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. The Blu Cru continues to roll in the 2021 Monster Energy Supercross Series as Justin Cooper not only won the 250SX West main event on Saturday evening, but he also retook the points lead with just five rounds remaining. It was a good night for Cooper and his Star Racing Yamaha Team and they hope to carry the momentum into Round 13 in Atlanta. 

I hope everyone had a great weekend! The weather looked good this past weekend in many parts of Canada so hopefully, most riders were able to get out and ride somewhere. My son and I headed back down to Compound 138 to ride on Saturday and I couldn’t believe how dry the track was. It was my first ride of the season and really the first time I’ve been on a bike since mid-November, so to say that I was a little rusty on my Sturgess Cycle KX450 would be a gross understatement. However, I made it through the day in one piece and my riding fitness is only going to improve. In the next month I’m going to be teaching a few riding schools in the Aylmer, Ontario area so if anyone is interested please email me at chris@mxpmag

I did a Vo2 Max test back in 1997 but this one last week was much more difficult. Photo by Jamie Baskerville

Speaking of fitness, last week I met a very interesting individual named Steve Neal of www.stevenealperformance.com. For the two decades, Steve’s area of expertise has been training cyclists of all levels and now he wants to cross over into motocross and off-road riding. Steve has some experience riding off-road so he’s well aware of what riders go through as they traverse around a track or a trail. We all know what a gruelling sport this is and regardless of age or skill level, you have to be in the best shape possible. On Tuesday of last week, I headed up to former NHL player and now current off-road riding enthusiast Scott Thornton’s house to do some fitness testing with Steve. We did everything from the infamous Vo2 Max test to things that I’ve never even heard of like a Resting Metabolic Rate test, as well as a Spirometry test. During the few hours that we spent together, Steve overloaded my brain with information. While I listening to Steve explain how all of this is related to not just my fitness on a bike, but also my overall day-to-day fitness and health, I was thinking that this testing and subsequent training would be great for riders of all levels. Anyway, later today I have a Zoom call with Steve to go over all of my results and see where and how I can improve my overall fitness. I’m also planning of doing a feature story on this in the next issue of MXP Magazine. In the meantime, if you’d like more information on this type of testing you can either go to Steve’s website or email me and I’ll do my best to answer your questions. 

Prior to getting injured in practice, Casey Keast was loving his SX experience. Photo by Matt Wellumson

Moving from what happened domestically over the weekend to the 2021 Monster Energy Supercross Series and Round 12 in Arlington. As I’m sure you all know by now, our lone Canadian rider in the 250SX West Series Casey Keast crashed in the whoops during practice on Saturday and broke his hand. It was a big blow for the Carlson Racing Husqvarna rider as he was getting more and more comfortable with each lap. This was Casey’s first attempt at racing in the Monster Energy Supercross Series so his learning curve was a steep one. His improvement from Round 10 to 11 was huge and with a track that suited him well, Casey was looking forward to Saturday night. However, things happen pretty quickly at that level and one small mistake in the challenging whoop section, unfortunately, ended his 2021 SX Tour. When I reached out to Casey yesterday he replied and said for now he’s headed back to California to begin his four-week recovery, and then he’ll decide whether to come home or continue riding in the USA. When I asked him how he felt about his short time racing in the 250SX West Series he replied “I’m happy with how I did and now I want more. I definitely have the SX bug now.”

All of the top riders were up front early in the main event at Round 12. Photo by Matt Wellumson

In the 450SX class, if you didn’t enjoy the main event on Saturday night then you can’t call yourself an SX fan. When the gate dropped and Roczen, Webb, Tomac, and Barcia were all upfront, the stage was set for an epic race. At this point in the series, I think that you just have to feel bad for Ken Roczen. After four sub-par races in a row, Roczen came out swinging in the 450SX main event and took the lead. For 15 minutes he played cat and mouse with Webb as on one lap Ken would pull a small gap, only to lose it the next lap. At one point I thought if Tomac could’ve passed Webb then he might go onto win, but in the end, the defending champion had to settle for third. As I said, for most of the main event Roczen was in complete control and didn’t seem bothered by Webb being behind him. However, despite Roczen’s determination to hold off the current 450SX points leader, Webb saw an opening late in the race and took it. I don’t think anyone was surprised to see Webb make the pass on Roczen to win the race, over the past two seasons we’ve seen him do it on multiple occasions. But this one was a little shocking as Roczen was riding good and looked to be in control of the main event. I mean, he had to know how important this race was to his championship hopes. If Roczen won on Saturday then he would’ve cut Webb’s lead down to nine points with five rounds to go. And he would’ve taken a big chunk of momentum into the two-week break. But it wasn’t to be and now Webb will head into Atlanta on April 10th with a secure 15 point lead. 

As he’s done in the past, Cooper Webb was able to make a late race pass on Ken Roczen for the win. Matt Wellumson

Maybe this break will do Roczen some good as it will give him a chance to think about how to deal with Webb’s late-race charges. I think Roczen had to be happy with his riding in Arlington as he did come oh so close to winning. He also fought like hell when Webb tried to pass him, so that was good news if you’re a Roczen fan. We did see a little weakness in Webb’s racecraft during the heat race he got pushed around by Roczen and then his Honda teammate Chase Sexton. With being young, aggressive and completely out of the points battle, Sexton could be the rider who helps Roczen make up some much-needed points. I guess we’ll have to just wait and see what happens at Round 13 in Atlanta. I can’t believe we have to wait until April 10th to watch the next round of SX. 

Justin Cooper had a perfect day at Round 12. Photo Matt Wellumson

In the Uber exciting 250SX West class, we had our first repeat winner of the series as Justin Cooper took home the win. It was a dominating day for Cooper as he secured pole position during qualifying, won his heat race, and then led wire to wire for his second win of the season. This win was long overdue for Cooper as at most rounds he’s been the fastest 250SX rider. However, small mistakes and some bad luck have not only kept him off the top step of the podium but also off of the podium altogether. This series also will resume in Atlanta on April 10th and Cooper will once again have the red plate. This has been an exciting series thus far and I don’t that changing in the final five rounds. 

MXP Issue 21.01 – Motocross Performance Magazine (mxpmag.com)

Well, that is it for me this week. I hope everyone has a great week and if you’re able to get out riding then please ride safe. Also, late last week and our new issue of MXP Magazine went live. Shawn Maffenbeier is on the cover as James Lissimore got a great shot of Maff on his new MX101 FXR Racing Yamaha. Oh yes, spring has finally arrived and it’s time to end our long hibernation. Have a great week and thank-you for reading.