Good day and welcome to another edition of the Yamaha Motor Canada Monday Gate Drop. As we’ve reached the midway point of July, our summer riding season is getting very busy. In particular, the summer moto camps at the Yamaha Canada sponsored Moto Park Academy in Chatsworth, ON are rolling along for the for the next six weeks. If you would like to sign up, please visit www. motoparkracing.com for all of the details.
One of the most anticipated races of the year is now history. Even though Round 4 at Gopher Dunes perhaps wasn’t as challenging as in years past, Saturday was still a very tough day. First off, the weather was very warm with a good bit of humidity all day long. There was a decent breeze, but I’m sure that only the fans felt it as the track temperature was even warmer. At the end of the day it was your typical national at Gopher Dunes – hot, miserable and taxing on the riders and their machines.
From the moment I arrived at the Gopher Dunes on Friday afternoon it was very evident just how much work the GD crew put in to make this event look good. I think the one thing that sometimes gets overlooked is the amount of effort it takes to make one of these MXTour rounds happen. Each round of the series takes months to plan, and get ready for the teams and fans to arrive. It all builds into a few big days where you pray that Mother Nature cooperates, and then in the blink of an eye it’s all over. We are extremely lucky that all of our national tracks take such pride in their events; driving into each one on Friday for the first time is always one of my favourite things. To say that the Gopher Dunes grounds were prepared to absolute perfection would be a gross understatement. From the paddock area looking like a golf course, to the track looking like a beautiful undulating sand oasis, no one could argue that Gopher Dunes wasn’t ready for Round 4 of the Rockstar Energy Triple Crown MXTour Series.
After a three week break between Rounds 3 and 4, everyone was more than ready to get back racing. Whether you were a rider who enjoyed some success in the opening three races of the series, or a rider who wasn’t happy with how the west went, the break was about one week too long. Anyway, the wait was over and everyone was ready to get back to racing. In talking to some of the riders on Friday, I enjoyed listening to them tell me how their break was and what they did special to prepare for not just Gopher Dunes but also the rest of the series. Most riders did something different to prepare for Gopher Dunes, whether it was riding a whooped out sand track or do a little extra training. For a few of our older riders, they mostly took care of their bodies so they’d be good for these final five rounds. Either way, as much as the riders were excited to get back racing, you could sense a little extra tension as they were a little worried about what was in store on Saturday.
With the extreme conditions that a race like the Gopher Dunes National always seems to have, it has always produced surprising performances over the years. This year we saw perhaps one of the biggest surprise performances ever at this storied track as GDR Honda rider Mike Alessi dominated both 450 motos. When I say dominated, I do mean dominated as for the better part of both motos it wasn’t even close. I’m sure very few people, including myself, thought that Alessi would come out at Round 4 and not just win one moto but win both in such a convincing fashion. In Moto 1, Alessi grabbed the early lead and never looked back. In Moto 2, he did the same thing. To give you an example of how fast Alessi was in the second moto, by the third lap he already had a 13 second lead! With Nicoletti struggling a little with his starts, Thompson fighting a very sore back, Goerke having bike issues, and Facciotti battling a sore neck, Alessi took full advantage and honestly made both moto wins look routine. As I said, it was definitely a surprise given how the first three rounds went for Alessi, but on Saturday we saw one of the most dominating performances ever on this track. Can Alessi do it again this coming weekend at Round 5 in Sand Del Lee? In talking to him this weekend and seeing how happy and confident he is, anything is possible. As for the rest of the 450 riders, they will have to recover this week and hope that what they saw on Saturday isn’t a sign of things to come.
In the 250 class, it was much of the same for the GDR Honda Team as Dylan Wright grabbed the win and took back the red plates in the process. Wright didn’t quite make his win look as easy as his teammate did in the 450 class, but he was still the dominant rider on the day. To make this day even more unforgettable for Dylan and his family, on the podium after the race he proposed to his girlfriend and she accepted. It was the perfect ending to a great day for Dylan Wright, his family and his team. Does it get any better for the Gopher Dunes crew than to have their team riders win all four motos and take both red plates into the following round? In the 250 class, Wright now leads by 14 points over Marshal Weltin, while in the big bike class, Facciotti and Nicholetti are now tied in points and will share the red plates this coming weekend. It was a great day of racing at Gopher Dunes and it was good to see a large crowd of people turn out to watch. It was also exciting to see Eve Brodeur win the WMX East class and Nathan Bles take home the victory in the 125 Pre-Mix class. In some unsettling news, we received confirmation this weekend that Jake Tricco is no longer part of the Honda Racing GDR Fox Racing Team. This is very unfortunate for the talented Ontario rider who had so much promise coming into 2019. Hopefully he’s able to continue to recover from his early season injury and get things back on track very soon.
Well, that is it for me this week. I hope everyone has a great week and I can’t wait to see you this weekend at Sand Del Lee. Finally, I want to make mention that even after the tragic loss of his fiancée two weeks ago, Ryan Derry was on the starting line at Gopher Dunes this weekend. I can’t even begin to imagine how much courage it took for him to race on Saturday, but good on him for being there. It’s been incredible to see how our motocross family has pulled together to support Ryan. Thanks for reading and have a great week!