We are extremely fortunate to have a lot of great people involved in our sport. From athletes to mechanics, to parents, to track owners, to some people that seem to do it all. One of these fine individuals is MX101 Yamaha Team owner Kevin Tyler who just recently announced that his 2022 race team will once again feature Marco Cannella in the 250 class and Shawn Maffenbeier in the 450 class. As you will read below Kevin and his team are excited for 2022 and the Triple Crown Series and in a few weeks, he will also be announcing some new sponsors who will be joining his team. Kevin has also been helping out Cole Thompson with one of his team’s race motors while Cole’s been racing in the 250SX West Series. Some big things are happening in the MX101 Yamaha camp and we caught up with Kevin to chat about everything.
MXP: Hey KT, how is life going?
KT: Life is good right now. Currently, I’m out in California for a week to get some things organized. I went to Anaheim 2 on the weekend and then I’m headed to Glendale on Saturday.
That sounds like a great trip and a get excuse to leave cold Ottawa for a week. How was A2 from your perspective?
Anaheim was great as it’s been a while since I’ve attended a Supercross. It was amazing to just walk around the paddock and see people that I haven’t seen in over two years. As you know there is such a great vibe at Anaheim and anytime I can get there I feel blessed.
Like a lot of people in your position I’m sure you talk to sponsors and people in the industry regularly, but to go to Anaheim and see everyone in person, is so important.
I agree, you can only talk to people on the phone or by email so much before you have to see them in person. It makes all the difference in our world and in the big picture, it’s just nice to have human contact. It’s been so hit and miss for the past two years that we forget how important it is.
Totally KT. So, you witnessed Cole Thompson race in person. What were your thoughts on not just his results at A2 but how he was riding in general?
I mean, he looked like Cole always does when he’s riding a SX track. Cole is just so smooth and so in control and really compared to some of the 250SX West Series riders, he’s making it look easy. I think he’s in a good spot right now as he’s having success while not having to go over, or even come close to that edge. I was amazed at how many of the 250SX West riders crashed during the day and night on Saturday. So many guys are pushing the envelope and sometimes they get it wrong and crash. Every crash hurts a little in SX so each one sets you back a bit. Cole is finding a way to ride within himself and still find some great results. It’s really cool to see.
After watching him and the 250SX West class live do you think Cole could do even better than he’s been doing?
I think he’s could get near the top five in the main with a great start, but as I said, that would probably involve Cole getting way out of his comfort zone and I don’t believe that at this stage in his career he wants to do that. Nor does he have to in my opinion. He’s riding great, so far he’s staying on two wheels, I think we should all just sit back and enjoy it.
Well said KT! I’ve spoken about it a few times recently but you’re one of the reasons that Cole is having the success he is as you lent him a race motor for SX. Can you tell us how that came to fruition?
Well, it came together for reasons actually. First, I had one sitting there and it wasn’t being used. There was some talk that Marco [Cannella] might ride some SX races this year so I was saving the engine for him. However, Marco decided not to and one day I was talking to Kyle Thompson and he was telling me about Cole’s plan for SX. I told him that I might have a spare motor that Cole could use and then a few days later I got a call from Cole himself. We had a great conversation and both of us were honest with each other. To his credit, he admitted that there were a few things he wishes he could take back and that now he wanted to turn the page and move forward. I’ve always been a fan of Cole’s riding but because we’ve always been competing against him I’ve never been a fan of his racing. But I’ll tell you Palms, when I was talking to him it sounded like a new and different Cole Thompson and I gain a ton of respect for him during our call. Anyway, I had motor sitting at Al Brown’s shop in California so a week before Anaheim 1 Cole went and picked it up.
There are so many parts of this Cole Thompson racing SX story that are so interesting to me and this is one of them. I think it’s great that you’re helping out his program in any way you can KT. In the conversations I’ve had with Cole I get the same impression, that he wants to move on and forge his own path with the rest of his racing career. Obviously, your race motor is working as Cole’s results speak for themselves.
Yes, our Al Brown motors work pretty well and that is one of the reasons I came out to California this week. Cole dropped off his race bike at Al’s shop and right now we’re just taking it apart and freshening it up. So far it’s all good and Al hasn’t yelled at me yet (laughs).
Well, I’m sure he will at some point. Okay, so you have a hand in Cole’s success so far in 2022, let’s talk about your MX101 FXR Yamaha Team for this year. You have Marco Cannella back in the 250 class and just recently you told me that Shawn Maffenbeier is also returning this year. You must be excited?
For sure, to have Marco back is great. There was definitely some interest in him from other teams over the past few months but we were able to get him signed. He’s down at GPF right now training so I know he’ll be ready to go in the spring. We made some improvements with the YZ250F so I don’t think there’s any doubt that Marco will be one of the favourites to contend for the 250 Triple Crown Series Championship this summer. He got a taste of winning last year and I know he wants more in 2022.
As for Maffenbeier, at the end of last season, he was unsure if he wanted to continue racing or not so I’ll just left him alone and told him there was a spot on the team if and when he decided what he wanted to do. In the end, he decided that he wanted to come back and give it his best for at least one more season so we’re excited to have him back. Shawn will be helping Ryan Lockhart with some riding schools at the upcoming rounds of the Future West AX Championships and then he’s heading to California to begin his training. I expect some big things from Maff this summer and I think he’s going to be solid in the 450 class.
That is great news! Also, it’s great to hear about more riders heading down south to train this winter. It’s been a rough two years for these guys and it not being easy to go to the USA. I know that technically a pro rider can stay in shape all winter and then start riding in March in Canada and still be ready for when the Triple Crown Series begins in June. However, at the top level, it really is both physically and mentally beneficial to head south during the winter to get a head start on their training.
For sure it is, even back in our day, it felt great to get out of the cold and head down to Florida to ride and train. I think it gives a rider some extra confidence and it allows them to start their training and not feel pressured with time. I’m not saying that it’s a must to go south in the winter, but it can help.
It sounds like everything is beginning to come together for you and your team this year. Also, you have FXR Racing back as well for 2022.
Yes, we’re back with FXR Racing for 2022 and we’re really excited about that. Yamaha Motor Canada has once again stepped up huge for us and also in the next few weeks I’ll have some other sponsorship news to release. We also plan on buying a new team transporter to go racing so that deal should be done soon. Everything is moving forward and hopefully spring will arrive soon back in Ontario.
So you’re hanging out in California all week and then heading over to Glendale on the weekend?
Yes, that is the plan. This week I’ll go and watch Cole practice and then drive to Glendale for the weekend. Young Chandler Powell from back home is racing in the KTMJRSX event this weekend so it will be cool to see one of our hometown kids racing some SX this weekend.
Well, good luck to Chandler in Glendale. KT, thank you for taking the time to chat and I will let you get back to following Al Brown’s shop instructions. It sounds like it’s going to be another successful season for the MX101 FXR Yamaha Team.
I sure hope so. Thank you for reaching out and keep up the good work Palms!