Honda Canada Racing Presents the Monday Gate Drop

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Good day, Happy Monday, and Happy Family Day if this holiday applies to you and your family! Hopefully everyone is healthy and happy on this second to last weekend in February. I spent this past weekend at the Toronto Motorcycle Show talking to people, looking at all of the new 2017 motorcycles, and playing a little hockey. What does hockey have to do with the motorcycle show you ask? Well, on Saturday evening David Grummett and Toni Sharpless organized the first ever Motovan Black and White Motorcycle Industry Charity Hockey Game at the home of the Toronto Marlies, the Ricoh Coliseum. As you can imagine the two teams were made up of industry people that were both really good at hockey, and not so good at hockey. However, everyone on the ice was having fun and enjoying every minute of playing on such a cool ice surface. After an hour and ten minutes of unbridled hockey fun, the Black team prevailed (thanks to a questionable penalty shot I must say) 6-5 and everyone shook hands and agreed to a rematch in 2018. Even famed and multi-talented rider Jordan Szoke was on hand as the honorary coach to the White team. Although he suggested we ditch the sticks and skates and use the ice for an impromptu ice race! Not exactly the type of advice that we were looking for from our coach. Anyway, as you can imagine the evening was a ton of fun and thankfully everyone made it through the game unscathed. Here is the official post game press release that might or might not have been on tsn.ca:

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Press release;
Event organizers Dave Grummett and Toni Sharpless put together the game at the Ricoh centre, home of the Toronto Marlies. After an entrance onto the ice surface that ended in a yard sale ( Toni forgot to remove skate guards!) the MOTOVAN BLK and WHT Motorcycle Industry Charity Hockey game got under way. The teams comprised of professionals from the Industry and all forms of racing motorcycles in an all out battle back and forth. It was a goalie war to a 4 – 4 tie until the last period when a penalty shot was deemed neccessary. BLK dangled the puck and push the puck through for a BLK win 5- 4. $500 was raised for the Forever Fred 82 Foundation that helps parents financially and emotionally through excruciating times while their children go through cancer treatment. The game was a success with all parties Motovan and the fans included are excited to return to a rematch next year.

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Did anyone like the Minneapolis track? Photo by Krystyn Slack

Since this is Family Day for us, I’m going to keep this Monday Gate Drop fairly short. Just like last week, I’m assuming that everyone reading this tuned into Saturday nights Minneapolis Supercross. I don’t want to sound like a few of my fellow journalists that complain all the time, but for the second week in a row I thought the track was awful. If Minnesota is known as the State with 10,000 lakes, then the Minneapolis track was should’ve been called the track with 10,000 corners. Obviously the designers were trying something different by splitting up the normally long straights and adding in tight turns instead, and maybe on paper this appeared to be a cool idea? However, in reality it made the racing terribly boring and I’m sure most of the riders disliked the track. With all of the talk about the Monster Energy Supercross Series expanding in 2018, I hope they try and do something with a few of these track designs. Maybe a solution would be to once again allow a few current or retired SX stars design a number of tracks? This practice worked a number of years ago, the tracks were cool and the hype surrounding them was high.

The track in Minneapolis was not only suffocating, but it was also really beat up by the time the gate dropped for the main events. Add in the extra laps that the riders are doing in these main events, by the halfway point of Saturday nights races, it once again became a game of survival. Once the track goes away, you really get a clear picture of which riders are comfortable pushing hard, and which riders are not. Obviously Eli Tomac and Marvin Musquin are very confident right now, regardless of the conditions. And obviously points leader Ryan Dungey is playing a game of kitty by the door, patiently waiting for these two to make a mistake. With a 16 point lead in the 450SX class, Dungey doesn’t need to win races right now, however, if these same two riders keep beating him in the next few weeks, Dungey’s mindset needs to change. I believe that in the next few weeks, Dungey is going to have to put the hammer down and re-solidify himself as the top dog in this series. Right now, he’s not even the top rider on the Red Bull KTM Team and that must change quickly if Dungey wants to win another SX title. It doesn’t take much for a young rider like Musquin to gain the confidence needed to win on a regular basis. To me, Dungey looks unwilling right now to ride out of his comfort zone. Whether he’s just waiting on a mistake from his younger rivals, a little gun shy after his injury last year and Ken Roczen’s this year, or just simply not riding good at the moment, he has to stop losing five to six points per weekend. Considering we’re almost at the halfway point to the 2017 SX series, these next half a dozen races will most certainly tell the tale.

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Much to the dismay of his hometown crowd, Ryan Dungey played it safe in Minneapolis and finished in a distant third. Photo by krystyn Slack

All of this excitement bodes well for the upcoming Toronto Supercross in less than two weeks time. Can Dungey get back on track? Will Tomac be able to keep up his feverish pace? And will Chad Reed be able to buy a decent start from someone and get back on the podium? If Reed was able to run front in Toronto, I’m positive the entire crowd will jump out of their seats. I know I would! Also, a reminder that our Toronto SX VIP Ticket Package Giveaway run in conjunction with Kawasaki Canada, has just two more days to go before the draw on Wednesday. All you have to do is tell us what Kawasaki riders have won the Toronto SX and what years they won? Email me your answer at chris@mxpmag.com and your name will be entered into this exciting draw.

Well, that is it for me this week. I hope everyone has a great week and don’t forget to tune into this weekend’s Atlanta Supercross to cheer on our very own Cole Thompson in the 250SX East class. By all accounts Cole is riding great and should be a contender aboard his factory edition KTM 250SX-F. Finally, if you live in Ontario and you want to do some riding, amazingly Gopher Dunes will be open for practice. They’re for sure open today, and with mild temperatures in the forecast for the rest of the week, I’m sure they will stay open. Have a great week and Happy Family Day!!

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Cole Thompson’s KTM is all ready for Atlanta this weekend.