Frid’Eh Update #11 Presented by Michelin
By Jeff McConkey and Billy Rainford
Welcome to week #11 of the DMX Frid’Eh Update, this week presented by….#11 is reserved for the rider who has won the MX2 class but has made the move up to the MX1 class for the following year. Kaven Benoit won the MX2 title the past two years in a row and will make the move up to the big bike class for the coming year.
Kaven’s improvements over the past years as a Pro rider were consistent and pointed toward the greatness he’s displaying now. He’s a calculated, no-nonsense rider and has been able to win and defend the 250 title. Making his story even more interesting is the fact that he’s done it on a combination of 250 2-strokes and 250 4-stroke bikes.
Kaven is currently training down at Club MX in South Carolina. We stopped in to see how he’s doing a couple weeks ago. He looks great on the 450 and was tossing it around just like he did the smaller bikes. We grabbed him for a quick update to get his thoughts on everything.
Direct Motocross: Hello, Kaven. Let’s start with your 2015 season. 2 MX2 titles in a row, how was last summer for you?
Kaven Benoit: Hey, Billy! Last summer was a dream season for me. I won 7 out of the 10 overalls so can’t really ask for more. I felt great all season long and didn’t have any bad weekends.
Onto the action. Going into the night show in 250 action, Malcolm Stewart and Justin Hill looked like they were the guys to beat in the main. They both have been fast all season and I was hoping for a Toronto showdown. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, when disaster struck Stewart and about 10 other guys in a first turn crash. Hill made it through without incident, but championship contenders , Jeremy Martin, Aaron Plessinger and Malcolm Stewart were left on the ground. What happened next was very impressive. Martin remounted first and rode the wheels off of his Yamaha to finish 2nd. Yes, 2nd! Stewart and Plessinger did not have it as easy. Poor Malcolm was forced into the mechanics area, not once but twice. Add in the fact that his jersey and body were all shredded up worse than Edward Scissorhands. Malcolm was able to keep his title hopes alive, but not without some quick thinking by his Gieco Honda team who were very sharp and thought to snip his kill switch on his ailing bike. Plessinger didn’t fare as well as the others and made it back to 12th. Up front, Justin Hill went on to what looked like an easy win, and he left Toronto only down 2 points in this championship.
In 450 action, the main started out with a rare sight: Yamaha’s Chad Reed had a very uncharacteristic crash off the start and didn’t even make it to corner 1. Up front, Eli Tomac looked like he was going to back up his Daytona win. Well, Ken Roczen didn’t get the memo and put in a fast pass then 20 solid laps for the win. Eli just didn’t have his heat race magic and went backwards more than he would have liked. Marvin Musquin kept his impressive string of races alive, with a great ride for 2nd. Marvin has become a serious player and will win one of these sooner than later. ‘Mr Consistency’ Ryan Dungey extended his podium streak (setting a record at 26 straight), and padded his points lead as well. The action continues this weekend in Detroit, so let’s see my predictions.
Holeshot: Jeremy Martin
1st Malcolm Stewart
2nd Justin Hill
3rd Jeremy Martin
4th Shane McElrath
5th Aaron Plessinger
Holeshot: Justin Brayton
1st Ryan Dungey
2nd Jason Anderson
3rd Cole Seely
4th Trey Canard
5th Justin Brayton
Not to be outdone by the Supercross was the Direct Motocross after part at Houston Bar and Grill. Like always, David Toye and the wonderful staff at Houston opened their arms to DMX and our fantastic readers and supporters and allowed us to have a great time. I’d like to thank all of the great people who made it possible. I’d personally like to thank the great people at Mica Sports / Scott Sports, John Knowles from Scott, Fox Canada, KTM Canada, Yamaha Canada, Gamma Sales, Dragon, Fly, FXR, Motovan, Atlas Brace, and anyone else I may have missed. We had a lot of help from a bunch of great people. And speaking of great people, over the 2 nights we had some beauties in attendance: Chad Reed led the way, but we can’t forget Jason Thomas, Jason Weigandt, Steve Matthes, Aaron Plessinger, Matt Bisceglia, Josh Cartwright, Vicki Golden, Michael Byrne, Josh Bartosh, Cade Clason, Kourtney Lloyd, Donk, JSR, Adam Turner and Jeremy Medaglia to name a few. The drinks were cold and the shit-talking was hot. If you were unable to make it this year, you seriously need to make the effort next year.
Give up the idea of grass in the Rogers Centre in 2018
on Jan 14, 2015, 8:12a
If you still had any hope that you may be hired to mow the grass at Rogers Centre in 2018, you might want to alter your career plans (for more reasons than one). The home of the Blue Jays will probably not have a natural grass field installed by Opening Day in 2018. There are just too many scientific, engineering, and financial hurdles in the way.
On Tuesday evening, the National Post’s John Lott posted a piece updating fans on the progress (or rather, lack thereof) of the plans to get grass into the Rogers Centre. For every paragraph I read in that article, I pushed back the earliest completion date this renovation project by two months.
First, despite all the talk from Blue Jays’ still-president Paul Beeston about wanting grass by 2018, the club has been slow to get the science portion of the project off the ground. According to a fan’s Freedom of Information request, the club and the University of Guelph (a public university located in a town west of Toronto) have been seriously discussing a collaborative research project since December 2013. Heavily redacted emails obtained in the FOI request showed that officials on Guelph’s side tried to chase down the Blue Jays to formalize the agreement five times throughout 2014.
Collaborative research agreements between private corporations and public universities can be complex. They involve not only the matter of the amount of funds the university stands to receive from the sponsoring corporation and defining the exact parameters and goals of the research, but much more hairier matters such as intellectual property transfer, and what information is proprietary and what is publishable. However, Guelph, having strong roots in agricultural research, should have sufficient experience in these types of collaborations to get their end of things done quickly. But that hasn’t happened (looking at you, Blue Jays) and it has been a year since the first draft was written.
Of course, the contract-signing part of contract research projects, which the Blue Jays state should be done in a week-ish, is the easy part. The hard part—actual science research—has not begun.
Lott spoke with the university’s turf researcher Eric Lyons who gave an end-date of May 2016 for the first stage of the research project, which is to select (or create?) the right strain of grass for indoor growth. Two things to note about that date: a) scientific researchers are generally optimistic about timelines (and end results) when writing grant proposals, and b) that May 2016 end-date was given without reference to a start date. Does May 2016 assume that something will be signed in January 2015? Does every month’s delay in signing push back the end-date by a month?
Let’s assume that the Blue Jays and the University of Guelph announces their collaboration this afternoon and that Lyons and his research team manages to be lucky and finds the right species in his laboratory by May next year. Then I assume that he will need to scale-up the lab grass into something that is field-sized, which according to Lyons, will be harvest-ready in 2017 if everything goes well. (And what if the signing or research is further delayed? Are there only certain points in late summer/early fall when grass can be grown?) Only then would Lyons be able to test the grass in a simulated Rogers Centre environment to see whether it will actually survive indoors under artificial light.
Oh, and of course, all of this is assuming that the Toronto Argonauts actually move out after their 2017 season as planned.
While I have faith that scientists and engineers will eventually figure out how this massive project can be accomplished, I just don’t see how this could be completed by April 2018.
What will be done in the Rogers Centre in the meantime is the installation of a new self-styled “temporary” AstroTurf in time for this upcoming season, as first confirmed here on Bluebird Banter last year. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi gave us more details regarding the new, (hopefully) softer artificial turf back in December.
Another huge factor is cost of this 21,650-square metre project. Back in 2013, Paul Beeston gave a quarter of a billion dollars as the figure that he has budgeted for stadium retrofits and renovations. With the cost of carving out the centrefield porch, the new AstroTurf, and other smaller items accounted for already, I don’t see how whatever’s remaining can fully cover this grass installation project all the way from research and development to the actual roll-out.
Unfortunately this whole thing sounds too much like a lot of the Blue Jays teams since 1993 in that it will take everything to break right for a chance at success.
Thanks (in part) to Andrew Stoeten as well as the requester Dave Dowe, we now have easy access to the Freedom of Information document containing the redacted emails.
Here are a few notes:
- Email from 2014-04-28: Looks like the May 2016 date for the selection of the grass strain was based on a May 2014 project start as Lyons suggested allowing two years for “phase 1” of the project. So on the same timeline, we are probably looking at a February 2017 completion of that phase.
- Call Report from 2014-04-22: It appears that Paul Beeston was ready to sign the agreement “in 3 weeks” but needed to wait for Rogers’ CEO’s (Guy Laurence) approval.
- Call Report from 2014-09-04: Beeston and the president of the University of Guelph had a meeting organized by advancement to discuss a “GIft Agreement”, meaning that the Blue Jays might be making a donation to the university in exchange for the research services, rather than a straight sponsored research contract. I don’t think there’s much implication to this, just interesting to note.
Do you think the Rogers Centre will have a grass field by the beginning of the 2018 season?
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Monster Energy Alpinestars Kawasaki
What’s Suzy Wearing? (Google it, Bowker!)
The above announcement about the Monster Kawasaki team moving to Alpinestars in Canada leaves us wondering about a few other teams and what gear they’ll be representing in 2016. The earliest big news was that the Honda Canada GDR team would be wearing Fox in 2016.
Fox is what the KTM Canada team has been in, so, what will they be doing for 2016? There were rumours of TLD Canada jumping on board but now it’s sounding like they will be going with Thor this season. This isn’t official, but that is where the safe money is. If anyone is at Club MX today, please take a photo of Kaven Benoit and let us know what he’s wearing!
The Rockstar OTSFF Yamaha squad will be in Fly gear and their 250 teammates over at MX101 will be in FXR again. With Fly getting heavily behind the OTSFF team, it left us wondering what that would mean for the Redemption Team who has been with Gamma Powersports. It’s sounding like they, too, will be in Fly gear but through a deal more directly through the U.S. side.
So, which top-level team will be in TLD gear, you ask? Now we’re hearing rumours that they will be going in a more grass roots direction by supporting some younger up-and-comers as opposed to a big Pro team. Hold the phone, we just realized there is an Austin Watling photo of Tanner Ward wearing TLD gear wile down at Real Deal MX in South Carolina.
I had an interesting conversation with the guys from Pirelli as were were listening to them introduce the new Pirelli M32 Pro tire at a morning meeting this past Saturday in Toronto. Most moto fans could go through the top 20 Pro riders in both classes and tell you what gear brand they are riding but would struggle to tell you what kind of tire they run.
The tires are the only things that touch the ground and yet they get little respect in the grand scheme of things. I had to admit that I was one of those people and only when this point was brought to my attention did I realize just how much about ‘look’ moto is. We should probably talk more about tires and suspension than everything else in the sport, but we don’t. Food for thought.
Watch the James Stewart Freestone MX Spring Championship Live
We’re getting close to the end but the finals are what it’s all about in Texas this week. Also, it’s round 2 of the WMX Nationals this weekend. The women will race their two motos Saturday. Canadian #141 Eve Brodeur is out in Texas racing, so be sure to tune in tomorrow to see how she does.
Check out Ditchbanger.tv to watch the action live.
Canadians at GPF
Finally have a few minutes to do some things with all the content we generated down south a couple weeks ago. We’ve got lots more stuff to sort through but here is a short video featuring a few Canadian riders training at GPF this winter:
Houston After-Party Shots
I really hate being ‘that guy’ taking photos at a party, but we had to capture a few moments so I went ahead and did it anyway. I didn’t take anything that would get anyone in trouble, so these are all relatively tame. If you missed these on the site, here are a few from a great night at The Houston on Yonge Street after the Toronto SX.
Tyler Medaglia at Round 2 of GNCC
In all the excitement of the Toronto SX last weekend, we neglected to look into how Canada’s #5 rider, Tyler Medaglia, did at round 2 of the GNCC in Georgia. I went to the results sheet and now see that he is scored as just completing 1 lap and 16th in the results.
I gave Tyler a call to see what the scoop was. Apparently, there was a deep water hole just after the start at Round 2 and Tyler assumed he must have gotten some “water somewhere it didn’t belong.” He was 5th after the first loop and the bike was still bogging and running poorly. Not knowing exactly what the issue was, he decided not to risk blowing up motor and called it a day.
The following day, he rolled out his Husqvarna 350 MX bike only to have the same thing happen 10 minutes into his ride. It turns out, he was the victim of a bad batch of gas! He emptied the tank, re-filled it, and it was perfect.
This weekend, you’ll find Tyler and his buddy down in Tampa, Florida, racing a criterium race one night and then a 70-100k road race the following day. He plans on hitting a couple more GNCC rounds before heading home to Nova Scotia and the Rockstar MX Nationals start.
Good luck this weekend, Tyler.
No #418 Dave Blanchet this Week in Detroit
From our update earlier in the week:
Dave Blanchet Update
By Billy Rainford
He was all set to perform in front of his home country this past weekend at the Rogers Centre in Toronto when he got out of shape in the tricky whoops section. As he tried to get up on top of them in free practice, his front end dropped and he got out of shape and tossed over the bars.
The result was his left shoulder being popped out of joint (an issue he is quite familiar with). The Astersk Medical team was able to get it back into place at the side of the track and Dave rode his slightly bent bike back to the pits.
When we visited him in the pits, he was sore but determined to get out in front of his countrymen and put the #418 into his first night show. As he was circulating the track in first timed qualifying, he slowed down in a tricky section and was hit from behind and shot off the track out of control. The impact was enough to send him back to the pits and out for the night.
He was in too much pain to even consider trying to get a fast lap in during second timed qualifying and the gang packed his things up and returned to the trailer.
We spoke with him this afternoon to see how he’s feeling two days out:
“Not too bad. My body is all right but my shoulder sucks. I’m working on it. I will be back in Indianapolis. I’ll stay focused and come back better. See you in Indy!”
Take care of yourself and we’ll see you back for Indy.
Dave’s sponsors: PR-MX.ca, Strikt, Ohlins, Novik, Bill’s Pipes, Goldentyre, DnD, Rekluse, Guts, Cycra, Elusive, True MX, Just1, Torc1, Pelletier Kawasaki
Well, thanks for reading again this week. It’s time to go see if I can get some of the wet lab smell out of the van. I’ll have some guests making the exciting drive west down the 401 from London to Detroit in the early morning. This may well be THE worst stretch of highway in North America. No joke.
Be sure to follow us over on Twitter @directmx and on Instagram @directmotocross. Jeff will be tweeting and I’ll be firing up photos as often as the internet will let me. We have this one more round of 250 East and then we take the one-and-only break in the series for the Easter weekend before heading west to Santa Clara for a 250 West round.
Enjoy the races from Detroit!