Yamaha Motor Canada Presents The Monday Gate Drop

Good day, and welcome to another edition of the Yamaha Motor Canada Monday Gate Drop. On Saturday night in Indianapolis, Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha rider Colt Nichols dominated the 250SX East main event from start to finish. Nichols not only took home the victory at Round 4, but he also secured the points lead heading into Round 5 on Tuesday night. Armed with the new 2021 YZ250F, the Star Racing Yamaha riders have been almost unbeatable so far in the 250SX East Class.

The 250SX East podium in Indy featured a couple of new faces. Photo by Matt Wellumson

After all of the drama at Round 3 in Houston, Saturday evening in Indy was a little more subdued. Racing on a very soft and challenging race track, Colt Nichols and Ken Roczen both rode brilliantly to take the win in the 250SX East and 450SX classes. Nichols led from start to finish while Roczen had to find his way around Adam Cianciarulo in the early laps to take the lead. Actually, Roczen passed Cianciarulo for the lead and then accidentally jumped off of the track halfway through the main event. This allowed Eli Tomac to briefly take the lead before Roczen regroup and took the lead back. As I said, this main event thankfully lacked the drama of H3 as no lapped riders got in the way of the leaders. Roczen definitely appeared motivated to win this main event and from the drop of the gate, he was the fastest rider. Finishing behind Roczen was Tomac and Cooper Webb in third. It was a fairly entertaining main event as the soft track keep all of the riders on their toes. The Indy soil is one of a kind as it not only ruts up quickly but for some reason, it is also slippery. A few years my son raced the KJSC event at Lucas Oil Stadium and I remember walking the track and thinking how strange the soil was. Usually, dirt like this is super sticky when it’s soft, but the Indy dirt isn’t. That year the KJSC opening practice was at the end of all the three 250SX and 450SX sessions, so the track was extremely rutted. Like, so rutted that some of the kids had trouble making it around the track. Anyway, as Saturday’s main event wore on you could see the riders struggling with the ruts. On a side note, I thought the layout was great as I love when the designers use an over/under jump in these football stadiums. It opens the track up more and allows for better racing in my opinion.

Ken Roczen gets a well-earned hug from his family moments after winning the 450SX main event in Indianapolis. Photo by Matt Wellumson

So we made it through what I believe to be the most depressing month of the year. I’ve always disliked January and November as where I live they always seem to be really grey months. Each year I can’t wait to get through them and now we’re onto February and the shortest month of the year. Before we know it March will be here and with it hopefully the early stages of spring. I’m assuming that everyone reading this column is just as excited for spring as I am. It’s been a strange time since just before Christmas when Ontario went back into full lockdown. Up until that point life was somewhat normal with hockey, kids in the classrooms, ski hills open, and bars and restaurants operating at limited capacity. Unfortunately, that all changed in late December and since then we’ve been told to remain at home. Regardless of your thoughts on this ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic, I think it’s appalling what we’re doing to our kids right now. Obviously, from Day 1 there have been certain groups that are more affected than others by this awful virus, just as there are certain regions across Canada that have seen more cases. But to cancel sports, activities, and in-classroom learning for our kids is a terrible way to go about things. Get these kids back in school, back on the ice, back in the dance studio, or back in whatever they enjoy doing. Protect them and everyone else involved the best you can and let’s try and make life appear as normal as possible for our kids. Another perfect example of this travesty is near my home where there’s a decent toboggan hill. Before this latest ‘stay at home’ order from the Ontario Government, everyday this hill was busy with kids of all ages and their families outside enjoying the clean and crisp air that our Canadian winter has to offer. Fresh air, vitamin D, and the physical and mental benefits that playing outside offers every one of us. During a Pandemic like this or any flu season for that matter, you’d think this type of activity would be encouraged as it does provide your immune systems some great natural defences to fight off viruses. But no, in the past two weeks there have been fewer and fewer kids at this hill as most as scared to get a ticket. Thankfully, my town just announced that the skating rink in our main park is once again open and that as long as everyone practices the proper social distancing parks and toboggans hills may be used. These are trying times and that is why I think we’re all looking forward to spring and the 2021 riding season. A little moto therapy is always good for the soul!

With each race St-Cyr is getting closer and closer to making his first 250SX East main event. Photo by James Lissimore

Moving onto the 2021 Triple Crown Series and the upcoming schedule announcement. I know many people in the industry were hoping that this schedule would’ve been released a month or so ago, but from what I’m now hearing it will finally drop on February 15th. According to my sources, the 2021 Series could look a lot like last year’s series with stops at Walton Raceway, Gopher Dunes, and Sand Del Lee. If things open up the way everyone is hoping they will, then the series will most likely travel outside Ontario to Quebec and possibly Riverglade Raceway in New Brunswick. Also, there will be a SXTour Series in the fall with possible rounds at Gopher Dunes as well as hopefully an outdoor SX in Quebec. Again, this is only what I’ve heard so don’t hold my hand to the fire on this one. With the ongoing Covid restrictions as well as tight budgets for every team again this year, all I can say for sure right now is that there will be a great Triple Crown Series that will begin in early July.

Cooper Webb battled back from a poor start to finish third at Round 4 of the Monster Energy Supercross Series. Photo by Matt Wellumson

One big question that goes with when and where our National Series takes place, is will our pro riders be able to get down south this winter to train? Or with an early July start, do they even need to? As we all know, getting across the border is challenging at best these days and with the latest travel restrictions announced, it’s not getting any easier. Not to mention that when you do return to Canada you have to stay put for two weeks and quarantine. This might be the year where very few of our pro riders head south and they just begin riding here the moment the snow melts. I know in BC and hopefully, in Southern Ontario, you can begin riding regularly in early to mid-March. There might be the odd day when winter returns, but for the most part, you can ride and dust off the cobwebs. So if a Canadian pro rider wanted to be ready for July 1 and the opening round of the MXTour, then that gives them three months of riding and testing before the opening round. Throw in some regional races throughout April, May, and June and they don’t even need to spend the money to go south. The same can also be said for our amateur riders in Canada. I know many of you in years past have headed down south to get some early season riding in, and I’m sure it’s stressing you out a little that you might not be able to this year. My feeling is don’t sweat it! Try and do as much gym work and off the bike training as you can between now and when you start riding and then ride yourself into riding shape throughout the spring. It might just work out for the best as you won’t run the risk of getting burnt out in July. I’ve witnessed a few riders in my day who go down south to ride in February and March, and while they come back to Canada and are lightning-fast in the spring and early summer, by July and August when the real meaningful races take place, they’re burnt out. So for this year, make the best of what you have and work with what you got!

Jacob Piccolo will be aboard a Sky Racing KTM this year!

One pro rider who is planning on heading south is 18 year old Jacob Piccolo from BC. This past weekend it was announced that Piccolo has signed with Sky Racing for 2021 and will ride a KTM. Since the end of the MXTour Series last year Piccolo’s name had been brought up with pretty much every team so it’s great to see him find a home. Riding under Al Dyck might just be the final piece of the puzzle for Piccolo and his goal of winning motos in the 250MX class. Piccolo also announced that he will be heading to ClubMX in South Carolina in the coming weeks to begin his training.

Do you want to win a signed Jess Pettis jersey? Stay tuned for contest details. Photo by James Lissimore

Finally, this week we will be launching a contest on our Social Media channel where two lucky people will be to win either a signed Cole Thompson Thor jersey or a signed Jess Pettis Thor jersey. The exact details will be coming later this week so please keep an eye out for this exciting early February contest from MXP Magazine, Parts Canada, and Thor.

That is it for me this week. I hope everyone has a great first week of February, stay safe, stay healthy, and thank you for reading. Don’t forget about Tuesday night Supercross from Indianapolis. Let’s see if Colt Nichols and Ken Roczen can go back to back inside Lucas Oil Stadium?