Good day and welcome to another edition of the Honda Canada Racing Monday Gate Drop. This past weekend was an incredible day for the fine people at Honda Canada Racing, as not only did their title sponsored Indy Car race go off without a hitch in Toronto but also their top rider Colton Facciotti was victorious in the MX1 class at Round 6 of the Rockstar Energy Drink MX Nationals in Quebec. This was Colton’s first overall win in of the year, and with four rounds now remaining, it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Yesterday in Quebec at MX Bon Conseil, both Colton Facciotti and Shawn Maffenbeier brought home the wins in the MX1 and MX2 classes. I was all loaded up and ready to head east on Friday morning, however a serious family issue came up and my departure was delayed a few times. By the time I knew it was okay to leave, it was too late so I then decided to stay home, save the money and watch the race on Conx2share. Hopefully every motocross fan in Canada has used this app to watch a race or two this summer as the coverage is very good. After attending the majority of the rounds for the past five seasons, watching it live on my computer definitely gives you a different perspective of the racing. At most tracks, it’s virtually impossible to see the entire track from one vantage point, but obviously on Conx2share, with the multiple cameras, you don’t miss any of the action. Yesterday’s coverage was good, even with the little delayed feed for the final moto. It was really cool when Brian Koster and Marc Travers had Carl Vaillancourt announcing with them for the second MX2 moto. I wish they’d do this more with former top riders who are in attendance as it really does give the viewers a different perspective on the racing and on what the riders are truly going through. This is a little easier to do in Quebec as all Koster and Travers are doing is commentating on the live feed, so they’re able to be a little more subdued and informative. At the other eight rounds, they’re also doing the live track announcing so they have to be loud and much more upbeat. Anyway, it’s great when they can do it and Carl was very good to listen to yesterday.
I love in this day and age with Social Media that so many people can just voice their opinions, regardless of how positive or negative they are (please insert sarcastic emoji here). Unfortunately, human nature usually dictates that it’s a whole lot easier (and popular) to be negative than it is to be positive. The reason that I’m bringing this up is that regardless of how tight the parking was at Round 6, or how long the day was, or whatever else people in our sport could complain about this weekend, we can’t forget that the crew at MX Bon Conseil basically built a national out of nothing in just a few months. Yes, I, like everyone, loved the Ulverton track, but the municipality that governs the track wouldn’t let a race happen there. This isn’t the CMRC’s fault or any one person’s fault, this was just a bad set of circumstances. The cool thing was that within a week another track was found and a national calibre facility was erected in just a few short months. Was it perfect? Is any track perfect? Was Ulverton perfect? Not in the least. The racing yesterday was good, the track and facility looked amazing, and the crowd look as strong as it always is in Quebec.
Part of what was cool about listening to Carl V talk yesterday was his obvious appreciation for how the sport is today and how far it has come. Carl turned pro in the late 1980s, so he did get a little taste of the glory days of the ‘80s, an era that most Canadian moto historians love to talk about. However, Carl also experienced the early 1990s when the sport in Canada was at its lowest point. In fact, these sad times were one of the things that led to his early retirement in 1995. This is why when a lot of people talk about the glory days of our sport, you will never hear anyone say, “Remember how cool the early 1990s were?” Trust me, I was there and they were miserable! Anyway, listening to Carl talk about the sport today was very pure. He doesn’t know or care about the politics behind the scenes, or the negativity needlessly constructed by some, all he knows is that the riders and the teams have it a lot better now than he did when he raced his final national lap in Ulverton in 1995.
I thought the racing looked good yesterday. Whenever Colton Facciotti gets in a groove like this it is very fun to watch. All summer long Facciotti has been riding good, but during the first few rounds his starts were lacking. Last weekend at Gopher Dunes and again yesterday, we saw Colton grab the holeshot and never look back. Every rider who has ever lined up behind a starting gate knows what it feels to sit there and feel confident that the holeshot is yours, and conversely every rider knows what it’s like to sit on the gate and feel like you’re on a 50cc and everyone else is racing a 450cc. Starts in particular are such a mental game and I always tell people that I didn’t get too many holeshots in my career so I didn’t think I was going to get it before the gate even dropped. Colton is feeling it right now and it couldn’t have come at a better time. With four rounds to go he could still make a run at this title. Now that he is over the sickness that he got a few weeks back, he can begin to get stronger and soon he may be able to put two moto wins together. I have a feeling that by the time we leave Round 7 from Truro, the MX1 points will be even closer with three remaining riders. There is little doubt that this series will go down to the final moto in Barrie; quite the contrast to last season for sure.
It’s pretty amazing when you look back to 365 days ago in our sport. In the USA, Ken Roczen was dominating the outdoor series, and in Canada the KTM Thor Racing Team was having everything go their way in both classes. Davi Millsaps was is control of the MX1 series and Cole Thompson was leading the MX2 points. Fast forward to now and this team is definitely facing some adversity with four rounds to go. Cole Thompson, who appeared to be just cruising along in the MX2 class, made a very uncharacteristic error yesterday while trying to pass Jacob Hayes in the opening laps of Moto 1. Cole tried for a pass that wasn’t really there and ended up crashing and dislocating his right thumb. He would end up DNF’in that moto and then soldiering through Moto 2 to finish in an amazing 7th place. It was an incredible ride and one that may save this title for Cole. He gave up a ton of points and his large 40-point lead is now down to just 2 points heading into Truro. With four overall wins already this season, including yesterday’s in Quebec, there is no doubt that Shawn Maffenbeier is like a shark who smells blood in the water. It will be interesting to see if Cole is even able to race next weekend as his injury is pretty serious. Apparently, his thumb even kept popping out during the second moto. It’s definitely not good news when the joint is stretched that much. Hopefully, he can get some good treatment this week and come back strong for Truro.
The second member of the KTM Thor Racing Team is having a year that I’d sure he’d love to forget. After sitting out most of the west to allow his ankle and body to heal further, Kaven Benoit returned last week at Gopher Dunes. Yesterday, at his home track, Benoit rode well in the first moto to finish second behind Colton. However, in Moto 2 he hit the ground hard and ended up suffering a lacerated liver. I’m assuming this injury will shut down Kaven’s season and possibly his chances to get chosen for Team Canada later this summer. Yes, this sport is incredible with the highs that it can bring us, but man the lows are tough to deal with. As mentioned, a year ago Benoit and his team were on top of the Canadian motocross world. After yesterday, they’re just trying to keep their heads above water. That is racing, though, and no one knows this better than the team’s fearless leader and Team Manager JSR. He will no doubt get them back on track as soon as possible.
So that is it for me this week. I hope everyone is enjoying their summer thus far. This week I will be heading the new Alpha MX track on Thursday to check out everything that Kyle Keast and the boys are doing there. Then this weekend I’m off to Round 7 in Truro, followed by a trip to California next week to test ride the new 2018 YZ450F at the famous Glen Helen Raceway. I cannot wait as I love travelling and experiencing what this sport and my occupation have to offer. I hope everyone has a safe week, and let’s all prey for the fine people in BC who are being affected by the multiple forest fires.