2015 Pro National Series – Things We Know So Far
By Billy Rainford
With the first 4 rounds of the 2015 Rockstar Energy Drink MX Nationals in the books, I thought it would be the perfect time to look back at what we learned from them before the eastern swing starts this Sunday at Gopher Dunes.
There were a few surprises but mostly a lot of ‘business as usual’ moments in both classes at Kamloops, Nanaimo, Calgary, and Regina. Here’s a closer look at a few of them:
1. The competition is faster than ever in the MX1 class!
We say it every May, but this year really does seem like the stiffest competition we’ve ever seen here at the Canadian Nationals. Yes, we’ve had some high-level riders come from different parts of the world to chase our title, but never this many with such storied motocross histories.
It’s not often (ever?) any series has more than 1 or 2 past champions competing, but this year we have 3! Matt Goerke won in 2012, Brett Metcalfe won in 2013, and Colton Facciotti is a 4-time Canadian Champ. If we throw in Teddy Maier‘s MX2 and Tyler Medaglia‘s 2 MX2 titles it makes 5! That’s a serious field!
Also, when is the last time we’ve had a Canadian in the mix who’s won multiple Amateur Titles at big American events come up here to race the full series? Cole Thompson was a very decorated amateur down south before competing in our full series this year. Add in the appearance of Mike Alessi and Vince Friese for the odd round (they will be back for the final round at Walton Raceway)and you’ve got the fastest competition ever assembled in Canada.
Yes, that’s great, but how has the actual racing been, you ask? Things are tight at the top of the MX1 class. Here is the top 5:
1. 101 Matt Goerke YAM 207
2. 1 Colton Facciotti HON 200
3. 123 Brett Metcalfe KAW 195
4. 148 Cole Thompson KTM 193
5. 3 Tyler Medaglia HSK 169
We’ve had 3 different winners in the first 4 rounds: Brett Metcalfe won Kamloops and Regina. Cole Thompson won Nanaimo, and Vince Friese won Calgary. And yet Matt Goeke and Colton Facciotti sit atop the standings! That means things have been tight. We could see a Canadian on top of the heap when we get through Walton, but it’s not going to be easy.
2. 2-Strokes are NOT Dead.
Have we all been handed a bill of goods? Is it possible we should all still be riding the cheaper-to-fix-and-maintain 2-stroke bikes? What gives? Defending MX2 champion Kaven Benoit rode a 4-stroke in the west and a 2-stroke in the east in 2014 to take the title. This year, with the new CMRC ruling in place, Benoit has been on the basically stock KTM 250 2-stroke the entire time. Wasn’t he supposed to be at a huge disadvantage in the harder tracks of the west? Hmm…
Kaven Benoit won Nanaimo and Calgary on his 2-stroke. #105 Jimmy Decotis won Kamloops and Regina. Nanaimo and Calgary are the least sandy tracks the tour will hit, certainly of the 4 western rounds.
There are a lot of 2-stroke sounds buzzing around the track in the MX2 class this season. It sounds fantastic! I may be old and getting older, but I really miss the days when the sound of 40 125 2-strokes was the norm blasting from the gate under full throttle. That hyperactive and intense hi-frequency vibration is something lost to spectators now and it’s sad and possibly unnecessary. I would love to see the 2 Pro classes return to 125 and 250 machines. Hey, I can dream, can’t I?! Blow your 125 up in the first moto? No big deal…swap out a new piston and rings and head back to the line for moto 2!
3. I Wish the Stands Were Full.
I don’t know what we have to do to get more people at these events. Motocross is easily the most exciting sport to watch, bar none. It’s the raw definition of ‘spills and thrills.’ Where else can you see 40 athletes lined up elbow to elbow try to squeeze into a 30-foot turn at 60mph? Nowhere, that’s where. And yet, the races still seem to be full of racers’ family and friends. Why aren’t more people coming to watch?
I don’t know exactly who gets what money at these events (sometimes the promoter gets the gate, sometimes it’s the track owner or sanctioning body (sometimes they are one in the same)). Someone should be going to schools (before it ends) and handing out tickets to fill the stands. Wouldn’t it be great to show up at Gopher Dunes to see the place crawling with potential life-long moto fans and participants? Fill it for free today and reap the benefits in the future.
They would all be on the grounds buying tee shirts, hamburgers, and possibly head to bike shops to purchase new bikes! And for the rest of the people who purchased their tickets like usual, they would leave thinking the event was amazing and be sure to return the following years. Like the old saying goes, “A crowd attracts a crowd.”
After going to RedBud and feeling the intensity of that crazed crowd, I feel there is lots we can do to cultivate the same overall buzz they’ve achieved down south.
4. I Like Our Smaller Tracks
Yes, you heard me. People always say our tracks aren’t really ‘National caliber,’ but I’m here to say I actually appreciate our Canadian tracks’ smaller sizes. With most of our tracks able to been seen in their entirety from one location, spectating is great at our events. Trying to watch RedBud live becomes a chore if you want to see it all – the place is huge! Fortunately, budgets are much bigger south of the border and they have 2 massive screens for spectators to watch once the race has left their viewing area. We don’t really have that luxury…yet.
This may be coming from a rather selfish place, but taking photos and videos at our races is a dream by comparison! This point goes back to point #3: with such perfect viewing conditions, our races should be absolutely full of people. One of Supercross’ main draws is the fact that you can see the whole track from your seat, just like a Canadian National!
5. We Could Have Two Canadian Champions Again.
As great as it is to have