Yamaha Motor Canada Presents The Monday Gate Drop

Good day and welcome to another edition of the Yamaha Motor Canada Monday Gate Drop. MXP Magazine hopes that everyone had a great weekend, and from the look at the results from around Canada, it was very successful few days of racing for Yamaha and its legion of Blu Cru riders. Have a great weekend and we hope you enjoy the upcoming Canada Day weekend!

Again, I hope your weekend was good and I hope this coming weekend is even better. We spent all weekend at perhaps the most famous track in Canada, Walton Raceway. As it usually does during this time of the year, Walton Raceway hosted a round of the AMO Tag Metals Provincial Series as well as a well attended practice day on Saturday. It was a great two days of motocross under the Ontario sun, and most importantly, it was two safe days. In recent days I have received a lot of texts and emails with questions about what has been going on with subjects related to Canadian motocross. So for this week’s Monday Gate Drop I thought I’d take some time to answer those questions publicly. Here are a few of my answers in no particular order:

Walton Raceway gets a big thumbs up after a great weekend of racing.

The Walton Raceway track was in great shape all weekend long.

Q: How was Walton this past weekend?

There were a few things that made our weekend at Walton Raceway a good one. The first thing was of course the weather. For the first time this year Southern Ontario had two days of near perfect weather for motocross and pretty much anything else outdoors you can think of. Yesterday had clear skies, no humidity and temperatures of around 25c. The tough part of racing at Walton when the weather is this nice is that the track is very difficult to maintain and to keep somewhat moist. In the past we’ve seen race days like this go to absolute crap at Walton and no one leaves happy. However, this time around the Walton crew worked their tails off all day long and the track remained raceable until the final checkered flag was waved. My son’s Supermini moto was the second to last moto so I can say this with some validity. The day ran smoothly, there were no big injuries and I think everyone left with a smile on their face. Thanks Walton and we’ll see you again in August. Oh, and I highly recommend the Cowbell Brewery in Blyth for dinner if you get the chance.

As you can see, if you weren’t in the top two during the 250 start in Manitoba, then you didn’t have much of a chance to see anything. Photo by James Lissimore

Q: What do you think about Dylan Wright and Jess Pettis losing their appeals on Friday?

This is a tough question as I wasn’t privy to all of the evidence presented during the appeal process. Obviously, whatever was presented wasn’t enough and their penalties were upheld. This was really difficult for Wright as he not only lost the overall win at Round 3 but he also lost the large bonus that came with that win as well as the red plate moving forward. Considering he was already on probation for his off-track excursion in Calgary, some people have speculated to me that his penalty could’ve been worse. Wright now trails Marshall Weltin by two points heading into Round 4.

As I mentioned, I didn’t see or hear all of the evidence presented last week, but I was at the race and I did see all of the videos posted online. Obviously, these riders gained somewhat of an advantage by going off the track and then rejoining in a different spot, I don’t think anyone can dispute that. However, I don’t think they went off the track intentionally, and once they were on to the wet grass (on a steep downhill grade), at that point what were they to do? There was no way they were getting stopped and turned around, and the surface was simply way too slippery. I believe they actually did the safest thing by continuing on and then blending back into the pack. I also think that this first turn could’ve been better marked (bannered) so that it made the riders a little more aware and perhaps more cautious as they headed into Turn 1. I mean, any rider knows that if there is a safe run-off area with no banners up surrounding the first turn, you can be that much more aggressive as you know you have somewhere to go. Also, with none of the riders taking a sight lap I’m not sure how many knew exactly how treacherous the first turn was in Minnedosa. Anyway, it was a bad situation, and moving forward I feel like it will be a good learning experience for all involved. On to Round 4 I say!

Get onboard everyone, the east rounds are going to be exciting. Photo by James Lissimore

Q: Which riders are going to be good in the east?

This is a great question and one that I’ve been asked numerous times. I’d like to think that every single rider on the track is going to be better in the eastern half of the 2019 Rockstar Energy Triple Crown MXTour Series. I mean, why wouldn’t they be? I’m sure most took a bit of a breather this week as they travelled back home and chilled out for a few days. However, after a couple days of relaxation and not thinking about motocross, it’s back to work for our top riders. With the next two rounds being sand events and most likely hot and humid races, every rider has to have their eyes wide open as they prepare for this difficult duo of races. Thankfully, our riders have a few weeks to prepare their bodies and minds for this final stretch. I know from talking to a few of our top riders, all of them are looking forward to racing on some rough tracks and difficult conditions. There are multiple story lines heading into Round 4 at Gopher Dunes. Some riders are happy with where they’re currently positioned, while others have some points to make up. During the first three rounds the racing has been excellent and I would expect it to be even better in the east.

Look for more battles like this one once the east series begins at Gopher Dunes. Photo by James Lissimore

Which rider or riders impressed you the most in the 450 class out west?

Another interesting question, but I first have to start off by saying that I’m always impressed with every rider who lines up for a national. However, if I had to pick a few, here they are. In the 450 class three riders have stood out to me but for different reasons. Colton Facciotti has really impressed me during the first three rounds with his speed and focus. With years of experience and five titles under his belt, Facciotti has been excellent during the first three rounds. He heads into Round 4 with a slim four-point lead over Phil Nicoletti, so there is definitely no room for error. Colton knows how to manage a championship better than anyone in the field so look for him to be rock solid in these final five rounds.

Speaking of Phil Nicoletti, he has really impressed me with his determination during the opening three rounds. Phil is a beast, and from talking to him I know he’s counting the seconds until the gate drops in the east. From what we’ve seen so far, Nicoletti doesn’t quite have the raw speed of Colton or Cole Thompson, but he sure makes up for it with his determination. At tough races like Gopher Dunes, these types of riders have always done well. Phil is definitely not happy with how his first three rounds have gone so he’ll most certainly come into Round 4 with a big chip on his shoulder.

Another 450 rider who has impressed me with raw speed is Cole Thompson. He easily won the second moto in Calgary, he was well on his way to winning the opening moto in Prince George until his chain came off, and he was leading on the opening lap in Manitoba until he fell. Cole has been very fast so far but heading into Round 4 he’s an astonishingly 29 points out of the lead. Unless Nicoletti and Facciotti make big mistakes in the coming races, these points will be very difficult to make up. Cole is also ten points behind Phil in the overall 450 Triple Crown Series, which is perhaps even harder to believe given Cole’s success in the AXTour. I think Cole really believes he can win this 450 MXTour Championship, but so do the riders in front of him.

Q: Where are you racing this weekend?

We are headed back up to Moto Park for the final two rounds of the 2019 New Era MPCup. These are always great weekends and I expect this to be another one. The MP crew always do a great job of hosting these big races, and with summer now here, the weather should be great. Out in hot and dry Kamloops, BC, the 2019 WCAN is taking place this weekend at Whispering Pines Raceway. By the sounds of it this is going to be a very well attended event with riders coming from all over to compete on this challenging track. So good luck to everyone, I hope you have a safe and successful weekend!

Well, that is it for me this week. I hope everyone has a great week ahead. Good luck to all that are racing this coming weekend; be safe and ride hard. Finally, as we were all sadly reminded of this past weekend at Baja Acres with the tragic passing of one of our fellow young riders, make sure you always tell your kids you love them before they head out on to the track. Thank-you for reading!