Yamaha Motor Canada Presents The Monday Gate Drop

Good day and welcome to another edition of the Yamaha Motor Canada Monday Gate Drop. I hope you all enjoyed Canada Day last week, and if you’re reading this column from the USA then happy 4th of July to you and to all of our American friends. With all of the restrictions and Social Distancing rules that are still in effect, it was definitely a different type of Canada Day for all of us. In the town where I live all of our normal Canada Day celebrations were cancelled, and sadly there were no nighttime fireworks show. Anyway, the day came and went so now we’ll have to look forward to next year and hopefully celebrating Canada Day the right way.

Only 19 days until we drop the gate on the 2020 Rockstar Energy Triple Crown MXtour Series. Photo by James Lissimore

With only a couple of races this weekend in Canada, it was time to either head to your local practice track to get some laps in, or with the nice summer weather in most parts of the country, it was time to head to the beach. For most of our Rockstar Energy Triple Crown Series riders, now is the time to really narrow your focus as the opening round is now less than three weeks away. This has been a very challenging off-season for all of the riders, to say the least, as no one really knew when the season was going to begin. However, with the final schedule being released last month the riders could finally set their sights on Gopher Dunes and the July 25/26 weekend. On Saturday, my son and I made our way down to Gopher Dunes so he could get some more sand practice in prior to this coming Sunday’s AMO OPC event. Gopher was obviously busy with riders on both the main track as well as on the trails for most of the day. It was great to see so many people out riding and enjoying themselves. Even GDR Honda riders Tanner Ward and Ryder McNabb were out doing motos in the late afternoon sun. Both riders strategically waited until late in the day when the track was at its roughest and almost clear of riders. Watching young Ryder McNabb pound out a 30-minute moto was pretty inspiring for all of the young riders in attendance to witness. Considering this kid was on 85s last year and now is preparing for his first 250MX pro national is remarkable to me. As I’ve said a couple of times, Ryder might be rushing ahead a little bit by jumping straight into the pro class this summer. Only time will tell on this endeavour. But if there is one rider in Canada who can handle this giant leap it’s most likely Ryder McNabb. This kid is wise and mature beyond his years and knows how to work extremely hard. If he can remain healthy, which is the golden question with every rider on the gate, then my humble prediction is that he’ll be a true 250MX title contender in 2022. That gives him this summer to adjust to the intensity of a 30-minute national moto and learn what it’s like to battle against older riders who are trying to do this sport for a living. Next year, he can find his way on to the podium and maybe even higher at a few rounds, and then the following season he’ll be in a good position to battle for race wins and possibly a 250MX title. As we’ve seen in recent years with Dylan Wright and Jess Pettis in particular, there’s a process to winning at the pro level and it takes time.

The Gopher Dunes National paddock last year was so organized that they looked like were ahead of the social distancing game. Photo by James Lissimore

We are now just a few weeks away from the long-awaited gate drop of the 2020 Rockstar Energy Triple Crown MXTour Series, and from what I’m hearing this coming weekend at Gopher Dunes is going to be a prelude to what we’re going to see at the opening round of the MXTour. From my understanding, the KTM Canada Team of Jess Pettis and Cole Thompson are testing this week in Quebec and then both riders will be at Gopher Dunes this weekend. Also, rookie KTM 250MX rider Jacob Piccolo will be arriving in Ontario this week and will use Sunday’s AMO race as a warm-up for the opening round, as will other western riders like Tyler Gibbs and Tallon Unger. Finally, throw in the GDR Honda crew of Dylan Wright, Tanner Ward and Ryder McNabb and you have one heck of a pro class this weekend. You almost have to go back to the Ontario Provincial races in the late 1990s to find this many top Canadian pro riders lined up together at a regional event. This is definitely going to be exciting to watch!

The gate won’t be dropping on the 2020 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Series until at least August.

Down in the USA, things are definitely a mess. I’m not sure if they’re doing more Covid-19 testing, which is why there are so many new cases popping up, or whether it’s because summer is here and people aren’t social distancing like they were in April and May. Perhaps it’s a combination of both! Whatever the reason there are hot spots springing up in certain States and it’s making everyone nervous again. This prompted MX Sports to once again postpone the opening round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Series until sometime in August, hoping that by then it will be safe to have fans in attendance. As we saw with Supercross last month and as we’re seeing with all sports that are starting back up, having fans in the seats is just not an option. Even Formula 1, which finally kicked off their 2020 season yesterday in Austria, didn’t have any fans in the stands. Sadly, this is the reality of the situation right now. This puts MX Sports in a challenging position as wanting fans also makes it difficult to have multiple rounds at one venue. I mean, unless you have a very strong fan base and population surrounding one particular track, how are you going to entice a lot of fans to show up multiple times over the course of several weeks. At this point waiting until August or even early September is most likely the best course of action. Hopefully by then the spike in Covid-19 cases will have subsided and fans will be able to safely attend. I even heard last week that the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National almost got pushed back to October with Tennessee being one of the affected Covid-19 States. However, things cleared up and it was announced on Saturday that this historic event will take place at the end of July as scheduled. These are most certainly crazy times! Here is the official press release from MX Sports Pro Racing: 

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.—Despite the tireless and sustained efforts on behalf of both series and event organizers, MX Sports Pro Racing has made the difficult decision to further postpone the start of the 2020 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing. The previously announced opening pair of events were slated to begin in just over two weeks, on July 18, with the Circle K Ironman National in Indiana, followed by the GEICO Motorcycle WW Ranch National in Florida on July 25. However, due to ongoing concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, notably recent spikes of positive cases in a significant number of states, series managers deem it necessary to push back the start of the series once more. MX Sports Pro Racing will now look to begin the season in August.

“From the moment we were forced to delay the original start of the 2020 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship in May, we have diligently worked towards developing as complete a championship-caliber calendar as possible for both our athletes and our fans,” said Carrie Russell, CEO of MX Sports Pro Racing. “In tandem with our event organizers, we have been in constant communication with local officials from the government, health department, and department of public safety for each respective venue to ensure every National is operated in accordance with social distancing measures established by each county and the CDC.

“Following the recent spike in positive cases around the country, a pause is warranted as we evaluate the impact of the stall in state-issued reopening phases and newly implemented travel quarantines,” continued Russell. “Our manufacturers are the lifeblood of American motocross, and we stand by them with our support in times of need. As a result of recent developments, MX Sports Pro Racing needs to take the definitive and proactive step of postponing the start of the season temporarily, which will allow us to work through the current challenges we face.”

In response to this latest decision, MX Sports Pro Racing and event organizers will continue to maintain extensive communication with local officials. The evolution of the pandemic has included dramatic changes from one week to the next, and as states and counties take necessary action to confront the latest concerns of the coronavirus spread, MX Sports Pro Racing will be in a position to take immediate action when the opportunity arises to confirm events at a future date when the time is right.

“It is our sole focus to host a successful season that will not only allow us to crown a pair of AMA National Champions, but will also allow our incredibly loyal fanbase to celebrate the return of racing by cheering on their favorite riders,” concluded  Russell. “These are extraordinary times that have had a significant impact on our industry, and that has called for us to take unprecedented action on behalf of the well-being of our community. This sport is a family, and we will not be deterred from accomplishing our goal, despite this adversity. We remain steadfast in bringing everyone the 2020 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship they deserve. Our event organizers have put in far too much effort, while our broadcast partners, series sponsors, manufacturers, participants, and fans have all shown tremendous patience. We owe it to all of them to bring this season to fruition, and we’ll do everything in our power to make that happen.”

Online tickets previously purchased for the Ironman and WW Ranch Nationals will be honored at the to-be-announced rescheduled dates. Refund requests will be honored by contacting the respective event organizers.

For information about the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, please visit ProMotocross.com and be sure to follow all of the Pro Motocross social media channels for exclusive content and additional information on the latest news:

It was great to see racing this past weekend in Alberta and in Manitoba.

It was great to see racing finally kicking off in other parts of Canada over the weekend. On Sunday there was a race in Alberta and also in Manitoba at the infamous Morden track. Congratulations to these regions for being able to not only hold races again but to do so safely with everyone’s health and safety in mind. There is nothing like a little throttle therapy to make everyone feel happy.

Well, that is it for me this week. I hope everyone has a great week and a safe week riding. Also, I will part of this weeks Inside X which airs Wednesday evening at 8pm Eastern time. I’m looking forward to catching up with Kyle and Gauldy this week. If you have any questions, comments, or even a cool moto story you want to share, please email me at chris@mxpmag.com. Also, make sure you follow us on Twitter (@mxpmagazine) and Instagram (@mxpmag) as I will bring you all of the action from this coming weekend and the Triple Crown MXTour Prequel from Gopher Dunes.