Yamaha Motor Canada Presents The Monday Gate Drop

Good day and welcome to another edition of the Yamaha Motor Canada Monday Gate Drop. This week’s Gate Drop comes at you from Walton Raceway and the 2020 Walton TransCan. This long standing event is ready to open its gates later on today and welcome in the top amateur riders from across Canada. Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, this is obviously a very different TransCan with new rules and restrictions in place. If you plan on attending, please see the Walton TransCan website for everything you need to know. (www.waltontranscan.ca)

Marshal Weltin was able to grab a moto win at Walton Raceway and finish up in second overall. Photo by James Lissimore

Well, two rounds of the 2020 Rockstar Energy Triple Crown MXTour Series are now complete and just like the opening round two weeks ago at Gopher Dunes, the same two talented riders were victorious. In the 250 class, Jess Pettis once again came out on top over Marshal Weltin and Marco Cannella. All three riders rode hard and Weltin was even able to win a moto on Sunday. Even though we’re only two races into this unique 2020 Series, it’s clear that these riders have a leg up on everyone else. Tanner Ward is another rider who isn’t far off the Top 3. Tanner has been fast during the first two rounds but he’s yet to find his way to the front of the pack. As for Jess Pettis, this past weekend he continued to show why he’s the current 250MX points leader as he dominated the opening moto, almost came back to win Moto 2, and then holeshotted and won the final moto of the day. The Pettis train is running on all cylinders right now and he’s going to be difficult to stop. As I mentioned above, Weltin was able to win Moto 2 and finally have all of his hard work pay off. This kid has been entertaining to watch during the opening two rounds and he just never stops charging. Whether he’s out front, sitting in second, or coming from behind, Weltin is always going for it. One of the most entertaining battles of the weekend was the Weltin/Cannella battle during the final moto. Both riders were charging hard through the deep Walton ruts and neither one would give an inch. In the end, Weltin would hold on for second. However, the pace of their battle was so high that it took them to the back wheel of Jess Pettis by the checkered flag.

Just as he did at the opening round, Jess Pettis won the overall at Round 2 in the 250MX class. Photo by James Lissimore

Another 250 rider who had a good weekend and a great final moto was rookie sensation Ryder McNabb. If you take away his second moto result when his bike quit running on the final lap, causing him to finish 19th, McNabb was a top five rider at Round 2. In Moto 3, while racing his practice bike, McNabb passed Ryan Surrat early and secured himself a 5th place finish and 8th overall in the 250 class. Young McNabb has definitely benefited from being around his experienced GDR Honda teammates as well as his new mechanic Ryan Lockhart. I spoke to Ryder at the end of the day and he was obviously happy with how his weekend went. He also mentioned that he enjoyed riding his practice bike in the final moto as the power was easier to control, especially off of the gate. It was cool to hear the confidence in his voice when he was talking about the weekend. McNabb will race the Intermediate class this week at the TransCan before lining up for Round 3 next weekend. Actually, on another note, a few of the top riders are racing the TransCan this week, including Dylan Wright, Phil Nicoletti, Tanner Ward, and Jacob Piccolo. And they’re all racing in the same class, Youth 14-29 Int/Pro. That will most certainly be a class to watch this week.

Phil Nicoletti was fast at Round 2 but made a few unforced errors that cost him. Photo by James Lissimore

That brings us the 450MX class and the two dominating rounds by Dylan Wright. At Gopher Dunes a few weeks ago, Dylan Wright won all three motos and came away with his first ever 450MX victory. During those three moto’s Wright served noticed that he’s not only ready to win races, but that he’s fit, confident and prepared to win this 450MX title. This past weekend at Walton Raceway, I figured that the racing would be a lot closer and that perhaps Wright would find it more difficult to win motos. Well in the end, the racing was closer in all three motos, especially the opening moto when Wright started in 25th place. Of course, in that moto Dylan came around a lap later in 4th place and a few laps after that he was leading. The rookie Honda rider has been very good so far and one of the things that has really surprised me is that he’s making his competition, who are way more experienced than he is, make the mistakes. For instance, in the first 450 yesterday Tyler Medaglia was all alone out front, Nicoletti had actually repassed Wright for second and the stage was set for what might have been the most entertaining moto of the season. Then, two laps later Nicoletti slid out and handed second place back to Wright, who a few laps after that would reel in Medaglia for the lead and in the end the moto win. If Nicoletti could’ve held on for a little while longer I feel like he and Wright would’ve freight-trained up to Tyler and the three of them could have battled for the win. So far this season a few riders have challenged Wright in the opening ten minutes of a couple of motos, but not during the final ten minutes. As I said, I’m surprised, and even a little shocked that so far Wright’s speed has been forcing his main competitors into unforced errors. Prior to the series beginning I thought it could go the other way and that the experience of riders like Nicoletti, Medaglia and Goerke would trump the raw speed of Dylan Wright in at least a few motos. But so far it hasn’t and after two rounds Dylan has a 26-point lead in the 450MX class over Phil Nicoletti.

It was great to see Cole Thompson back on the track at Round 2. He was able to finish on the podium in the opening 450MX moto, but struggled in the other two. I’d love to see him race this week at the TransCan and work his way back into race shape. Photo by James Lissimore

So how can these guys beat Dylan and put an end to his six race win streak? Well, that is obviously easier said then done. At the opening round, the sand and heat at Gopher Dunes couldn’t stop him, and then this past weekend the ruts, one bad start, and some mud couldn’t beat him either. Right now, Dylan feels that he can win regardless of where he starts or what happens during the moto. That kind of confidence is a powerful thing and Wright is full of it right now. He loves his bike, his team, and the council that he’s getting from Colton Facciotti has been invaluable. Everything is clicking right now under the red tent and it’s up to the other riders to try and find a crack in the armour of the #9 and make him beat himself. As I mentioned, the only thing we haven’t seen yet is Dylan having to fight for a moto win in the final five to ten minutes. In all six moto thus far he’s had enough of a gap in the final 10 minutes to not feel any pressure. If the other riders could somehow find a way to reserve some energy to make a run on Wright in the final ten minutes, then maybe, just maybe that would force a mistake. I don’t know, when you’re on a roll like Wright is right now you definitely feel like you can do no wrong. In my opinion, watching guys like Nicoletti, Medaglia, and Goerke make adjustments in the coming weeks is going to be very interesting. All of them are former champions that don’t like to lose, especially six motos in a row. The age old battle between experience and youthful exuberance is always an interesting one to watch. I for one cannot wait until next weekend at Walton Raceway.

The #9 train just keeps rolling along! Photo by James Lissimore

So that is it for me this week. I hope everyone has a great week and a safe week of racing at the Walton TransCan. As we’ve all read during the past few weeks, getting this year’s TransCan from the drawing board to the track has been incredibly difficult. The Walton crew deserve a massive amount of credit for making the 2020 Walton TransCan happen. Now, for those who are attending, lets do our part and help make this year’s event as special as it always is. Have a great week and I will see you tomorrow at Walton Raceway. Finally, make sure you pick up a copy of our latest issue at the front gate when you arrive. I will also have copies so if you need one please come and find me. Good luck and have fun!