Yamaha Motor Canada Presents The Monday Gate Drop

Good day and welcome to another edition of the Yamaha Motor Canada Monday Gate Drop. To celebrate Yamaha Canada and its Blu Cru program we want to congratulate Julien Benek on winning the Yamaha Factory Ride Award this past week at the 2020 Walton TransCan. Benek rode great all week and not only took home this prestigious Yamaha Award, but he also won the 450 Intermediate Title.

Julien Benek took home the 450 Intermediate Title as well as the 2020 Yamaha Factory Rider Award. Photo by James Lissimore

Throughout my life I’ve always wondered what ten days in a row at Walton Raceway would do to my body, mind and soul. Well, wonder no more as since last Friday the Lee Family Farm has been my office in some way shape or form. I had a great time at Walton Raceway as I was able to witness some incredible racing, watch some very talented riders, see some old friends, and even make a few new ones. All in a day’s work I suppose when you’re able to use a cool place like Walton Raceway as your home office for a week.

Well, as you all may know we were able to witness history in the making last week as Walton Raceway not only hosted two (back to back) rounds of the 2020 Rockstar Energy Triple Crown MXTour Series, but also the Walton TransCan. Think about this for a second. This Country’s fastest pro riders (add in a couple of fast Americans as well) took to the rutted and challenging track one weekend, then we got to watch a plethora of our best amateur riders battle for four days, and then as icing as the cake if you will, the pros were at it again yesterday. In past years, this multi-weekend motocross extravaganza would’ve been seen as unique, but in 2020 with the Covid-19 challenges we’ve all had to endure, this has been perhaps the greatest ten days in Canadian motocross history. Considering all of the hurdles that the Walton crew had to jump through, to not only pull this event off, but to have just over 700 entries from right across Canada come to Walton last week is truly amazing. You could say that the 2020 Walton TransCan is one of the largest events that Canada has seen since this Pandemic began. To see it done and done safely from a health perspective is once again just amazing. I’m sure it hit home with everyone during Saturday’s TransCan Award ceremony when we heard the names of the riders and where they were all from. BC, Alberta, Quebec, etc…Almost every Province was represented at Walton and to me that says it all. Well done everyone!

Ryder McNabb set the tone for the week with an incredible come from behind win in the opening 250 Intermediate class moto. Photo James Lissimore

Of course, what would a pro national or the TransCan be without great racing and that is exactly what we saw during the past week. It all began last weekend when Dylan Wright and Jess Pettis continued their winning ways in the MXTour Series, and then on Wednesday it was time for the amateurs to hit the track for their opportunity to shine on Canada’s grandest stage. If you could sum up the high quality of riding at the 2020 Walton TransCan it was most likely done in the opening moto of week on Wednesday afternoon. Ryder McNabb, who ended up winning the 250 Intermediate Championship last week, had to battled from almost dead last to win the opening moto, passing BC speedster Julien Benek with just a few laps to go. It was an amazing display of raw speed and determination shown by McNabb and it really seemed to set the tone for the rest of the week. Under hot and sunny skies riders like Braxton Zeitner, Dexter Seitz, Sebastien Racine, Blake Davies, and Evan Stewart (just to name a few) dominated their classes and served notice that they indeed might be the next Ryder McNabb. All week we witnessed great battles and talented riding in each and every class, from the little kids on the mini track to Dan Tricco winning his first ever TransCan title in Vet 50 class, riders of all ages found success and joy last week at Walton Raceway.

KTM 85 and Supermini rider Dylan Rempel impressed everyone at the 2020 Walton TransCan with his hard charging style. He would also win the Award for the Most Improved Rider of the week. Photo by James Lissimore

As I said, all week there were great battles on the track everywhere you looked. The Evan Stewart/ Dylan Rempel battle at times in the Supermini and 85 (12-16) class were fun to watch, the Roberts Brother’s vs Cameron Wrozyna in the Two-Stroke class was a fun one to watch and listen to, but one of the best battles of the week took place in the final moto of the Vet 30B class between a couple of buddies who live just down the road from me. Going into the final moto Steve Simms and Devin Train had split moto wins and whomever came out on top in the third moto was going to decide the title. Well, right from the opening corner of the final race these two were neck and neck with Simms holding a slight advantage. Lap after lap, Train looked for a way around his fellow Blu Cru rider but he couldn’t pull the trigger. If Larry Huffman was announcing he no doubt would’ve screamed that “These two riders are so close that you could throw a tarpaulin over them.” As they both received the white flag it all came down to one lap for all of the glory. Train pulled all the tricks he had out of his hat, including jumping the natural double when Simms didn’t. In the end though, Simms held strong and took the win over his fellow Wednesday night riding buddy. It was a great race and it certainly encapsulated what the Walton TransCan is all about. Whether you’re racing your buddy on the track or hanging with friends and family in the paddock, it’s all about coming together in one place to celebrate the sport we love. That is why it’s so important to have this event every single year regardless of what is happening in the world.

Alberta rider Dexter Seitz won both the 65 (10-11) class as well as the 65 Open class at the Walton TransCan. Photo by James Lissimore

With the TransCan over and the awards handed out on Saturday evening, it was time for the pros to hit the Walton Raceway track again for Round 3 of the Rockstar Energy Triple Crown MXTour Series. Unfortunately, Mother Nature was sick of playing nice and she unleashed a thunderstorm on Sunday morning that turned the track into a muddy mess. The first two pro motos were a full-on mudder as Tanner Ward took his first ever pro moto win in the 250MX class. It was a great moment for Tanner and his family as he grabbed his first moto win on a track where he had so much success as a amateur over the years. Tanner would back that moto win up with a solid third in Moto 2 giving him the overall win on the day in the 250MX class. Tanner will never forget yesterday and in a true family moment he dedicated his win to his late brother. More memories, more unforgettable Walton moments, all because so many people worked hard to make this event happen. In the 450 class, Phil Nicoletti took the overall win with a 1-2 moto score, thus ending Dylan Wright’s six moto win streak. It was a challenging but exciting day of racing at Round 3 and I’m sure there’s more to come in two weeks at Sand Del Lee. Other highlights yesterday included Jeremy McKie’s third place in Moto 1 and fifth overall in the 250MX class, Ryder McNabb’s second moto 4th place, Shawn Maffenbeier’s solid 2-3 in the 450 class, and Keylan Meston’s fifth overall in the 450 class. By the final moto the track was actually in not bad condition and if you ever wanted to see a lap of pure genius all you had to do was look at the Dylan Wright’s lap right after he passed Nicoletti for the lead in Moto 2. In one lap he went from behind Phil to leading by almost ten seconds. His 2:33.840 lap time was five seconds faster than anyone else in that moto. Dylan Wright may have been beaten in the opening moto, but he sure came back in Moto 2 and laid down a beating on everyone in that final moto. Now the series moves to his home track at Sand Del Lee where he’ll be extremely tough to beat.

Steven Simms and his buddy Devin Train put on quite a show in the Vet 30B class at the TransCan.

So that is it for another Walton TransCan! I cannot believe that it’s come and gone already. Thank-you to the Lee Family for working so hard to make this event happen and thank-you to all of the riders and families who made the trek to Walton Raceway for this incredible event. I hope everyone has a safe drive home and successful end to your season in the coming months. Thank-you for reading and if you have any cool stories from the TransCan, please email me at chris@mxpmag.com.