Honda Canada GDR Fox Racing rider Dylan Wright shows the camera of Dan Stenning that he can ride in every type of condition.
Good day and welcome to the Honda Canada Racing Monday Gate Drop. We are now into the month of February and the 2018 Motorcycle Shows are in full swing. Next up is the big Toronto show which takes place in two weeks time. Honda Canada will have a full display there with all of their 2018 models. For advance tickets or any other information you may require, please visit http://www.motorcycleshows.ca/.
As I mentioned above, we are already into February and this is the month that the 2018 Rockstar Energy Triple Crown Series begins. It all kicks off in just under three weeks in Abbotsford, BC with the first AX round of the series. With every top rider from last year’s national series all signed up and ready to go (with the exception of Kaven Benoit who isn’t racing indoors and Christophe Pourcel who is now retired), these first four AX events are going to be exciting. While some riders like Matt Goerke and Cole Thompson have been racing indoors a lot in recent years, others like Colton Facciotti have only spent the past five or so off-seasons primarily training for outdoors. To see on Social Media that a seasoned vet like Facciotti is down at GPF pounding laps on their AX and SX tracks is very exciting. Also, to do this type of training early on in his 2018 preparation I think is ideal for a rider like Facciotti. As you get older and more experienced, you know what works and what doesn’t work as far as training goes. And while this is a good thing, sometimes older riders need to get out of their comfort zone and try new things. Yes, riding on these tracks will obviously help Colton prepare for the opening round in Abbotsford, but I think it will really help him once the gate drops on the outdoor rounds this summer. He will be sharper, more aggressive, and his early moto sprint speed will be that much better. The same can be said about all of our riders who are currently spending their days training on indoor type tracks. Getting out of your comfort zone is never a bad thing!
Jess Pettis definitely had a race in Oakland that he will never forget. Photo by Frank Hoppen
Another rider who is really putting his time in on SX tracks is MX101 FXR Racing Yamaha rider Jess Pettis. This past weekend, Pettis lined up for his first ever SX in Oakland. Although he didn’t make the 250SX West main event, the young rider from Prince George, BC sure made a name for himself. Not only did he have a great qualifying session aboard his #160 Yamaha, but he also surprised everyone when he holeshotted his heat race against the series regulars. Pettis has always been a talented rider and indoor skills seem to come naturally to him. In Oakland, Pettis proved that he has what it takes to be a full time SX rider if he wants to be. Hopefully, after letting his experience from Saturday sink in and he figures out how to make a few less mistakes under pressure, I’m sure he will come out much more prepared in San Diego. No amount of practicing or training could prepare Pettis for the feeling he had when he holeshotted his heat race. Dealing with that situation properly only comes from experience. With his first ever SX now complete, he can now build on it and take that experience into San Diego and beyond. Congratulations to Jess Pettis, his team, and his entire family on an awesome weekend in Oakland. As I said, it’s all about baby steps. Last weekend he rode really well, got a holeshot and some solid press. This weekend it’s about riding well again and trying to make a few less mistakes in the hectic environment that is Monster Energy Supercross. Pettis is definitely a main event guy, so hopefully he can check that box off this weekend in San Diego.
The track in Oakland was challenging all day long. Most riders were saying that it was hard packed on top, but soft underneath. Photo by Krystyn Slack
The rest of the racing in Oakland was also superb as the riders had to battle a very challenging track. As I’m sure you saw, Ken Roczen almost took the win in the 450SX class but a late mistake cost him the lead. It’s been incredible to watch Roczen relearn how to race again in these early rounds of SX. Even for a talented rider like Roczen, being out of racing for almost a year has its effects, both physically and mentally. Each week, he has been getting better and looking much more confident and aggressive. A win is surely in Roczen’s future, and once that monkey is off of his back, look out as many more are coming. With Roczen getting better each week, Jason Anderson’s incredible riding, as well as Tomac, Musquin, Barcia and even Baggett all battling hard, the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross Series is getting better each weekend. With one more western round this weekend in San Diego before the series heads east, it’s time to really get excited. I’ve always loved this time in the series when it heads through places like Atlanta, Daytona, Indianapolis, and this year Tampa; this is when the real series begins. Sadly, there will be no Toronto SX in 2018, but that is another story all together.
The battle for the 450SX lead in Oakland between Ken Roczen and Jason Anderson was most definitely one for the ages. Photo by Krystyn Slack
Well, that is it for me this week as the sun is starting to set on this cold and wintery Monday and I have to get this posted. Next week’s Monday Gate Drop will come to you from Minneapolis as FXR Racing is flying in some of the North American Moto Media to ride snow bikes for two days. I’m sure some of the California guys haven’t spent too much time in the cold and snow so this should be very interesting. I’ve never ridden a snow bike before so that may be even more interesting! It all goes down on Sunday and Monday next week just outside the city that hosted the Super Bowl last night, so please wish me luck. Finally, congratulations to Cycle North Honda rider Carson Brown on winning the 2017 Future West Canadian AX series as he wrapped up the title this weekend in Chilliwack, and also congratulations to Ryan Lockhart on winning a few main events this past weekend. Have a great week and please stay warm and safe.
After four miserable rounds, Justin Hill finally made it to the podium in Oakland. Photo by Krystyn Slack