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The Monday Gate Drop Presented By Yamaha Motor Canada

Good day everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend and I hope that all of the Moto-Mom’s out there had a wonderful Mother’s Day yesterday. This is always such a special day as it gives us an opportunity to honour the incredible women who brought us into this world. We had a great weekend here at Palm Springs, we rode all weekend, and of course did whatever ‘Mama Bear” asked us to do. It was nice to get some work done around the house on Saturday and Sunday as soon, our ‘weekend’ life will be getting very busy.

This week I’ll begin with the final round of the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross Series which took place on Saturday evening in Salt Lake City. With the championships already decided in all three classes, all that was left was for the riders to finish the season off strong and of course, stay on two-wheels. Most survived the final round unscathed, with the exception of Ken Roczen, who had to retire from the 450SX main event after twisting his knee on the opening lap. Kenny will have his knee looked at this week. Hopefully it won’t impede on his WSX preparation, which he announced a three-year deal to race this Global Series last week. Anyway, Chase Sexton capped off his 2023 SX Championship season with a dominating win in the 450SX main event and then the Team Honda celebrations began! What a season it has been for the red riders, and while the Lawrence Brother’s success came as no real surprise, I’m not sure too many people out there had Sexton winning the 450SX title. I mean, let’s face it, if Tomac hadn’t gone down last weekend with an injury, then Sexton would’ve finished a quiet second overall and everyone would move onto the outdoor series. But that didn’t happen, and in the end, Sexton outlasted two former 450SX Champions in Tomac and Cooper Webb. With all of Sexton’s late race miscue’s this year, I can guarantee that no one, I repeat no one, predicted this to happen.

After an up and down season Chase Sexton finally got to celebrate his 2023 SX title in SLC! Photo by Matt Wellumson

But it did, and I believe Sexton should be given full credit for winning this title and getting his name into the record books with some of the legends of our sport. Like every young hockey player who grows up dreaming about winning the Stanley Cup, there aren’t too many young motocross riders who didn’t or don’t dream about winning a SX title at some point in their lives. I have the utmost admiration for Sexton, he doesn’t just have the speed and style that we all want on a dirt bike, but how many times this season did he have to stand up on the podium, get a microphone shoved in his face, and have to explain how he could let yet another win slip away with a self-induced mistake. On camera at least, he didn’t cry, he didn’t blame his bike, the track, or another rider. Instead, he shouldered all of the blame himself and he vowed to learn from it and try and be better next time. Mistakes happen, crashes happen, but if you don’t analyze and figure out what went wrong, even if you’re completely to blame, you’re never going to improve, and reach your full potential. I don’t know how Sexton remained positive this season but he did, and his riding since the Atlanta SX has been simply outstanding. With the opening round of the 2023 Lucas Oil Motocross Championships just two weeks away Sexton and his fellow riders don’t have much time to rest and regroup. I feel that if Sexton doesn’t suffer from too big of a SX Championship hangover, than he will be the rider to beat in the 450 class this summer. Jett Lawrence will be good also, and will certainly wins some races, but Sexton will be just a little better. I think Sexton will win the 450 class and Justin Cooper will win the 250 class!

Even though SLC wasn’t kind to Cole Thompson, it’s most certainly been one heck of a past few months for him. Photo by Matt Wellumson

Our own SX hero Cole Thompson had a miserable evening in SLC, and after a heat race crash, he was forced to go to the dreaded LCQ. Cole then started okay in the LCQ but dropped back and fell out of a transfer spot. Cole’s misfortunes opened the door for Derek Kelly to pass him in the final 250SX West points standings where he would finish 10th overall. I can imagine that Cole is bummed with his result in SLC, as a good finish in the main event could’ve moved him up in the final points standings, but I think I speak for everyone when I say that he had an amazing season. Even if you go back to last fall and Cole’s experience in the Australian SX Series, you have to conclude that it’s been one heck of a six-month period for him. With WSX, the Triple Crown Series SX rounds, perhaps some more Australian SX, and whatever is on the horizon, I feel like Cole first needs a little time off to relax, and reflect on the success of the past few months. Not many Canadian riders have performed this well on the world stage!

Jacob Piccolo looks ready to win back the 250 title this summer. Photo by James Lissimore

So, with SX now in the rear-view mirror for a couple months at least, we now can turn our full attention to outdoor motocross. Last week, the GDR Honda Team held their second annual team intro/media day at Gopher Dunes. It was a great day all around, and in particular it was cool to hear Dylan Wright and Jacob Piccolo talk about the upcoming Triple Crown Series. At the end of the day, these are the two individuals who have to perform on the track once the gate drops in a few weeks. The big question is, are they both ready to win races this summer? For Dylan, he’s coming off a perfect season, but back in October he had double knee reconstruction surgery, and wasn’t able to start riding until late February. For Jacob, after winning the 250 title in 2021 he had a sub-par season last year where at times he looked like he didn’t even want to be at the races. Sadly, an injury made that decision for him and he missed the final few rounds. However, I was impressed with Jacob last week as he appeared to be fit, motivated, and ready to take back the 250 title in 2023. Both riders spent the past few months in Florida riding and training with the Lawrence Brother’s, so I think it’s safe to assume that they’re ready to go this summer. Off camera, Dylan spoke to me about some of the bike changes they made to his already solid CRF450R, as well as some of the things he was able to learn from riding with Jett. While listening to Dylan speak, it quickly became clear that his off-season knee surgeries are a thing of the past, and right now he’s 100% ready and motivated to pick up right where he left off last summer. As I said, it was a great day hanging out with the GDR Honda crew, as well as a lot of our industry folks. Thank you to Derek Schuster for inviting me out again.

The 2023 WLTN/Kawasaki/Seven MX Team visited the Inside X studio this morning.

From the red team we now move onto the orange and the most recent news that Kaven Benoit’s dream of racing a 250 two-stroke this summer is over. There have been rumours in the past week that Benoit had begun riding and testing a 250F, so I called him late last week to discuss what was going on. He told me that while he absolutely loved his new Fuel Injected 250 two-stroke, he and the team decided to go with the already proven 250F platform for this summer. Kaven also went on to say that he’s fit, ready to race, and that he wants to win races this summer. So sadly, no two-stroke this summer for Benoit, and that now means that all of the top 250 riders will be aboard four-strokes. With the opening round of the 2023 Triple Crown Series now just 19 days away, all of the riders and teams are doing some final touches on their programs. Last minute test sessions, team photo shoots, and just about everything you can imagine. Tomorrow, I head over to Walton Raceway to meet the new WLTN/Kawasaki/Seven MX Race Team. With the exception of Justin Bogle, all of the riders will be riding and doing photos, so it should be a fun day in Motocross Town!

Last week the Triple Crown Series announced their partnership with this cool new brand.

Well, that is it for me this week. I hope everyone has a great week, and a safe week riding. Finally, last week it was announced that the WCAN, the ECAN, as well as the Walton TransCan are all open for registration, so be sure to sign up ASAP and save your spot. Thank you for reading, and if you have any questions or comments, please email me at chris@mxpmag.com.

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