Canadian National Top 10 – MX2 Report Card
By Jeff McConkey and Billy Rainford
It’s that time of year again when reflection is the name of the game. The 2015 season could be argued as the best we’ve ever seen in Canada. In fact, if this were a debate, it would be difficult to argue the counterpoint.
We sat down and summed up the top 10 from from the MX2 class of the 2015 Rockstar Energy MX Nationals. Here’s a look at the 2015 report card:
10. #134 Cole Martinez KAW 4-13-DNS-DNS-DNS-9-8-4-6-7 (259)
Cole was hurt and missed 3 rounds. His speed looked good when he came back, but he was clearly rusty. I doubt we will see him back in ’16.
Cole came into the series with limited seat time on his new Monster Thor Kawasaki. He has shown some flashes of speed while competing in the USA. His 4th place in Kamloops had me thinking he was going to be a podium contender all season long. Unfortunately, his shoulder injury kept him out of Calgary, Regina, and Gopher Dunes. When he came back, he was still trying to get back to speed so we will cut him some slack.
We can see the potential there but we aren’t scoring on what someone could have or should have done. However, his good placings after his injury keep him with an average score of C+.
9. #39 Jess Pettis: YAM 11-6-21-9-16-11-6-7-9-9 (301)
I think this was the breakout season for Jess. I think his Monster ride a few years ago was too much, too soon. In 2015, Jess was bigger, stronger and fitter. He is my 2nd choice for the vacant MX2 ride at KTM.
Jess was one of those riders who came up with Westen Wrozyna and Dylan Wright. At first, he looked a little lost when he moved up to the big bikes because he had yet to hit his growth spurt. Since then, he has shot up several inches and now looks like he’s ready to contend for podiums. It could be getting used to the intensity at the front of the field, he needs a little more fitness, or some more support, but there’s only one piece missing that will get him there. Whichever it is, he has really impressed me this summer.
He would receive an A+ from me if he’d been able to stay closer to the front when he found himself there with great starts. He’ll get there and is also one of only a couple on this list without ‘factory-type’ support. Nobody above Jess in the top 10 has their father as their race-day mechanic. Well, maybe Morgan Burger.
Jess definitely gets my ‘most improved’ vote in the MX2 class.
8. #9 Morgan Burger YAM: 10-5-5-5-11-8-15-12-8-15 (320)
Morgan shocked us all with his drop to the MX2 class this season. He showed his speed at a few rounds, but had some mechanical issues at others. In the end, he was having fun, so that’s a win for me.
Morgan has been as high as #6 in the MX1 class. When you drop back to the MX2 class, you’re supposed to ride like a man among boys. I thought he was going to be that guy when he rolled off three 5ths in a row. He struggled with some mechanical issues and did very well with the limited support he had.
However, since he’s been up in the pointy end of the MX1 field in the past, I have to keep his score on the slightly sub-par side with a C. If he comes back again next year, he’ll need to get his machine sorted in the MX2 class, or get back to being that consistent 5-8 guy in MX1 to get that single digit number back.
7. #620 Brad Nauditt YAM: 7-4-7-8-7-19-7-6-7-13 (326)
Brad had a solid season, but not a great season. I still think he struggled with the bike switch, and with another off season, he could get back on the podium. Once he figures out his starts, he is very dangerous.
Brad has been up in Canada a while now and he, himself, expected better of his 2015 season. Whichever number he’s running, you could usually expect to see it up at the front of the pack after almost every gate drop. That didn’t happen this summer.
If you look at the riders above him on this list, he finished about where I thought he would. That being said, a rider needs to keep improving to stay relevant in this sport and Brad needs to gain a little more raw speed if he wants to climb any higher in the standings. It won’t be easy, but we all enjoy having the likable Washingtonian at the races.
6. #20 Dylan Wright YAM: 6-15-4-10-3-4-5-DNS-3-6 (365)
Dylan has that ‘wow’ factor. He has amazing speed and skill, but with his style, things can go wrong very fast. 2016 will bring Dylan more podiums and a moto win. He was very good in 2015, he just has to ride with a little less emotion and race the track, not certain competitors. Dylan is my 3rd pick for Benoit’s old ride.
I think Dylan’s career got right on track in 2015. His scores do still show his ‘checkers or wreckers’ mentality, but that’s what makes Dylan, arguably, the most fun rider to watch every time the gate drops.
If you add, say, 35 points for the round he missed in Moncton, it could be argued he would have been in contention for 4th overall. That’s really good.
Next season, Dylan will have to be fighting for podiums every week if he wants to keep the momentum going. I have a feeling that won’t be an issue for the Richmond, Ontario, rider.
5. #762 Blake Savage YAM: 5-7-11-6-4-6-3-11-5-8 (383)
Blake is a hard worker with sneaky speed. Just when you forget about him, he goes out and runs with the leaders. After a few breakout rides, Blake built some serious confidence. He’s not going to win the title in’16, but he will win at least 1 moto.
Blake went into this summer as a rider we placed as one of the few that could battle for podiums if one of the top 3 had an off day. He won’t like hearing that, but I feel that was the reality as 2015 started.
I think Blake was happy on his team this summer and it showed in his fun-loving attitude at the races. He, too, will need to work on his raw speed if he wants to give Devil’s Lake MX a title. A B+ got you into university in my day, so Blake should be happy with that.
4. #14 Shawn Maffenbeier YAM: 12-3-6-3-13-2-2-3-16-4 (399)
Shawn came into the season a little behind due to injury. Like always, he picked it up as the season progressed, and by the end he was there every moto. For 2016, I would put Shawn on the MX2 bike for the Royal Distributing Fox Racing KTM Canada team. You know what you are going to get every weekend. His only downfall is that people think he’s too old. In reality, he is still young, and just looks old. He would be my first pick for Benoit’s old spot. He won’t win every moto, but he could win a championship with podiums every weekend.
The numbers pretty much spell the story here. Shawn proved he had the speed to win this title–he just needed the luck. If you erase the races where the gremlins got him, the points would tell a different story. Unfortunately, they are a big part of motocross. Without them, Shawn is an A rating all day long, but we have to take those finishes in the teens into account here.
Depending on where he winds up in 2016, it will be a big year for the Saskatchewan rider. He expects a lot of himself and won’t be happy with anything less than consistent podiums or wins next summer.
3. #21 Jeremy Medaglia HON: 2-2-3-2-5-3-13-2-1-12 (451)
Jeremy was ‘Mr. Consistency’ in the West. He had some bad luck early on in the East, but he fought hard and was the rider to finally break the ‘Benoit Streak.’ He may have ridden a little frustrated at Walton and lost 2nd in the points, but you can bet your ass he will be thinking Championship and nothing else in 2016.
Jeremy was on everyone’s list as one of the 3 who were going to win this title. He’s been ‘the next guy’ too many times and it must be giving him nightmares. 2nd place came down to the final round in Walton and an untimely pass attempt sent Jeremy down hard on the second lap of the first moto. Without that, he may have been up a notch in the final standings.
He’s been after this title (and been one of the favourites) for a few years now and it is because of that I give him the B rating, even though he finished on the podium. He wants this title and the industry expects it from him…eventually.
2. #105 Jimmy Decotis YAM: 1-14-2-1-2-5-4-5-4-3 (470)
Jimmy came out swinging at round 1. He instantly showed he had fitness to match his speed. Throughout the season, he lost contact with the top guys for a few motos, but he never gave up and he continued to bust his ass. Jimmy ended the season strong at Walton and will be a very serious title contender in 2016.
A- you ask? Well, it’s that high because he finished the entire series and showed he’s worked hard on his fitness. I added the ‘minus’ because it’s Jimmy Decotis, for goodness sake! He’s supposed to win our series, isn’t he?!
He came into the series as the rider who’s been on a factory team in the US, the guy we’d all seen in the YouTube videos, the guy notorious for being under-trained and unable to finish an entire series, and the guy who was only supposed to be fast on sandy tracks. He turned out to be a very likable guy who works very hard and did well on all surfaces.
That’s how I defend my A-.
1. #1 Kaven Benoit KTM: 3-1-1-4-1-1-1-1-2-1 (568)
Kaven was the fastest all season long. He got great starts and his fitness was incredible. There are a bunch of riders still bitching about the 2-stroke rule. Benoit followed the rules, rode a bike that suited him, and at times embarrassed the competition. Don’t kid yourself, he’d still be our 2015 MX2 Champion if he rode a 250f. Next season, Benoit will become an instant player in the MX1 class. He’s just so hot right now.
Why fight it? Kaven gets an easy A+ and I don’t feel weird giving him that score one little bit. That was one of the most dominant series wins we’re ever seen. No, it wasn’t a perfect season, but it was extremely close!
He rode the 250 2-stroke on all track conditions and won on each of them. We have probably just seen the last championship win on a 2-stroke in North American Pro Motocross.
Kaven is fit and looked like he was ready for another moto at the end of every Sunday. It was impressive. Together with his mechanic, Jérome Therrien, and his KTM bike, he was practically unstoppable this year.
That’s how we saw the top 10 in the MX2 class this summer. There were no failing grades in the MX2 top 10, so everyone graduates to…next summer. We’ll be back with our MX1 report card soon…