Yamaha Motor Canada Presents The Monday Gate Drop

Good day, and welcome to another edition of the Yamaha Motor Canada Monday Gate Drop. This past weekend at Fox Raceway in California, Star Racing Yamaha rider Dylan Ferrandis clinched the 450MX title. This was Dylan’s first year in the 450MX class so it’s pretty amazing that he was able to win the title in his rookie season. Also, is Yamaha’s first 450MX title since Grant Langston won this Championship back in 2007. Congratulations to Ferrandis, the Star Racing Yamaha Team, as well as all of the Blu Cru!

Well, as they say in Hollywood, “That’s a wrap!” The 2021 Triple Crown Series is now part of Canadian motocross history and what an interesting season it was. Building on the Covid-19 pieced together series schedule that was made up last year, I thought this summer was more organized and most certainly a good stepping stone to a more normal series schedule in 2022. This year we were able to welcome back a limited number of legit spectators as well as travelling out of the Province of Ontario for the popular round in Deschambault, QC. If things continue to go as plan next year the series will travel back out west for three rounds as well as out to the East coast and the Riverglade track in Moncton, NB. Yes, hopefully, we can return to full normal in 2022, and the Triple Crown Series, the teams, and the riders can reap the benefits of it. However, before we look too far ahead let’s take a look at what happened at the final round of the SXTour this past weekend at Gopher Dunes.

Let me first start by stating that I love these late August-early September SX races as a bookend to what always is an entertaining summer of outdoor motocross. My feeling is that four to six rounds of SX is a perfect way to end the Triple Crown Series and Gopher Dunes and its makeshift SX track is the perfect place to do these races. With a few additions (maybe some lights and some bleachers and hold the pro main events at night) these races have the potential to be very successful both on the pro side as well as the amateur side of things. My family and I had an incredible two weekends at Gopher Dunes and honestly, I was sad to leave yesterday. In talking to most of the pro riders and teams who were in attendance for these final SXTour races, almost all were in favour of doing them again in 2022 and maybe even adding another weekend to the series. In my opinion, moving forward and into 2022 the Triple Crown Series should continue to focus on building the MXTour back to a strong coast-to-coast series and then try to make these end-of-summer SXTour events even better. Like last week let’s look at a few of the standouts from the weekend.

Most Dominant Rider: Cole Thompson

Just like at the opening rounds of the SXTour last weekend, Cole Thompson was unbeatable at the final two rounds. His speed, his style, the ease at which he’s able to navigate a technical SX track is fun to watch. Cole loves SX and by the sounds of it at this point in his career that he all he feels like riding. I heard from multiple people this weekend that he will not be back under the KTM Factory Team tent in 2022. I don’t think this news is surprising as Cole’s performance this summer in the MXTour was sub-par for sure. However, I can still see KTM giving Cole a bike and some parts to race whatever events he feels like, whether he wants to continue to ride orange or not will obviously be up to him. Even at 28 years old (like when did Cole turn 28) I still think he has some good years remaining and if he just wants to race indoor type races then I think it would be cool to see him enter a few selected rounds of the Monster Energy SX Series in 2022 and go and have some fun, and then comeback and race the SXTour rounds next fall. Regardless of what the future holds for Cole Thompson, I enjoyed watching him dissect the Gopher Dunes SX track during these past two weekends.

Most Entertaining Race: All of the 250SX main events

Once again the 250SX main events take the award in this category. On Friday night it was Tanner Ward who held on for the overall win and then on Saturday night it was Jacob Piccolo taking the win. Along the way though it was usually a four or five-rider battle at the front in each 250 race. I wasn’t the only one begging for more 250SX main events and maybe one less 450SX race this past weekend. There was intense action from start to finish with block passes, battles, a few unfortunate crashes, and multiple lead changes. At times you didn’t know who was going to win until the final few laps. In the end, Darian Sanayei was your overall SXTour and Triple Crown Series winner and he really impressed me with his race craft and overall consistency. I hope the Kawasaki Team can bring him back next year because as the summer went on and he got more and more comfortable both on the track as well as off of the track, I definitely became a fan.

Biggest Surprise: Davey Fraser

For years Davey has been a solid outdoor rider who you can always count on for giving 100% and never giving up. Now at 32 years old, Davey is no doubt starting to think about what life might look like after motocross. But this past weekend he was able to get some good starts and ride probably better or as good as I’ve ever seen him ride. Davey is a good SX rider as he has good flow and isn’t afraid to jump technical sections or challenge a tough set of whoops. Unfortunately last year the SXTour races didn’t go well and Davey was left with a broken leg and a long off-season of rehab. But what a difference a year can make and it was great to see Davey on the podium this weekend as well as in the over SXTour Series Standings. Congratulations to Davey and his Carlson Racing team on a great series and season well done!

Most Disappointing: Westen Wrozyna

I hate to put Westen’s name in this category as I do think that his overall SXTour Series was a big success. However, for whatever reason, I didn’t think he rode that well this past weekend. I thought he rode tight in at least three of the four main events and he wasn’t able to duplicate his good starts from last weekend. Maybe it was the pressure of expectation, maybe he didn’t gel with the track, or maybe a few others riders were riding better. The track this weekend did feature more 90 degree higher speed corners than last weekend so perhaps Westen struggled a little with those? He did finish second overall on both nights this weekend which on paper was better than last weekend, so that was great. However, coming into Round 3 I thought (and hoped) that Westen would be able to make life a little more difficult for Cole Thompson. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to in any of the main events. But I hope that Westen left Gopher Dunes feeling happy with how he rode overall and I hope it gives him even more motivation to work hard during the off-season and continue racing in 2022. On the right bike, I think he could be a Top 5 rider in the 250 or 450 class next year. Maybe he and the MX101 Yamaha Team can come up with something for 2022.

Most Improved: Parker Eales

This was difficult as there were a few riders who improved over the past couple of weekends. But since I have to pick one I’m going to pick Parker Eales from BC. I like this guy and I like his story both on and off of the track. After a solid weekend at the opening rounds, Parker flew home to BC to work for a couple of days before returning to Gopher Dunes for the final rounds. Well, on his flight back to Ontario Westjet lost his gear bag and he was forced to buy some fresh Fox Racing from the pro shop at Gopher Dunes. Once he got his gear sorted out he rode great all weekend long, even finishing 4th on Friday night. I hope Parker enjoyed these SXTour races and I hope he plans on returning in 2022 as he’s one of the good guys of our sport.

As I said, overall it was a fun SXTour to watch and now it’s time to sit back and relax for most of the riders, although a few still have some big races ahead. This weekend the news came out that Tanner Ward is headed to California this week to race the final round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships at Hangtown. He and Dylan Wright were originally planning on going together but with Dylan still healing up from his crash last weekend, it’s just Tanner going now. I also heard that Tanner is planning on racing a few rounds of the Monster Energy Supercross Series in 2022 so that should exciting to watch. Also, Team Canada will be busy preparing for the MXoN’s over the next few weeks as that race is coming up fast. We saw over the weekend that Team USA has pulled out of the MXoN so this further opens the door for Team Canada to have its best finish ever in Italy. Regardless of who is there and who isn’t there, I think Team Canada is going to do very well in Italy. We have three strong riders who all are very good at adapting to new situations. Dylan Wright has the speed and aggression to do well in MX1 class, Jacob has the speed and confidence to run up front in the MX2 class, and Tyler Medaglia has the experience to find a way to perform well in the MX3 class. The stage is set and now we just have to get our Team there!

Finally, congratulations to Team Canada who rode amazing last week to finish 7th overall at the ISDE in Italy. It was a great performance by our boys at one of the toughest events on the planet. Well, that is it for me this week. I hope everyone has a great week and good luck to all of the kids as they head back to school. Also, this coming weekend is the Moto Park Cup so if you live in Ontario and you want an awesome event to race at, MP is the place to be this Saturday and Sunday. So have a great week and thank you for reading.