last in the first moto to 8th, and then took third behind Facciotti in moto two (even showing Alessi a wheel at times for the early lead).
Can Kaven Benoit become the first French Canadian to win an MX2 title since 2001 with Simon Homans? Oddly enough, that year, Homans was one of few racing a first-year YZ250F four-stroke while everyone else was on 125s. In 2014, Benoit has gone back and forth between a 250 two and four-stroke, showing more dominance on the lightweight and nimble 250 SX two-stroke compared to his results in the West on a 250F.
There are only two rounds to go, and if Benoit continues to keep it FAST and CONSISTENT like he did in Moncton with 1-4 scores and a second overall, it’s going to be tough for Vince Friese to squeeze any extra points out of the situation. Friese did what he had to do however, and that was score more points than Benoit, which he did by finishing 2-2 and earning 44 points to Benoit’s 43 in Moncton. That said, Benoit still holds a 32-point lead in the MX2 championship.
On one of the hottest race days this summer, it was a team, ironically, sponsored by a hot tub cover company that reigned supreme. Both Smartop MotoConcept riders Vince Friese and Mike Alessi entered Moncton chasing the points lead in the MX2 and MX1 classes. With time running out in the 2014 series, the USA duo rode like they had nothing to lose en route to victories in both classes.
Rockstar Energy Drink OTSFF Yamaha’s Shawn Maffenbeier is making his MX1 teammates, Bobby Kiniry and Kyle Chisholm, jealous because of his amazing consistency this season. Third place and second Canadian in the MX2 series, Maffenbeier has only finished outside of the top five once this season. He was rock solid again in Moncton going 3-3 for fourth overall.
After a tough weekend of bad starts and crashes in Deschambault, MX101 Yamaha’s Jesse Wentland rebounded with his second moto victory of the season at Moncton. The Minnesota ‘North Star’ took sixth in the first outing and then came out swinging in the final moto grabbing a top five start before taking an early lead and never looking back. At times, it looked like Friese was making ground but nothing ever materialized. The moto win helped push Wentland onto the podium with third overall.
Colton Facciotti always looks great on a motorcycle but is this the best we’ve ever seen him? He did look great on a TLD Honda a few years ago during the Steel City and Pala Nationals, and now he and Big Red appear to be a perfect fit again in 2014. One rider who is getting tired of Colton making it look easy and keeping his points lead cozy is that of Mike Alessi. Sure, Alessi stole the show in Moncton with a dominant 1-1 sweep, but Facciotti still rode to second both times and maintains a 21-point lead with four motos to go. How cool would it be to see this all go down to the last moto at Walton? Bar to bar between Canada’s best and one of the best outdoor riders in the world?! That last corner could get ugly!
After winning the one and only muddy moto in Regina, Rockstar Energy Drink OTSFF Yamaha’s Bobby Kiniry suffered through frustrating mechanicals, starts, crashes and everything else under the sun in the first three rounds of the eastern swing. Things improved big time in Moncton, a track Kiniry tends to do well at, with the Yamaha rider finishing third overall in MX1.
Although temperatures were hot, the Riverglade track stayed relatively smooth all day. These conditions didn’t test riders physically, but mentally they’re working hard to stay focused and avoid costly mistakes. One rider that did make a huge error was poor Jeremy Medaglia. After crashing hard in the first MX2 Moto, Medaglia suffered a broken collarbone as well as a broken orbital bone. A painful end to a trying season. Since turning pro in 2008, Jeremy has remained relatively healthy so maybe a break (pardon the pun) and time to regroup may be good for him in the long run. Here’s to a speedy recovery! (Your take – where do you think Jeremy will end up in 2015? Kawasaki again?)
Go Mike go! There’s no doubt that Smartop MotoConcepts’ Mike Alessi will give it everything that he’s got and more to beat Facciotti and win his first Canadian championship. Love him or hate him, one must admire the determination and commitment that Alessi shows. He’s a give ‘er!