Good day and welcome to another edition of the Yamaha Motor Canada Monday Gate Drop. When this Covid-19 Pandemic began a few months ago, the outlook for bike sales in this country was understandably bleak, to say the least. After all, with people on lock down and many also at risk of losing their jobs, why would anyone want to go and make a large purchase? However, late last week the MMIC sent out a press release stating that off-road motorcycle sales in Canada were up 100% in May compared to this time last year. All things considered these are amazing numbers and with any luck they will continue when the 2021 models arrive later this summer. The good news is that even if sales decline over the next few months, by year end they still could be about the same as they have been for the past few years. Not bad considering everything that our world and our industry has been going through.
When we think of racing motocross and all of the sounds that we associate with it, one of the sounds we rarely think about is the beep, beep, beep of the alarm clock as it notifies us to wake up! Obviously, in our everyday lives we have to get up for things like work and school in which we sometimes need alarm clocks, but there is nothing quite like the wake-up call to signify that it’s “Race day.” I’m sure every rider and parent will agree that there is no feeling quite like the feeling of race day. From the moment your eyes open, the day feels like no other. Instantly your body and brain know that something extraordinary is about to happen. Because of this, breakfast usually tastes different, your mood could be different, and you just want to get moving. Yes, race day is unlike any other day of the week, and thankfully some of us got to experience it yesterday at Gopher Dunes.
To say that yesterday’s opening round of the AMO Ontario Provincial Series at Gopher Dunes was historic would be a gross understatement, in my opinion. Considering that a few months ago the mainstream media and some Government officials were telling us that if we venture too far away from our home the chances of catching the Covid-19 Virus and getting deathly ill were pretty good. Because of this, all of sports and pretty much the entire planet came to a grinding halt. Not only did the return of some of our everyday activities seem impossible, but fun things like racing dirt bikes were also thought to be done for the year. Well, thanks to a number of people and their tireless efforts of Ryan Gauld, Derek Schuster, and Brett Lee (just to name a few), the gate was able to drop on the first race of the 2020 season in Canada. As I said, it was an historic event, and for the over 600 entries that lined up, I’m sure they all would all agree. The Gopher Dunes track was in fine form, the weather was perfect. Although there were a lot of exhausted riders at the end of the day, there were no serious injuries that required an ambulance ride to the hospital. If that’s not a successful day at the race track then I don’t know what is.
With Gopher Dunes being an exact two-hour drive from my house, my family and I usually get up super early to make the trek the morning of the race. However, with this being the long anticipated first race of the year, I knew that we’d have to be there extra early, and I figured my son would be slightly more nervous than he usually is. So, with these things in mind we left Saturday afternoon and stayed at a nearby hotel, then made the short drive to the track first thing in the morning. With riders meeting at 7:45 and practice beginning at 8am sharp I’m glad we did what we did as we avoided what would have been a 4am wake-up call. From the moment we arrived at Gopher Dunes it was evident that this was going to be like no other Ontario Regional race they we’ve attended before. First, we were greeted by a member of the courteous Gopher Dunes staff who had us follow them to where we would be parking for the day. Now, if you’re someone who suffers from a little OCD then the paddock layout yesterday at Gopher Dunes was set-up for you. Every truck, trailer and camper were parked in order and perfectly spaced apart. Everyone had enough room to keep up with the social distancing rules and to stay within their social bubbles. It was a very impressive display of paddock parking and I think it’s set the bar pretty high for the rest of the season. Also, because we didn’t camp at Gopher Dunes and arrived on Sunday morning, we were parked in the front row just 50 steps from the starting line. In my 32 years of going to Gopher Dunes to race I’ve never parked that close to the starting line. Between that and the rider’s meeting being conducted over the PA, meaning no one had to leave their pit area, I think I could get used to these new rules.
As I mentioned above it was a great opening race yesterday at Gopher Dunes and I hope every region across Canada gets to experience the same very soon. One of the numerous cool things about yesterday was that not only were there a lot of entries, over 600 as I stated earlier, but the pro class was huge! You see, back in my day when there was actually a set pro purse for the Ontario Provincial races, the pro class was always big and very competitive. Throughout most of the 1990’s a number of Top 10 pro riders resided in Ontario so whenever we weren’t away at a National we were beating each other up at a Provincial race. Some of my best memories in racing come from battling guys like Marty Burr, Ryan Gauld, Doug Dehaan and Bill Wallin at our local tracks. I’m sure it was entertaining for everyone in attendance as the racing was fun to watch. Yesterday reminded me of those days as top pros like Dylan Wright, Cole Thompson, Tanner Ward, Sam Gaynor, Quinn Amyotte were there (just to name a few), and even Tim Tremblay made the drive from Quebec to get in a few gate drops. The racing was excellent in the Pro/Int and Cash Classes, and even though he didn’t have any numbers on his bike (a real pet peeve of mine) Dylan Wright won all of the motos. Dylan looks great on his new CRF450, and when the Rockstar Energy Triple Crown Series begins next month at this same track, he’s going to be tough to beat. Cole Thompson also looked great yesterday but his starts were a little off and he had to battle his way up to second. He and Wright did have a decent battle in one moto but the race wasn’t very long and Cole simply ran out of time. It’s definitely going to be interesting to watch these two riders race against each other this summer, as not only are their styles completely different, but they also simply don’t like each other, which always seems to add fuel to the fire. Throw in other 450MX riders like Phil Nicoletti, Matt Goerke, Shawn Maffenbeier and Tyler Medaglia and this class gets very interesting. Tim Tremblay was also very fast yesterday. In the final Cash Class moto he actually held off his KTM teammate Thompson for second. Tim came out of retirement earlier this year to fill in for Jess Pettis at the AXTour, but now he’s enjoying himself so much that he’s decided to race the MXTour. Tanner Ward also looked great yesterday. With opening round of the MXTour at his home track, he should do very well. Sam Gaynor also looked strong yesterday, especially on the start as I think he nailed every holeshot. It was definitely great racing in the pro class and really in all classes at Gopher Dunes, and I cannot wait to do it again. From what I’m hearing, though, Moto Park will not happen this coming weekend as the local municipality are not on board. So, the next races in Ontario will be at Walton Raceway on June 28, Gopher Dunes on July 12 and back at Walton Raceway on July 19. Then of course is the opening round of the 2020 Rockstar Energy Triple Series at Gopher Dunes on July 25, 26. See you all there!
Well, that is it for me this week. I hope everyone has a great week, and Happy Father’s Day to all of the great dads out there this Sunday. Finally, congratulations to Ken Roczen and Austin Forkner who took the wins last night in Salt Lake City. It was a great comeback for Roczen and another dominating performance for Forkner. Round 16 goes this Wednesday night when Eli Tomac has the chance to clinch his first ever SX title. Thanks for reading. If you have any comments or questions please email me at chris@mxpmag. Have a great week!