FeaturesMonday Gate Drop

The Monday Gate Drop Presented By Yamaha Motor Canada

Greetings once again from beautiful Calgary, Alberta. We are back in Cowtown now and scheduled to fly back to Toronto later today. So far, it’s been an incredible trip for both myself as well as my family. As you may recall, last year our trip didn’t quite go as planned as my son crashed hard at the WCAN in Kamloops, and had to be airlifted to the hospital. Unfortunately, the injuries he suffered put an end to his racing for the summer, and he was forced to become my full-time mechanic and riding coach. Fast forward to this year, and the WCAN went much better and my son was able to not only finish second in the 250 Junior class, but he was victorious and won the Open Junior Championship with a 2-1-3 moto score. It was a great week, and it feels great to fly home healthy and happy this time.

Ayrton gave me an early Father’s Day present this past week! Photo by James Lissimore

Before I get to what happened at Round 2 of the 2024 Triple Crown Series, let me first expand on what went down at the WCAN this past week. As many of you know, the WCAN originally took place at Temple Hill Raceway, until it was moved to the Whispering Pines track several years ago. Late last year, there was talk that Whispering Pines Raceway was closing, so the MRC decided it was time to head back to Lethbridge for this prestigious Western event. As it turned out, Whispering Pines Raceway is still open, and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere soon. We’ll see what happens next year, as it seemed like a lot of riders from BC decided not to make the trek East to Alberta for the WCAN this year. In my opinion, I thought the MRC and track crew did a great job this past week making sure things ran smoothly. Yes, there were some hiccups with scheduling, but each day finished on time and the racing in every moto was fantastic. The track crew was forced to deal with some strong winds early in the week, and with the sun shining on the track certainly made it dry out quickly. However, other than a few motos here and there, the crew kept the dust down and the track was good for racing each day. I hope the track crew and the members of the Lethbridge Motorcycle Club learned a lot this past week about how to do an event of this size. I know they’ve run the WCAN before, and also hosted several rounds of our Pro National Series twenty or so years ago, but they’ve never ran an event where the two are combined. It can’t be easy, and I know sometimes the tendency of a local club is to think that they know best when it comes to track prep and logistic items. But sometimes, you have to cater how you do things to what type of event you’re hosting. For instance, I’m quite sure the track reacts differently to having some of Canada’s top amateur and pro riders race on it for five days as opposed to a Wednesday night practice. You have to adapt and you have to be open to suggestions. With a little polish on both the track side of things, as well as the facility, this could be a really great event moving forward. Every rider I spoke to yesterday enjoyed the track layout, they just thought it needed a little more TLC throughout the day. Thank you to the MRC, the Triple Crown Series, as well as the LMC for hosting a great WCAN.

This is how the opening 250 moto began for Benoit and Adams. Photo by James Lissimore

Now, onto Round 2 of the Triple Crown Series. The big news yesterday was obviously the massive crash by Dylan Wright at the midway point of the second 450 moto. I haven’t witnessed a crash that violent in some time, and I’m glad that Dylan is doing okay. I spoke to the GDR Honda Team Manager Ryan Lockhart late last night, and he told me that Dylan is stable and doing okay as he remained in a Lethbridge Hospital overnight. So far, they’ve found no broken bones, only a bruised lung, a bruised heart, and I’m assuming a concussion, as he was knocked out for some time. He also has some shoulder pain, but as of last night they hadn’t assessed it yet. So, while it’s awful to hear that Dylan has any injuries at all, he should feel fortunate that it wasn’t worse. So, as with any serious incident in any sport, it brings out (as it should), a lot of different side discussions about how it happened; why it might have happened, what happened in the moments right after when it’s deemed an emergency situation, and perhaps most importantly, how it could be avoided in the future. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I grew up as the son of an Airline Pilot, and this is how the aviation world handles accidents. Obviously, these types of situations unfortunately happen and will continue to happen in the future, but the trick is to do everything we can to ensure that the same chain of events doesn’t cause the next one. This process isn’t to point blame at someone, it’s more educational so that we can learn from and use that knowledge in the future. Let’s break down what happened yesterday.

Dylan Wright’s day started well with a win in the first 450 moto. But it sure didn’t end ell. Photo by James Lissimore

The crash:

As hard as Dylan’s crash is to watch on video, at least it provides some evidence as to what might have caused it. After Dylan was taken care of and loaded into the ambulance, I walked over to the face of the jump that Dylan got kicked off of. That face of the jump was smooth, but on the left side was a two foot deep square edged hole as the base of the take-off. The right side of the face didn’t have a hole like the left side, but it was harder to get to as the corner before pushed riders wide and to the left side. In the video, you can see Dylan take the corner before on the inside and then drift to the left hand side of the face. At this point he’s standing up, hoping to at least get his front wheel over the square edged hole, and drive off the face and jump into the section. I’m sure he hit this exact line, and used the same technique in the laps before, and everything was fine. Perhaps this time his rear wheel lost a little traction as he accelerated and that caused his rear wheel to catch more of the hole, compress his rear shock (remember, the faster your shock compresses the quicker it rebounds), slowing his forward momentum just enough to cause his body weight to also move forward. Combine all of this, as well as the high rate of speed that Dylan was travelling, and you have a violent get off like we saw yesterday. As I said, I’m sure Dylan hit the same line in the five laps before and nothing happened, it was just this particular time the rear wheel sank deeper into the hole and caused Dylan to get kicked.

What happened after the crash:

As you would expect, all hell broke loose in the moments after the crash as Dylan lay motionless in a challenging spot for the medics to get to, as well as for the other riders to go around him once the red cross flags came out. It was a tough situation, and it was made even tougher by the length of time it took the paramedics to arrive on scene. Apparently, there was an earlier crash on the other side of the track , so the paramedics had a long journey to get to where Dylan was. When looking at what could be changed in the future, this is obviously something that should be looked at, when a rider suffers a crash like Dylan had, every second matters. Smooth access roads around are a must at every track these days, and unfortunately, due to the challenging landscape surrounding the track, these were limited. Also, once the two medics arrived there appeared to be some confusion as to who was doing what and who was going to help. Thankfully, JC Seitz arrived quickly to help out, as did Steve Simms, who is a trained paramedic. In the end, there was probably about 10 people there who were a massive help in treating Dylan and taking care of the situation. Most of this was happening while the riders were riding by, some slowed down to crawl as they should, while some only slowed slightly. All in all, it was a chaotic situation as I know most emergencies are, but I’m not sure if this one needed to be. After all, we’ve been through this many times over the years. After a few laps the red flag came out, so that at least got rid of the noise and the riders going by while they worked on Dylan. The riders were sent back to the start and there they waited for a staggered restart (based on the rulebook). Eventually though it was decided that the final moto would not be restarted, and the standings at the time of the red flag would stand as the results for moto two.

Cause and effect: What can we learn?

As I mentioned above, with any accident there are things we can learn to help ensure they don’t happen again. In this sport, we will never be able to erase crashes, big or small, they, unfortunately are a byproduct of riding and racing. Was the track rough yesterday? Yes it was! In fact, all week the track was rough in the final races of the day, as it should be. Yesterday though, the track got extremely rough and choppy in the second half of the day. And while, almost every rider of the track wants our national tracks to get rough, I believe the conditions yesterday crossed into a grey area that we don’t normally see. For instance, in the section that Dylan crashed in, the face of the first jump was decent on the right, but not great on the left. As I said, the corner before naturally forced the riders to the left, so it was challenging, and slower, to have to hit the section on the right. However, it was the smoother and safer option, and some riders chose to use the right side. As a former pro rider who was forced to race on some really sketchy tracks in the 1990s, the issue I had with this section, and other sections as well, is that the landings didn’t match the condition of the take-offs. Meaning, that if a rider used the smooth line to take off of the jump, the landing on that side was worse than the other side. So technically, if you wanted to miss all of the deep holes, you would have to jump from one side of track and then land on the other. This is doable and somewhat easy when you’re riding alone, but when you’re racing with 29 other riders, you can’t always take the exact line you want. I would’ve liked to have seen a little more track work done in between motos to fix the square edge holes, both on and approaching the faces of the jumps, as well as on the landings. Also, this suggestion isn’t just from me, almost every rider I spoke to last night said the said thing. They can handle the bumps, the holes, and the rough conditions in between the jumps, just fix the jumps! These days, every track reacts differently to races, especially ones that take place over the span of multiple days. In this case, Temple Hill Raceway had three full days of amateur racing, and then a long day of pro racing on it. That is a lot of any track to take, just ask the track crews at Deschambault and Walton Raceway.

Just as he did last weekend in Calgary, Jess Pettis won the shorten second 450 moto and the overall. Photo by James Lissimore

Looking at the incident from a post-crash perspective, I know that no one ever wants to red flag a race. But, sometimes, given where a rider crashes and what their condition is, a red flag should almost be immediate. Even though Dylan’s injuries were unknown in the moments after his crash, it was fairly clear that he wasn’t getting up anytime soon. Given where he was on the track, the type of section, and also with this new staggered start rule that makes restarting a race fair and relatively easy, the officials should always error on the side of caution. I did hear that there was an issue with the radios and that the finish line official didn’t hear the call to pull out the red flag right way. I don’t know exactly what the communications were in the heat of the moment, so I’m not critiquing how things were handled. I’m only going by what I saw and how much less chaotic the situation would’ve been without bikes riding by for several laps. With regard to the decision to not restart the race, even though the amount of time left in the race fell within the rules of a staggered restart; I know there was a time issue with regards to the live broadcast, but honestly, from a ‘doing what is right’ perspective, I have no issue with not restarting the race. When one of the top riders in any class goes down hard and is lying on the track not moving for several minutes, it effects every other rider’s mental state. Also, with the track conditions the way they were, and getting worse by the minute as it dried out more and more while waiting for Dylan to be attended to. Cancelling the rest of the moto was the right and compassionate thing to do.

Next stop on the tour is Manitoba. Photo by James Lissimore

As I said, there will always be more crashes in our sport, that is a given. But as long as we all learn from each one and do our best to make sure we do everything we can to try and limit them. We have a great series with talented riders and solid teams. The Triple Crown Series crew and officials are also great, and easy to work with. I’m quite sure they’re assessing what happen yesterday, and moving forward a lot of discussions will take place. As I mentioned above, by all accounts, Dylan will make a full recovery and should be back by Round 4 at Gopher Dunes. Knowing Dylan and his high amount of determination, I’m sure he’s ready to check himself out of the hospital and head in the direction of Pilot Mound, Manitoba.

Kaven Benoit wasn’t the fastest 250 rider in Lethbridge, but he was one of the smartest. Photo by James Lissimore

Moving on from Dylan’s crash, and sadly Blake Davies unfortunate injury. Young Blake crashed in the second 250 Pro/Am moto and broke his arm. Heal up Blake! For the second week in a row the KTM Canada Red Bull Race Team was the big winner on Sunday. Not only did Jess Pettis and Kaven Benoit win the overall in their respective classes, but Eve Brodeur dominated both Thor WMX West motos. All they need was JSR in the Pre-Mix class and it would’ve been a quad-fecta for the Orange Team. There was also several more great rides yesterday, including Quinn Amyotte finishing second overall in the 250 Pro/Am class, and Wyatt Kerr riding to third in the second 250 moto. Congratulations to everyone who not only finished well yesterday, but made it through the challenging conditions. Hopefully we can return to this track next year for another go at it.

Happy heavenly Father’s Day this weekend to my Dad and to all of our awesome moto Dad’s out there.

Well, that is it for me this week. I hope everyone has a great week, and happy Father’s Day this weekend to all of the Moto Dad’s out there. Finally, get well soon Dylan! I know I speak for everyone when I wish you a speedy recovery! Thank you for reading, if you have any questions or comments, please email me at editor@mxpmag.com.

Chris Pomeroy

1989 Rookie-of-the-year and former nationally ranked pro racer who turned into a dirt oriented scribe

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