Yamaha Motor Canada Presents The Monday Gate Drop

Good day, and welcome to another edition of the Yamaha Motor Canada Monday Gate Drop. As I’ve mentioned in previous weeks, the 2021 Yamaha’s are in dealers now right across Canada. So if you want to be a member of the Blu Cru then head into your local Yamaha dealer and pick one up before they’re all gone.

I hope everyone had a great weekend and a safe weekend riding. This past weekend was a quiet one for me as for the first time in a few weeks that I wasn’t at the mecca of Canadian motocross, Walton Raceway. To recap the 2020 Walton TransCan I interviewed Brett Lee late last week and here is the link to my chat with Brett: https://www.mxpmag.com/fox-racing-presents-mxp-chatter-with-brett-lee/

This coming weekend the MXTour is back at it with Round 4 at the incredible Sand Del Lee track near Ottawa. For whatever reason, this round has always provided some great racing action and some unforgettable moments. I’m sure this year will be much of the same so I’m looking forward to heading to SDL this weekend. So as we head into Round 4 both Jess Pettis and Dylan Wright are still the red place holders in the 250MX and 450MX classes and have been since the opening round. Both riders are former 250MX class champions so they know how to manage a championship, even when the conditions get challenging. They both had to deal with some adversity at Walton and thankfully for them, they came away unscathed. Now it’s onto the final six motos on the series on tracks where Pettis and Wright have had success in the past. Let’s take a look at some riders who have impressed thus far in the 2020 Rockstar Energy Triple Crown MXTour Series.

Jess Pettis and Marshal Weltin battled each other hard in the mud at Walton Raceway. Photo  by James Lissimore
Jess Pettis and Marshal Weltin battled each other hard in the mud at Walton Raceway. Photo by James Lissimore

250 Class:

As I mentioned above, with Jess Pettis being the points leader after three rounds then he’s obviously impressed everyone. So far he’s been very steady and he’s taken what each race has given him. Even in the muddy conditions at Round 3, Pettis still found a way to go 2-2 on the day for second overall. Yes, he did lose one point to Tanner Ward, but he gained six on his closet rival Marshal Weltin. Unless something disastrous happens to Pettis, I can’t see him making any big mistakes in the coming weeks to throw away this title.

As for Marshal Weltin, he’s also been very good so far in this series and he definitely gets my vote for the hardest charger of 2020. This kid is always charging and finally, at Round 3 he got rewarded with a moto win. Unfortunately, his 8th in the first moto hurt his chances at the overall victory on the day. However, as good as Weltin has been in this series, he needs to be just a little better in the final six motos if he wants to win this title. Another rider who also got a moto win and his first-ever overall victory at Round 3 was Tanner Ward. So far in this series, Tanner has been fast, but at key times in certain motos he hasn’t been as fast as Pettis or Weltin. We know the heat made him sick at the opening round and since then he’s been struggling to get back to his normal self. But this coming weekend isn’t supposed to be hot (Sunday is forecasting 19c at SDL) so this should help Tanner. Hopefully, the confidence he took from winning Round 3 will give him the boost he needs in the final two rounds. Right now, Ward is 34 points out of the lead in the 250MX class so he pretty much needs to win most of the remaining motos if he wants a shot at this title.

Jacob Piccolo is one of the rookie’s who has been impressive in the 250MX Class. Photo by James Lissimore

Other 250MX riders that have impressed me are Marco Cannella, Hayden Halstead, Jeremy McKie, and Ryder McNabb. To me, Cannella appears oh so very close to winning a moto and getting to the next level in this sport. So far in 2020, he’s been very good and right now he sits five points out of third. If Cannella can get one moto win than lookout, he might be able to go on a run. Hayden Halstead has also been steady during the opening three rounds and he sits in a solid 5th place in the point standings. The sport needs guys like Halstead and I’m happy to see him having a solid series. The rookies in the 250MX class, McKie and McNabb have also been very impressive thus far. McKie currently holds the lead in the Rookie of the Year chase and he sits in 7th place in the point standings, compared to McNabb who sits in 8th. Both have been great and a lot of fun to watch. Heading into the final two rounds I do give McKie a slight edge only because he knows both the SDL and Deschambault track very well. Let’s also not forget about names like Surratt, Amyotte, Elmore, Piccolo, Crete, Powell, Fraser, Gibbs, and Unger. All of these riders have shown some good speed and now they just have to find some consistency.

The 450MX Class is going to be fun to watch during these final two rounds. Photo by James Lissimore

450 Class

In the 450 class, I think it’s safe to say that Dylan Wright has been impressive so far in 2020. Each time he’s been given a test he’s passed with flying colors. At the opening round, it was the heat and the rough track, at Round 2 it was an awful start in one moto, and at Round 3 it was the Walton mud. Three different situations where Wright could’ve made huge mistakes and given away points to his more experienced rivals. But he didn’t and considering the series is heading to his home track this weekend and one of his favourite tracks next weekend, things are trending positively for Dylan Wright. Behind Dylan is Phil Nicoletti who has also been good so far in 2020. Heading into Round 4 Nicoletti sits 22 points off of the lead and he’s coming off a big win at Round 3. Nicoletti is a proven fighter and if there’s anyone who can find a way to still win this title it’s him. Given his years of experience racing in the USA against some of the best riders in the world, Nicoletti no doubt has a deep bag of tricks at his disposal. As I said, he will need everyone one of them if he hopes to force Wright into some late series mistakes. This battle is going to be fun to watch in the coming weeks as it’s really the ultimate battle between experience and youthful exuberance.

Who is your pick for this weekend in Sand Del Lee. Photo by James Lissimore

Other riders who have been good in 2020 are Matt Goerke, Tyler Medaglia, and Shawn Maffenbeier. All three riders have had time either at the front of the pack or close to it. They all have the speed, the experience as well as the desire to win motos and get back into this title chase. The only issue I see is that sometimes with a lot of experience comes the knowledge of knowing what might happen if you push the envelope and get too far out of your comfort zone. Both SDL and Deschambault have historically been forgiving tracks, meaning that they provide good feedback to the riders so they feel comfortable to let it all hang out. Also, for a rider like Medaglia, who grew up just minutes from SDL, look for him to shine this weekend. It’s ‘go time’ for everyone as there’s only six motos remaining in this series. Two other riders who have been solid are Liam O’Farrell and Keylan Meston. Both are coming off solids races at Walton Raceway and both have done well at SDL and Deschambault in the past. The 2020 MXTour might be a little shorter than in years past, but that doesn’t mean it’s been less exciting. Stay tuned for some action-packed motos this weekend and next.

The Sand Del Lee National is always one of the best races of the series. Photo by James Lissimore

Looking beyond the MXTour Series, late last week the MRC announced the dates to the season-ending SXTour events. These four rounds will take place on the AX track at Gopher Dunes on Sept 18, 19, and again on Sept 25, 26. Sadly, there will once again be no fans permitted at these races, but there will be selected amateur classes included in the AXTour program. It should be fun as these races will have have an outdoor, under the stars feel to them.

Well, that is it for me this week. I hope everyone has a great week and once again congratulations to everyone who competed at the 2020 Walton TransCan. It was a glorious week at the Lee Family Farm and I hope everyone made it home safe. Thank you for reading and if you have any questions or comments please email me at chris@mxpmag.com.