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FLOOD 2.0 with Ryan Gauld

It’s just past the mid-January point of 2022, and the Canadian MX scene is quiet. Forever it has been this way since most of our country is usually stuck in minus temperatures. The Pro racers are just beginning to head to warmer climates to begin training. And all the teams’ owners, managers, and staff are back doing their regular jobs since running a Canadian MX team full-time won’t pay your bills. For 2022, it seems to be status quo for the percentage of us within the industry, or is it?

This past week we got the news of Tanner Ward leaving the GDR Honda Team. Without going into the details of why it seems it simply came down to some budgeting within the team itself and Honda as their manufacturer. It was nothing due to poor performance or that the GDR team didn’t want Tanner back. It’s business. The business side of the sport sucks sometimes, but like any business, reality can step in and shine a dark light on what seems to be an overall positive situation. Now in saying all this, where does Tanner go? An overall winner in the 250 class, a championship contender, a solid marketability rider, and a hard worker. The issue with this in our Canadian market is the lack of rides. There is no doubt he’ll find a home, but at what price and on what bike and lastly, what class? Let’s put out what we know as of now:

Fisting pumping to a new color in 2022 for Tanner Ward

KTM

Jess Pettis and Jacob Piccolo: It would seem the factory orange squad is set. A two-time 250 champion and a title threat in the 450 class, Pettis just got hurt but should be fine by the start of the Canadian series in June and should no doubt be the best threat to Dylan Wright. Jacob Piccolo just came off his dream season and now takes the top 250 spot under the factory tent. This team is good, is flush with potential, and is complete.

MX101

This could be a fun year for the team that forever was the team we always questioned in the fall, “What are they doing for next year?” Year after year, riders were poached from them after title runs or even championships won. The team has sometimes been considered a “B” team in the industry, even though their resume is one of the best in the sport’s history. It’s strange, really. But coming into 2022, Team Manager Kevin Tyler has shared that Yamaha is looking to go bigger with them, and a four-man team is potentially happening. With Marco Cannella and Shawn Maffenbeier already signed, two spots are left. Could this be where Tanner goes? Does it make sense? This is a better question. Kevin Tyler always likes helping where he can, but with championship contenders already signed in both classes, why would he “just help” Ward. It doesn’t make sense there.

GDR

With Tanner gone, this team is now just a two-man team once again. I’m under the impression this was what Team Manager Derek Schuster wanted but was willing to go over budget for Tanner, but in the end, they both agreed that it didn’t make sense for both parties. With Dylan Wright undoubtedly the best in the 450 class and the hotshot that is Ryder McNabb under the tent, the red team, by all counts, has a HOT roster heading into 2022.

Huber Motorsports

This would seem like the best avenue for Tanner. If Tanner was sticking with GDR, he would ride the 450 class. With rumours within the team and industry sharing that both Marshall Weltin and Darien Sanayei aren’t coming back, the door is open for Tanner here to be the leader of this team. It’s no secret that the team has spent the most money to go racing since its inception, so Tanner could be in for a solid paycheck over there. All fingers point to this happening, and as I type this, I believe it’s already done according to some so-called industry experts I have chatted with. So as quick as he loses a ride, he gains another in the same breath. I also think that Tanner taking on a leadership role with the team will be good for him. His career took a step up last year with speed and fight. An additional rumour for the Kawasaki team is that Dylan Rempel, coming off of a successful Supermini year, will be their 250 rider. Will Tanner be expected to take on a leadership role with Dylan? Does he want that?

With the usually quiet winter here in Canada, all this chatter makes things a little more interesting. The one thing that is beginning to show is there could be zero heavy hitters from the US lining up this summer. Look at this stat since 2008 (MX Only), when the series made both classes go coast to coast:

250 Champions
2008 Eric Nye USA
2009 Teddy Maier USA
2010 Tyler Medaglia CAN
2011 Tyler Medaglia CAN
2012 Teddy Maier USA
2013 Austin Politelli USA
2014 Kaven Benoit CAN
2015 Kaven Benoit CAN
2016 Cole Thomspon CAN
2017 Shawn Maffenbeier CAN
2018 Jess Pettis CAN
2019 Dylan Wright CAN
2020 Jess Pettis CAN
2021 Jacob Piccolo CAN
450 Champions
2008 Colton Facciotti CAN
2009 Colton Facciotti CAN
2010 Dusty Klatt CAN
2011 Colton Facciotti CAN
2012 Matt Goerke USA
2013 Brett Metcalfe AUS
2014 Colton Facciotti USA
2015 Matt Goerke USA
2016 Davi Milsaps USA
2017 Matt Goerke USA
2018 Colton Facciotti CAN
2019 Colton Facciotti CAN
2020 Dylan Wright CAN
2021 Dylan Wright CAN
Matt Goerke is the last US-born Candian Champion.

Out of a possible 28 titles, only 10 have been taken outside of Canada when the final checkers were waved. Back in the mid-to-late ’90s, this type of swing took place. The CMRC series began to carry the weight of “What series to race to be the star and make money” over the failing CMA side of things. What this did was close doors for a team like Morgan Racing which was the team hiring US import racers to do the series. From 1997 to 1999, the series saw just two Americans, Jay Whipple and Brett Devries, race the entire series (only 1999). Back then, it was mainly a Canadian contingent of racers. In 2000, the series took an enormous up-swing in budgets and attention and began the US invasion, so to speak, for nearly every team. My question now is, is history repeating itself? In the years before, the racers the industry was spending the big bucks on were all Canucks. We look to be heading into a similar situation coming in 2022.

Could 2022 be the series where we once again realize the Canadian talent we have is sufficient? To become a series that grows, enhances paycheques, and legitimizes the dream for young racers to follow/chase? Is 2022 the year where the entertainment and TV side of things draws the eyes of potential sponsors that launch us into another budget bracket?

Darcy Lange in 1998 was a name in the late ’90s that helped make the series grow fast into the Millenium.
Blair Morgan was no doubt the biggest name from that late ’90’s era that pushed the series into the “big money” years.

I’m Canadian through and through. I have enjoyed the US racers that have come the last few years. All good guys and good racers. None seemed to “be shady” in their reasons to race in Canada. But, this is our time to keep it in the family. Our 250 class is decidedly much deeper than the 450 class, but if history repeats itself, someone always raises the bar when it needs to be raised. What could keeping it in the Canadian family hurt? 2022 could be an interesting year that unknowingly shows us what’s in store for the next 14 years of our sport.

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