Yamaha Motor Canada Presents The Monday Gate Drop

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Good day, and welcome to another edition of the Yamaha Motor Canada Monday Gate Drop. Justin Cooper of the Star Racing Yamaha Team had a decent main event in Arlington as he battled back from a poor start to finish in fourth. Justin and his Blu Cru team are back at it tomorrow night in Texas. 

Well, where do I start with what happened in Arlington on Saturday evening? I guess the first thing to talk about is Casey Keast and his first-ever Monster Energy Supercross race. As it was with Pettis and St-Cyr in the 250SX East Series, it’s always great to have a Canadian rider to cheer for in Supercross. Keast came into Arlington well prepared as he’s been in California for a couple of months now training for this incredible opportunity. And although his drive to Texas didn’t quite go as planned, Keast made it in time for his mandatory Covid-19 test. Once he got onto the track for practice, Keast felt comfortable on the slick Arlington soil. Coming into his first-ever SX Keast had a goal of making the night show, riding safe, and of course, having fun. Considering he texted me saying “I’m super happy to be in Arlington and racing SX, I love this shit! I was happy with how Saturday night went. I was able to make the night show and I learned a lot. The track layout for Tuesday looks fun so I can’t wait.” Well, I think that pretty much sums up how Casey Keast felt about his first-ever Monster Energy Supercross race. I’m sure he will improve on his results tomorrow and get a little closer to making the 250SX West main event.

Cooper Webb is now your 450SX Series points leader. Photo by Matt Wellumson

While watching the race on Saturday I honestly couldn’t decide if I liked the track or downright hated it. The dirt was typical Dallas area soil which appeared to get dryer and slicker as the night went on. On television, the track looked very fast and hard to pass on. However, Keast also mentioned to me that the track felt a little tight. The jump sections looked relatively easy for the top riders so pretty much everyone was doing the same thing. The lap times were really short and other than Justin Cooper and Jason Anderson coming from behind in both main events, there weren’t a lot of battles at Round 10. So I guess when I break it down I didn’t think much of the track. Oh, and let’s not forget the short start straight. Those never seem to work out well. But the good news is that the track for tomorrow night looks to be completely different.

So what is going on with Ken Roczen? A few weeks ago he was rolling with three wins in a row in Indianapolis and a solid second-place finish at Orlando 1. Then, for whatever reason things have gone sideways with three, yes count them, three finishes in a row off of the podium. All of this while Cooper Webb has been on fire and now with seven rounds remaining in the 2021 Monster Energy Supercross Series, Webb is the new 450SX points leader. On Saturday night, Roczen for some reason picked a starting gate that had a crooked rut on the other side of the gate, this led to him getting a horrible start. From there, with a track that was difficult to pass on, and soil that made it tough to be aggressive on, Roczen floundered for most of the main event and could only work his way up to sixth. On the flip side, Webb took the lead on the opening lap and cruised to what looked like an easy victory. Now, I’m not sure what happened to Roczen in Daytona and why he wasn’t able to mount much of a charge. Perhaps he was in shock that Webb had the nerve to push him wide in Turn 2 and that affected his riding for the next 20 minutes? I don’t know. But on Saturday night and also back at Orlando 2, the surface of both of these tracks were quite similar and I’m wondering if Roczen and his HRC Team just haven’t figured out how to make his new Honda work on really hard-packed and slick race tracks. If we look back at all of the rounds thus far, Round 8 in Orlando and Round 10 in Arlington have been the only hard-packed tracks in the series. Of course, I’m just speculating here as it could be many things that are affecting Roczen’s results right now. It could the bike, it could be the pressure that Roczen is feeling, it could some bad decision making when it comes to picking starting gates, or it could be a little of all of the above. Whatever it is, if Roczen wants to win this championship then he needs to figure things out as all of the momentum is clearly with Webb now. Thankfully we don’t have to wait long as Round 11 is tomorrow night. I cannot wait for some Tuesday night SX!

Gopher Dunes was one of the tracks in Canada that was open for practice this past weekend.

One of the things I love about Social Media this time of the year is that you can see where and when everyone is riding. This past weekend it appeared that some lucky riders were able to hit the track in BC, Alberta, and here in Southern Ontario. Popkum opened up for their first ride of 2021, the temperatures in Alberta were warm all weekend, and Gopher Dunes was open for business on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We went down to Gopher Dunes on Friday for opening day and the track and facility were in great shape. I actually couldn’t believe how dry it was for mid-March. The first few rides of the season are always exciting and it’s great to see that so many riders were able to get out this weekend. Gopher Dunes was busy on Friday with riders of all ages there. As I said, it was great to see so many riders with big smiles on their faces out doing what we all love. It’s definitely been a long winter with a lot of restrictions and thankfully riding makes us all feel free!

Here is your updated 2021 AMO Racing Series Schedule.

In other Canadian moto news, Walton Raceway released an update on the 2021 Walton TransCan on Friday and there are a few class changes for this year. Please visit www.waltontranscan.ca for all the information you need for this summer’s TransCan. The #roadtowalton fitness challenge is also still rolling and today is the industry push-up challenge. Everyone is invited to complete as many push-ups as you can today and if you want you can share your results on @waltonraceway. Also, AMO Racing released their updated 2021 race schedule last week and it looks pretty solid. The opening round at Gopher Dunes has been moved from early April to the end of the month so that should guarantee nice spring weather for the first race of the season. Last year saw an incredible increase in entries at every AMO event so hopefully, that trend continues for 2021. Actually, all of the regions that were able to hold events last year saw an increase in entries and that bodes well for this year.

Finally, we at MXP just wrapped up our first issue of 2021 and it’s full of great stories. The magazine went to press on Thursday of last week so you should see it in your mailbox soon. In this issue, we look at the opening rounds of the Monster Energy Supercross Series, as well as stories with Brent Carlson, the Dakar Rally, and Ron Keys. We have a great story on how motocross is such an incredible family sport. Also, this issue features Shawn Maffenbeier on the cover with a great shot by James Lissimore. As you know, Shawn is back with the MX101 Yamaha Team for this season as Kevin Tyler and his crew have taken over the Yamaha Motor Canada 450 program. It should be a great year for Shawn and the MX101 Yamaha Team and we celebrate it with this awesome cover.

Well, that’s it for me this week. I hope everyone has a great week and a safe time riding. This weekend we officially welcome in the first day of spring and with it hopefully some more riding. Have a great week and thanks for reading. If you have any questions or comments please email me at chris@mxpmag.com.