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The Monday Gate Drop Presented By Yamaha Motor Canada

Greetings! I hope everyone had a great weekend, and if you’re a football fan, the NFL playoff games sure delivered some great excitement. Thankfully, we’re also rolling through January and this coming weekend marks the final weekend of the month. Then, we’re into February and March and then hopefully the first signs of spring.

I want to begin this week with the 2024 Triple Crown Series Schedule that was released last week. This eight round series is slightly different than last year so let’s dig into the changes for 2024. The first major change from last year is that Edmonton is off the schedule completely, and now Wild Rose MX Park in Calgary will host the opening round on June 2nd. I know there were a lot of complaints with the track conditions last year in Edmonton, but overall I thought the venue had a lot of potential as a sustainable host to the Triple Crown Series. It’s sad to see a multipurpose venue like Rad Torque Raceway be a one and done race, but I think the work involved in getting the track more raceable would’ve been just too much. So, the opening round moves south to Calgary to one of the most popular riding facilities in Canada. With all that Wild Rose MX Park is currently going through with the City of Calgary, this is the perfect time for this track to host a prestigious race like the opening round of our National Series. I hope this race turns out to be massive, and I hope it gives yet another example to the city that Wild Rose MX Park is a type of facility and venue that must remain exactly where it is for many years to come.

From Calgary, the 2024 Triple Crown Series moves South to Lethbridge for Round 2. It’s been two decades since Temple Hill Raceway hosted a national so it’s going to feel good to visit this cool track again. I’ve raced two nationals there over the years. The first time I was there was in 1998, and we had very windy conditions throughout the day. Two years later, I was back there again, and the track had made some big improvements, and the weather was great. Temple Hill Raceway will also be hosting the 2024 WCAN so it’s going to be a great week of racing in Lethbridge. For Round 3, the series heads East to Manitoba and to the track in Pilot Mound. The Triple Crown Series visited this cool track in 2022, and although it was hot and windy that day, the riders all loved the layout. These three venue’s should provide some great racing, and a great starting point for the 2024 series. Finally, as it was pointed out in the series press release last week, the Whispering Pines track in Kamloops, BC is planning on returning to the Triple Crown Series schedule in 2025.

As it has for the past several years, Gopher Dunes with host the opening Eastern round of the 2024 Triple Crown Series. Photo by James Lissimore

After the three solid rounds in the West, the series moves East to its customary 5-spots consisting of Gopher Dunes, Sand Del Lee, Riverglade Raceway, Deschambault, and the final round in Walton Ontario. Eight awesome rounds in five different Provinces is certainly going to make for an incredible 2024 Triple Crown Series. Finally, for 2024 there will be no Triple Crown Series indoor rounds in the fall. I’m not sure exactly why as SX and AX has been a big part of the Triple Crown Series program since its inception in 2018. But as stated in the press release, the series has moved away from the indoor portion of the series for at least this year, and that they’re looking at retooling and coming back strong in 2025. As I mentioned above, the 2024 Triple Crown Series kicks off on June 2nd at Wild Rose MX Park in beautiful Calgary.

Cole Thompson was looking good in San Diego.

Moving onto the 2024 Monster Energy Supercross Series and Round 3 in San Diego. Although the conditions weren’t near as bad as last weekend in San Francisco, the track in San Diego did receive a substantial amount of rain on Saturday afternoon. This made for muddy conditions again, and for most of the night it was mostly about survival, and limiting the damage. The track did come around a little for the 450SX main event, but it was still nowhere near a dry raceable track. After last weekend’s quagmire in San Francisco, and then this past weekend in San Diego, the riders, teams, and series personnel must be sick of mud. I know, after two wet weekends in a row I’m sick of watching muddy SX races. Our Canadian riders fared okay in the adverse conditions as Cole Thompson ended up 12th after a solid come from behind ride in the 250SX West main event. Guillaume St-Cyr finished 8th in the LCQ missing the main event by a few positions. Julien Benek was not in San Diego as he travelled back to BC after last weekend to have surgery on his thumb. With this coming weekend in Anaheim being the first triple crown format event of the year, our boys are going to have to be fast in qualifying as there are no heat races. Round 4 also represents the first Supercross Futures race so good luck to Dylan Rempel and Preston Masciangelo. Ryder McNabb will be waiting until the second SX Futures round in Daytona to make his series debut. Finally, the good news is that this weekend in Anaheim the weather is supposed to 24c and sunny!

Aaron Plessinger’s win in San Diego was very popular with fans and the sport in general.

The two biggest stories coming out of San Diego was Aaron Plessinger getting his first-ever 450SX victory, and post-race altercation between Jason Anderson and Jett Lawrence. For Plessinger, this win was huge as it was not only his first 450SX win, but it also gave him the points lead and red plates heading into Anaheim 2. Did anyone have Aaron Plessinger leading the 450SX points after three rounds? If you did then you’re smarter than pretty much everyone in the SX world. I’m not a big fan of Plessinger’s style or technique, but I do admire his work ethic, and his chilled out attitude towards racing and life. Good on him for being the most consistent rider through the opening three rounds while the title favourites have made a plethora of errors. It’s always good to see the nice guy finish first!

Speaking of mistakes. We witnessed a big one by Jett Lawrence during Friday’s media day ride session as he came up about three feet short on a jump combo in one of the rhythm sections. He crashed pretty hard and that resulted in the jammed thumb. This wasn’t the first time he had jumped through the section like that, and other riders were doing the same thing, so it wasn’t like it was an impossible jump combo that he attempted. Still, I’m sure he dented his confidence a little, and detuned himself slightly heading into Saturday. Then in his 450SX heat race, Jett blitzed by Eli Tomac in the slippery whoop section and took the early lead. It was an amazing pass, and I think it shocked everyone watching. However, when he kept doing it on the following laps you just knew at some point he was going to get it wrong; well, he did a few laps later and down he went again. I’m sure that crash didn’t help things both physically and mentally. The other issue with these types of mistakes is that your main rivals begin to see that you are indeed no different than anyone else. Up until last weekend’s mud fest in San Francisco, Lawrence had been pretty much unbeatable for almost nine months. Not just winning races, but making those wins look like a walk in the park. But, after Friday’s crash, Saturday night’s heat race mistake, and then a subpar main event (and post-race temper tantrum), Jett has shown some cracks in his armour, and his competition certainly doesn’t fear him the same way they did two weeks ago. Now, it’s up to Jett to regroup and attempt to get his mental advantage back this weekend in Anaheim. It’s not going to be easy as you can see riders like Cooper Webb gaining more and more confidence by the minute. Webb did the two fastest lap times of the 450SX main on Lap 18 and Lap 19 on Saturday night as he made one final push to catch Plessinger. As they say, Cooper Webb is starting to ‘Feel It” so look out! Finally, I have no issue with the Anderson/Lawrence post-race incident. Obviously, you should never put your hands on another rider, but in those moments emotions are high and it’s easy to be either super happy, or super pissed off. Anderson was doing everything he could do to keep Jett behind him in the main event, and Jett was mad at some of JA21’s tactics. I get it, any one of us would be upset at that, but again, when you’ve been the man to beat for the past nine months, you have to keep your composure in situations like we saw in San Diego. In the end, all it did was show weakness on Jett’s part. As I said, now every rider knows that if pushed, he can become rattled and unglued. Yes, Jett Lawrence is human like the rest of us, and if he wants to win this SX title he needs to re-establish dominance ASAP!

Although Damon Bradshaw wasn’t as successful as we all thought he’d be in Supercross, his aggressive and fearless style was a favourite with fans in the early 1990s.

On another note, with the Monster Energy Supercross Series celebrating it’s 50th Anniversary in 2024, the series used this past weekend in San Diego as their throwback round. Some of the riders and teams were running some very cool gear and graphics and I think on the best was Cole Thompson’s kit. It was also interesting during the TV broadcast that they looked back at some of the different eras of SX, as well as at a few of the former champions. There has obviously been several great eras of this sport, and each one brought with it some incredible racing, as well as a solid foundation for the following era. The 1970s introduced the sport of SX to North America and it seem to fit the time period perfectly. The 1980s introduced both technique and a little bit of flair to SX, as well as some very cool factory bikes. The riders all had long hair and looked as close to rock stars as we’ve ever seen athletes look. The 1990s and the ‘Jeremy McGrath’ era introduced the sport to mainstream America, as Jeremy was a true showman and ambassador to SX. His appearances on the Jay Leno Show was legendary and the sport grew exponentially, as the economy was recovering from a recession. McGrath’s timing in the sport was perfect as the world was getting over the 1980s hangover and looking for something extreme to follow. After that, Ricky Carmichael turned the sport upside with his off the bike work ethic and what followed was some of the best battles ever, between him, James Stewart, and Chad Reed. Ryan Villopoto and Ryan Dungey took the reins from that trio and introduced a serious, no nonsense side of SX that we hadn’t seen up until that point. Every Saturday night, the two Ryan’s put on their hard hats and went to work. They rarely showed emotion, even when they won, but fans didn’t mind because the level of riding was just so high. Now, the Chase Sexton’s and Jett Lawrence’s of the sport are able to look back at all of the past champions and perhaps learn a little from each one. I mean, what rider wouldn’t want to be as smooth as Johnny O’Mara, or as stylish as Jeremy McGrath, or as successful as Ricky Carmichael? If you look at our current crop of riders in the 450SX class I think Jett is the one who has a little bit of every past champion in him, and it’s cool that we’re able to watch him so closely. It’s been an incredible 50 years of SX, and it will be cool to see what the next 50 years holds.

Zach Ufimzeff will be back with the Manluk Yamaha Team for 2024. Photo by James Lissimore

Well, that is it for me this week. In closing, I did get word late last week that Zach Ufimzeff will be riding for Manluk Yamaha in 2024. As of right now, the team isn’t sure about any other riders or what truck they’ll be using. All they know right now is that Zach will be under their tent this summer. That is great news! I hope everyone has a great week. Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions please email them to me at


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