Canadians at Ironman MX
By Billy Rainford
We may not be sending a team to Ernée, France, for the 2015 Motocross of Nations, but the Canada flag was flying proudly over foreign land this past Saturday in Crawfordsville, Indiana.
The final round of competition for the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship took place at the Ironman MX facility just west of Indianapolis for the second time. I had never seen this track before and was immediately impressed with the layout for both riders and fans.
Riders enjoyed a rough track that has many elevation changes and the fans enjoyed the ability to walk around and get close to the racing at just about every jump and turn.
The track was tilled very deep and the addition of sawdust and other bits to the soil meant that the well-watered track developed deep ruts, lots of lines, and massive braking bumps. To be honest, the ‘braking bumps’ resembled rhythm sections after first practice! Those who’d ridden the entire AMA series described it as the ‘roughest track of the season.’ For those who were making their AMA National debut, it was the roughest track they’d ever seen!
4 Canadian teams made the trip just one week after the Rockstar Energy MX Nationals came to an end at Walton Raceway. Riders and crew members alike were ready for a break, but the lure of competing at the top level one more week meant they loaded up their rigs and hit the road.
Redemption Racing Fly Dragon KTM had their full race rig with #330 Eric Jeffery and #92 Cade Clason.It looked like a Canadian National as the entire crew was there in support. Even Nathan Bles made the trek to help Eric.
2-time MX2 Canadian Champion, #926 Kaven Benoit, made the 15-hour journey with trusted mechanic, Jerome Therrien, in a hauler borrowed from Mathieu Duroy. Kaven was on Cole Thompson‘s back-up Royal Distributing Fox Racing KTM race 450.
Parts Canada Thor Husqvarna‘s #903 Tyler Medaglia was there with ‘Kibby‘ in the team’s Sprinter van.
Honda Canada TLD GDR had their race rig set up in what became ‘Canada Corner’ in the pits. #464 Kyle Keast, #141 Jeremy Medaglia, and #495 Colton Facciotti were all ready for 450 action.
Here’s a look at how the day went on a picture-perfect afternoon in Indiana.
#626 Shawn Robinson
Qualified 60th / 19th in the consolation race.
This was Shawn’s first kick at the big U.S. can. He told us in his podcast that he’d only had about 20 minutes seat time on the Honda 450 as he raced a KTM 450 all summer long. This track got so rough that it was tough to get a solid qualifying lap in with all the riders in the B qualifier. Shawn will use this as experience that he’ll be able to draw from the next time he lines up under such an intense spotlight.
During the consolation race, he and #330 Eric Jeffery were racing together like we were north of the border. It was fun to watch.
#330 Eric Jeffery
Qualified 56th / 17th in the consolation race.
Eric, too, had never lined up at an AMA National. He said in his podcast that he kept his expectations low and was just happy to get this experience. The track very wet for their qualifier and he was able to get the 56-fastest time on it.
He didn’t get the best start in the consolation race but moved forward and challenged Robinson for position. It was entertaining to watch but neither of them were able to make the main motos this time. He was inspired by the experience and would like to try again another time.
#141 Jeremy Medaglia
Qualified 53rd / Didn’t line up for consolation race.
According to Derek Schuster, Jeremy came into this race with a sore back suffered in his Walton crash the week before. Jeremy went out in qualifying and tried to do what he could but when he realized it was no use, he called it quits early and that was it for his day. He denied our podcast so we’ll have to speak with him in the near future to see how he’s doing.
#464 Kyle Keast
Qualified 30th / 27-25 28th overall
Kyle was quick to point out how rough the track was. If you know anything about ‘The Dozer,’ you know that carries some weight! He didn’t get great starts and found it difficult to move forward in a field with such depth. He had ‘Good Bye’ on his TLD pants up in Canada but not down in there. I asked him what it was like to actually get lapped in a race. He was quick to point out that he does get lapped on occasion but not like this! He was impressed and humbled by the speed of the top riders. He looked like he thoroughly enjoyed the experience and is ready for a little time off the bike to get back to his full-time job.
#926 Kaven Benoit
Qualified 31st / 19-18 20th overall
I hope the online coverage captured the size of some of the jumps on this track! After you made the right turn after this big uphill jump, riders were then faced with a massive triple that sent you over what had to look like a cliff from on top of the bike. It was big.
Kaven is a big-stage performer and had a lot of fun Saturday. As 2-time MX2 Canadian champ, he will be on the 450 next season. He said in his podcast that he expects to be in the top 3 – not to win, but be right there. Kaven had a great late-moto battle with Tyler Medaglia in the first moto. Kaven fell and Tyler got by. On the last lap they were wheel to wheel. When Tyler slipped up, Benoit made the pass and the two finished the moto close together.
Off the start of the second moto, Kaven found himself up in the top 5! Unfortunately, #11 Kyle Chisholm was down on the track off the start, forcing a red flag. He reset and again got a good start up in the top 10 or so. Kaven raced hard Saturday and somehow managed to find himself racing alone in that field for a large portion. He’s disappointed Canada isn’t going to France and said that this is a pretty nice replacement for that event.
#903 Tyler Medaglia
Qualified 5th / 20-13 16th overall
You qualify up in 5th place and you get to start where the big dogs start. How about this?! Right between the defending champ and the new champ! The jumps are so big that one over-jumped lading actually broke his rear fender and it continually slapped him in the back for the entire first moto.
Two things stick out about Tyler’s ride: He had to ride B practice and qualifiers. He was offered to bump a rider from the A group, but when he found out that rider was his brother, Jeremy, he stayed in the B class. Also, as he sat on the line waiting for first practice, he heard the announcer say that Legends rider, #10 Guy Cooper, was hitting the huge uphill triple the previous day, so he hit it on the second lap (you aren’t allowed on the first). He said he hit all the huge jumps right away so they didn’t get in his head. He also said that at 140 pounds, there’s no way his powerful Husky 450 couldn’t make all of them, so he went for them all.
His battle with Benoit late in the first was great to watch. In the second, he had #29 Andrew Short and Colton Facciotti ahead of him and in his sights for most of the moto. He was happy with his performance and said he will take some time off before hitting the woods for some enduro racing.
#495 Colton Facciotti
Qualified 22nd / 13-11 11th overall
Colton has lots of experience at these big events and is used to being top Canadian. He did it again Saturday even after tweaking his back during the first moto. The braking bumps were huge and the bike would come up and hit you when you least expected it. He received some treatment from the Asterisk medics and then had some chiropractic adjustment as well just to line up for the second moto.
He had a great start in the first and even managed to pass his way up into 2nd spot in the 3rd corner! It was pretty impressive in that field. He gritted his teeth and stayed up in the sharp end of the competition, chasing Short to the finish and keeping some very experienced riders behind him.
We wondered why, after such a great start from the far side of the gate in the first, that he would decide to go to the complete opposite side for the second. In his words, “Apparently, you need to be on time for the start down here.” He was a little late and so they gave him last gate pick. He got pushed way to the left and had to let off the gas early.
It was a great performance that had the announcers mentioning his and Canada’s name repeatedly on the PA. I think it was Jimmy Albertson who had the difficulty pronouncing ‘Facciotti’ but at least it was said!
All in all, it was a great day and kudos to so many guys for taking a stab at elevating their profession to this top level. Whether they had a good day or a bad day, the experience gained is invaluable. Hopefully, this race gets thought of when teams are putting together their budgets for the 2016 season. If they go, we’ll go!
Watch for a full photo report here on the site after we take a a few minutes to hang out at the beach!