5th Annual DMX Canadian MX Nationals Awards
By Jeff McConkey and Billy Rainford
It’s that time of year again. The dust has settled – literally – and we’ve had a chance to come up for air and reflect on the summer of Pro racing at the Rockstar Energy MX Nationals. It would be easy to simply call that the best summer we’ve ever seen in Canada, but that wouldn’t do it justice.
It’s time to break the series down and look at what stood out for us in many different categories, both good and not so good. Here are the 2015 DMX Awards:
Most Dominant Pro Rider:
Jeff: Kaven Benoit was the most dominate guy in any class. He went on an insane holeshot and moto win streak that will possibly never be matched, ever. He looked like he was built for the KTM 250 2-stroke, and he dominated the MX2 class.
Billy: Same. We haven’t seen a rider this dominant in a long time. He looks and races like the last French rider to do so well: JSR.
Best Looking Team:
Jeff: Jay Moore at Fox Canada had the Royal Distributing Fox Racing KTM Canada team looking top-shelf every moto at every single round. I’m all about the looks, and these guys looked good!
Billy: I’ll go with the Honda Canada TLD GDR team. There’s just something about the TLD style that is very appealing to me.
Best Looking Race Rig:
Jeff: Morgan Burger‘s ‘Black Pearl.’ Sorry, just kidding. The best looking rig in the pits, hands down, belongs to GDR Honda. It’s just head and shoulders above the rest.
Billy: I’ll go with the Rockstar OTSFF Yamaha team here. They had 3 big rigs at Walton and it made a huge impact in the pits.
Jeff: I think Jimmy Decotis surprised a lot of people with his great attitude and how hard he busted his ass all season long. No, he didn’t win the title, but he gave it his all and will come in very prepared for 2016.
Billy: Kaven Benoit taking 70% of the overalls. That goes along with the first category, but to win 7 of 10 overalls is amazing!We knew he was going to be fast, but did anyone think he was going to win on all the tracks where the 2-stroke was supposed to be a disadvantage?
Jeff: Jess Pettis was my most improved. He looked like a completely different guy out there this season. He was bigger, stronger and faster. Pettis may not have been ready for the Leading Edge Monster ride he once had, but I believe if he had another shot at that ride, he would certainly open some eyes.
Billy: Same. Jess came up through the amateur ranks with Westen Wrozyna and Dylan Wright – that’s a tough crowd! He didn’t seem to have the raw speed of those other two and was still under-sized on the big bikes, cutting away seats and lowering the ride heights. He showed up in Kamloops a new rider and finished a very impressive 9th overall in MX2, and even led Deschambault for a short time.
Feel Good Story:
Jeff: I’m going to have to go with the Devils Lake Yamaha Team signing Kyle Swanson. Swanson needed a ride, bad, and Devils Lake had already been through 2 450 riders. It was a match made in heaven and I honestly think we will see these guys doing great things together for a long time.
Billy: I’ve been a big fan of Kyle Swanson since we found out he was sleeping in the cab of his pick-up a couple years ago. However, to be different, I’ll go with Redemption Racing snagging Cade Clason as a replacement for the injured Nathan Bles. It was actually the match made in heaven! LOL I met Cade down south back in 2009 and knew he would fit in well up here. Taking 6th in the MX1 series was the icing on the cake.
Worst Luck (The Shleprock Award):
Jeff: Poor Teddy Maier gets the nod for this one. In what was rumoured to be his last season, Teddy couldn’t buy a decent start and then proceed to injure both arms in what looks like it will be his last professional race ever in Canada at Deschambault.
Billy: How can you argue against Teddy Maier for this dubious honour? You can’t, that’s how. Not since Zack Deiana‘s season a few years ago have we seen such bad luck. Teddy may now be riding off into the sunset and will be missed from our series if that’s the case.
Jeff: I think Tyler Medaglia is the best starter this season. It is very rare you see Tyler coming from the back of the pack or down in a first turn pile-up.
Billy: I’ll also go with Tyler Medaglia on this one. He’s a little guy and hasn’t got an extra pound on him. Combine that with his powerful Husqvarna 450 and you’ve got some very consistent and fast trips to the first turn.
Jeff: Dylan Schmoke was pretty bad at his starts this year. This guy had to pass his way into the top 10 every moto. He has the speed to be well inside the top 10, he just needs a start. It would honestly help him get ‘on the board.’
Billy: I’ll go with Kyle Keast here. I’m not sure his overall results would be any different were he to grab every holeshot, but it would have to make it easier on him to get out there early!
Jeff: This one is easy, Cole Thompson looks the best to me out there. He is so darn smooth, it almost looks like he’s just cruising out there. French Intermediate Tommy Dallaire is a very close 2nd. This guy has ‘swag’ for days and is fun to watch.
Billy: I’m going to choose this one using the results from my camera lens. For whatever reason, I just can’t get a bad shot of Shawn Robinson out on the track. Every shot I take of him ends up being one of my best ones, every weekend.
Jeff: Jean Christophe Bujold is by far the best Intermediate, in my opinion. This kid has serious talent, and will be one to watch in 2016.
Billy: JC Bujold easily gets the edge here. He’s a big kid and will probably have his best years on the 450. I’ve known JC and his dad, Eric, for a long time and it’s nice to see them enjoying success. (We needed to see more of Kyle Biro to consider him here.)
Jeff: I really liked the Walton track this year. The track shaped up well and made for good racing.
Billy: Ulverton. The moment you step over the crest of the hill and look over the grounds, you know you’re in for an amazing day at the races. Lots of space and tons of elevation changes – that’s motocross to me.
Least Favourite Track:
Jeff: Nanaimo! It’s a joke that it’s on the schedule year after year. There are plenty of ‘gravel pits’ across this country East and West, I don’t understand why we need to take a 2-hour ferry (it’s actually 1:35) to get to this non-national-caliber track.
Billy: It may look nice when you stand at the top and look out over the mountains and the ocean, but The Wastelands just doesn’t do it for me as a national track. I feel there has to be a track in BC where we utilize the mountains, at least a little, no?
Jeff: I can’t choose just one, so I’m picking Gopher Dunes and Sand Del Lee.
Billy: Walton. It’s the last event of the year and they really pull it all together. You’ve watched the amateurs all week, and then the Pros start showing up. The entire industry is represented and it really looks like something huge is going on.
Jeff: I have two favourite battles. First was Jeremy Medaglia and Kaven Benoit’s battle in moto 2 at Ulverton. It was unreal! My second, was Blake Savage and the pond in Moncton. Blake told me afterwards that he seriously thought he was going to drown.
Billy: The second 450 moto at Ulverton. Matt Goerke, Brett Metcalfe, Cole Thompson, and Colton Facciotti were all going at it tooth and nail. Suddenly, Colton finds an extra gear or two and checks out! It was amazing to watch.
Jeff: That’s easy, it has got to be Cade Clason. If you have ever spoken to the guy, you will agree. Even after moto 1 in Deschambault when he was very displeased with “track hazard” Dave Blanchet, he was still very polite.
Billy: I’ll go with Hayden Halstead here. He may not win the races, but he’s always got a fun story to tell and he’s quick to tell it. Keep having such a good time, Hayden.
Heir to the Women’s Throne
Jeff: In the East with Eve Brodeur just turning 16, I see a very long reign for her. But, unfortunately, injuries are a huge part of our sport, and if Kim Normandin can keep improving, I could see her winning one of these years. In the West, Kennedy Lutz is the girl to beat, and will be for a long time. I see Sara King and Brittany Gagne right there next in line to strike.
Billy: Just like Jeff said, someone will have to put in the effort Eve and Kennedy (and their families) put in if they want a chance against these two any time soon. Nobody is going to touch them until a rider heads south in the winter and lines up against the fast American riders at the big events. It will take a full, year-round commitment to usurp either of their seats on the throne. I’m not saying it can’t be done, it will just be a long time before we hear anyone say, “The Queen in dead, long live the Queen!”
Rider of the Year
Jeff: My pick is Kaven Benoit. He was just so dominant. My runner up would have to be Matt Goerke. Matt had a very consistent season on way to his second MX1 title.
Billy: Kaven Benoit is the Canadian ‘Rider of the Year,’ in my opinion. How can he not be? I would like to see him do more in the ‘off season,’ but perhaps that will happen in the coming years. Someone would have had to win 80% of the overalls in the Pro class to beat him for this honour. Congratulations to Kaven and the entire Royal Distributing Fox KTM team. It will be interesting to see how he fares in the MX1 class in 2016.
That was a ton of fun to do. Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for future countdowns here on DMX. We’re suckers for any kind of countdown around here. Heck, I’ll listen to the top 10 of almost ANY type of music on the radio! Almost…