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The Monday Gate Drop Presented By Yamaha Motor Canada

Greetings, and welcome to the final Monday Gate Drop of February. I recall mentioning back at the start of the new year that I’d hoped January and February would go by quickly. Well, thankfully both months have, and soon we’ll be into March, and with any luck, Spring! For my family and I, Spring will come early as this week we’re heading down to Florida for two weeks of riding and fun. We leave on Wednesday and will be driving straight to Ocala, Fla. As I’ve mentioned many times over the years, the Ocala area is my old stomping grounds as far back as the 1990s, I spent several winters training there. There used to be a bunch of public and private tracks within thirty minutes of Ocala, but sadly those are all closed. These days, you have to drive a little further to find a practice track, but Ocala still is a good centralized place to call home for a few weeks.

It was a beautiful day at Gatorback Cycle Park and the conditions were perfect for test riding the all new Triumph TF 250-X.

Before my family and I leave this week on our latest motocross adventure, there is first work to be done. As I write this it’s Sunday afternoon and I am on a Delta Airlines flight headed to Gainesville, Fla. The reason I’m headed there is for the Global Media Launch of the all new Triumph TF 250-X. As most of you know, this new motocross bike from Triumph has been in the works for some time and tomorrow I will have the honour of being one the first to ride it at the famous Gatorback Cycle Park. There are multiple waves of media from as far away as Australia travelling to Gainesville throughout the week to take part in this historic launch. Obviously, I’m excited to ride the new Triumph and report to everyone what my feelings are on it. However, with multiple days of media rides this week I’m thinking that there might be an embargo on posting content until everyone has had a chance to ride. We shall see, but I will report what I can, when I can throughout the day. On Tuesday, I fly home early, and then on Wednesday we jump in our truck and drive back down to the Sunshine State. As I’ve also stated on multiple occasions in the past, I LOVE the drive to Florida in the winter. Each time my family and I have make the drive, it makes me think back to when my Dad and I used to do it. My favourite memory from those trips comes from 1989. That was the first time that we made the trek to Florida to ride. After hearing stories about tracks like Croom and Dade City from our motocross friends, we decided that year to experience it ourselves. It was a great trip and one that I’ll never forget. I cannot wait for our trip this week as it will be time to build some new and exciting memories.

Chase Sexton has been struggling with a hand injury and in Arlington he fell further behind in the points standings.

From Florida, we move to Texas and Saturday’s Arlington Supercross. With this being Round 7 of the 2024 Monster Energy Supercross Series, the riders are well aware that we’re approaching the all-important halfway point of the series. After a weekend off, there were a few riders that came into Arlington deeply motivated to find success. One of those riders was Eli Tomac, who other than one main event win at Anaheim 2, has been uncharacteristically inconsistent so far in 2024. However, most of the people in the know assumed that Tomac would use the short break in the series to regroup and work on a few things. It was evident from the opening lap of practice on Saturday, that was exactly what he did, he was fast and aggressive right away. Then, in his heat race he tracked down the early leader, Aaron Plessinger, made the pass and took the win. All things were pointing to a Tomac win in the main event, but an early crash pushed him back to outside of the top then. However, at that point it appeared like Tomac had told himself enough was enough, and he put on a charge for the ages. Perhaps, he was also inspired by his brother, who is in the Air Force and rarely has the time to attend Eli’s races. But, Round 7 was also Military Appreciation night and there were numerous active and past service men and women in attendance, including Tomac’s brother. Whatever the reason was, Tomac was able to charge all the way up to second, and in the process he got himself right back into the 450SX Championship fight. Finally, with his favourite race of the series coming up this weekend in Daytona, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Finishing only one spot in front of Tomac was his teammate Cooper Webb, who came into Arlington having won five of the last nine events inside AT&T Stadium. Even though Webb was god awful through qualifying and in his heat races, in the main event he got off to a great start, and then benefited from Jett Lawrence going down in the final few laps, and giving away the lead. It was that type of night in Arlington, the type of night when you couldn’t dare take your eyes off of each race until the checkered flag was waved. When all was said and done, Webb, Tomac, and Plessinger stood on the podium, while Jett’s fourth place finish allowed him to hang on to the 450 class points lead. For now anyway, as both Webb and Tomac have historically been great in Daytona. Actually, I’m very excited to watch Jett ride the challenging Daytona track in person this weekend. He’s proven in the past year that he excels on rough and difficult to ride race tracks. Will Jett be able to rise to the occasion, or will he allow the pressure of the fast closing, and experienced Blu Cru duo get to him?

Everything was going smooth for Austin Forkner in Arlington, until it wasn’t!

Let’s talk poor Austin Forkner next. Even if you’re not a Forkner fan, I think most feel terrible for the Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider. After an easy victory two weeks ago in Detroit, Forkner came into Arlington wanting to prove that his opening round win was not a fluke. After qualifying second in the afternoon, Forkner won his heat race, and then took the lead on the opening lap of the 250SX East main event. Throughout the first half of the main event Forkner managed to gap Deegan perfectly until lapped riders (and a lost contact lens) slowed Forkner just slightly and allowed Deegan to close. However, Forkner changed his line through the whoop section, as well he had a solid outside line in the sand, and with a few laps to go the win appeared to be all Forkner’s. But then disaster struck and in an instant he was down, and down hard. Forkner would come up about two feet short on a miserable high speed triple/tabletop section, and the momentum pushed him forward, and then off the bike flying through the air and onto the concrete. It was an ugly crash, and with all that Forkner has been through during the past several years with injury after injury, it was another sad moment in his career. While Deegan cruised to his first-ever 250SX win, Forkner was tended to by paramedics before being transported to a local hospital for further evaluation. Early Sunday morning it was reported that Forkner had fractured his L3 and L4 Vertebrae, and also broke his Scapula. My son broke his Scapula last summer so we know all too well what that injury and long recover is like. But honestly, it’s a miracle Forkner wasn’t injured worse, as the impact he had with the concrete was violent. Hopefully, he’ll be back at some point, but it’s unclear when that will be.

Tyler Gibbs had a solid day in Arlington, but came up well short of making the 250SX East main event.

Also racing the 250SX East class in Arlington was our own Tyler Gibbs, who was fresh off his top ten overall finish in the GT Arenacross Series. I spoke to Tyler on Thursday and he was very excited at the thought of racing in Arlington, as well as the entire 250SX East Series. Gibby qualified okay in the afternoon and made the night show, but poor starts in his heat race and in the LCQ cost him any chance of making it into the main event. I’m sure Tyler would’ve liked to have qualified for the main event, or even finish higher up in the LCQ, but there is plenty of time to get to that level. He rode well and made it out of Arlington in one piece. Now, it’s onto Daytona and conditions that I’m quite sure Tyler has never experienced before. Overall though, this entire winter has been great for Tyler, and hopefully he’ll be able to take some momentum into the summer.

Well, that is it for me this week. As I mentioned above, on Monday I’m riding the new Triumph TF 250-SX at Gatorback Cycle Park, and then Wednesday my family and I are driving back down to Florida to ride for two weeks. It’s certainly a busy few weeks ahead, but I cannot wait to experience it all. Thank you for reading and stay tuned for my thoughts on the all new Triumph TF 250-X.


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