Frid’Eh Update #11 Presented by Michelin

By Jeff McConkey and Billy Rainford


Week #11 belongs to 2-time MX2 champion, Kaven Benoit. – Bigwave photo

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.


Check out what Kaven had to say about his titles, training at a different facility, changing mechanics, and his upcoming rookie 450 season. – Bigwave photo

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.

Was 2014 or 2015 more difficult?
I would say 2014 was more demanding, having to deal with someone that rides aggressive. I don’t know if there is one that was tougher than the other. I always give 100% every moto so it’s hard to say if there was a tougher one.
Kaven Benoit Morden 2009

#27 Kaven Benoit grabbing a holehot in Morden circa 2009. – Bigwave photo

If you hadn’t won this past summer, would you still be moving up to the MX1 class?
Yes, that was the plan. The goal was to win a least one MX2 championship but my contract was already set to ride MX1 for 2016.
What did you do after the final round at Walton Raceway last summer?
After Walton I raced the last round of the AMA nationals in Indiana. I had lots of fun there with only 3 days on the 450. I got a respectable 20th place overall so was happy with my weekend. After that I didn’t do any more races. I showed up for an off-road race at home but it was cancelled due to the accident that happened with Marianne Brodeur. I rode until end of November on my 450 putting a few hours on that to prepare for this season and that’s about it.
Kaven Benoit

Kaven moves up to the 450 class this year after winning the previous two MX2 titles. – Bigwave photo

Now you’re down training at Club MX. How has that been going for you?
Yes, this year I changed the routine and tried out Club MX. I am staying at the practice facility doing my own thing and I’m loving it so far. The place is incredible with 3 tracks to offer always in perfect conditions. Guys here are really good people and taking care of their facility so much. I will be back for sure and people should try out this facility if they haven’t yet.
Who do you train and ride with usually?
I’m down here with Shawn Robinson. We ride together and there are other fast guys training here like Mike Alessi, Cameron McAdoo, Aaron Lampi, Cade Clason and more.
Do you ever spin laps with any of them?
Hopefully, I will get to ride together soon but so far it hasn’t happened that much. I am doing my own thing so I would have to get friendly with them a bit more (Laughs).
Let’s talk about your ex-mechanic, Jerome Therrien, not coming back this year. Why is he not returning? What has he meant to you over the last 9 years?
Yeah, Jerome is not coming back this year. Hard decision for him to take but it was time for him to put more hours into his towing company. He will show up at some races, I’m sure. This guy has been part of my success over the last 9 years and we went through so much together. We started from long ways and we accomplished big things together as a team. I will miss him at the races for sure.
Jerome Therrien Kaven Benoit

Kaven’s mechanic of 9 years, Jerome Therrien, will not return in 2016. – Bigwave photo

Who will replace him?
It is not 100% sure yet but I think 90% so I will have to wait before saying anything. A good friend of mine…
Do you enjoy riding/racing the 450?
Yeah, for sure. Everyday I’m loving it more and more. It is a big challenge to switch to the 450 and I’m making progress. I feel at home on the KTM and I’m looking forward to going racing on it.
What is it going to take to battle up near the front in this extremely competitive MX1 field in 2016?
It will be tough, for sure. I will try to have good starts to run with these guys and work hard all summer long. It is my rookie year on the big bike so I want to improve all year and hopefully be up front battling with the top guys.
Can you beat Shawn Robinson on the road bike?
We are not road biking, we are hitting mountain bike trails on the facility here and he has a hard time to follow. Sorry, Shawn…(Laughs)
OK, thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. Who would you like to thank?
No problem. I would like to thank my team, KTM Canada, for believing in me and our sponsor list is not out yet but I can count on some usual sponsors like FMF, Renthal, Oakley, Marin bikes, CTi Orthoflex, Dunlop, Atlas, and we now have Factory Connection on board. I’m really happy about my stuff so far. The rest should be announced shortly. See you at the races.
Thanks for taking the time to do that, Kaven. Good luck with your training down south. Here is a short video we did with Kaven when we stopped in at Club MX a couple weeks ago.

#11 Kaven Benoit Training at Club MX – Winter 2016 from on Vimeo.


This week’s Update is presented by Michelin and the Star Cross 5 motocross tire.

Jeff McConkey

Hey, guys. What a great weekend in Toronto we had! First of all, I’d like to say congratulations to all of the Canadian fans. The final attendance was 50650, and that’s pretty darn impressive. The track was technical and the dirt was good. It didn’t rut up like usual, but it was slippery in spots and caused a little havoc for some. Leading into the race, there were rumours of a  few riders that had issues at the border. Martin Davalos was the biggest name. Some on social media were cursing Toronto and Canada for not allowing Davalos back into the United States. Well, Canada had nothing to due with it and it was just an error from someone in Martin’s camp.

Toronto Supercross

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.

Jeremy Martin

#6 Jeremy Martin came from a first turn pile-up all the way to 2nd in Toronto. – Spikman photo

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.

Ken Roczen

#94 Ken Roczen made some great passes and took the 450 win in Toronto. – Spikman photo

250 EAST

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

Houston After-Party

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.


The DMX After Party at The Houston was a huge success again this year. Thanks to everyone who helped out and showed up to make it another night of fuzzy memories. – Bigwave photo

Well, I’m on my way to Bigwave’s so we can bring you the action from Detroit. Be sure to check this week’s ‘Out of the Blue‘ featuring Maddison Alcock, and this week’s ‘On the Radar‘ with Cooper Larche. Have a great week, and I’ll see you in Detroit!

Billy Rainford

Thanks, Jeff. Man, I’m getting old. I didn’t have much to drink at all at our after-party and it still took me until Tuesday to feel my full 70% again! The old me would slap this new me right in the face. As Jeff said, thank you to everyone for making that an amazing couple nights hanging out with moto friends in the heart of Canada’s biggest city.
The 50000 people who jammed into the Rogers Centre should mean a strong future for the event, unless you’re worried about the changes they have planned for the floor of the dome (full grass) or the fact that several people were unable to cross the border into Canada. Those would be the only things that put a question mark in the minds of the powers that be.
After a year hiatus, AMA Supercross this weekend returns to the Rogers Centre in downtown Toronto, Canada, for Round 10 (and Round 3 of 250SX East). Following a bit of maintenance last year that required skipping the storied dome, the racers and teams are looking forward to hitting the sole international round again. Always a unique event, the logistics required simply to get across the Canadian border (and back) is often a challenge. 
With so many international riders taking part in the series, things get a bit more interesting when crossing borders, and that’s not considering bringing the team’s transporters and support staff through customs. This typically leads to a “skeleton crew” for some of the teams, even renting smaller transporters or teams combining efforts to get across the border for the least amount of drama. We’ve already heard of at least one rider who may not make the trip due to visa problems (more on that below).
An unfortunate casualty of the international flair of Round 10 being in Canada, points leader Martin Davalos (himself an Ecuadoran passport holder operating in the U.S. on a work visa) is reportedly not going to be able to compete in Toronto. Don’t look for Davalos on the line tomorrow night.
When the points leader might lose the title, you know some will be against the event crossing an international border in the future.
Here’s an article talking about the possibility of the Rogers Centre going to an all grass floor from

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.

Assuming all of that works out, the perfect sod would still need to be installed on a surface that is not grey concrete. So while the grass research is being conducted, engineers and architects would have to find a way to completely blast out the concrete base of the stadium, dig down to install drainage pipes as well as to allow for something like six inches of soil, as well as figure out how to change the HVAC system in the park to create necessary air currents and to dehumidify 1.6 million cubic metres of air. And once those plans (and likely more) are all drawn out, it would have to be executed by a team of contractors in about five months (between November and April) without serious disruptions to the end of one baseball season (playoffs??!??) and/or the beginning of the next.

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.