By Danny Brault
Photos by James Lissimore
In only two more sleeps the 2014 Rockstar Energy Drink Motocross Nationals begin at The Wastelands in beautiful Nanaimo, BC. Before we know it, August will be here and everyone will be in Walton, anxiously waiting for time away from a dirty and dusty dirt bike track. But right now, we’re fresh, hungry and pumped to get things going!
When looking at the CMRC National Race Day Schedule, it’s no wonder the good times pass by without much of a chance to breathe and take it all in. For 10 weekends, from sunrise to sunset, track workers, riders, teams, mechanics, and series staff are going wide open. There really is no time to kick back and relax; everyone is multi-tasking and working hard to stay on schedule. It’s ‘go, go, go’ until the checkered flag waves, and even after that, there is still lots of work to do.
As we approach Round 1 of the series, let’s take a look at the Race Day Schedule and see what happens when:
PRO MX National Race Day Schedule
(Saturday or Sunday, depending on which round. Nanaimo, Regina, Gopher Dunes and Moncton are being held on Saturdays, since they feature post-race rock concerts. All others take place on Sunday.)
7:30am Pro Riders Meeting
Riders Meeting is like that quiet time at the beginning of a school day, when the teacher tells everyone to settle down, take a seat and prepare for a day of learning. Instead of a teacher, we have CMRC pro referee, Paul Kingsley, taking charge and making sure ‘students’ are well aware of the basic rules and conduct to be shown at the racetrack. Most riders don’t listen too intently. They’re either sharing stories of how they got some waitress’s phone number at dinner the night before or complaining about why their gear company only sent them two sets of gear, rather than paying attention to the dos and donts of the nationals.
8:00am to 9:10am – MX2 & MX1 practice sessions (two groups for each class)
Time to hit the track for the first time of the weekend! Depending on the weather, which track we’re at or rider you ask, the course is either too dusty, too wet, too many jumps or it’s not technical enough. Impossible to keep everyone happy, especially motocrossers, but it’s too late to make any changes so the show must go on.
Every rider approaches practice differently. For guys like me, we feel the need to go out and win practice. The track is tilled, smooth and our bikes and gear will never look better all day. Then, usually on the first lap, we drop the bike and instantly we’re covered in mud, our helmet peak is torn off and our pride is destroyed. Other riders, meanwhile, take their time in practice, not feeling the need to go hog-wild until the motos begin. Watch Colton Facciotti, he literally tip toes around the track in practice (and sometimes in qualifying) but when the actual racing begins, he’s all business. Lap times don’t mean a thing until the gate drops.
Each practice session is 15 minutes long, giving riders just enough time to get comfortable and figure things out before qualifying begins.
9:20am to 10:40am – MX2 & MX1 timed qualifying
All you have to do to qualify for a Canadian National is lay down one-fast-lap. How hard can that be? The trick is to have your mechanic duct tape your throttle wide open and then hold on tight. Works every time. The truth is, it’s harder than most think, to put down one really fast lap and qualify for a pro national. Yes, for a guy like Mike Alessi or Tyler Medaglia, they don’t sweat over making it into the show, but even for them, it’s never easy stringing together one solid lap to guarantee that top gate pick.
There are other riders on the track, all trying to set fast laps, so you’ve got to be careful not to get tangled with another competitor. If you make a mistake, do you throw away that lap and wait for another one to begin? What if your bike breaks or isn’t working well? There’s always the LCQ timed qualifier, but nobody wants to “chance” that.
My predictions for fastest qualifying times in Nanaimo?
1. Colton Facciotti
2. Mike Alessi
3. Tyler Medaglia
1. Jeremy Medaglia
2. Austin Politelli
3. Kaven Benoit
10:40am – Support Class Practice
It was the Women’s Pro Nationals that separated the MX2 and MX1 classes on national race day, but that changed a few years ago and now the Women are featured on the day before or after the National. I am unsure who is the support class this year in Nanaimo, but they get the good (or bad) fortune of experiencing pro national racing conditions.
10:50am – Track Maintenance
Last year Derek Schuster did a great job of managing track changes and conditions at many of the Nationals. He’s back again this year and will be making sure every course is tough, technical and offers multiple racing lines (and several sections of rolling whoops, just in case the track doesn’t get rough enough).
11:00am to 11:30am – MX2 & MX1 Timed LCQ
If you didn’t make the cut in Timed Qualifying, here’s your ‘last chance.’ If you don’t go Ricky Bobby fast in this short 4-lap heat, you might as well put in your beer and burger order at the concession stand, because you’re playing role of spectator today. Or be a gent, save the hang over and help a buddy who did qualify, by washing his bike or cleaning an air filter. Hey, you’ve already spent your money and drove all that way, might as well be productive.
11:30am – Track Maintenance
Considering all of these track maintenance breaks, let’s hope that Schuster doesn’t forget to put gas in Facciotti or Wrozyna’s bike because he’s too busy playing in the dirt!
11:50am – Opening Ceremonies
“Oh, Canada …” let’s go racing! Opening ceremonies at the Canadian Nationals may not feature the same glitz and glamour as AMA Supercross events, but they still deliver a warm and fuzzy feeling with the national anthem being played, top racers being introduced to the crowd and transitions nicely into MX2 moto one.
12:00pm – MX2 Hot Lap
As a fan, this is your LCQ to grab a cold beer before racing begins. As a rider, this is where you take your time, investigating the track for the best lines, places to pass and visualize the race to come. Oh, and riders, don’t be afraid to have some fun on the hot lap–throw out some whips and wheelies, please and thank you. This isn’t golf, let’s get the crowd fired up and make some noise!
12:10pm – MX2 Moto #1
Up first we have the MX2 class, which includes 250 four-strokes and 125/ 250 two-strokes. Each moto is 25 minutes long plus two laps (MX1 is 30 minutes plus two laps, and believe me that extra five minutes feels more like 50 when you’re not in “race shape.”)
12:45pm – Track Maintenance
Hey, Schuster, step away from the sandwich cart and get back on the Dozer! Rather than grooming the entire track, most of it is left ‘as is’ but jump faces and overly rough sections receive TLC to ensure the track offers lots of lines and great racing for fans and racers.
1:00pm – MX1 Pro Hot Lap
Same as above, re: MX2 Pro Hot Lap, except these warriors are running 450cc four-stroke machines and there could be the odd 250 two-stroke out there, but odds are those smokers have entered MX2.
1:10pm – MX1 Pro Moto #1
Racing at all levels is to be admired and respected, but there’s something about watching 40 fast guys revving up their 450s that gets your heart pumping. These are the big dogs! What a group we have this year … Facciotti, Alessi, T. Medaglia, Josh Hill, Kiniry, Kyle Chisholm, Teddy Maier, Hoyer … it’s difficult to set a confident prediction with these names on the line. Considering his experience in Nanaimo, and relaxed riding style that caters to The Wastelands, I’m going with Facciotti for another moto sweep, same as last year.
1:45pm – Track Maintenance
What in the heck is with all of this maintenance stuff? Isn’t this motocross, and isn’t The Wastelands track built upon one solid rock? Shouldn’t take that long to move around a few specks of topsoil. Just kidding.
2:15 – Support Class Moto
Lunch time! Sad to say, but the truth is that most don’t pay too much attention to the Support class. It’s a long, busy day, so fans, riders, teams and staff take this time to get re-organized and prepared for the final two pro motos of the day.
2:30pm – MX2 Pro Hot Lap
We already went over this and not much changes for the second moto Hot Lap. However, depending on what happened in the first moto, lines may have changed and riders are searching for what smooth lines are left. No matter how bad things went in moto one, a rider can always redeem themselves with a strong result in moto two. Never surrender.
2:40pm – MX2 Pro Moto #2
There’s no holding back in this 30-minute race. Time to make it happen before the circus folds up and travels to the next town!
3:10pm – Track Maintenance
At this point, Schuster is wondering what he was thinking: managinga professional race team AND maintaining the track?! By round two he’ll admit that he bit off too much.
3:30pm – MX1 Pro Hot Lap
It’s hot, dry and dusty, but we’ve still got one more moto to go. Hang in there guys.
3:40pm – MX1 Moto #2
And they’re off! That’s the last moto of the day, Jack.
Following every MX2 and MX1 moto, the top three moto finishers are interviewed at the podium, taking questions on stage from Ryan Gauld or Marc Travers, the media and television crew. After the second motos, the top five overall racers in each respective class are brought up onto the box, and the top three earn the right to uncork the champagne (you can tell which riders really know how to have a good time by the way they drink from the bottle and don’t waste every drop showering their competitors or fans).
Okay race fans, get those beers on ice and get ready for the opening round of the Canadian motocross series! To keep in touch with the latest race updates from Nanaimo, please bookmark these links: