Back to Racing: Yamaha Motor Canada Presents The Monday Gate Drop

Walton TransCan 2021

I hope everyone had a great weekend riding or just hanging out with family and friends. I can only speak for Southern Ontario this past weekend but after multiple weeks of cool and wet weather, Mother Nature finally got into a good mood yesterday. Which makes us happy to say good day, and welcome to another Yamaha Motor Canada Monday Gate Drop.

Actually, the nice weather moved into Gopher Dunes around noon on Saturday and then remained in the area all day Sunday. And by nice I mean sunny and 25c and in the paddock, all you could smell was race gas and sunscreen. It was a solid day and most certainly a great way to kick off the Ontario AMO Racing season.

AMO Gopher Dunes 22
As it always is the Gopher Dunes track was very challenging this past weekend. Photo by Mickmedia

For this year AMO Racing has introduced and new and improved race schedule complete with optional Saturday morning practice for anyone who is there. Then, after some track maintenance over the lunch hour racing begins at 1 pm for certain classes and runs all afternoon. This new schedule appeared to work great over the weekend at Gopher Dunes as every class had decent length motos and yesterday the final moto on Sunday was done around 5:45. With 800 entries over the entire weekend, you can’t ask for much better than that as far as riders getting their money’s worth on the track. With gas prices at a record high right now riders and families need to see as much value as possible when it comes to racing and this new AMO schedule I believe addresses these concerns. It kind of reminds me of the old Walton Raceway Ontario Provincial race in the mid to late 2000s when the well-attended event was run over two days. All the age classes ran on Saturday and then the remaining classes raced on Sunday. It worked well for everyone and this past weekend at Gopher Dunes had the same vibe. I hope everyone had a safe and successful weekend at Gopher Dunes. We sure did and it was obviously great to be back at the races. I’ve been attending races in Ontario for over 40 years now and the opening round is always special.

AMO Gopher Dunes Rempel
Dylan Rempel had to race the Junior class yesterday but soon he will be moving up to the Pro-Am class. Photo by Mickmedia
Gravel Brothers Gopher Dunes 22
When you have two riders in the same class you have to line up together on the gate. Photo by Mickmedia
AMO 22 Gopher Dunes
All of the moto kids were happy to be back at the races. Photo by Mickmedia

As far as the racing went at Gopher Dunes, there were some great battles in pretty much every class. The track was rough and challenging and when you added in the warm temperatures, it was most certainly a tough weekend for all of the riders. I wasn’t able to watch every moto but a couple of things that stood out to me were how big the 50cc classes were on Saturday as almost every gate was taken up with an eager young rider. That was great to see as it means our sport is healthy at the grassroots level. The 250 JR and Supermini classes needed qualifiers yesterday so that was also great to see. Dylan Rempel really stood out in the two JR classes and he just dominated all four of his motos. Dylan is supposed to be in the Pro-Am class but due to a rule technicality, he must earn a few points in JR before officially moving up. I’m sure these points will come quickly as Dylan’s lap times yesterday were so solid that if had raced the pro class he would’ve finished 4th in Moto 2. As we see in the CHL (Canadian Hockey League) sometimes young athletes are given what is called ‘Exceptional Status’ and are allowed to circumvent the rules and move up the ranks faster than others. Connor McDavid was granted this type of status in the OHL years ago. Anyway, Ryder McNabb fell into this category a couple of years ago, and judging by what we saw from Rempel yesterday he’s more than ready to follow the same path.

AMO Gopher Dunes 22
Much to the delight of everyone at Gopher Dunes there were some very fast pro riders there yesterday. Photo by Mickmedia

Anyway, he stood out yesterday as did our two-time Triple Crown Series 450 Champion Dylan Wright who played around for most of the day doing starts and then pulling off to wait for just the right track conditions. Well, in the final pro moto of the day Dylan got his wish and boy did he look good. Like a lot of people I’ve watched Dylan fairly close since he turned pro in 2014 and while he’s also been interesting to follow, I was anxious to see him ride this year after his MXGP experience last fall. Well, I can report that even though he’s still getting himself into 100% race-ready condition in that final moto yesterday he looked better than I’ve ever seen him. His pace, his intensity, and his comfort level at going that speed all look improved over last year at this time. As I’m sure many of you have suspected, Dylan’s MXGP experiences have taken him to new levels with his riding. I spoke to him briefly at the end of the day and when I complimented him on his final moto win, he just grinned and said ‘yeah, I tried a little harder in that moto. The track was rougher and more fun so I’m going to get up tomorrow and do a 40-minute moto before they groom it.’ Sure enough, on Social Media, this morning @gdrhonda posted a video of Dylan riding. Ryder McNabb also looked fast yesterday and Tanner Ward looked good on his new KX450.

Whispering Pines track sign
Just like last weekend Whispering Pines MX Park was the place to be for two wheeled fun in BC. Photo by James Lissimore

So the opening AMO Racing OPC event went well and it was great to see everyone again. Out in Kamloops, BC the first Future West MX took place at Whispering Pines Raceway. In talking with FW Race Director Ryan Lockhart this morning it sounds as though the weekend was a massive success. There were over 500 entries in Kamloops which set a new record in BC. It was also and fairly safe weekend overall so that is great news. The Pro-Am class had 30 riders and as expected MX101 FXR Yamaha rider and all-around Canadian legend Shawn Maffenbeier took the overall win. What a great way to kick off racing on the West Coast and Round 2 of this series is in Kelowna on May 7/8. This race will also be a Walton TransCan ANQ so that will be exciting. So congratulations to AMO Racing and Future West Moto for putting on two great events over the weekend and we look forward to the rest of the country getting started in the next few weeks.

Lawrence 22 SX
Jett Lawrence continued his American success story by clinching the 2022 250SX East Championship on Saturday night. Photo by Lexi Thompson

Moving on from Regional racing in Canada to the 2022 Monster Energy Supercross Series and honestly, until Saturday I didn’t know that Foxborough was another day race. I mean, it’s my fault for not checking the schedule but I guess the final four rounds of the series are all day races. Because of the schedule and the fact that I was at Gopher Dunes on Saturday this round was the first one of 2022 I didn’t tune in to watch. However, by the sounds of it, the race was entertaining and I first want to send a big congratulations to Quebec rider Guillaume St-Cyr who made his first 450SX night show and went on to finish 17th in the LCQ. In the 250SX East class, Austin Forkner was able to come from behind and make some late-race passes to win his first main event of 2022. I love watching Forkner ride and I pray that he can remain healthy for the remainder of the season. There was talk earlier this year that Forkner was headed to the 450 class next year so it will be interesting to see what happens and where he ends up. He might be a good fit as the third 450 rider on the Monster Energy Kawasaki Team. So it was great to see Forkner win the battle on Saturday afternoon. However, the winner of the 250SX East war went to Jett Lawrence as he clinched his first SX title in the USA. What this kid has done in his first three years as a pro in America is pretty impressive. One outdoor title and now a SX title to go with it, what a beginning to Jett’s pro career. There is also talk that he’s moving up to the 450 class in 2023 so between him, Forkner, and Christian Craig there are going to be some new faces next year in the big bike class in the USA. That is very exciting!

Anderson SX 22
For the second week in a row Jason Anderson took the win in the 450SX class. Photo by Lexi Thompson

In the 450SX class, Jason Anderson once again kept his promise to make life as hard as possible for Eli Tomac as he took his second main event win in a row. Tomac struggled for the first time this season on the terrible Foxborough track and ended up back in 7th place. Marvin Musquin continued his late-season charge and finish up in third behind Chase Sexton. As I said, the Foxborough track had some of the worst dirt we’ve seen in a long time and I’m sure that most riders were just happy to get through it in one piece. Tomac can clinch the 2022 SX Championship this weekend in his home state and won’t that just be icing on the cake for him and his family. Since Tomac has a massive points lead and it would be shocking if he doesn’t clinch this weekend in Denver and with two wins in a row Anderson sits comfortably in second. However, the battle for third is still raging between Barcia, Stewart, and now Musquin. So at least these final two rounds will provide some excitement.

Well, that is it for me this week. I hope everyone has a great week and a week riding. I can’t believe we’re almost into May which BTW is my favourite month of the year. Finally, in case you missed Dean Wilson last week on the PulpMX show above is the full interview. On the show, Dean talks about his St Louis crash and the terrible injury he suffered. This sport is fun and awesome until it isn’t. Whether you’re Dean Wilson, the average Vet rider, or even a young 50cc rider, anytime you throw your leg over a bike you’re assuming a large amount of risk. However, we all do it because we love it and because the thought of not doing it scares us more than what might happen if we crash. We’re a different breed and that is what connects us and drives us through each season. Now that racing has started here in Canada I want to send my best wishes to every rider out there. I hope you have a safe and successful season of riding and racing and let’s continue to never let fear stand in the way of doing something we love to do. Thank you for reading and have a good week!


Check Also

Quinn Amyotte

The Monday Gate Drop Presented By Yamaha Motor Canada

You know, I’m always amazed at how nature seems to balance itself out, and here ...