FeaturesMonday Gate Drop

The Monday Gate Drop Presented By Yamaha Motor Canada

Greetings! I hope everyone had a great opening weekend of July. Even though summer officially began several weeks ago, to me it has always felt like once school is out, is when all fun begins. Maybe it goes back to when we were all kids and school had finally come to an end during this time of the year? Anyway, nothing feels more like summer than going to the beach, and that is exactly what I did yesterday.

The Gopher Dunes track and facility looked great this weekend! Photo by James Lissimore

The anticipation each year for the Gopher Dunes National is always strong as the riders and teams spend weeks preparing for the challenging conditions. This year was no exception as Mother Nature once again cranked up the heat yesterday to help make Round 4 the hottest race so far in 2024. I don’t think it got as humid as in years past, but the sun was hot and there was very little breeze. In the end, the Gopher Dunes National, as it always does, took its toll on the riders and there machines. These opening two rounds of the Eastern half of the Triple Crown Series are always challenging. Gopher Dunes empties the tank of the riders, and then after a few days of recovery they head to Sand Del Lee for the next round. Obviously, SDL doesn’t get as crazy rough as Gopher Dunes, but it does get hot, humid, and with the trees surrounding the track, the air can get very stagnate. When I ask several riders last night what their plans were this week, the first words they all mentioned was ‘rest and recovery.’ As a media person it is always tough to conduct post-race interviews at Gopher Dunes and SDL as the riders are all cooked after the motos. Even an hour or so after the final moto, the riders are still suffering the effects of their long day of racing. The most touching interview I did last night was with Dylan Wright, who suffered through both 450 motos to finish 4th overall. I know on paper a 3-4 moto score isn’t exactly a Dylan Wright performance at Gopher Dunes, but honestly, I can’t even believe he finished the motos at all. To give you an idea of just how much pain he was in yesterday I will take you back to a moment I witnessed before the final 450 moto. I was standing behind the starting gate as the riders were returning from their sight lap. I kept my eyes on Dylan when he came back to see how his body language was and how he might be feeling heading into moto two. Everyone knew he was in pain, but he did show some speed in the first moto and ended up on the podium. Anyway, when he came back from his sight lap he got off his bike so his mechanic could top up the fuel in his tank. Then he removed his sight lap goggles to replace them with his race goggles. As we all know, you need two hands to put on a set of goggles, but when Dylan went to put on his new goggles, he could barely lift his left arm to do so. It was hard to even watch as he struggled through what usually is a simple task. He told me after the races that his shoulder injury is so bad that he has very little strength when riding. I conducted a pretty heart wrenching post-race interview with him, if you head over to our Instagram page (@mxpmag) you can watch it. Honestly, with Dylan still 39 points out of the lead in the 450 class I can see him calling it a season sooner than later. The last thing he needs is another hard crash caused by the lack of strength in his shoulder. I believe he needs surgery to fix his injury, so why not call it a day, get fixed up as soon as possible, and then start training for 2025. I know Dylan doesn’t have any quit in him, but to me this is not quitting or giving up by any means. This is more about thinking long term and doing what is best for your body.

Drew Adams put on an absolute riding clinic in the deep sand at Gopher Dunes. Photo by James Lissimore

On the other side of things, Drew Adams had an unbelievable day yesterday as he dominated both 250 Pro/Am motos, and in the process moved himself to within four points of series leader Kaven Benoit. Other than waiting for the teenager to make a few mistakes, I’m not sure what Benoit can do right now to stop the bleeding and interrupt Adams momentum. It’s not even like Benoit isn’t riding good right now. Yesterday, he rode great in both motos to finish second overall. It’s just that Adams currently has more raw speed, and he’s riding with the maturity of a veteran. Also, Adams is doing a lot of the little things correctly right now, and he’s taking full advantage of the people he has in his corner. For instance, for almost everyone, Gopher Dunes was hot and rough yesterday and the riders were feeling it. But when I spoke to Adams at the end of the day, he said that since he spent the past two weeks training in Florida at the infamous Croom Sand pit, yesterday didn’t feel that hot, or that crazy rough. He did say that it was one of the roughest tracks he’s ever raced on, but that he felt good in the motos. I guess at this point all Benoit can do is give it everything he has (which he did yesterday), and if Adams is faster, then just make sure you’re finishing in second. A lot can happen between now and the final round at Walton Raceway. Adams has to make it through Loretta Lynn’s, and he has to race Benoit in front of his hometown fans at Round 7 in Deschambault. To me, that is the ace that Benoit could have up his sleeve as that race, in that environment should propel him to his best performance of the series, and it might just might make the talented teenager from USA crack under the pressure of 4000 people screaming Kaven’s name! We shall see!

It was great to see Tyler Medaglia back yesterday. He rode great to finish third OA. Photo by James Lissimore

A few other 250 riders had a solid day yesterday at Gopher Dunes. Tyler Medaglia was finally back and he rode great to finish third overall. Sebastien Racine went 4-5 after a bad start in moto one, and coming from nearly last in moto two after getting caught up in a massive first turn pile up. I swear there was like 10-12 riders down in turn one. Adams Team Green teammate Krystian Janik was fast all day and went 3-7 for 5th overall. Janik was also involved in the second moto pile up, so he had to charge from the back of the pack also. After finishing 9th in the opening moto, Dylan Rempel had a great second moto and finished 4th. In the final few laps, he was one of the only riders still charging. Wyatt Kerr rode solid, going 6-6 for 7th overall. Congratulations to the riders I just mentioned, but also, great job to every rider who lined up yesterday. As I said above, the conditions were challenging, and just finishing both motos was truly a victory in itself.

Although Josiah Natzke wasn’t completely happy with his riding at GD, he did win the 450 class OA. Photo by James Lissimore

In the 450 class, both KTM Canada riders, Jess Pettis and Josiah Natzke, had another solid day. Pettis was the faster of the two, but he ran into some bikes issues on the final lap of the opening moto while leading by 10 seconds. At first it appeared like Pettis ran out of fuel, but I heard later that his DNF was caused by an issue with his spark plug cap. Whatever it was, he worked hard for 30 minutes plus two laps only to have his bike quit on the final lap. However, since Pettis had lapped so far into the pack he was rewarded with a 10th place moto finish. Natzke also rode well, but at the end of the day, he was a little unhappy that he got tired halfway through the final 450 moto. Regardless, his 1-3 moto score gave him the overall win, and moved him within four points of Pettis in the 450 standings. Have we ever had both points standings so close heading into Round 5 of the series? These final four rounds are going to be a battle! Anyway, USA rider Tristan Lane came out of nowhere to finish second overall yesterday. Tanner Ward finished second in moto two after leading the first half of the moto. If he didn’t have some bike issues in moto one, he would’ve finished on the podium for sure. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come for Tanner and his WLTN Kawasaki Team. Preston Kilroy had a solid day in his first ever visit to Gopher Dunes. He went 5-4 for 5th overall, and now sits third overall in the 450 points standings. Aaron Tanti, Mitchell Harrison, Daniel Elmore, and Parker Eales also had solid days at Round 4 while finishing inside the top ten. As I said above, if you lined up yesterday and managed to finish, then you had yourself a decent day at Gopher Dunes!

We will see everyone this weekend at Sand Del Lee. Photo by James Lissimore

As you can tell it was a tough day for everyone at Gopher Dunes yesterday, and I’m sure it will be much of the same this coming weekend at everyone’s favourite track, Sand Del Lee. Almost every rider in the paddock is looking forward to racing the SDL track this weekend. The weather looks like it’s going to be another hot one, so this week will be about recovery first, and then about preparation. I have an exciting week planned as on Wednesday I fly to Indianapolis for the 2025 CRF450R Media Launch at Ironman Raceway. I’m beyond excited to ride this all-new red bike at one the coolest tracks in America. We ride on Thursday and then I fly home just in time to drive to SDL on Friday afternoon. Finally, congratulations to Eve Brodeur and Sam Gaynor, as they won the opening rounds of the WMX East and Pre-Mix East Series yesterday. Both riders have been through a lot in recent months, so it was good to see them stand on top of the podium at Gopher Dunes. That is it for me this week. Thank you for reading and thank you to Derek Schuster and his Gopher Dunes crew for making Round 4 an unforgettable event. See you at SDL this weekend!

Chris Pomeroy

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

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