Greetings and Happy Valentine’s Day week to everyone. On Wednesday we celebrate the day where it’s time to go out and buy something special for the person, or persons, you love and cherish. If you’re not able to make it to a store before Wednesday, then I’m sure a call, text, or any type of message displaying your love for them, will suffice.
One thing that we in Southern Ontario loved last week was the weather. We’ve had a strange winter so far, and last week the temperatures rose well above zero and Gopher Dunes decided to open up their gates for several days of practice. Riding in early February is virtually unheard of in Ontario, so it was great for a few of our riders to dust off their bikes and head out to the most famous sand track in North America. I spoke to a few people, including Steven Simms and Tanner Ward, who headed to Gopher Dunes to do a little testing on the new 2024 KX450, and both said the conditions were really good. Tanner is getting ready to head south this week so I’m sure it felt good to spin a few laps before he leaves. Judging by the forecast for the next several weeks, it looks as though winter is back and it could be several weeks until Gopher Dunes is able to open again. However, thank you to Derek Schuster and his crew for giving everyone a little taste of what’s to come once Spring is officially here.
Out in Rimbey, Alberta, the opening two rounds of the second annual Rimbey AX took place. In just a short time this event has turned into something pretty special, and not only have our western riders embraced it, but so has the entire town of Rimbey. This race is a great example of what happens when you’re able to get the entire community behind it. With 418 entries, and great spectator turn out, the opening weekend was a huge success. Blake Davies was the big winner as he stood on top of the podium in the pro class on both Friday and Saturday evening. The final two rounds go this weekend in Rimbey, so look for even better racing as the riders will have a little more seat time.
From cold Alberta, we move south to the desert and the Round 6 of the Monster Energy Supercross Series in Glendale. Heading into Glendale, all of the riders were excited to be back in the spacious confines of the State Farm Stadium. This is the largest floor of the series, and each year the track designers take full advantage of the extra square footage. Jett Lawrence was coming off his big win last week in Detroit so he had to be feeling better. In listening to Jett speak recently it’s hard to gauge how he’s feeling with his riding. I know his mental state took a bit of a hit after his run-in with Jason Anderson after the main event in San Diego. The following week at Anaheim 2, things didn’t go as planned once again for Jett as he was kept off the top step of the podium. As I mention above, he rebounded nicely in Detroit, and everyone was anxious to see if he could continue his winning ways in Glendale. Well, Jett did ride well enough on Saturday to take back the 450SX points lead, but a bad start, and a collision with Cooper Webb on the opening lap, led to Jett finishing the main event in third. With Chase Sexton riding injured after a mid-week practice crash, and finishing well back in 9th, that opened the door for Jett to grab the red plates.
Aaron Plessinger also had a rough night in Glendale finishing up in tenth place. History has shown that Plessinger doesn’t do well when the conditions are hard packed and slippery, so it didn’t really come as any surprise that he was so far back. The biggest surprise, or disappointment if you want to put it that way was Eli Tomac, who allowed Lawrence to pass quite easily in the closing laps of the main event and take away the final podium spot. That of course, was on the heels of Tomac’s disastrous race last weekend in Detroit. There is definitely something going on with Tomac as he just doesn’t appear to be fighting hard for position. Allowing Lawrence to pass so easily was a perfect example of this. I’m not sure if Tomac’s issues are physical, mental, or mechanical right now, but with the mid-point of the series fast approaching he needs to get things figured out. In recent years, he’s owned Daytona, so with that race coming up in a few weeks, maybe another win there will change everything. Currently, Tomac is 17 points behind Lawrence in the points standings, with several former champions in between. Given Tomac’s age and the fact that he’s coming off a serious injury last year, climbing out of this hole could be the biggest challenge of Tomac’s career.
One rider who didn’t appear to have any issues on Saturday evening was Ken Roczen. Kenny has always been fast on these types of tracks as he’s good at finding traction and getting power to the ground. In the 450SX main event, Kenny grabbed the early lead and never looked back. While other riders struggled on the slippery track, Roczen pulled away and made very few errors. As Roczen said on the podium, “I don’t win very much anymore, so this feels really good.” If Kenny keeps riding like that, then something tells me this won’t be his last win in 2024. Jason Anderson was another rider who rode well in Glendale. Anderson has always found success on dry and hard packed tracks as he’s able to slide the bike around, and steer with his rear tire. On Saturday night, Anderson got off to a solid start right behind Roczen, and was able to stay there for the entire main event. Now the riders get a well-deserved weekend off before resuming the series in Arlington on February 24th.
Our Canadian riders, Thompson and St-Cyr, both had good results in Glendale. Thompson didn’t get off to the best of starts in the 250SX West main event, but fought back to 13th. Thompson’s starts have not been good so far in 2024, and that is a mystery. In the past, this has always been one of Thompson’s strengths, and if he wants to finish inside the top ten, he needs to start there. The 250SX West series now has over a month off before resuming in Seattle in late March. I think you’ll see Cole in some 450SX races in the coming weeks so that should help him sort out a few things. As for St-Cyr, he qualified for his first main event of 2024 and finished up in 20th. This was a massive accomplishment for the Quebec rider so congratulations to him.
Well, that is it for me this week. This coming weekend is Family Day in Ontario, and taking place in Toronto is the Moto Canada Motorcycle Show at the Enercare Centre. This is always a great show and it presents a good opportunity to hang out with a plethora of industry people. Jess Pettis will be in attendance on Saturday, and Dylan Wright will be there all weekend long. So, have a great weekend and thank you for reading this week. Happy Family Day!