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The Monday Gate Drop Presented By Yamaha Motor Canada

Well, good day and happy August 1st everyone. This is always a bitter-sweet month as not only is it a great time for motocross in Canada but it also represents the final few weeks of summer. Anyway, it is what it is so let’s embrace it and make the most of it. This past week my family and I made the trek to Deschambault, QC for the 2022 ECAN at what is one of the most beautiful tracks and facilities in Canada. The paddock is lined with tall trees and the sandy track has just enough elevation to make it fun and interesting to ride. With a plethora of entries this past week as well as riders and teams that were there to compete in Round 8 of the Triple Crown Series, the entire Deschambault property was jammed pack. Also, yesterday’s attendance for the pro racing was the best we’ve seen in years. Quebec has always loved their racing and they once again proved it yesterday. There is always such a cool vibe at Pro Nationals in Quebec as they sell alcohol by the truckload and they always seem to have club music pumping in the background. I don’t even know where it comes from but you can always hear it even as the announcer is yelling about what is happening on the track. There’s nothing quite like it and even though things sometimes seem a little chaotic, that is how it’s done in Quebec and we wouldn’t change it for a second.

The racing at the ECAN was great all week long. Photo by James Lissimore

On the other side of things, there are a few areas that could’ve used some work at the ECAN and in my opinion, most had a simple fix. Other than the scoring issues, which I’m not sure what the problem was there. Having issues with scoring and live timing is a pretty common thing during a race season so I think the ECAN crew can be cut a little slack on that one. However, the one mystery that no one can figure out is why they allowed a couple of the classes to not only be so big, but also to then not split them up into qualifiers and LCQ’s, and then have those who qualified to run two final motos. To have over 70 riders lined up on a starting gate double stacked and then have them hit the track at the same time was bizarre to watch. I cannot even imagine what it was like to get a mid-pack start in one of those races. We’ve been at the Baja Brawl in Michigan and generally speaking that is one of the larger amateur events in the USA. One year my son’s 65 class had over 60 riders entered and he ran a qualifier and then two motos. I understand that as an event you don’t want to cap entries so you allow as many entries as possible, I get it. But then like I said, split them up and have qualifiers. Everyone gets at least two gate drops and you have a much better chance for riders and their families to go home happy and not upset. I understand from a schedule point of view that the ECAN crew does their absolute best to cram in so many races over just two days. But in this case, by having qualifiers you’re only adding two shorter motos to the program (one extra qualifier and a LCQ). Anything is better IMO than having that many riders racing at the same time. Another area that needs to be addressed is the mini track and the racing that went on there. They need to bring back transponders in at least some of the kid’s classes as I’m sure that would assist in the organization of the races. Also, it would be nice if the staging area could be made larger as these days there are just so many kids racing. I walked by on Friday and there had to be 200 people crammed in one area. Perhaps the BMX pump track could be moved slightly to make room for a larger staging area? As I mentioned at the beginning of this, the ECAN is one of the coolest and most unique events this country has and everyone from across Canada should attend it at least once. But I just hate to hear of people who spend a lot of money to get there being upset over things that could’ve easily been avoided.

Congratulations to Dylan Wright and the entire Honda Canada GDR Fox Racing Team. Photo by James Lissimore

As for the pro racing yesterday it was excellent as usual. With the riding of Dylan Wright this summer and the resurgence of Ryder McNabb, this is turning into another incredible season for the GDR Fox Honda Team. After winning both motos yesterday and keeping his perfect season going Dylan clinched his third 450 title and fourth Triple Crown MXTour Series title in a row. These past four years have produced quite a run for Dylan and his Honda Team and although I will save my explanation for another day, I believe that despite Ross Pederson’s numerous championships, JSR’s five 250 titles, and Colton Facciotti’s 6th 450 titles, Dylan Wright is the best the all-around rider that this country has ever witnessed. I know that is a big statement and for some reading this you might think that I’m just exhausted from my 8-hour banzai drive home last night, but the one big reason I think this is because Dylan is a combination of all of the great names I just mentioned. Also, like his 16-year-old teammate Ryder McNabb, so far through his success he’s been able to remain humble and kind (off the track) and be pretty much the same dude he was back in 2013 when he was racing his 250 two-stroke in the Intermediate class. Anyway, I’ll explain it in more detail after the season when I hope I can also write about the first perfect season in Canadian motocross.

Ryder McNabb had another good day yesterday and extended his points lead to 23 with two motos remaining. Photo by James Lissimore

So Dylan Wright clinched the 450 title yesterday with another gutty performance (don’t forget he’s nursing a broken rib) while his teammate also won again and increased his points lead to 23 points over Mitchell Harrison. With just two motos remaining it would take a disaster for McNabb to lose this title now, but stranger things have happened. Whatever happens, this kid has been dynamite for the past month and right now he’s the fastest rider in the 250 class so he does deserve to win his first championship in two weeks at Walton Raceway. It was also great yesterday to see Harrison win a moto again as he’s been on a bit of a slide lately. Josiah Natzke won the opening moto yesterday but ran into bike troubles in moto 2 and was forced to DNF. If all goes as planned Natzke could finish as high as 5th in the final 250 standings which is incredible considering he joined the series late. I heard over the weekend that some teams have been talking to him about coming back next year so that would be cool to have the Kiwi back for a full series. Also, there are some rumours that regardless of whether McNabb wins the 250 title or not he might not be back in Canada for 2023 and beyond. Currently, he has some interest from teams in the USA about heading down there and racing a season as an amateur (SX Futures and Pro Sport) before moving to the pro class full-time. At 16 (he’ll be 17 on September 28th) this is the perfect time to do it if he can. I don’t know, perhaps the deal is already done and we just haven’t heard about it. However, first things first and the following weekend at Walton Raceway he has his first pro title to try and win!

This isn’t a photo from yesterday but it could be with how Eve Brodeur rode at Round 8.

Another race or races that were exciting to watch yesterday was the two Thor WMX motos in the morning. Once again we saw an incredible battle between our current Queen of Canadian Women’s moto Eve Brodeur and USA up-and-coming rider Jamie Astudillo. These two talented WMX riders have been going at it in almost every moto since Round 4 at Walton Raceway. Astudillo got the overall win last weekend at Riverglade but Brodeur rose to the occasion yesterday in front of her hometown fans and went 1-1 for a massive win. With one round to go Brodeur leads the series by just 6 points so if you’re planning on going to Walton for Round 9, you’ll want to get there early and watch this incredible battle. Also, the FXR Pre-Mix class is pretty entertaining to watch as well. Oh and one more note on Miss Brodeur. Like Dylan Wright, she is another one of our multi-time champions who is as nice and down to earth as she was when she first began winning. She almost always has a smile on her face and says hi or good morning at the track, and late yesterday I saw her just standing with her dad watching the final pro motos. Those two have made quite a team over the years and it was cool to see them just hanging out watching the races. Eve is going to be writing the Female Perspective column in the next issue of MXP Magazine so I cannot wait to read about her thoughts on the 2022 season.

It was great to see Jess Pettis at the races again. Photo by James Lissimore

Well, that is it for me today. I hope everyone made it home safe from the ECAN and now it’s time to prepare for the 30th Anniversary of the Walton TransCan. I cannot believe that in one week we’ll be loading up and headed towards motocross town for a week of fun. It’s most certainly a great time of the year to be a motocross rider in Canada and if you’re one of the lucky ones to be headed to Walton Raceway next week, good luck and ride safe. In closing, congratulations to Jeremy McKie who rode great yesterday during his factory KTM debut. I’ll have an interview with him up tomorrow so you can read all about his first day under the KTM tent. Also, BC rider Devyn Smith was finally released from a Moncton area hospital late last week and he and his dad have started their long journey home. Devyn will make a full recovery and hopefully he and his dad Troy will be back at the races in 2023. Devyn made some big strides this season with his speed, strength, and confidence so I think he needs to keep at it. Between Devyn, Tyler Gibbs, Jacob Piccolo, and then Julien Benek last week getting hurt again, it’s been a tough seven days for a few of BC’s most talented young pro riders. All of them are such nice kids off of the track as well so I look forward to seeing them all in 2023. Gibbs might even be ready to go by the Triple Crown Series SXTour in September. Finally, speaking of riders from BC, Jess Pettis was at the race yesterday and I had a chance to speak to him for a moment. He’s doing well and he expects to get back on the bike this week for the first time since his crash in Drumheller. Other than being injured and missing racing, Jess said that so far he’s had a good summer and it’s been nice to relax and just let his body heal. As far as I know, the plan is to return to riding gradually and see how everything goes. I doubt you’ll see him ready for the SXTour but with two months to prepare, I don’t see why Pettis wouldn’t be considered for a spot on Team Canada at Red Bud. He’s most certainly one of say five riders that should be on the shortlist. Anyway, it was great to see him and you could also feel how painful it was for him to have to watch races that he should be in. Thank you for reading and have a great first week of August.


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