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The Monday Gate Drop Presented By Yamaha Motor Canada

Greetings everyone, and welcome to the first Monday of February. In Southern Ontario, we finally had a sunny and mild weekend for the first time in 2024, and that was on the heels of our astute little rodent Wiarton Willy, who did not see his shadow last week on Groundhog Day. Yes, at this time all signs point to an early Spring, and hopefully an early riding season. Of course, don’t tell that to the unfortunate people on the East Coast who appear to be just getting hammered with snow. I know, winter isn’t over yet by any means, but these short Spring teasers we get during this time of the year sure feel good.

Ford Field doesn’t have the some vibe as the old Pontiac Silverdome, but it’s still awesome when SX comes to town.

The weather was also good in Detroit for Round 5 of the 2024 Monster Energy Supercross Series. Now, obviously with the race taking place inside the beautiful confines of Ford Field, it didn’t matter what the weather was like outside. However, for anyone who has attended a Supercross inside a stadium with a roof, having good weather outside just makes the experience that much more enjoyable. These days, whenever the Detroit SX comes up on the schedule it makes me miss the old Pontiac SX, which I attended many times both as a racer, and as a spectator. With the Pontiac Silverdome being easy to get to, easy to park at, and relatively cheap to stay nearby, it was a great venue to hold a SX. Not to mention the that Silverdome for whatever reason just had a cool vibe inside, and the racing was always entertaining. Ford Field has been a nice placement for the Pontiac Silverdome, and over the past several years downtown Detroit has been revamped quite a bit, but it’s just not the same as the old Pontiac SX.

With everything that Austin Forkner has been through in recent years, it was great to see him take the win in Detroit.

This is the earliest that the Detroit SX has taken place, so with winter still going on in Michigan, there were some concerns about how the dirt was going to be. I’m not sure where they get the dirt for this race, or where it gets stored during the winter months, but the track did look okay inside Ford Field. Yes, there were some ruts, and yes, the track did break down quite a bit during the main events. However, it’s early February and the series is racing in normally frigid Lower Michigan. All things considered, I thought the conditions were decent, and even though the Detroit track design was simple by today’s standard, the ruts, and the short start-straight kept the riders on their toes all day long. This was the opening round of the 250SX East class, so there was some additional hype surrounding that. Young riders like Haiden Deegan and Daxton Bennick were all set to battle series Vets like Austin Forkner, Cameron, McAdoo, and Jeremy Martin. The start of any series is always exciting, and to have the opening round in the Motor City was kind of cool. As I mentioned above, there is a lot of rich racing history in both the Detroit area, as well as in the State of Michigan. In the end, the 250SX East main event was decided in the first turn as there was multi-bike pile up that claimed top riders like Deegan, Vialle, and McAdoo. This allowed Forkner to set sail and grab what appeared to be an easy win. Max Anstie kept him close, but wasn’t able to make any attempts at a pass. Deegan would race his bent and twisted Star Racing Yamaha to a lonely 16th place finish, which was admirable. If he hadn’t rode around for the opening lap flipping the bird to the riders he thought caused the crash, I would’ve said job well done to young Danger Boy. However, if you’re going to race in the pro class, and be one of the stars of the sport, then you have an obligation to act professionally, regardless of the situation. Grow up, race your dirt bike, and try and set a good example to the thousands of young fans that are watching your every move. Imagine if Connor Bedard took a nasty hit (which he did last month) and then skated around the ice giving the finger to the player he thought hit him? I would guess that it wouldn’t be tolerated by the media, the fans, or the NHL. Anyway, congratulations to Austin Forkner on his big win in Detroit. I like watching him ride and I hope that he can remain healthy all season long. If he does, then he will continue to win races.

Chase Sexton didn’t win the Detroit SX, but his second place finish behind Jett Lawrence gave him the 450SX class points lead heading into Round 6 in Glendale.

Heading into Round 5 the 450SX class riders were fresh off the most exciting round of the series thus far at Angel Stadium in Anaheim. Round 4 with its Triple Crown format produced three different main event winners, as well as a plethora of hype heading into Detroit. Aaron Plessinger held the red plate, but it was only by the skin of his teeth as former champions like Chase Sexton, Cooper Webb, Eli Tomac, and Jett Lawrence were not far behind the popular KTM rider from Ohio. Many felt that Plessinger was the favourite heading into Round 5 because of his near win last year. Remember, he had the main event won in 2023 before a scary final lap crash ended his chances. It was heartbreaking to watch so I could understand why people were pulling for Plessinger to redeem himself this year. Sadly, for Aaron and his legion of fans, a victory or even a podium finish was not meant to be as he finished well back in 6th place in the 450SX main event. Up front, it was all Jett Lawrence as he rocketed off the gate in the main event and never looked back. This was a Jett Lawrence type track as the ruts and bumps allowed him to use his cerebral riding style to flow around with the speed and precision we’re used to seeing from him. From wheel tapping through the whoop section, to using his perfect balance in the deep ruts, there was no catching Jett Lawrence on Saturday afternoon. Chase Sexton tried, and got close during the middle part of the main event, but lapped riders slowed him and he had to settle for second. Sexton’s strong finish did give him the points lead, and this allows the KTM Team to at least keep the red plates under the tent. Ken Roczen also rode great in Detroit as he came out of nowhere to grab the final spot on the podium. Cooper Webb was fast in the main event as he recovered well to finish in fourth, Anderson was fifth, and Justin Cooper had another strong ride as he turned a 17th place start into a ninth place finish. The only rider that had us scratching our heads was Eli Tomac, who got off to a third place start before slowly fading to tenth. No one saw that coming, and even as I write this there is still no exact answer from the Tomac camp about what happened. Some reports have him getting a flat tire, there has been talk about his shock failing, also issues with his clutch have also been spoken about. I watched a bootleg version of the 450SX main event that was filmed by some dude in the stands. In this video you can see Tomac riding slower than normal and getting passed by multiple riders, but he’s still doing some of the jumps in the rhythm sections. You’d think that if his clutch was fried, or his tire was flat, he wouldn’t be able to still jump stuff. It’s strange and hopefully we know more soon. Hopefully Tomac’s issues weren’t physical and he’ll be back battling for wins this coming weekend in Glendale.

After moments like this in 2023, you’d think Daniel Elmore would have more opportunities presented to him for 2024. This summer Danny will ride a privateer Yamaha in the Triple Crown Series. Photo by James Lissimore

Moving on from Monster Energy Supercross to some Canadian moto news, and it seems that Daniel Elmore has found a home for the 2024 season. Danny announced this morning via Social Media that he will be riding a 2024 YZ450F this summer in the Triple Crown Series. Unfortunately, Danny will not be riding for a team, and instead will be a full privateer. It’s sad and it speaks volumes about what type of rider support there currently is in Canada. If someone like Elmore, who finished fifth overall in the 450 class last summer, and also had a podium finish at Round 5 of the series, can’t find a decent ride, then what the hell is going on? What message does that send to up and coming riders? Work hard, be a good person, finish inside the top five in the premier class, get on the podium once, have a better season than the one before, prove that you’re still getting better, and have to go out and buy a bike the following year. Something doesn’t seem right with that as he certainly deserves something. As we speak though, Danny’s truck is loaded up and he’s heading to South Carolina to ride and train for three months to get ready for the 2024 Triple Crown Series. In other Canadian news, Tyler Gibbs wrapped up his first season in the GT Arenacross Series in the USA by finishing 7th overall on his Creo KTM. Gibbs had a solid series and I’m quite sure he learned a lot. Now, Gibbs and his team will turn their attention to the 250SX East class in the Monster Energy Supercross Series and Round 2 in Arlington. I believe they’re planning on racing the remaining rounds of the 250SX East Series, so that is exciting.

This coming weekend is the opening rounds of the 2024 Rimbey AX in Alberta.

Well, that is it for me this week. As I mentioned above, Elmore is heading south to start riding, Quinn Amyotte, Dylan Wright, and Tyler Medaglia are already there. Tanner Ward and Jess Pettis are heading down very soon, as are the rest of our top riders. The WLTN Kawasaki Team announced last week that they’ve partnered up with OGs Moto for 2024. OGs will be making some custom gear for the team, which is very cool. Yes, it’s February and the wheels of Canadian moto are finally starting to turn! Thank you for reading and have a great week!

The WLTN Kawasaki Team will wear OGs this summer!

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