As it has been for some time, this week’s Monday Gate Drop is brought to you by DeCal Works. Not only are they the biggest Chicago Black Hawk fans in the English speaking world, they’re also the best graphic company on the planet and the proud supplier of custom graphics to the Canada’s Motorcycle FXR MX101 Yamaha Team. If you’d like your own set of personalized graphics for you bike, just log on to www.decalmx.com and within minutes you can design your own.
Before we get into what exactly went down at Round 3 of the 2015 Rockstar Energy Drink Motocross Nationals in Calgary, let’s talk briefly about the hate-on that Mother Nature has for Walton Raceway. After the driest May in recent memory, once the calendar turned to June, with it came the rain. Unfortunately for Ontario riders and the fine people that run Walton Raceway, they were once again right in the path of Mother Nature’s wrath and had to cancel their race this past weekend. The event yesterday was supposed to be the final SWO ANQ but because of all the rain, this event has been rescheduled to this coming Saturday. With its valleys and clay based soil, Walton Raceway really doesn’t take to rain very well. The problem becomes not so much what happens on that particular race day, but more about just how much a mud race destroys the track for months to come. With a date already inked in for June 20th, it made perfect sense to move yesterday’s event to next Saturday. So this weekend’s race at Walton will not only be an ANQ, it will also be an AMO Ontario Provincial. Or at least I believe that it how it’s going to be? Stay tuned this week to mxpmag.com for all the updates. And to Mother Nature, please leave Walton Raceway alone!
So now on to what happened in Calgary:
After spending all of last week at my brother’s place in downtown Calgary, the weekend finally came and with it, Round 3 of our National series. This weekend not only marked the series visit to one of the coolest cites and tracks in Canada, but it also saw the return of Mike Alessi and the Moto Concepts Team to Canadian soil. Since they admittedly enjoyed their time in Canada last summer, the MCR team planned two visits to Canada in 2015; this past weekend in Calgary was the first and round 5 at Gopher Dunes will be the other. While everyone knew of Mike Alessi’s talents on a 450 coming into Calgary, few predicted the speed that his teammate Vince Friese would show. Right from the beginning of the first MX1 practice, Friese was on fire as his aggressive style was put on display.
When the gate dropped on the first MX1 moto, Friese’s early morning speed was quickly overshadowed by Brett Metcalfe as the MX1 red plate holder took an early lead and began to set a blistering pace. However, just when it appeared like the moto win would once again go to Metcalfe, his Kawasaki suffered a mechanical failure, which forced a DNF. Metcalfe’s misfortune opened the door for Friese to take his first MX1 win of his career. Behind Friese was the battle for second between Matt Goerke, Cole Thompson and Teddy Maier who all crossed the finish line within bike lengths of each other. It was a pretty entertaining moto and one that would certainly set the stage for an even more intense moto two.
Check out the video the Brent Worrall did with Vince Friese and Mike Alessi at the end of the day in Calgary.
For some reason the last few years have seemed to produce very exciting second motos in the MX1 class. Two years ago we all witnessed Brett Metcalfe come from behind to win the moto over Teddy Maier and Bobby Kiniry, then in 2014 fans watched in awe as Mike Alessi went from dead last to first in twenty minutes to pass Colton Facciotti for the win and the overall on the day. Yes, for some reason Calgary brings out the best in a lot of riders.
With his DNF in moto one yesterday, Brett Metcalfe had the 35th gate pick for moto two and obviously a gate pick and the outside. As the big 450s revved their engines for the start of moto two, few predicted the Metcalfe would start the race anywhere near the top-ten. However, after a great jump off the gate and his stubborn refusal to let off the throttle, Metcalfe dive bombed the first turn from the outside and actually started the first lap in 9th place. It was a determined piece of riding from the wily veteran and one that he knew he needed if he had any desire to win the second moto.
While Metcalfe ate the Calgary roost just inside the top ten, Vince Friese was up front once again, trying to build on his lead. Just behind the sports’ bad boy was the talent train of Colton Facciotti and Cole Thompson who both were looking forward to using their smooth style to their advantage on the rough Calgary circuit. It took the Canadian duo all of about two laps to get their lines figured out before they started to reel in Friese. As Facciotti and Thompson slowly closed in on Friese, behind them Metcalfe was in full charge mode as he methodically made his way around the riders in front of him. By the mid-way point of the moto, Metcalfe made his way into fourth and could see the leaders. It was at that point that the well-educated Calgary moto fans began cheering and anticipating the impending battle for the lead.
It would take Metcalfe another two laps to catch Thompson for third, and at that point all four leaders were within a foot of each other. As he did two years, Metcalfe had one or two lines on the track that no one had even seen. One of these lines was just after the finish line tabletop – he would scrub the jump and then bolt to the inside of the following left hander. It was a brilliant line and each lap he used it to put pressure on the leaders. As Metcalfe tried to find a way around Facciotti for second, Colton was looking for a way around Friese. At the same time, Thompson got his first glimpse at Metcalfe’s unique lines and he picked up his pace. For a few laps it was a four way battle for the lead as the crowd was going crazy.
With the battle raging on, the first rider to crack under the pressure was Friese who washed his front end out in a slippery corner and handed the lead briefly to Facciotti. So it was one down and three to go for the win in moto two. Exactly half a lap later, Metcalfe made his move for the lead and the completion of his incredible second moto charge. However, just as Thompson has done, once Colton saw Metcalfe’s lines he also seemed to find another gear and stayed close to Metcalfe for the remainder of the moto. It was an incredible race. When the chequered flag finally fell, Metcalfe, Facciotti and Thompson were your top three, Friese recovered from his crash to hold on to fourth to claim the overall for the day. As they do each and every year, all of the top riders looked completely spent on the podium after the second moto as they no doubt gave it everything they had. Actually, most of the fans looked exhausted also as they had been holding their breath for 35 minutes.
It was a perfect moto to cap off a great day of racing in Calgary. There were a lot of great performances yesterday and the riders I mentioned above were just a few of them. Another rider who had the best ride of his young career so far was Dylan Wright, who came into Calgary still very sore from his crash in Nanaimo. After a very impressive third in the first MX2 moto, Dylan found himself near the back of the pack in the early laps of moto two. While Kaven Benoit was putting on a two-stroke riding demonstration up front, Dylan dug very deep and charged all the way up to an incredible sixth place and fourth overall on the day. It was a pretty awesome charge to witness and I’m sure Dylan was tired but very happy with his performance.
It was a great weekend in Calgary and one that race fans won’t soon forget. Before I say goodbye for another week, though, I want to send a big get well to Casey Keast, who suffered what could be a season ending arm injury on Saturday. Keast crashed on the first lap of his first moto, and while he survived the crash okay, he ended up getting run over by a few riders, which is what broke his right humorous bone. Casey was back at the track on Sunday looking very sore and extremely bummed out. Heal up quick Casey and come back strong! I hope everyone has a great week. See you at the races!