Northern Notes: Long weekend EH

By Danny Brault

Marge: “Homer, work called. They said if you don’t come in today, don’t bother coming in on Monday.”

Homer: “Woohoo—four-day weekend!”

I suppose this quote from The Simpsons refers more to Homer’s laziness and not a ‘true’ long weekend, but it popped into my head this morning as we anxiously enter a three day weekend, in which we celebrate Easter and the Big Guy being risen up, or a bunny that lays chocolate eggs, whatever floats your boat I suppose.

No matter what your focus is during Easter weekend, I’m sure everyone is thankful to have a shortened work-week and more time to spend working on the house, enjoying hearty meals with family and, of course, getting in more seat-time on their dirt bike. I will be getting my fill of family and food this weekend, but sadly, no riding for this cat…. Now that I’m no longer working for an OEM and don’t have access to bikes to mooch, I’m forced back into reality and must actually purchase a bike if I want to ride.

That’s more than fine; I’m honestly looking forward to buying my own bike and not playing the “beg, borrow or steal game.” Which bike would I buy right now? Honestly, I don’t feel the need to have the latest and greatest (but if I had the cash, I would spend it all on a KTM 350 SX-F… love that bike!); I would be more than happy to have a good used 250 two-stroke, or whatever hot deal that I find on Kijiji. I’ve come to learn that it doesn’t matter what you’re riding as long as you’re riding.

Jeremy Medaglia's new MotoConcepts Honda CRF250R

Jeremy Medaglia’s new MotoConcepts Honda CRF250R following a fresh beating at Alessi’s camp in Florida.

Jeremy Medaglia, on the other hand, is a little more particular when it comes to what bike he is riding and racing on. So what is Jeremy riding these days? He’s on a brand new MotoConcepts CRF250R! This week the 2014 Canadian Arenacross Champion has been breaking in his new ride, which he’s piloting during the Rockstar Energy Drink Motocross Nationals and select rounds of the AMA Nationals. In speaking with Jeremy last Friday, I learned that his opportunity with MCR is the real deal; not only is he racing for the team on the weekends, but he’s also spending his weeks between and an entire summer riding and training with the Alessi crew in Florida.

“Yep, I’m going to be down south from now until September,” says Medaglia, who is hoping this opportunity will lead him into some AMA Supercross action next winter. “Nothing is for sure yet as far as supercross goes, but I feel this is my best chance I have to get to where I want to be and achieve the goals I have set for myself.”

It was an interesting conversation Jeremy and I had, quit candid and open, and you’ll read the full scoop in the next issue of MXP Magazine (which is to hit subscribers and newsstands shortly before Round 1 of the Canadian Nationals). We went through Jeremy’s history of jumping from team to team and bike to bike, and while some of us (me included) feel the young Canadian could have shown more loyalty during his career, he sees it from another perspective.

“The deal with MX101 Yamaha was great and I appreciate everything they did for me,” he says. “But, as things got moving along, I realized that it wasn’t quite going in the direction I felt it should. I have things I want to do and a pro racing career is really short, so I did what I felt was best for me.  Do I regret leaving MX101 to race for Cycle North? No, I don’t because I went on to win my first pro championship and now I have this great opportunity with MotoConcepts. I believe everything happens for a reason and this is probably going to be best chance I have at racing at the highest level and winning a championship.”

It’s hard to disagree with that; MCR is going to allow Jeremy the chance to spend more time down south, learning from Mike Alessi and his crew (which could be a good/ bad thing depending on who you ask), race AMA events and possibly lead him into the pinnacle of racing – Supercross. It is unfortunate things had to go the way they did as I know the MX101 crew was let down when Jeremy took off to race arenacross on a Cycle North Honda with little to no heads up, but poop happens and I’m sure everyone will move onward and upward.

Did you know? Every YZ450F sold before May 1st, comes included with a Rockstar Energy Drink bikini model?

Adam Robinson says things are ahead of schedule with preparation of the Rockstar Energy Drink OTSFF Yamaha bikes.

One thing is for sure, at this moment and if everyone stays in one piece until Nanaimo, we should see one of the most competitive MX2 classes in a long time. The last few years it seemed to be a two, maybe three man show in the tiddler class, but with Jeremy, Kaven Benoit, Austin Politelli, Shawn Maffenbeier, Topher Ingalls, Dylan Kaelin, Weston Wrozyna, and a long list of others I’m forgetting to call out, 2014 should be a chart-topper. Add in the fact that half of those names are racing two-strokes, things get even more interesting.

I don’t want to say it, but I’m going to get it off my chest: I didn’t believe Swift Current, Saskatchewan’s Shawn Maffenbeier had the speed to win a National moto. There, I said it. I admire his work ethic, determination and steady progression from his early days in the Pro class, but I just never considered him one of the winners. I was happy to see him prove me wrong at the final round in Walton last August, where he won the final MX2 moto of the year, convincingly, on a YZ250 two-stroke. It was a record setting, historical event in Canadian moto. Not only was it Maffenbeier’s first win, but also the first for a 250 two-stroke after the CMRC allowed the bikes to compete in MX2. Who will be the next to win a two-stroke? Benoit, maybe? Ingalls?

Following Maffenbeier’s Walton win, you’d think for sure OTSFF would have him lined him up with another two-stroke for 2014, but not so. After experiencing the all-new 2014 YZ250F, it was decided by Maffenbeier and OTSFF to focus on the thumper.

“That new 250F has a really, really strong engine,” says OTSFF’s crew chief, Adam ‘Stu’ Robinson. “I’ve been speaking to Bobby (Kiniry) almost everyday while they’ve been testing and training in California for the past two months, and he can’t stop talking about how well Shawn is riding right now. He’s riding at all the big tracks down there with the top guys and he’s right there with his speed.”

We know riding ain’t racing, but hopefully Shawn transfers that speed into the Canadian Nationals as it would certainly expand the championship battle. He’s proved that he can win races, he’s in shape and with the Rockstar Energy Drink OTSFF Yamaha team behind him, Maffenbeier has everything needed to bring home the bacon.

In other OTSFF news, Robinson says that Kyle Chisholm is back on the bike after separating his shoulder a month ago while practicing at Chad Reed’s house before the Daytona Supercross. “He’s riding but still unsure when he’s going to race again; it’s day to day for the most part,” adds Robinson. “Kyle’s really excited to come to Canada. He feels it’s a second chance of sorts and something new and refreshing for his career.”

I also found it interesting to see that OTSFF is no longer running RG3 suspension. After running RG3 on their race bikes and operating the ‘RG3 Canada Retail Shop’ for the last few years, OTSFF has switched to Factory Connection. Why the change? Mostly due to more R & D opportunities, says Robinson.

“The switch has gone really well. Whenever you try something new on the bike, often riders don’t feel comfortable and are hesitant to change things up. Fortunately, with Factory Connection, the guys were very happy with the first settings they tried. We’re actually much further ahead than first thought when we made the switch. Next week we have Bobby coming up to Moto Park to do some testing so that should be good.”

Let's give it up for Brock Hoyer! Even while managing his 'traveling mechanic' business, the BC native continues racing as much as posisble, even signing up for last weekend's Seattle supercross.

Let’s give it up for Brock Hoyer! Even while managing his ‘traveling mechanic’ business, the BC native continues racing as much as posisble, even signing up for last weekend’s Seattle supercross.

A quick shout out to BC’s Brock Hoyer for manning up and racing the Seattle Supercross last Saturday night! The Yamaha Motor Canada supported racer made the night show, which is a feat in its own when you don’t race supercross more than once a year, and made it through the night in one piece. His lap times weren’t far off from a qualifying position, but starts are 90 percent of a race and Brock didn’t get a good jump in Seattle. Oh well, you can’t win them all, but good on ya, Brock, for signing up and giving us Canadian fans someone to cheer for.

What exactly are the costs involved for Hoyer or anyone else wishing to take part in one AMA Supercross event? A lot of Canadian racers have stated one reason why they don’t race supercross is because of how expensive it is. Here’s an outline of what Hoyer spent to line up in Seattle:

AMA Entry fee (and mechanic fee): $250 USD
AMA License: $200 USD
CMA Membership Fee: $50
Race fuel for bike: $160
Race tires: $168
Fuel in motor home: $250
Food expenses: $200
Race motor: $1,000
Oversize front brake disc: $250
Front brake line: $150
US health insurance: $80 USD
US phone plan: $40

Now, to be fair, some of those costs are not ‘must-haves,’ but they are items that ensure a solid bike set-up, health and comfort while racing abroad. So one weekend racing AMA Supercross costs approximately $2,500 to $3,000 ($2,798 for Hoyer’s Seattle weekend) for a privateer. Not cheap, but hey, the memory and experience is worth it, right?

Had Brock Hoyer spent the coin on hiring this Expert wrench, surely he would have qualified in Seattle.

Had Brock Hoyer spent the coin on hiring this Expert wrench, surely he would have qualified in Seattle.                             Photo by James Lissimore

The wacky and wild headline of the week (that still requires official confirmation before we get too depressed) is that Red Bull is downshifting and pulling back on their investment in Canadian motocross. It’s not overly shocking since it has been hinted at for the past six months, but now the rumour is sounding more like a reality.

I tried getting a hold of Red Bull Canada’s athlete manager, Fergie Cancade, yesterday for a comment but didn’t get an answer. He told me “to drift” and then just hung up… I’m kidding. I left a voice mail for Fergie to give me a call back for an official word but never heard back. That said, I did speak with Red Bull Canada’s business director, JD Wheeler, and while he couldn’t say much as it’s not his job or decision, I could sense in the tone of his voice that things aren’t looking good for RB to be back with KTM or Colton Facciotti.

“It’s really not my place or job to comment on this, but Red Bull Canada is entering our 10th year of business in Canada, and while we enjoyed 50% growth most years, the market is getting more competitive and budgets aren’t what they used to be. It’s tough to be everywhere.”

I checked in with KTM Canada’s Race Manager, Andy White, and asked if Red Bull will be back with their factory team this year. He says at this point, only with Tyler Medaglia. This causes some financial burden to KTM; with Red Bull not signing on again, this means that Mr. White must now purchase a new awning and decal wrap for the big semi … maybe he could sell the awning on eBay and recoup a few bucks? Aw, the joys of running a race team!

Sad news, for sure. Red Bull is a major player in the action-sports world, obviously, and invested a lot into Canadian motocross since their early days in 2006 with Dusty Klatt when he rode for the Blackfoot Honda team. Back then, Klatt was the only athlete dawning a Red Bull lid and now it’s looking like Tyler Medaglia carries that lone-honour in 2014.

But hey, there won’t be any shortage of sugar and taurine at the Nationals this summer; we still have Rockstar Energy Drink as title sponsor of the series and the OTSFF Yamaha Team and Monster Energy continues backing the Leading Edge Kawasaki team. It’s go-team-go!

The race season begins on the East Coast of Canada this Friday and Saturday with the Annual Springhill Arenacross taking place. Did you know: Springhill is not only the hometown of living legend Ryan ‘The Newf’ Lockhart but also Canadian songbird, Anne Murray? Got to love these homely little Canadian towns churning out superstars in all shapes and forms.

It should be a great event with quite a few top pros signed up. It’s also an opportunity for folks to support and donate to the Team Canada Motocross of Nations program. The Team Manager, Ryan Gauld, is guaranteed to be there so open up your wallets and toss a few bucks into the hat to support our troops in Latvia this fall.

All right, time to enjoy this three-day weekend. Woohoo!