McThoughts | Canada AX Tour Round 1 | Sarnia, Ontario
By Jeff McConkey
Photos by Billy Rainford
Round 1 of the 2016 Canadian National AX Tour went off this past Saturday night in Sarnia, Ontario. The race was actually held outside at a pretty cool venue. Despite the very cool temperatures, there was a really decent Pro turnout. This was my first AX Tour event, and I was pleased to see how smooth Justin Thompson‘s crew was. Everybody had a job, and they did it very well. There was no confusion and the night ran very smooth.
The track was a little fast in spots for me, but it made for great racing. It’s nice to see these guys step up and give the Canadians a great series to race, now we just need the ‘Instagram racer’ amateurs to show up and support it. I’m really hoping we see more numbers throughout the day and in the ‘all star’ classes throughout the night. Let’s take a look at the results and see my thoughts.
Clash for Cash (20 Laps)
1st Colton Facciotti: Colton was a last-minute addition to the line up for Round 1, as his wife gave birth only 4 days prior to a healthy baby girl, Kamryn. It was nice to see the champ show up with a 250 and 450, as we haven’t gotten to see him on the small bike in ages. He looked very good on the fast track and his starts were just about perfect. He ran up front all night collecting a pair of 2nds in the AX Pro main and the AX Lites main. Colton has some serious indoor skills and people seem to forget he raced AX a fair bit earlier on in his career. Let’s hope bossman, Digs (Derek Schuster), can get Colton to the remaining rounds.
2nd Steven Mages: Steven was a pleasant surprise in Sarnia. We had no idea that he was coming and he had us scrambling to find out who the #12 Kawasaki was. His speed was there right from the first practice. He finished 3rd in both mains, but saved his best ride for the Clash for Cash. I think he may have had something for Facciotti had he not been held up by Karl Normand for so long. He was able to reel Chris Blose in super fast and make a beautiful pass on the last lap for 2nd. It’s too bad he has prior commitments (Racing in the Netherlands) as he could win this title.
3rd Chris Blose: Last-minute replacement for Matt Goerke under the Rockstar OTSFF Yamaha tent, Chris, looked great from the get go. This guy has a ton of indoor experience and will finish on the box every time out. Chris won both main events and was running a strong 2nd in the Clash, when he was reeled in by Mages and finished 3rd. His Rockstar Yamaha sounded amazing and Chris will be looking for redemption in Barrie.
4th Karl Normand: ‘Crazy Karl’ made the long trip from Quebec. Karl is an indoor specialist and for a pretty big guy, he goes really good indoors. He’s not afraid to swap some paint, and rides a really wide bike. I wasn’t able to speak with him, but I’m hoping we will see him at Round 2 in Barrie [He told Billy that he would be there].
5th Logan Karnow: Logan is an indoor guy and this is his type of racing. He and his PR-MX Team are doing the first few rounds to shake out the bugs before they contest the East Coast SX series. Logan looked good all night and wasn’t afraid to slam anyone in his way. He’s got the skills to fight for podiums in Barrie.
6th Brock Leitner: Brock has been putting in some serious work leading into the AX Tour and West Coast SX. He was disappointed with his 9th and 11th in the AX Lites and AX Pro mains, but he will be heading back to the Thompson’s to work on his faults in preparation for Barrie. He will be much better at Round 2.
7th Marco Cannella: The youngest member of the “Fab 3,” Marco had a very solid night. It was released earlier in the day that Marco will be rocking a Rockstar helmet and be a Rockstar Energy athlete for 2017. Armed with a good plan and a ton of confidence, Marco rode smart and smooth all night.
8th Austin Watling: Another member of the “Fab 3,” Austin had a decent Round 1. This guy is so smooth, it’s almost like he’s too smooth for AX. He rode great to a 5th in the AX Lites main and finished the night with a solid ride in the Clash. This kid has a bright future ahead of him.
9th Westen Wrozyna: Westen was sending it early on in practice and he looked really fast. Unfortunately, the whoop section bit him and he crashed really really hard. It looked like his night ended before it started, but Westen is a tough kid and he suited up for the night show. His starts were pretty good all night and he battled hard and finished 5th in AX Pro main, and 4th in the Lites Pro main. He was a little gun shy in the whoops during the night, but he still rode pretty good considering his crash earlier.
10th Kyle Swanson: Kyle had 6 AX laps of seat time on a 250f Kawi before Saturday in Sarnia, believe it or not, but he looked like he had been on the bike forever. Kyle looks very fast and very comfortable and was fun to watch. Like his teammate Karnow, Kyle probably ran into every rider on the track at one point or another and still had a smile on his face. I’m really looking forward to following these two and their PR-MX Team for the East Coast SX season.
11th Austin Haught: I don’t really know anything about Austin. He had a solid 8th in the AX Pro, after qualifying 8th. I don’t even know if he’s Canadian or American. Sorry Austin, I’ll try to find you in Barrie.
12th Bennet Amyotte: Bennet had his fill of caesars and cheeseburgers Friday night to get himself ready for Saturday’s activities. Nice to see a local Pro have the balls to show up and have some fun. This guy hasn’t even set the sag on his bike yet.
I’ll see you at the Next Round Saturday, October 15, at the Molson Centre in Barrie, Ontario.