Good day, and welcome to another edition of the Yamaha Motor Canada Monday Gate Drop. As the world watched yesterday at the MXoN in Italy two of the very entertaining exhibition races were all Blu Cru 65cc and 125cc races. It was cool to see an all Yamaha race on the track, especially as Yamaha gets ready to debut its all-new 2022 YZ125.
So the 2021 Monster Energy MXoN is now in the books and Team Canada fought through a lot of adversity yesterday to finish up in 14th overall. Despite everything they had to deal I thought our boys rode great yesterday and if it wasn’t for a couple of tough breaks I’m sure we could’ve finished much better. Especially when the Team’s results in Saturday’s qualifying races had everyone in the paddock talking about Dylan Wright, Jacob Piccolo, and Tyler Medaglia. Unfortunately, Mother Nature unleashed her fury on Sunday morning and all three motos were a sloppy mess. From there it appeared like one frustrating set of circumstances after another as our three riders battled the elements. In the end, an outstanding Saturday turned into a challenging Sunday, and Team Canada was pushed out of the Top 10. The overall winner was Team Italy as took home the coveted Chamberlain Trophy in front of their elated hometown fans. It was most certainly a grand send-off for Italy’s most famous rider Tony Cairoli as he not only rode great to help his team win but also had his longtime #222 retired from MXGP competition. What a great way to finish off what has been an amazing career for TC222. Now, back to Team Canada and their struggles yesterday.
I always chuckle when people observe that rain and mud are the great equalizers in motocross. I get amused because I feel like it’s the exact opposite and I think that conditions (like we witnessed yesterday) are more like the great separator. I say this for a few reasons, some are based on what I’ve seen over the years and some are based on my own experiences. First to my own experiences. I’ve always felt comfortable riding in the mud and during my pro racing career, there were muddy days when I sat on the starting line and almost knew that I was going to win. Whether it was my throttle control, line choices, my attitude, or a combination of all three, some of my best and most unforgettable races have been when the conditions were at their worst. We’ve seen this a lot over the years as certain riders excel in the rain and mud and some don’t. When you look at all three of our Canadian riders I will say that all have proven to be very good mud riders over the years. Medaglia has won some big races when it’s wet and sloppy, being a BC rider Piccolo is no doubt used to riding in adverse conditions, and Dylan Wright has shown us that with his strength and determination he can soldier through anything! Having said that though, the issue yesterday is that as good as our three riders are in the wet, most of the Euro riders are that much better in the wet than they are in the dry. So when the skies opened up yesterday the margin of error for Team Canada shrunk dramatically and they, unfortunately, ran into some issues.
If you don’t believe me then look at Saturday’s qualifying races. Dylan ended up sixth after running near the front early in the race and turning pretty much the same times as the leaders, Piccolo was tenth and his best lap time was only a second off of the leader, and Medaglia finished 17th in his qualifier and also had some solid times. My point is that when the conditions were dry our Canadian boys were buzzing and on par with the best riders on the planet. Word is that Dylan even got some offers to race in the final rounds of the MXGP Series. Finally, I’ve always found that when the conditions get extreme like we saw yesterday, as a rider you mentally begin to search for familiarity to help to find confidence and comfort. However, when you’re in a strange country, working out of a strange truck, riding a track that is new to you, as well as racing against riders that in some cases you only know by name, you’re about as from familiarity as you can get. Now, I’m not saying that this was the reason Team Canada had a challenging day yesterday, but it might have played a part.
As I said earlier, 14th overall may not look great on paper, especially with no Team USA or Team Australia there. But from watching and talking to a few people who were there, everyone on Team Canada yesterday, from the mechanics, staff, and of course the riders, put forth an effort that should make all of us proud. You know how they say that you shouldn’t judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. Well, no one should judge yesterday’s finish until we’ve ridden a lap at that level and in those conditions. Well done Team Canada and congratulations to Carl Bastedo for putting together a solid program for this year in Italy. I don’t know how Carl did it but he did it and that’s all that’s matters.
It was also announced that for 2022 the Monster Energy MXoN will be returning to North America and the famous Red Bud track in Michigan. This is obviously exciting news for all of us on this side of the Atlantic Ocean as it will once again be an incredible event. As soon as my son heard this news he asked me if we could go and take in this awesome event next year. Although I don’t think my wife’s liver could handle a weekend at Red Bud, I told him that we’re in for 2022 providing the border is open by then. Sadly this is not a joke at this stage of the Covid-19 Pandemic. My son turns 14 tomorrow and I remember that my dad took me to the 1987 MXoN at Unadilla when I was the same age. I recall sitting on the side of a Unadilla hill all day in the pouring rain watching Bob Hannah scream up and down the muddy hills on his RM125 thinking that one day I wanted to represent Canada at this prestigious event. Ten years later my dream almost came true, almost being the keyword. Maybe my son will get the same motivating vibes next year at Red Bud. Finally, if this year proves to be Tyler Medaglia’s final time representing Canada at the MXoN then I was just want to say thank you Tyler for giving everything you have over the years for your country. You’re a warrior, a fine Canadian, and you’ve done us and yourself proud over the years!
Well, that is it for me today. I hope everyone has a great week and I hope everyone from Team Canada has a safe trip home. I’m sure they have enough stories to last a lifetime! This coming weekend in Ontario the AMO Racing True North OPC Series resumes at Gopher Dunes. Sadly this past weekend Walton Raceway was forced to cancel their event when Barry and his crew lost their battle with Mother Nature. So Gopher Dunes it is and everything begins on Saturday with practice and kids racing. Please have a great final week of September and thanks for reading.