Good day, and welcome to another edition of the Yamaha Motor Canada Monday Gate Drop. We want to begin this week’s column by congratulating Blu Cru rider Nate Thrasher on his first-ever Supercross main event win on Saturday evening in Atlanta. This is Nate’s rookie season in SX and his first as a member of the Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha Team. Nate and his team are back at it in Atlanta on Tuesday night for Round 14 of the Monster Energy Supercross Series.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only person who was excited to watch the Atlanta SX on Saturday? After three weeks off the Series resumed just outside the city at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Thankfully the track and surrounding area didn’t get the amount of rain that was forecasted and by the time the gate dropped for the main events, the track was in decent shape. However, even though the track wasn’t muddy, it was still extremely challenging as many of the jump faces had deep ruts and the two whoop sections were treacherous. Also, like Daytona the Atlanta track I thought lack some flow, and both main events weren’t the most exciting races we’ve seen this year. But either way, it was great to have SX back and now I cannot wait for the final ‘Tuesday Night’ SX of 2021.
I said last week that Saturday was going to be a must-win for Ken Roczen if he wanted any chance of putting pressure on Cooper Webb. Even as the riders lined up for the 450SX main event things appeared to be going in Roczen’s favour as he had a great gate pick while Webb was stuck out on the right-hand side of the box. With the first turn being a slow 180-degree left-hander, I didn’t give Webb much of a chance of getting a start inside the Top 10. On the other hand, with so much at stake for Roczen, and with how good he’s been overall at starting this season I figured that he would holeshot and then set sail for his fourth win of 2021. Well, I was way off! Webb, who didn’t get a great jump, out-powered and out-muscled the riders around him, almost got the holeshot and started his first lap in second place. I didn’t see Roczen come off the gate as the television broadcast didn’t show him, but something must have happened as he was buried back in 19th place. From there he picked away at the pack but by the end of the main event, Roczen could only get back to 9th place. I’m a big Roczen fan and with all he’s been through I’d love to see him win this Championship, but his ride on Saturday evening didn’t exude the desperation needed to remain in this title chase. Especially when his arch-rival was able to ride to an easy third place. Now with four rounds to go Webb’s lead over Roczen is 22 big points. Ken Roczen needs to decide quickly how bad he wants to win this 450SX title as tomorrow is most certainly a must-win (how many times have we said that now). The weather is forecasted to be hot and sunny in the Atlanta area so mud will not be an issue. Roczen needs a dominant win at Round 14 and he needs Webb to run into some sort of trouble in the main event. It’s definitely a long shot as no one right now seems to handle pressure as well as Cooper Webb does. It should be a great night of racing and I’m looking forward to seeing what changes they make to the Atlanta 2 track.
In the 250SX West Class, once again it did not disappoint as we yet another first-time winner. Star Racing Yamaha rider NateThrasher grabbed the early lead and never looked back. It was a huge win for the rookie Yamaha rider as he made the technical Atlanta track looked routine. I still feel like Justin Cooper is the fastest rider in this class and that in the end, he’s going to win the 250SX West Class Championship, but he’s sure doing it the hard way. I believe the cause for Cooper’s inconsistency this season is because he came into the 250SX West Series a little unprepared by his standards. Having suffered a couple of untimely off-season injuries Cooper had only been healthy for a few weeks before the opening round in Orlando. So while his speed at each round has been good, especially in qualifying, I don’t think his overall confidence was where it needed to be coming into this series. In Atlanta, Cooper suffered a crash in practice and during the main event he rode very conservatively to finish in a distant second behind his young teammate. He actually got lucky as both Marchbanks and McAdoo crashed in the main event while running in front of him. However, Champions will tell you that you win titles on your bad days and Cooper has definitely done a great job in this series of limiting the damage on his ‘bad days.’ He will enter tomorrow with a slim four-point lead over McAdoo with just three rounds remaining in the 250SX West Series.
In Canadian moto news, the Thor/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki Team sent out a press release last week introducing their 2021 team. This year’s team will feature Marshal Weltin on a 450, newcomer Darian Sanayei on a 250, and young Ontario rider Dylan Rempel on an 85cc and 100cc machine. This team looks strong as I think Weltin is a natural 450 rider and should challenge for moto wins this summer. Sanayei also comes to Canada with a strong pedigree and if he can remain healthy he’ll most certainly join the list of the riders who can win the 250 class championship in 2021. Sanayei finished 14th in the opening 250MX moto of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Series last summer before getting injured, so he most certainly has the speed to win races. As for Dylan Rempel, it’s great to see the Kawasaki Team take increase their support of amateur racing in Canada and give a rider like Rempel the full treatment. This kid was very good last year and with this added support he should be even better in 2021. I believe that when a team and an OEM take this step it sends a strong incentive to all the other amateur riders that they could one day get the same support. Amateur racing in Canada is going very well at the moment and the riders need as much support as they can get. The Thor/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki Team, as well as the Team Green Canada Dealer Support Program are making sure that the Kawasaki amateur riders in Canada are looked after this season.
Also, last week we posted a link to Bradon Gibson’s GoFundMe Page as he and his family needed our help. As stated in the story we posted, Brandon suffered a freak but very serious accident at his BC home on March 30th. Well, I’m happy to report that Brandon received a lot of support from this industry, and although he still has a long way to go, he’s now on the slow road to recovery. On Friday he sent us this update on his recovery.
“Everyone here’s a little quick update since I’m sitting in the hospital bed by myself and with Covid you’re allowed one visitor for two hours per day. I am lucky enough to have Jeff Williams come by a few times now which is always good for a laugh.
I was put into an induced coma on Tuesday, March 30, and brought out of it Friday evening April 2. One the scariest things I’ve ever went through. My seven-year-old son was laying beside me yelling please don’t die daddy, please don’t die daddy. This is what I was told by a neighbour who came to help.
I shattered my left tib fib now with two titanium rods, five fractures in my foot, 3 broken ribs, bruised kidney five pins in my left hand with multiple fractures, and 15 stitches in my forehead and around my eye to holding my eyelids together and five stitches the back of the head where they were draining the blood with tubes.
This was an eye-opener for sure but I have never felt more loved in my life. The motocross community has always had a place in my heart and this must’ve been the reason why.
Thank you again for all your support my family thanks and loves you I know it’s going to be a long road ahead but I can honestly tell you I’m up for it.
Brandon is one of the great people that make up our industry and it’s great to hear from him. Finally, it’s also great to see more and more tracks in Canada opening up for practice. In Ontario, Motopark opened up on Saturday for practice and soon Walton Raceway and Sand Del Lee will be opening their gates for practice. Despite the Government issued lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, it’s great to see tracks opening and riders getting out and doing what we all love to do…RIDE! On that note, I hope everyone has a great week, please stay healthy and thank you for reading. If you have any comments or questions please email me at email@example.com.