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The Monday Gate Drop Presented By Yamaha Motor Canada

Good day and Happy Monday! I first want to begin this week by sending thoughts and prayers to the fine people on our east coast. This past weekend’s storm looked extremely nasty and I hope everyone is safe and able to rebuild anything that was destroyed. Also, in keeping with the weather and how unpredictable it can be. The forecast for Red Bud this past weekend sure changed quickly from the sunshine and mild temperatures that were predicted. As you all saw or experienced first-hand the rain was at times heavy yesterday at Red Bud as the best riders on the planet gathered to do battle. Thankfully, the rain did stop at certain times during the day and the conditions didn’t get so bad that they affected the outcome. The best team won yesterday.  Team USA and their hometown fans should be proud.

Now, I want to premise all that I’m about to write by saying that I did not go to Red Bud this weekend. Instead, I opted to stay at home and watch the racing on television. Thankfully, there were a few free ways to stream all three motos yesterday. My family and I (and Tyler Gibbs because we’re neighbours at the moment) all gathered in my living room to watch the motos and cheer for our boys in red and white. It was hard not being there for sure. The best part of not being at Red Bud was that in between motos yesterday my son, Tyler, and I rode some of our own motos. It was a fun day and we even did a 30-minute moto at the end of the day to honour Team Canada and the effort they put in. Regardless of our team’s results, yesterday was just a great day to be a fan of motocross. To see the crowd at Red Bud as well as the high level of racing was just incredible. My dad took me to the 1987 MXON at Unadilla and other than the rain and mud, the one thing that I remember was the unbelievable atmosphere. The crowd was insane! To hear them cheer each time either Rick Johnson, Jeff Ward, or Bob Hannah slithered by in the deep mud most certainly has an everlasting place in my memory bank. I’m sure it was the same for everyone this weekend who were trackside and braving the elements to cheer on their favourite team at Red Bud.

So while I was wrong about the weather forecast last week as well as my prediction that Team Canada was going to have an incredible finish yesterday, there were a few things I did get right (a few of the easy things I suppose). The first thing I and pretty much everyone else in North America got right was that Team USA dominated all weekend long. Yes, there were times when Team Australia and Team France were close but overall Team USA was just too strong. Eli Tomac had one of his best days ever at this event, Chase Sexton kept his HRC Honda on two wheels when it mattered most, and Justin Cooper rose to the occasion and proved that he is one of the best 250 riders on the planet. It was especially rewarding for Cooper as many had doubts about him when he was chosen for Team USA. Yes, I’m happy to say that another thing I got correct was that Cooper was by far the best pick for Team USA. I don’t think that Christian Craig or Justin Barcia would’ve hurt Team USA’s chances of winning yesterday, but they wouldn’t have won the MX2 class and gave America that kind of dominating result. In the end, Cooper did his part and it was great to see Team USA end their long dry spell at this event. They deserved to win and to do it in front of their hometown fans was truly special. The celebrations looked insane last night and I’m sure everyone is waking up this morning with a headache. However, I still can’t wrap my head around trying to blow up an engine as a way to celebrate a big win. I don’t know why but it actually bothers me, and I’m not even a mechanic. Maybe since they’re factory motors, the parts are destined for the recycling bin anyway, who really knows?

Now onto Team Canada and once again we’re sadly talking about what could’ve been instead of what was. As I mentioned earlier I was quite certain that our boys were going to have a much better day overall than they did and those feelings were reinforced when they drew the 7th gate pick on Friday. Obviously, what gate you pick is purely by chance so when we picked lucky #7 I once again thought the stars were aligning. On Saturday, our team rode solid, and heading into Sunday we were in a decent position to do well. Even after Dylan Wright crashed 20 feet out of the gate in his qualifier and had to charge back to a 10th place finish I wasn’t at all concerned. Dylan’s final moto ride yesterday was amazing but his qualifier ride on Saturday was almost equally as good. His lap times were good enough to have him near the top 5 against some of the best in the world. We all knew with Dylan’s speed and with the type of season he had in 2022 that he would be good this weekend and I think he lived up to everyone’s expectations. So with a solid day of qualifying on Saturday what went wrong yesterday to keep Team Canada outside of the top 10? Well, as usual, it wasn’t just one thing but a series of events that cost us on Sunday.

First, there was some big miscommunication on Sunday morning when Team Canada headed out for their only practice session. Our team had received an official sheet from the FIM stating they were supposed to be in a certain group for practice. When they all got to the starting line, they were told by the officials that they were in the other group. You can imagine the frustration and confusion when Team Canada personnel showed the officials the sheet they had been given but were then told it didn’t matter what their sheet said. Since that group was already on the track Team Canada wasn’t allowed out. Dylan Wright did go out for one lap before getting pulled off but McNabb and Medaglia didn’t get any practice. Again, I wasn’t there so I’m only going by what I heard. If this is what happened, in my opinion it’s a black eye on the FIM. Given the situation and the fact that our team was given the wrong list then at that point, the FIM should’ve been able to make a quick amendment to this particular rule and either allowed our riders to join the session already on the track or go out in the other group. Safety should always come first and not allowing our riders or any of the riders to practice before their motos compromises their safety. It’s not right and I hope Team Canada’s Manager Carl Bastedo and the CMA write a strongly worded letter to the FIM demanding an explanation.

Dylan Wright salvaged his day yesterday with a 10th in the final moto. Photo by Niklas Hampinen

So with little or no practice, our boys headed out for their first moto and on the opening lap, Dylan Wright was involved in a big pile-up where he got run over and had his gear shredded. With teammate McNabb also far back on lap 1, it was safe to say that the day was not starting well for Team Canada. Then in moto 2, McNabb’s bike had what most feel to be electrical issues on the sight lap and he didn’t end up even starting the race. Medaglia didn’t get off to a good start on the challenging Red Bud track and he ended up in 29th place. Obviously, with the track being what it was as well as the high level of competition in all three motos, charging back from a bad start was extremely difficult and really, the only rider we saw do it was Dylan Ferrandis. With a couple of finishes outside of the top 20 as well as DNS the final moto for Team Canada was all about pride and trying to end the day on somewhat of a high note. Thankfully, that is exactly what they did as Tyler nursed his sore hand (he hurt it again this weekend when he got clipped by another rider) home to finish 29th again and as I mentioned above Dylan had one of the best motos of his career to finish 10th. In the final moto, Dylan beat Jago Geerts who finished second in the opening moto, and his lap times were only a few seconds off the leaders. All of this while he could barely throw a leg over his bike before the moto. What a great way to end Dylan’s incredible 2022 season! As you can see it was a tough day for Team Canada but as always our boys did us proud. I also think a big shout-out needs to go to Derek Schuster who organized a lot of the effort this weekend. Our team not only used the GDR Honda truck but also used a few of the GDR team’s support staff as well. Travelling to this event, even when it’s as close as Red Bud isn’t easy, so good work to all that made it happen.

So the 2022 MXON is now a part of motocross history and I’m sure no one will ever forget what happened yesterday. With four long years between visits to North America who knows how long it will be before the MXON returns to this side of the Atlantic? Hopefully, it’s not too long and hopefully, it returns to Red Bud as the track and local area have proven to be great hosts for this iconic event. In Canada, this coming weekend it’s time to change our focus from the MXON to the Triple Crown AXTour as the series visits Sarnia on Friday and Saturday. It’s been a while since this series has been indoors and in a more traditional AX setting. It will be fun to see some more bar banging action this weekend. It all gets underway on Friday evening and if there are any amateur riders out there who want to race, there will be classes on Friday and Saturday. Friday will see only 50cc Electric and multiple pit bike classes race while Saturday will have an Open Vet as well as an Open Youth class added to the schedule. However, due to arena restrictions, there will be no two-strokes allowed this weekend. I know it’s too bad as this policy eliminates a few of the most entertaining classes but the arena in Sarnia is not well ventilated and the fire marshals don’t want a repeat of what has happened in years past when the building filled up with smoke. Anyway, the racing should be great and it’s going to be fun to see the likes of Thompson, Harrison, Wrozyna, Gibbs, Amyotte, Ward, and maybe even Blackmer battle on the tight Sarnia AX track. See you there!

Next up is the Sarnia AX this weekend! Photo by James Lissimore

Well, that is it for me this week. I hope everyone has a great final week of September. Again, I know the day didn’t go as planned for Team Canada but our riders and crew deserve a ton of credit for taking on the world’s best riders and not giving up. Next year France will host the MXON so you know Team France will want to get the Chamberlain Trophy back in 2023. Finally, I want to wish my son Ayrton a big happy birthday on Wednesday as he turns 15 on the 28th. It’s also Ryder McNabb’s birthday so best wishes to him as well. Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions please feel free to email me at chris@mxpmag.com.

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