Good day, and welcome to another edition of the Yamaha Motor Canada Monday Gate Drop. With the beginning of April coming up in a few days, this means that our 2021 Regional race season is almost upon us. Yamaha Motor Canada and its Blu Cru riders are ready to race and have fun this season. With a supportive dealer network throughout Canada, Yamaha riders will have all the help they need in 2021.
So with no Supercross to watch on Saturday evening, what did everyone do this weekend? Like most of you, I’m sure, I missed gathering around the television this past weekend to watch the world’s best SX riders battle it out. We were most certainly spoiled through the first few months of 2021 as the Monster Energy Supercross Series provided us with some much-needed entertainment. However, this two-week break gives everyone a chance to catch their breath and prepare for the five-round sprint to the finish. With a solid 15 point lead in the 450SX class, Cooper Webb has to like where he is right now. Not only has he won after holeshotting a couple of main events, but he’s also had to come from behind to win and nothing gives a rider more confidence than that. At the last round in Arlington, we watched Webb stalk Ken Roczen for most of the main event before pulling the trigger late in the race. If there’s been one race this year that most likely has affected Roczen’s confidence it was that one. He was riding great, he had the race under control, there were no issues with lappers, and yet Webb was still able to find a way around the Honda rider. But as they say, it’s never over until it’s over and when the series resumes on April 10th all of the riders will be in unchartered territory. For the first time, Supercross will visit the Atlanta Motor Speedway. With a unique track set up and unpredictable spring weather in the Atlanta area, the riders could get a mix of everything in the three rounds there. I love when the Supercross goes to a new venue and the Atlanta Residency should be an exciting addition to the series.
With Regional racing in Canada set to begin in a few weeks, the final draft of the 2021 Triple Crown Series is set to be released in the next few weeks. The big question remains on whether or not the series will travel out west this summer? With Covid-19 restrictions still in place right across Canada and vaccinations not exactly moving quickly, this is looking like another challenging summer for race organizers. The desire to go out west for two rounds is there, but I’m not sure if it’s once again feasible for the series or the teams? So, whether the gate drops in June in Alberta or July in Ontario, the riders are going to be ready and the racing is going to be excellent.
One new team that we’re going to see this summer racing in the Triple Crown Series is the TLD/ GasGas/ SSR Racing Team. With Steve Simms at the helm, Sam Gaynor as the team’s 250 rider, and a soon-to-be named 450 rider, this team is set to make a big splash in 2021. In recent weeks Gaynor has been shaking down his bright new red GasGas at Gopher Dunes and so far he looks great. After being in the 450 class for a couple of seasons, Gaynor moves to the 250 class in 2021 and what he hopes will be a chance to battle for a championship. Sam is a well-mannered hard-working rider and if anyone can make the transition from a 450 to a 250 it’s him. Also, with the experience of Steve Simms running the ship, this team will no doubt find its way to the podium this season. In the latest issue of MXP Magazine, I sat down with Steve to get his thoughts on his new team and how things are looking in 2021. Here are a few quotes from his story:
MXP: Okay, so the OTSFF Team announces that they’re not going racing in 2021. You immediately began trying to make plans to go racing with your own team. How was that process?
SS: Yes, I got the phone call from Andre breaking the news to me. I hung up and thought about things for a few minutes and then started making some phone calls. I had some talks with Yamaha initially as I have been a big Yamaha supporter for many years and was really hoping we could continue something with them. However, it seemed pretty clear to me that that probably wasn’t going to be an option. I then reached out to Suzuki as I had heard they wanted to be more involved in racing. I put together a proposal to them and we were in talks for a few weeks and then it was just a “No” in the end. Then I got wind from Troy Lee Designs about the GasGas deal in the USA and that I should reach out to them.
MXP: Okay, so that is how the TLD GasGas deal come to fruition?
SS: Pretty much yes! TLD stepped up last year and supported our OTSFF crew with apparel and gear for the season. When they heard OTSFF shut down they mentioned that with the connection to GasGas in the USA that I should talk to them and see if we could put a deal together. I started talking with GasGas and after about three weeks of talks, we were able to put a two-year deal together for 2021 and 2022.
MXP: That is such good news, Steve. Introducing a new brand to Canadian motocross is very exciting. Justin Barcia has been doing really well in the Supercross Series on his factory GasGas, that must make you excited to bring this brand to Canada?
SS: It was very cool to see Red Bull and the TLD GasGas Team kick-off the season with that video and their fake Anaheim 1 victory. But then to come out to the real opening round in Houston and throw it down as he did was amazing. I’m actually getting my hands on a new GasGas MC450F today, so I’m very excited.
MXP: Sounds like everything is starting to come together. Do you have your riders finalized for the 2021 season?
SS: I have Sam Gaynor signed and we also have another rider pretty much signed as long as a few things on his end go right. We should have a press release coming out soon to announce our first rider.
MXP: It sounds as though you’re going to have a really strong team this year. Recently the 2021 Triple Crown Series Schedule was released. What are your thoughts on this new schedule?
SS: It has been quite the challenge trying to get a Triple Crown Series Schedule finalized as no one knows where each Province is going to be with their Covid-19 restrictions come June. It’s exciting that the series wants to go out west for two rounds, but it would have been nice to have a bit of an idea of this a little sooner. Team budgets are tight this year and having to travel west is a major expense and something that needs extra planning. I am excited to go racing though and I hope everything goes smooth.
In other MXP Magazine news, I hope everyone has been reading our weekly Q and A session with Ryan Lockhart. If you haven’t then I will post the latest one below. These usually go live on the website on Friday morning and I want to thank Ryan for doing these each week. The questions are a mixture of emails that I get throughout the week as well as some that I come up with. Either way, I love them and I hope you’re enjoying them also, If you have any questions for Newf you can email me at email@example.com.
Last week’s 3 Q’s With Ryan Lockhart:
MXP: Going back to Saturday night in Arlington, what were you thinking during the opening laps of the 450SX main event when all the top guys were upfront. Who did think was going to pull off the win?
RL: It was awesome that’s for sure. Best track of the year in my opinion. Kenny showing some aggression in the heat where Webb looked to be a little off his game. The main event was a great race and it was almost like we all knew Webb was going to find a way by Roczen. This is a better Webb than we saw two years ago when he won. Something really crazy is going to need to happen to knock him off the top. To answer your question though, I honestly thought that Kenny was going to be able to hold on for the win.
MXP: Casey Keast’s SX experience didn’t end the way he wanted it to, especially with the horrendous highway accident while driving back to California. However, he texted me and said that he now has the ‘Supercross bug’ and he wants to do more. Is the sky the limit for Keast?
RL: I’m a big of a believer that you create your own luck and in my opinion, this whole Keast supercross experience has been plain bad luck. I mean, honestly, he was a little better than I expected. Overall he looked comfortable and now that he’s more educated on how tough the tracks can be and how aggressive everyone is, he should be able to come in more prepared next time. It’s not easy to jump into SX mid-series and do well, especially when it’s your first time racing in the Monster Energy Supercross Series. I’m happy for the kid and I hope he gives it a go in 2022! Also, I’m even happier that everyone was okay after their accident.
MXP: Your son Meston is now riding and looks to be loving every moment of it. How cool it is to watch him ride and progress through the early stages of this sport?
RL: It’s been awesome! Randi will kill me for saying this but sitting in the back of your truck early morning getting your gear on together is one of the coolest feelings ever. It’s weird because at the same time it’s also scary. Meston is only five but we have been having fun with it. Trust me, I have my moments where I get frustrated because he’s not doing something right which I know he knows how to do, but kids these days march to the beat of their own drum. Meston is a very conservative kid which in the riding world can be good and bad. However, at his age, I think this is a good thing as he’s very smooth and rides within his limits. Even before I had kids I always said that I would support them to ride as long as they know how to do it properly and we have fun. So far it’s been going great and I cannot wait for this season.
Well, that is it for me this week. I hope everyone has a great week and Happy Easter to all this coming weekend. Hopefully, the weather is kind to you, and as well as celebrating Easter, you’re able to get out and ride. My family and I will be heading two hours south this weekend to ride on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday I’m doing another riding school at the Compound 138 facility, and then on Sunday, we’re heading to Gopher Dunes to play in the sand. I was talking to Gopher Dunes track owner Derek Schuster this morning and he had this to say about their first few weeks of being open. “So far everything has been great and we’ve had a solid turn out of riders. Everyone appears to be following our Covid-19 Protocols so that’s making life easier for all of us. The weather looks good for this coming long weekend so I can’t wait to see everyone.”