Brainstorm | A Look at the Racing in Calgary | 450 Class

By Billy Rainford

Photos by John Meaney (@meandawg15)

450 Podium: Phil Nicoletti, Cole Thompson, Matt Goerke.

It seems like this Arenacros series is going to come down to a battle between the three riders we see in this podium shot. With a good start, it looks like any of them can win.

Unfortunately, we lost #197 Brock Leitner to injury after he messed up, went down,  and got landed on by another rider before he’d even completed a lap of practice. Heal up, Brock.

Let’s have a look at the 450 racing.

1st #54 Phil Nicoletti YAM: It seemed like Phil, himself, was a little surprised he was able to get an Arenacross win this early in the series, and he called himself an “outdoors guy” on the podium.

He made a very early pass on Cole Thompson early in the main and held on for the win. I wasn’t sure if anyone was going to be able to challenge Cole on this tight tracks, but if either Phil or Matt Goerke get out front, they can keep this interesting.

Phil said he was expecting a T-bone move from Cole but added that he “doesn’t think anyone wants to start a blood war yet.” Good stuff.

2nd #1 Cole Thompson KTM: Cole grabbed the holeshot and I half figured he was going to simply check out. However, after Phil got by Cole just couldn’t mount the attack I thought was coming.

Phil seemed to be getting on top of the whoops a little better and I think that’s what made the difference. Cole started trying his patented inside line moves but came up a little short at the flag, taking 2nd place.

Cole said he was “thinking too much” and will use this week as “extra motivation.”

3rd #2 Matt Goerke KAW: Matt tried to make a really early pass on Cole to move into 2nd but Cole fought it off and held position. Matt would be in the top 3 picture and then drop out of it. Then he was right there again and it looked like he was mounting an attack on the win.

He was an animal in the whoops and started doing a really quick wheel tap technique that got him up with Cole and Phil.

Unfortunately, he came around to hit the wall jump and #114 Nick Schmidt was there and Matt found himself dropping behind the lead 2 with no time left.

It would be nice to see Matt happy up there on the podium, but I guess we’ll see that when he gets a win.

4th #3 Shawn Maffenbeier YAM: That 4th place had to feel great for Shawn after his struggles in Abbotsford — it must have almost felt like a win. Shawn is adjusting to racing the 450 on the tight indoor tracks and will keep getting better as we move on.

Podiums will be very hard to come by if your name isn’t Cole, Phil, or Matt, but Shawn will show that he’s one the guys to do it if any of these three should falter.

5th #476 Collin Jurin KAW: Collin is our FWM Arenacross champion and he showed why. He’s really good at these tight indoor races.

After seeing his whoops speed in Chilliwack, I thought he would have been chewing other riders up in that section. He was good, of course, but so were some of the others.

I don’t know if we’ll see him head east, but it sure would be nice if he did. He grabbed a podium at round 1 and could do it again at any time.

6th #12 Cade Clason HSK: Cade is a finesse rider, I’d say. Not a lot of these guys can say they’ve raced a 450 AMA Supercross main, but he can.

Cade was up in 5th place early and crossed the line in 6th place after some consistent laps and a couple off ones.

7th #114 Nick Schmidt HON: I’m not sure where I had Nick pegged in the Arenacross series. He’s got a ton of Supercross experience and is in the mix with the guys just off the podium.

Like many of the other riders, Nick found himself picking his bike up from the Calgary dirt.

I spoke with Kourtney Lloyd from this Cycle North team and she confirms they (along with Collin Jurin) will not be heading east with the series.

It was good to have these guys in the series for the opening 2 rounds. Good luck in the future, guys.

8th #202 Blake Osatchuk HSK: Blake started from the far outside gate in the 450 main. He put in some early laps that were faster than he qualified, so he’s got to be happy with his progress throughout the day. He was one of the few riders racing both classes but I don’t think we’ll see him in Ontario for the final 2 rounds, but I could be wrong…Blake is a journeyman!

Biggest Stud: I’m going to give Stud status to Phil Nicoletti this week. He served notice that he’s already got the hang of this tight Canadian Arenacross racing and this win should have him in the mix every week.

Biggest Dud: No, Brock Leitner isn’t a Dud, but losing him for the rest of the series is. Take care of yourself, Brock. Did Tiger Woods winning the Masters make it any better?

Biggest Surprise: I was surprised more Pro riders aren’t showing up to gain experience on these tracks and against these riders. No, you’re not likely to win, but neither are the majority of the other racers. Let’s see the need for some LCQ’s when we head east to show that the sport is healthy at the top level.

See you all in Sarnia!