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The Monday Gate Drop Presented By Yamaha Motor Canada

First off, let me take this opening paragraph to wish everyone a Happy Family Day! For the past several years the third Monday in February has been set aside for this great day so I hope most of you are able to enjoy a little extra family time today. For the thousands of people that traversed through the Motorcycle Show in Toronto this past weekend they certainly could use this day off, as I’m sure many steps were taken inside the Enercare Centre. I’ve made it clear a number of times over the years that I love Motorcycle Shows and honestly, I’ve missed them for the past two years while we’ve had to deal with the pandemic. As a child my Dad used to always take me to these Toronto Shows whether they were at the International Centre by the airport in Toronto or downtown at the CNE venue. Like so many people this past weekend my Dad and I would walk around these shows, look at bikes, talk to individuals from the OEM’s. In those days there used to be a room off to the side where you could duck into for an hour or so and watch motorcycle films. This is where I watched ‘On Any Sunday’ for the first time, and second time, and third time, well you get the point. Over the years I’ve tried to pass these experiences on to my son, so on Friday we headed down to Toronto to spend the day at the Enercare Centre.

The Toronto Motorcycle was very busy this past weekend.

After taking two years off, it was great to see this show return this past weekend. From opening day on Friday to closing last night, the show was one of the best attended we’ve ever seen. For the public, this was a great opportunity to see the new models, sit on them, and also learn about them from all of the staff working there. For the industry, this weekend gave us a chance to see everyone in person, talk about some business, and of course share a few laughs. We had a great time on Friday, although my voice and my back definitely paid the price. All that walking, talking, and standing sure takes it toll on the body. So for everyone who visited the show or spent the weekend working at the show, this Family Day is for you!

Also, on Friday at the show while I was eating lunch with Ryan Lockhart in fact, the press release came out from the WLTN/Canadian Kawasaki/Seven MX Team announcing their team for the upcoming 2023 season. I know from talking to people over the past few weeks and months that there has been a lot of curiosity about when this team would be announced and who would be on it. Well, I can assure everyone that behind the scenes the work was being done on a daily basis trying to sign riders as well as a gear company to sponsor the team. It wasn’t easy but finally on Friday it became official to fans and industry people alike. For 2023, the WLTN/Canadian Kawasaki, Seven MX Team will consist of Tanner Ward (450), Jeremy Mckie (450), and Justin Bogle (250) and all of the riders will be wearing Seven MX gear, which is kind of cool in itself because not many riders wear this clothing. This announcement was also exciting because it makes official Walton Raceway’s involvement with the Kawasaki Team for 2023 and beyond. So good luck to Team Green in 2023 and now let’s take a closer look at their rider line up for this summer and the Triple Crown Series.

Tanner Ward will lead the WLTN/Canadian Kawasaki/Seven MX Team in 2023.

Tanner Ward:

Tanner is coming off a fantastic 2022 race season which saw him 4th overall in his rookie year in the 450 class. Tanner did pretty much everything that was asked of him last year so it’s great to see him return to the Kawasaki Team for another season. Also, despite being in recovery mode during this off-season (due to a knee injury he suffered back in October), Tanner did have a few offers from other teams but he chose to remain with Team Green for 2023. Tanner has been training hard and I believe he will be back on the bike in early April. Although his preparation time will be limited, I’m sure he’ll be good to go when the gate drops on the Triple Crown Series in early June. If he isn’t quite 100% by June, then he’ll have to make the best out of the first three Western rounds and then catch fire in the East. Tanner is a work horse and I’m sure this forced time off the bike has him extremely motivated to find success this summer. I predict big things from Tanner on this second year with the Kawasaki Team.

Jeremy McKie:

Since last year I’ve been a big proponent of Jeremy Mckie racing a 450 in 2023. To me, Mckie is a big strong kid who trains hard off of the bike and brings a lot of focus to his racing. Last year, when given an opportunity with the KTM Factory Team in the 250 class late in the series, Mckie showed a lot of speed and proved that he was ready for the next step. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out between Mckie and KTM for this year so in early January he went out and bought himself a KX450F and headed to Florida to begin training for the 2023 season. Now, at the time Jeremy didn’t know he was going to be part of this team, he just wanted a Kawasaki and wanted to get started learning how to ride a 450. I love this commitment and I love when riders invest in themselves and now Mckie has his dream shot and a chance to make things happen in the 450 class. Mark my words, this kid will turn some heads t his summer. McKie may need a few rounds to figure out how racing works in the 450 class, but once the Triple Crown Series gets to the tracks he likes in the east, particularly Riverglade, Deschambault, and Walton Raceway, he will be one to watch. Quebec needs another young hero in the 450 class to cheer for week-in and week-out the way they used to for Carl Vaillancourt, Marco Dube, JSR, and Kaven Benoit, my money is on Jeremy Mckie to be that rider in the next few years.

Justin Bogle:

The Justin Bogle coming to Canada rumour began months ago and it’s exciting that it is now a reality. I did some digging last night into Bogle’s past outdoor results in the USA and you have to go back to 2019 to see his name in the top ten in a series final points standings. In 2019, he finished 9th overall in the 450 class. In 2017, he ended up with an impressive 6th overall in the 450 class, and finally, you have to go all the way back to 2014 when he finished 5th overall in the 250 class. Yes, it’s been a while since Justin Bogle has found success outdoors, especially on a 250, but he does bring a good amount of pedigree with him to the WLTN/Canadian Kawasaki/Seven MX Team this year. Bogle will race a KX250F this summer against a plethora of our young and fast kids and to me this is going to be an incredible story line. As we sit here right now I do question whether or not Bogle will have the raw speed to beat Ryder McNabb or Jacob Piccolo? However, with his years of experience racing in the USA it’s not going to take him long to figure out how to use that experience to his advantage. Add in another older rider in Kaven Benoit this summer and we really will have two veteran riders going against the kids in each moto of the 250 class. Great job to the new WLTN/Canadian Kawasaki/Seven MX Team for securing Bogle’s services in 2023, it’s going to be great to have another popular USA rider race in our series once again.

Congratulations to Cole Thompson and Julien Benek on their fine rides this weekend in Oakland.

Moving on from the new Kawasaki Team to the racing in Oakland this past weekend and boy did Cole Thompson and Julien Benek make us proud. For Thompson, he was able to turn a bad start into a solid top ten finish as he ended up 9th overall in the 250SX West class. It was a quiet charge to 9th for Cole and I’m not sure if he’s getting enough credit for just how well he’s riding right now. I know from talking to a few people Cole is dealing with a few nagging injuries but when the gate drops for the main event I’m sure the pain all goes away. I haven’t heard yet whether or not Cole will line up in Arlington this weekend in the 450 class, but I do know he’s trying to get a new YZ450F so he can ride more east events in the coming weeks. As for Benek, what a wild ride he’s been on for the past year as it seems like every time things begin to go in the right direction he suffers some sort of injury. Well, on Saturday evening he proved that hard work and self belief do pay off as finally he qualified for his first 250SX West main event. Julien was even able to holeshot the 250SX West LCQ and lead a few laps for all the world to see on television. I hope and prey that he can remain healthy and build some momentum heading into the 2023 Triple Crown Series. Congratulations on a great race in Oakland Julien and good luck in the 450 class this weekend in Arlington.

Cooper Webb once again the track dialed in during the final laps of the 450SX main event.

Overall, I thought the track in Oakland was great for racing on Saturday evening. With a large floor area the track crew had multiple options for what they could do. Sadly, it reminded me of the Toronto SX a few years ago when the track crew could build a very unique track inside the massive Roger’s Centre. Like everyone, I miss the Toronto SX and all that the event had become before it got removed from the Monster Energy Supercross schedule. Anyway, Oakland was super technical this weekend and it most certainly tested the riders in the main events. What is Chase Sexton going to do after tossing away the lead late in the main event for the second time in two weeks. Last week in Tampa, I thought it was just bad line choice through the whoops that caused him to crash. This weekend, I thought he just got a little unlucky when he over jumped the three-in before the mechanics and lost front end traction for a split second. This caused his front end and back end to lose traction almost simultaneously and spin Sexton like a top to the ground. Was it another rider error? Considering he over jumped the triple by a foot and then tried to lean into the corner as if nothing was wrong, yes I would call that rider error from a rider who is very precise the other 99% of the time. A few laps later Tomac did the same thing, but he didn’t crash. The Oakland track was obviously getting very slick in some spots during the second half of the main event and multiple riders were having some big moments, Tomac included on the final lap. After watching last weekend’s crash and this weekend’s crash multiple times I’d say the only parallel between the two is that just prior to both crashes Sexton made an uncharacteristic mistake on another part of the track. Up until these mistakes Sexton was riding two perfect main events. So, I’m wondering if he’s getting caught in something called ‘checking out’ where an athlete is thinking more about the mistake they just made rather than focusing on the present. It’s easy to do and we’ve all done it multiple times, but some do it less and depending on your personality and confidence level at the time, some deal with it better than others. Also, these types of mistakes seem to come from riders who ride very precise the way Sexton does. He expects to put the bike exactly where he wants it on every lap and when he doesn’t, he feels like he failed. Other riders, like Tomac or Webb are precise, but if they miss an intended line or make a mistake, mentally it’s not that big of a deal and they move on quickly. I hope Sexton figures it out as I’d admire his riding and also how he’s dealing with these massive mistakes during his podium interviews. You can hear the hurt and disappointment in his voice, yet he still remains positive and professional.

Well, that is it for me this week. I hope everyone has a great week and I hope you enjoy the upcoming final weekend of February. March will soon be here and you know what that means…Spring-a-ding-ding in most parts of this great country. Finally, let’s give a shout out to the legend Travis Pastrana who finished 11th yesterday in the Daytona 500! I don’t know about you, but when I saw his result last night I couldn’t believe it. Well done TP199! Thank you for reading and if you have any questions or comments please email me at Happy Family Day to everyone in the best family sport in the world!


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