By Stephen St. Pierre
Photos by James Lissimore
RJ Motosport Park in Barrie, Ontario will host the last round of the 2016 Rockstar Energy Motocross National presented by Motovan. RJ Motosport Park is an hour north of Toronto, ten minutes from Barrie, and has not held a national since 2004. A huge crowd is expected on Sunday as this will be the last chance fans will have to see all of their favourite racers competing at the National level this year. The playing field will be equal as none of the top riders have raced at this venue before. The track itself is a combination of sand and loam, which will become quite rough for the riders as the day progresses.
Coming into the final round of the series, KTM Canada Thor Racing’s Davi Millsaps’ magic number is 5. Millsaps will clinch the championship if he scores 5 points this weekend, which will give KTM Canada both National titles, after Cole Thompson secured the MX2 title at Round 9. Davi looked as if he enjoyed watching his teammate, Kaven Benoit, win for the first time in front of his hometown fans last weekend, and celebrated Thompson’s championship with the team. Canadian race fans have had the opportunity this year to see the American superstar up close, and are as equally impressed with his skill on the motorcycle and his warm and friendly personality. Expect Davi to give it his all this weekend as he has done all year, and will most likely be holding the #1 plate at the end of the day.
Rockstar Energy OTSFF Yamaha’s Matt Goerke is the only other rider to still have a chance mathematically to win the title and repeat as champion. Goerke’s two race wins this season is second only to Millsaps, which came in Rounds 5 and 6. Matt finished on the podium last weekend after coming from the back of the pack in the first moto, and will be looking to finish the season on a high note at RJ Motosport Park this weekend.
After making what he called a bad rut decision, Rockstar Energy OTSFF Yamaha’s Brett Metcalfe was injured last weekend when he hit a kicker and endo’d, breaking multiple bones in his face, forcing him to spend the night in a local hospital. Metcalfe is third in the series standings but won’t be on the starting line for the season finale. Brett has not missed a race in 2 years and everyone at the racetrack is hoping the likeable Australian heals up quickly.
If not for a couple of mechanical breakdowns early in the season, KTM Canada Thor Racing’s Kaven Benoit could have been looking at finishing runner up in his rookie season in the premier class. Benoit sits fourth in the standings after getting his first career win last weekend in his home province of Quebec and finishing on the podium in three of the last four rounds. With another podium finish this weekend, Kaven could have the #3 on his bike for 2017, cement his position as the top rider in Canada, and see his stock continue to rise as he enters into negotiations for next year.
Monster Energy Alpinestar Kawasaki’s Mike Alessi is another rider who is doubtful for this weekend after injuring his ribs and shoulder in a big crash during the second moto in Deschambault. He was looking good while running in third place in Moto 1 last weekend before his fuel pump gave out. Injured or not, don’t be surprised to see Mike on the starting line at the series finale as he attempts to hang on to a top 5 position in the series.
Another rider who is looking to put a lower number on his motorcycle for next year is Redemption Racing Big Steel Box KTM’s Cade Clason, who sits in sixth place in the series, only 20 points back of entering the top five. Clason is coming off his best finish of the year and will be battling hard with Parts Canada Husqvarna’s Tyler Medaglia this weekend as they are separated by only one point in the standings.
KTM Canada Thor Racing’s Cole Thompson clinched the MX2 title last weekend and won his sixth race of the season after going into Round 9 with a stranglehold on the series. Thompson didn’t just show up and cruise around to score enough points to win the series and collect the bonuses that go with it, but instead went for the win right out of the gate in the first moto. His fearless ability to jump the massive 130 foot double jump, one of few MX2 riders to pull this off during the race, shows what this guy is made of. Look for this talented Canadian superstar to go for his seventh win this weekend, and continue to pad his bank account with those bonus cheques.
Sitting second in the series is Redemption Racing Big Steel Box KTM’s Shawn Maffenbeier who has a comfortable 25 point lead on Dylan Wright who sits in third. Maffenbeier has finished outside of the top five only once this season, has five podium finishes, and after winning the season opener is still looking for that second win. Shawn would love to finish the season with a victory. After a heated battle with Wright last weekend, he will be looking to keep the young Yamaha pilot behind him in the series finale to finish runner up in the standings.
MX101 FXR Yamaha’s Dylan Wright has been on a roll since the series moved east, and has three second place finishes and a win in the last five rounds. Wright has won three motos this year and has a lot of momentum going into the season finale, and could pass Maffenbeier in the standings if things go his way. Look for Dylan to be on the gas in his home province this weekend, as this hard charging, young Canadian continues to improve each round.
Honda Canada Racing Fox GDR’s Brad Nauditt sits fourth in the standings and is only 13 points ahead of Jesse Pettis. After finishing on the podium twice and getting his first career moto win in Nanaimo, Nauditt has struggled in the east, but with a good result this weekend could lock down a fourth place finish in the series.
Coming off of his second top five finish last weekend, MX101 FXR Yamaha’s Jesse Pettis could move up to fourth in the standings with a good result at Round 10. Pettis has finished in the top ten in all but the first two rounds this season, and is gaining confidence each weekend; his results are the proof. It is only a matter of time before Jesse ends up on the podium; the young Canadian would love to finish the season on the box.
KTM/Factory Connection/Fox’s Dakota Alix joined the series in the east, and in the five rounds he has competed in has never had a result outside of the top four. Alix is a great starter and is usually at the front of the pack or very near to it in each moto. Dakota will be looking for his second win this weekend. The young Vermont native could be the hottest prospect in the MX2 class as teams look to fill their rosters for next season.
RJ Motosport Park in Barrie, Ontario is the final Round of the 2016 Rockstar Energy Drink Motocross Nationals presented by Motovan. If you haven’t already purchased your tickets you can buy them online easily at the mxnationals.ca website. If you are in another part of the country and are unable to attend the race, you can see all the action live by downloading the free Conx2share app and live stream every moto on your mobile phone or computer. The live stream includes the commentary of Brian Koster, one of the best in the business, and all of the podium interviews.
MX1 Point Standings 2016
1. Davi Millsaps (KTM) 494
2. Matt Goerke (Yam) 438
3. Brett Metcalfe (Yam) 412
4. Kaven Benoit (KTM) 376
5. Mike Alessi (Kaw) 364
6. Cade Clason (KTM) 344
7. Tyler Medaglia (Hus) 343
8. Colton Facciotti (Hon) 297
9. Keylan Meston (Yam) 283
10. Morgan Burger (Yam) 274
MX2 Point Standings 2016
1. Cole Thompson (KTM) 510
2. Shawn Maffenbeier (KTM) 420
3. Dylan Wright (Yam) 395
4. Brad Nauditt (Hon) 336
5. Jesse Pettis (Yam) 323
6. Mark Worth (Kaw) 302
7. Dakota Alix (KTM) 253
8. Hayden Halstead (Yam) 240
9. Ryeley Gallup (KTM) 224
10. Davey Fraser (Hus) 217