As we begin to roll into 2016, DeCal Works continues their support of Canadian motocross by once again sponsoring this Monday Gate Drop. If you need a set of custom graphics on your brand new bike, or a set to freshen up your used bike. All you have to do is log onto www.decalmx.com and within minutes you can design and order a complete set of the best graphics in the industry.
Welcome to the second edition of the Monday Gate Drop for 2016. Although this year is beginning with many positive things, for the second time in a week our sport is saying good-bye to someone who has left us too soon. This past weekend popular young BC rider Gerritt Nelson lost his life in a motor vehicle accident. Although I personally had never met Gerritt, judging by the out pouring of emotion, he was a well liked kid who just loved motocross and loved life itself. He will be missed and our condolences go out to his friends and family at this difficult time. Here’s a note from Brent Worrall on Gerritt’s passing:
“ On Sunday morning I was greeted with the news of the sudden and very tragic passing of our Future West Moto brother Gerritt Niessen. While driving alongside the Fraser River (near Chilliwack) very early Sunday morning in icy conditions, the pickup truck Niessen was riding in plunged off an embankment about 30 feet into the Fraser River. Gerritt was accompanied in the vehicle by his good friend Conner Dash. Both 18 year olds were pinned and helplessly submersed in the upside down vehicle when Chilliwack search and rescue arrived. Both young men were unconscious and were unable to be revived, shortly thereafter they were both pronounced deceased.
Gerritt Niessen was a very likeable young man who always had a smile on his face whenever I saw him at the races. Whenever something needed to be done, Gerritt was never one to talk about it, but the one who could be found doing it. I have reached out in the past 24 hours to many from our community and they are as to be expected devastated. I went to school in Chilliwack with one of the first responders who has a son of the same age. At this moment outside the High School that these boys attended there is a very emotional vigil in progress.
Even though I did not know Conner Dash I cannot begin to imagine the loss both of the family members and friends of these two young men are experiencing. You will be sadly missed by all R.I.P”.
In other sad news, the music industry lost one of its pioneers as David Bowie lost his battle with cancer on the weekend and passed away. For us older people, Bowie was one of those multi-talented musicians who could seemingly do it all. Like Elton John or a Billy Joel type singer, Bowie represented an era in music where anything was possible. A singer back then didn’t have to answer to Social Media or the endless media scrutiny that exists today. Because of this, they experiment with many different sounds, off the wall wardrobes and even multiple personalities. David Bowie was a free spirit and he will be missed!
Well, moving on to more positive news, let’s talk about Saturday and the night of racing that the entire World watched. For months, we’ve all been waiting for the gate to drop on the 2016 Monster Energy Supercross Series. Every year this is the most anticipated series on the planet, and with the millions of SX fans watching, the action at Angel Stadium on Saturday night went a long way to prove why this series is so popular. Let’s begin with the incident that everyone is talking about.
Although they came together a few times on Saturday night, there must’ve been some history between Vince Friese and Weston Peick. After the run in during the heat race in which Peick ended up on the ground, when Friese once again ran in on Peick again in the opening laps of their semi race, the two came together and the fight was on! As all watched in utter disbelief, Peick picked himself up and began raining blows onto the back of Friese helmet. Obviously after being taken out by Friese for the second time in an hour, Peick was furious and boiling with emotion. And while every motocross rider has been there before, what Peick did was completely unacceptable in my opinion, even if Friese deserved each and every punch. One of the things that separates our sport from a few others, is that this type of violence is not accepted under any or all circumstances. Anyway, whether you feel Peick’s actions were warranted or not, punching someone has no place in our sport. As much as Peick felt like he had no choice, he will now pay the price with a $5000 fine and a one race suspension.
Having said all of that, I think that just like they did with the Chad Reed black flag incident last year, the AMA once again got this one wrong. Again, in my opinion the AMA needed to fine or also give Vince Friese a one race suspension for how he was riding on Saturday night. He is a fast and a very talented rider, he demonstrated that for a few laps in his heat race, he doesn’t need to ride like that. Maybe some long overdue punishment would solve this problem? As history has shown, this is not the first time Friese has been guilty of being over aggressive, heck two years in Canada he was like this almost every weekend. In other sports such as hockey, these guys get dealt with quickly and if they don’t change their ways then they get weeded out of the sport. As I said, Friese is an awesome rider and I love the intensity that he rides with, hopefully the negative feedback he gets from this incident will finally make him realize that he can be aggressive without crossing a certain line.
So with that drama over, the gate dropped on the first main event of 2016 and the West Lites guys blasted off the line. While the World watched to see who was up front, all of Canada’s eyes were on Cole Thompson to see what place he was in. After a good heat race, Cole had a great gate pick and lined up near the inside. Unfortunately, Cole got a horrible jump off the gate and found himself near the back of the pack on the opening laps. At that level of racing, if you don’t get off the gate inside the top ten then you don’t have much chance to finish very well. It looked as though Cole was riding very well on Saturday night and his 18th overall is certainly no indication of his speed. I consider round one a great success for Cole and I’m sure he left Angel Stadium feeling satisfied with his performance. If he can get a few confidence building top ten finishes in the next couple of weeks, then I can see him battling for some top five finishes before the month is over.
In the 450 class we saw perhaps one of the most surprising results as Jason Anderson showed everyone that he’s ready to challenge for this championship coming from behind to win the main event. It was a huge win for Jason and for Husqvarna, and to do it at perhaps the most prestigious race of the year is very special. Behind Jason was the group of riders who all seemed to be in survival mode. Cole Seely led early but faded, Ryan Dungey got cleaned out early by Trey Canard but recovered nicely to finish second. I thought Chad Reed and Ken Roczen both looked very fast as they came from behind to secure themselves two very solid finishes at the opening round. All of these championship contenders know exactly what’s at stake at round one, you make a push and go for a podium, however, if it’s not there than you relax and take what you can get.
So that was Anaheim One in a nut shell. With all of the scary weather last week, the track ended up being in very good shape for the night of racing. The series now heads to San Diego for the first of two rounds at Petko Park. The World will once again be watching to see what adjustments all of our favourite riders will make as they try and regroup for round two.
Also going on this past weekend was the Motorcycle Supershow in Toronto and the Stars of Tomorrow program. A few of Ontario’s top up and coming kids all had booths at the show to show off their trophies and to market themselves to the public. It was a great weekend for the kids and hopefully they learned a lot from dealing with the public and from the guest speakers that attended. Then on Saturday night everyone gathered at Dave and Busters to celebrate the year that was in Ontario motocross. And even though the CMRC and AMO have now split into separate sanctioning bodies for 2016, Saturday’s night banquet was all about 2015 and the great performances we all witnessed. Congratulations to all of the winners and good luck for this coming season.
So that was the weekend in our sport in Canada. Again, our thoughts and prayers are with the Families of Gerritt and Connor during this sad time. Thank you to Brent Worrall for his kind words about the situation in BC. I hope everyone has a safe week and since winter is now here for all of us, please stay warm and get ready to cheer for Cole Thompson this coming weekend in San Diego.