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The Monday Gate Drop Presented By Yamaha Motor Canada

Well, isn’t this exciting, the first Monday of March, and at least where I live, it’s not exactly spring outside. In fact, this past weekend, we received the most snow in one dumping that we have had all winter. Sadly, riding season will have to wait a few more weeks in Southern Ontario. However, for those lucky enough to be done south right now, it is prime riding season, and I hope everyone is having fun.

As I write this, I’m on an Air Canada flight heading south to New Mexico to participate in a media launch for an all-new Can-AM quad. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, I don’t ride quads, and MXP doesn’t always give attention to them. However, a few of the OEMs we work with sell them, and occasionally we collaborate with other media outlets. So when ATV World Magazine needed an experienced media guy to head down to New Mexico to test ride Can-Am’s latest four-wheeled creation, I said, why not. With so much snow at home, it is an excellent time to head down to a place where the forecast calls for 18c and sunny Monday and Tuesday. It’s not riding dirt bikes in Florida, but for two days, it will have to do.

One of the coolest races on the calendar took place in Daytona, Florida, this past weekend. The Daytona SX is always a fun race to watch, whether you’re sitting at home on the couch or in the stands at one of the most famous speedways on the planet. This race has it all, and each year it provides us with a plethora of entertainment, especially in the 450SX class. This year was the same: by the time the gate dropped on the main event, the track was treacherous, and only the strongest and smartest riders would succeed. One rider who came into Daytona with the 450SX points lead and a very formidable history at this race was Eli Tomac. With six main events wins in Daytona to his credit (seven after Saturday night), it’s safe to say that Tomac feels very comfortable on these hollowed grounds. During an interview on Friday’s media day, Tomac said that although he does add a small sand section to his home track before Daytona, this is the only change he makes in his preparation. He would go on to say that to succeed at Daytona, the most important thing is adapting quickly to the ever-changing track conditions. What you see in practice is a far cry from the track you see in your heat race, and so on and so on. As we all witnessed in the main event on Saturday, Tomac adapted quicker and better than his competition. As James Stewart (who was assisting with the television commentary) pointed out, Tomac got faster as the track got rougher and slowed down a little. Whether it was bike set-up or his overall confidence on the rough and rutted Daytona track, Tomac’s final ten minutes on Saturday night was perhaps the best ten minutes we’ve ever seen him ride.

Cooper Webb led the 450SX main event early but wasn’t able to hold off Mr. Daytona Eli Tomac!

Behind Tomac was Cooper Webb, who led early but made a crucial error that allowed Tomac to pass. Chase Sexton finished third after battling with Webb and Tomac early in the main event. Whether the pace was too fast for Sexton’s liking or whether it was bike-related, Sexton couldn’t consistently run the pace of the lead two. Justin Barcia was a solid fourth overall, and honestly, he most likely should’ve finished on the podium. If it had not been for a couple of collisions with Sexton (one sent him off the track at high speed, and the second one put him on the ground), Barcia was determined to grab the final step on the podium. Jason Anderson was a quiet fifth, and other than Tomac, the ride of the night went to his teammate Justin Cooper, who made his way passed Roczen and Plessinger and right to the back tire of Anderson by the checkered flag. The rumour is that this was Cooper’s final 450SX race, as he will now get back on his 250 and start preparing for the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships. Cooper rode great in the 450SX races he competed in this season, and his lap times in Daytona matched those of the leaders, even late in the race. This kid knows how to be successful, so look for him to be really good in 2024, and unless he’s already under contract for next year, look for a few teams to make a run at signing Justin Cooper.

St-Cyr and his fellow Canadians rode well in Daytona but failed to make the main events.

As for our talented Canadian riders in Daytona, they all rode well but could not get good starts when it mattered most. Quinn Amyotte just missed the night show in the 250SX East class, so he had to be disappointed. Both St Cyr and Benek qualified for the night show in the 450SX class and finished inside the top twenty in the LCQ. Before Daytona, there was talk and Social Media proof that Cole Thompson was all set to race an actual 450 in the 450SX class on Saturday, but a mid-week crash made him change his mind. CT has been at it for some time, and if he wants to finish the 250SX West Series off strong, he needs to recharge a little. I love that he wanted to race a 450 this past weekend, but Daytona is not the track to jump on an unfamiliar bike with only a few days of testing. Things can go sideways quickly on a 450 in Daytona, so as much as I wanted to watch Cole compete under the lights of the Speedway, part of me is glad he didn’t. He has bigger fish to fry in a few weeks in Seattle, as he has a great shot of finishing top ten in the 250SX West Series with some more solid results in the remaining races.

Our top pro riders are currently down south working hard! Photo by James Lissimore

Well, the Captain just came on the PA to announce that we will be beginning our descent soon. So with that in mind, I’d better wrap this up. All of our top pro riders are now down south training, and it’s great to hear that they’re all doing well. Dylan Wright is getting back up to speed quickly as he’s currently training at the Lawrence Brothers Compound in Florida with his teammate Jacob Piccolo. I spoke to Jess Pettis this week, and his riding and training are going well. Unfortunately, Tyler Medaglia had bad luck at Sunday’s GNCC event in Florida; his bike malfunctioned and caused him to DNF. Tyler Gibbs, Daniel Elmore, and now Kaven Benoit are training hard at ClubMX in South Carolina. Jeremy Mckie came home for a few days to recharge but he’s now back training hard in Florida. Shawn Maffenbeier told me last week that he loves his new 2023 YZ450F so he’s having fun out in California. This is an exciting time of the year and now all we need is for the snow to melt back home. Thank you for reading, and please wish me luck while I attempt to ride a quad today and tomorrow. If you have any questions or comments, please email me at


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