Good day, and welcome to another edition of the Yamaha Motor Canada Monday Gate Drop. This week’s Monday Gate Drop is brought to you by the new 2021 YZ250F. A bike that for this year has been dominated the 250SX classes in the Monster Energy Supercross Series. With some engine and suspension updates for 2021, the new YZ250F will no doubt be winning its fair share of races again right across North America.
Well, moto folks, we made it! February is now a thing of the past and today we welcome in the month that will officially bring us Spring. I say ‘officially’ because March 21 is the first day of Spring in the North Hemisphere and the day that the sun is on its way North and is directly over the Equator. It’s that time of the year when the days are getting longer, and the weather is getting warmer, and the tracks are beginning to thaw and dry up. Yes, riding season is almost here (in BC and Southern Alberta it’s already here) and it couldn’t come at a better time. We will keep everyone updated on the Regions and the tracks as they begin to open in the coming weeks.
I don’t know about you but Saturday wasn’t quite the same without some Supercross to watch on TV. After six Saturdays in a row, it was a challenge to find something to watch as the 2021 SX Series took its first weekend off. I’m sure for most of the riders it was a welcomed break as they’ve been going hard for almost two months. A weekend off gives them a chance to take a few extra days to either relax or in some cases let a few nagging injuries heal up. Even if you’re Cooper Webb and you’ve managed to build up some much-needed momentum in the past few weeks, a weekend off is a good thing. With the next four races in Daytona and then in Arlington being extremely important in the chase for the 2021 450SX title, the riders need all of the rest they can get.
As I mentioned, this coming weekend the SX Series heads to the most famous facility in racing, the Daytona International Speedway. The Daytona SX has been a staple of the SX Series since 1974 when Pierre Karsmaker stood on top of the podium. Since that race almost half a century ago, winning the Daytona SX has been a big source of pride among the top riders. Even though the track, the riders, and the bikes have changed a lot over the years, the one thing that hasn’t changed is that no one wins the Daytona SX by accident. Even back in 1987 when privateer Honda rider Rick Ryan won the Daytona SX in the mud, maybe it was one of the biggest surprise wins in our sport’s history, but it wasn’t by just accident. The weekend prior to Ryan’s Daytona win he finished third overall in the 125 class at the Gainesville Outdoor National, so he did come in with some confidence. Another cool thing about the 1987 Daytona SX was that our own Ross Pederson finished 8th in the 250 main event, three weeks before that he finished 6th at the Houston SX. 1987 was Rollarball’s best year overall in the USA as he would end up 9th overall in the Supercross Series and 8th overall in the Outdoor Series. Think about that for a second! Top ten is both premier class series that year, including an amazing 3rd overall in the opening round of the Outdoor Series at Hangtown. Pretty amazing results for Canada’s GOAT!
I remember talking to Ross at length one time about his 1987 season in the USA and he told me how much even the top US riders hated racing against him. In one old Motocross Action Magazine article, he was named (by the other riders) as the hardest rider on the circuit to pass. Ross also said that his biggest strength was his physical and mental fitness. He knew deep down that he was as fit or fitter than any other rider on the track, and while he wasn’t the most talented by a long shot, he hated getting passed. It’s no wonder that so many riders disliked battling with the Rollerball and why he earned the title as the hardest rider to pass.
Anyway, Daytona should be fun to watch next weekend as there isn’t a rider in the field who doesn’t want to win this iconic race. Top riders like Cooper Webb, Ken Roczen, Justin Barcia, Marvin Musquin, and Jason Anderson would all love to add the Daytona SX to their list of 450SX wins. However, here’s a stat that might point to who the favourite is next weekend. Since 2015, Eli Tomac has won the Daytona SX four times and finished second in his other two main events there. That is a very impressive win percentage for Tomac as there must be something about this race that brings out the best of the 2020 SX Champion. If you recall the 450SX main event last year in Daytona, Roczen took off early and appeared poised for victory. Tomac started a little slow and was forced to charge from behind. However, once he got going he was flying and it didn’t take him long to reel in Roczen and eventually make the pass for the lead. Roczen would regroup though and kept Tomac within a few bike lengths until the checkered flag was waved. It was a great race for both riders and most certainly one of the best of the 2020 SX Series. Sadly, right after Daytona last year, our world came apart and the conclusion of the SX Series was postponed until late May. When the Series resumed in Salt Lake City Roczen for whatever reason wasn’t the same rider and Tomac cruised to his first-ever Supercross Championship. As I said, Daytona this weekend is going to be exciting as Tomac, Roczen, and Webb are all capable of winning on the roughest track in SX.
Well, that is it for me this week. I hope everyone has a great first week of March and let’s hope we’re all riding soon. This week I’m putting together the first issue of MXP Magazine or the year and I think your all going to love it. There is a story in it for everyone and it should be a great read. So have a great week and stay healthy.