Good Afternoon and welcome to this edition of Monday Gate Drop on this 14th day of July, 2014. It’s hard to fathom that in exactly one month most of us will be waking up at Walton Raceway for the first full day of motos at the 2014 Parts Canada TransCan. This time of year always flies by as everyone is super busy going from here to there as the try and jam in so much into our short summer season. This lifestyle is very evident in Canadian motocross as we all go from weekend to weekend and race to race searching for the endless fun that motocross racing brings us.
Speaking of fun, where do I begin when talking about this past weekend at Gopher Dunes? Well, let me begin on Friday afternoon when I arrived at the famous track to prepare for the weekend. After a three week break in the 2014 Rockstar Energy Drink MX Nationals, the teams arrived in Ontario to begin the all-important eastern rounds of the series. As I’m sure everyone who showed up at Gopher Dunes on Friday will agree, the track and the facility looked absolutely primo for the weekend ahead. The banners looked great as they completely lined the sand track, the concert stage was set up like a center piece of the property, and of course the paddock looked very organized and professional. Everything appeared just as it should for a big race like this and that is why Gopher Dunes is always one of the best national rounds of the series.
I personally love the way the national schedule is these days as the few week break before Gopher Dunes gives the riders some time to prepare their mind, body and machine for the tough conditions that this race always brings. This year was no different as it didn’t take long for the track to get worked over and slowly develop the bomb holes we’re all accustomed to seeing. By the first MX2 moto of the day the track had a lot of bite to it, and even though it wasn’t as humid as last year, it was still very hot on Saturday; two 30 minute motos for everybody was a chore. Let’s take a look at the top ten in each class from Saturday.
1. Vince Friese: 3-1
Coming in to Gopher I think everyone was questioning whether or not Vince could ride sand? Well, he definitely proved on Saturday (especially in moto 2) that he can. He was very impressive at round five.
2. Kaven Benoit: 2-2
Talk about a turn of events on Saturday morning. After waiting until the last lap of practice to try a fast lap, Benoit then crashed very hard and detuned himself for the rest of the day. His 2-2 moto scores was very heroic as Kaven was very sore. For his effort he was able to retain the red plate for yet another week.
3. Jesse Wentland: 1-4
Jesse was by far the fastest MX2 rider at Gopher Dunes. He dominated moto one and after getting taking out at the start of moto two, he was able to charge back to fourth. Look for him to win more motos in the next few weeks as his confidence is growing after each race.
4. Shawn Maffenbeier: 4-3
Steady…Steady…Steady. This is the best word to describe Maffenbeier’s day at Gopher Dunes. This kid never quits and he can ride in all types of conditions. I think he’s staying east for the next month to make sure he stays prepared for whatever conditions come his way.
5. Seth Rarick: 5-6
Seth definitely had his best ride of the season so far at Gopher Dunes. The KTM two-stroke mounted Rarick was fast all day and never seemed to fade at all. This kid is fit and hungry so he should do well in the remaining five rounds.
6. Jesse Pierce: 7-7
I had never heard of Jesse before Saturday when he grabbed the holeshot in moto one. I had to look at my sheets to see who # 489 was. Although he did fade a little bit, he was fast and definitely a welcomed new face to the MX2 class. Hopefully the taste of success he had at Gopher will entice him to do the rest of the series.
7. Jeremy Pronovost: 9-8
This was a very good top ten ride for the talented Quebec rider. Obviously a good sand rider, look for Jeremy to keep doing well in the next few races.
8. Hayden Halstead: 10-10
This was by far the most unexpected ride of the day at Gopher Dunes. Nothing against Hayden as he’s a very talented Ontario rider who has shown flashes of speed recently. However, two top ten moto finishes was very impressive. Well done Hayden!
9. Topher Ingalls: 12-9
Saturday was a tough day for the RTR KTM rider from California. After a first turn crash in moto one, Ingalls could only catch 12th by motos end. I didn’t see what happened to him in moto two but he had to have been disappointed with how things turned out, especially after winning this event in 2013.
10. Jeremy Medaglia: 23-5
After winning in the mud at round four in Regina, I’m sure Jeremy and his team came into Gopher with pretty high expectations. Jeremy and his teammate were involved in a first turn pile up in moto one. While Politelli charged to sixth, Jeremy had some late moto bike problems and could only finish 23rd. In moto two he got passed late in the moto by Maffenbeier and Wentland and finished fifth. This coming weekend is make or break for Medaglia’s 2014 outdoor season as he needs to go on a run here soon to get back into the points chase.
1. Colton Facciotti: 1-2
Right from the beginning of practice it appeared that Colton was a little off his A game at Gopher Dunes. However, like champions do, he found a way to get the job done. Although he benefited from Alessi’s misfortune, one could say that he forced Alessi to push hard and use up that extra fuel in moto one. For the second weekend in a row Colton built on his points lead, even though he wasn’t the fastest rider on the track.
2. Kyle Chisholm: 2-3
While not as fast as Colton or Alessi, Chisholm looked very happy to be back in the east on tracks in which he’s more accustomed. He also had a new mechanic at Gopher Dunes as Josh Cox was brought in to spin the wrenches for team 732. I think Chisholm will continue to do well in the next few weeks and get himself back into the points race.
3. Bobby Kiniry: 3-7
After a very strong first moto, Bobby unfortunately made a mess of moto two. He was running near the front when he crashed and had to battle hard just to get back into seventh. He’s currently sitting seventh in the MX1 points standings so it’s definitely go time for Bobby if he wants to finish in the top three in 2014.
4. Tyler Medaglia: 5-5
What can you say about Tyler Medaglia that hasn’t been said many times before? A hard fought 5-5 day, especially in moto two with no goggles, and he hangs on to third overall in the MX1 series.
5. Teddy Maier: 4-8
Saturday was a quiet day for Teddy as he had a great first moto and a so-so second moto. Like Medaglia, Teddy is tough as nails and battled hard all day in the sand. These next few weeks need to be successful for him as the points are very close in the MX1 class.
6. Josh Hill: 9-4
After a bad first moto, which saw Josh finish a disappointing ninth overall, he charged back in moto two and chased Kyle Chisholm for 25 minutes until he finally had to settle for fourth. Josh left everything he had on the track at Gopher Dunes and it was fun to see him use a few of his awesome SX skills on the rough sand track.
7. Tim Tremblay: 7-6
This was an awesome ride for Tremblay at Gopher Dunes. Always a great sand rider, Tremblay used some good starts and his ultra-smooth style to finish inside the top ten at his first national of the year.
8. Mike Alessi: 18-1
No, this is not a typo, sadly Alessi finished 18th in moto one due to the fact that he ran out of fuel with two laps to go. Even if you’re not a fan, you had to feel bad as he was by far the fastest rider on Saturday and put on quite a show. In moto two, Alessi pushed hard to get a gap that would allow him to stop for fuel late in the race. The stop only lasted a few seconds and he rode off to victory. He has definitely helped make 2014 an exciting year so far in Canadian motocross.
9. Nathan Bles: 8-9
Considering Nathan wasn’t going to race Gopher Dunes a week ago, I’d say he had a pretty good day. After his great finish on Saturday, Nathan will now contest all of the eastern rounds. This is great news as Nathan is a hard working kid who deserves a little more support. Maybe his finishes this summer will lead to something for next year? Only time will tell.
10. Mike Brown: 6-11
It was great to see the legend Mike Brown at Gopher Dunes on his ultra-trick looking Husqvarna. Considering he doesn’t ride that much moto anymore and the fact that he’s in his forties, Mike rode well in the sand and had a lot of fans cheering for him. He will be here for the next two rounds, which is great news for the series and the Husqvarna brand.
So there’s your top ten from round five at Gopher Dunes. It was certainly an awesome day of racing and a great event all around. If this is what the rest of the east is going to be like, then we’re all in for treat. Also, congratulations to Eve Brodeur for her dominating win yesterday at the opening round of the 2014 CMRC Eastern Canadian Women’s Nationals. Now everyone moves east to the Ottawa area and the Sand Del Lee track. Just like in 2013, these next few rounds will be pivotal for all of the championship contenders in both classes. As we saw on Saturday, anything can happen in the heat and the sand that the east brings to the series. It’s going to be a great next few weeks. Finally, I’d like to send a big happy birthday out to John Nelson who told me on Saturday when I asked him for an interview that he is now “Just a guy”. I still have no idea what he meant but he declined the interview. Anyway, Happy Birthday John! I hope everyone has a great week and we’ll see you at Sand Del Lee.