With the 2016 Rockstar Energy Drink Motocross Nationals presented by Motovan underway, the series now shifts from the Mainland to the Wastelands, as Round 2 will be contested this weekend in Nanaimo on beautiful Vancouver Island.
The Wastelands circuit has been hosting national events since 1997, and this weekend will see the deepest field of riders ever assembled in Nanaimo. The racetrack is cut into the side of a mountain and has a supercross feel to it with high banked corners, big jumps, and spectacular viewing areas.
Fans turned out in record numbers for last weekend’s thrilling season opening race in Kamloops, as well as live streaming the action via the all new Conx2share app. With the pre-season hype now behind us after Round 1, we start to get some of the answers to all those questions we have been asking, and at the same time new ones start to emerge.
The biggest question coming into the opener surrounded KTM Canada Thor Racing’s Davi Millsaps and how he would adapt to his new surroundings. In his post-race comments even Davi expressed some uncertainty as to what would go down once the gate dropped, “I haven’t raced outdoors for some time so I wasn’t sure how I would feel today.” Since finishing second in the 450 Supercross class in 2013, Millsaps has changed teams multiple times and missed a lot of races with injuries. On a racetrack he described as being one of the roughest he has ever seen, Davi served notice that he is here to win with his performance in Kamloops. The American born superstar will take the momentum from his first round victory, as well as the red plate, to a hilly, supercross-style track in Nanaimo this weekend that should suit his riding style.
Last year’s champion, Rockstar Energy OTSFF Yamaha’s Matt Goerke, and Canadian hero Honda Canada Racing Fox GDR’s Colton Facciotti, did exactly what we knew they could do last weekend. After setting the fastest lap in morning practice, Goerke went out and grabbed the Royal Distributing Holeshot in the first moto and led wire to wire. Colton took the Royal Distributing Holeshot in Moto 2, and after falling over 10 seconds behind Millsaps, put on a late race charge in the blistering heat to finish less than two seconds off the lead. Matt and “Colt 45 “ finished second and third respectively in the season opener, which is exactly how they finished in Nanaimo last year. Both of these former champions will carry momentum into Round 2 this weekend and will be gunning for the top spot on the podium.
Another of the big pre-season questions surrounded KTM Canada Thor Racing’s Kaven Benoit and how he would fair in his first race in the premier class. Kaven admitted to being a little nervous in the first moto but had a great rookie outing finishing fourth overall on the day. “After the first moto I was really disappointed at myself as I just didn’t ride very well. I couldn’t wait for the second moto and right from the beginning I felt much better. To be able to battle up front was a lot of fun and I can’t wait for Round 2 next weekend.” Expect the talented French Canadian to do well this weekend as he swept both MX2 motos in Nanaimo last year, and took hold of the red plate there, on route to his second MX2 Rockstar Energy Drink Motocross National Championship.
The Monster Energy Alpinestar Kawasaki Team came into Round 1 with big expectations for their talented riders but must have been disappointed as they packed up the rig to move to Nanaimo. Mike Allesi didn’t get the good starts he is known for, and a broken shifter in the second moto forced him to ride in second gear for the entire race. Expect Allesi to regroup this weekend and draw upon some good memories of his MX1 victory at the Wastelands in 2014. Vince Friese had problems as well in Kamloops as his Kawasaki ran out of gas near the end of the second moto. Friese should have a better weekend at Round 2 as the track in Nanaimo suits his riding style.
Rockstar Energy OTSFF Yamaha’s Brett Metcalfe, in his first race with his new team last weekend, didn’t look as comfortable on the bike as we are used to seeing the talented Australian racer. Expect the former Champion to put in a better performance this weekend at the Wastelands where he just missed finishing on the podium last year.
Last weekend’s opening round also answered questions in the MX2 class. As most of the pre-season talk surrounded Cole Thompson and Jacob Hayes, we were wondering who would emerge from the group of other talented riders in the class. It was Redemption Racing Big Steel Box KTM’s Shawn Maffenbeier who served notice with his victory in Round 1 that he is a legitimate title contender. He was fastest in practice and rode well all day in the brutal Kamloops heat. “Maff” finished on the podium last year in Nanaimo and is bringing a lot of momentum to the Wastelands this weekend. ”I like Nanaimo so that has me feeling good for this coming weekend with the red plate.”
It was a different story a year ago for KTM Canada Thor Racing’s Cole Thompson when he came to Nanaimo and won the MX1 class. This year, Cole has moved to MX2 and is currently only 1 point back in the standings after winning the second moto last weekend in Kamloops. “Tommy Gun’s” second moto victory was impressive; look for him to be on the podium again this weekend.
MX101 FXR Yamaha’s Dylan Wright didn’t take long to get the first MX2 moto win of his career after taking the Royal Distributing Holeshot in the first moto last weekend. Dylan won the first moto and then tried to duplicate his brilliant start in the second moto, jumped the gate forcing a restart, and then finished outside of a points paying position. Expect Wright to bounce back from that this weekend in Nanaimo as well as the memories of a huge crash he took during Moto 1 at the Wastelands last year.
A couple of other riders who have to feel good going into Round 2 are MX101 FXR Yamaha’s Jess Pettis, and Honda Canada-GDR-Fox Racing’s Jeremy Medaglia. Pettis finished third in the opening MX2 moto of the year last weekend, then suffered a mechanical issue after briefly leading Moto 2. Jeremy sits in fourth place in the MX2 standings after having a solid first round, and did really well in Nanaimo last year where he finished on the second step of the podium.
The season opener could not have gone much worse for Monster Energy Alpinestars Kawasaki’s Jacob Hayes whose first turn crash in Moto 1 put him out for the day. Hayes, one of the pre-season favourites, injured his right knee in the crash and is out indefinitely.
The weekend’s weather forecast calls for sunshine and warm temperatures, without the brutal heat experienced last weekend. 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.