By Billy Rainford
Usually around this time of year we’re getting ready to head somewhere super cool for the annual Motocross of Nations. Sure, there have been years in the past where the politics of the whole thing have gotten in the way of our sending a team, but that wasn’t the roadblock this year. Chalk up another win for the Coronavirus.
It’s also around this time when I’d be thinking something like, “Whew, it’s sure nice to have a weekend off to catch my breath…and change the oil in the #DMXVan.” This summer, however, I’m still chomping at the bit to get to a race!
Usually, I’d have been out west for a month then out east for a week or two, but this year I just slept at home and drove to the Rockstar Energy Triple Crown Tour MX Nationals on race day morning, sort of.
And it looks like I’ll be doing the same thing for the 4 rounds of Supercross, too.
We’ll be going to Gopher Dunes this coming Friday/Saturday and then back again to crown champions the following Friday/Saturday.
I live less than an hour away from the track in London, so this series is another breeze for me. But before we get to SX, let’s look back at the MX series.
Let me go through the top 10 in 250 and 450 and hand out Report Cards.
10th 21 Quinn Amyotte KTM – Quinn won the ‘Most Improved Rider’ award in 2019. Quinn has the potential to keep moving toward the front of the pack, but just couldn’t catch the break he needed to prove that. He was about to at the final round when he came together with Casey Keast and they both went down.
It’s difficult to keep shooting for the stars, but Quinn will need to keep pushing to achieve the goals I’m sure he’s set out for himself. Quinn gets a B.
9th #381 Jake Piccolo KTM – Jake has had the attention of the Canadian MX industry since he was a little kid on a 65. He always had the speed and aggression to win races. The only question mark around Jake was and is his ability to stay on 2 wheels.
We saw this summer that he’s still got the speed to run at the front and maybe even win Pro races. I think he now believes in his abilities at this level, he just needs to sort out the arm pump he got while trying to stay up with the leaders. With a solid off season, he will be a title threat in 2021. Jake gets an A- for showing us that he’s still got the potential to be “The Guy.”
8th 30 Hayden Halstead YAM – Hayden is that guy who can finish up in the top 5-7 on any given day. He’s not going to win a race, I don’t think, but that’s not what you get with this guy. He’s like glue in the pits. People like to be around him and he keeps the attitudes positive, and that’s a very valuable asset to have on your team and in your pit.
Hayden was on the verge of his best-ever series finish when he cut it short to concentrate on his marriage to Meg. He dropped from 5th to 8th in points, but you can’t fault him for that. It shows you what a stand-up guy he is. Hayden gets an A for being exactly the guy you expect him to be.
7th 41 Jeremy McKie KTM – Jeremy is a rookie Pro this season and he’s handling it very well. He grabbed a podium moto finish at Walton in the mud.
You can see it in Jeremy’s attitude that he expects to be winning races, no matter what level he’s at, and that’s something that is very difficult to teach. If he can stay motivated and positive in his abilities, he has the potential for greatness.
7th in his rookie year is good, considering he left a lot of points on the table at the final round. Jeremy gets an A-.
6th 164 Ryder McNabb HON – Like I kept saying all summer, it’s very easy to forget how young Ryder is and that he’s an Intermediate rider out there. He had an up and down summer, but you didn’t have to look too hard to see all the upsides to this young rider from Manitoba.
When Ryder was on, he was on! Again, he’s still only 14 and has the kind of potential that has people saying things like, “This guy should be racing in the AMA ASAP!” ANd as much as I love our series, I have to say that I agree.
There are rumours of the Kawasaki guys trying very hard to get him under their tent, so we’ll have to see how much $$$ gets thrown at the situation. Ryder gets an A+ for his combination of results and potential.
5th 123 Ryan Surratt KAW – Ryan was a hired gun from California this summer. He came in, did his races and now he’s gone home. I think he was expected to land on the overall podium a couple times and that didn’t happen, so I don’t think he lived up quite to their expectations.
Having said that, he was always a threat and was another step forward for Al Dyck and his Sky Racing team. I’ll have to give Ryan a B simply because of the experience and potential for wins he brought to his team.
He’s now switched back to racing off-road, so we wish him all the best.
4th 18 Tanner Ward HON – The top 4 riders were in a class of their own this summer. Tanner got his first win of his Pro career at Walton in the mud and it looked good on him. 4-4-1-2-4 is a solid performance, but you know he really wanted to finish ahead of his old rival, Marco Cannella who he was only 3 points behind in the end.
Once Jess Pettis moves up to the 450 class, the sky is the limit for Tanner in 2021. Tanner gets an A- for being really good but the minus is there for just missing the podium.
3rd 46 Marco Cannella YAM – It didn’t seem to matter what happened to Marco out there this summer, he was heading for the top 3 anyway. Good start of bad start, you couldn’t count him out.
He needed a few more breaks to see if he could show Pettis a wheel, but still you have to consider 3rd overall a very solid series. 2021 should see these two battling for wins all summer long. Marco gets an A.
2nd 19 Marshal Weltin KAW – Marshal came into the season expecting to bang bars with Pettis every race, and that just didn’t happen. He dug himself a bit of a hole with starts but he was definitely the 2nd fastest rider out on the track on most days.
It’s tough not to give the runner-up an A+ but we’ll have to remove the plus and swap it for a minus, simply because he knew he should have been closer to the lead each time. Marshal gets an A-. (Still a grade that would get him into the University of his choice!)
1st 15 Jess Pettis KTM – Jess really could have run the table if we had a normal summer of racing with no mud races. Jess was in a class of his own out there and really lived up to his billing.
We all knew he should be the one to beat in MX and he proved us all right. He’s another rider who we all think should be displaying his talents south of the border. Jess lived up to expectations and proved he was the one in the 250 class. He should be an immediate threat when he gets on the 450, too. A+ for the rider from Prince George, BC.
10th 26 Josh Cartwright KAW – The Florida rider really seems to be enjoying himself in Canada and is a great addition to the PRMX family. I think Josh should have been fighting for finishes a bit ahead of where he ended up, but he was int a really close battle with a few riders.
All said, I think he did pretty well and will be looking forward to moving up a few spots when the SX portion starts this weekend. Josh gets a B because I think he had more in the tank.
9th 50 Bobby Piazza YAM – I think Bobby is the rider who did the most with the least in the top 10 in this competitive 450 class. He came up with his girlfriend in a van with just one bike and made it happen.
In a crazy year like this, you have to really appreciate that effort he put in. I think with the right support, he moves up to the top 5 pretty easily. I’m giving Bobby an A- for his effort and results.
8th 64 Liam O’Farrell KTM – Liam is the full-time worker, dad, and husband who shows up and gives you exactly what we’ve all come to expect from this South African.
Late in a race, the last guy you want to look over your shoulder to see is this guy. He isn’t going anywhere. He just keeps moving forward with a smile on his face, getting the job done.
Yes, he’s pretty old, but he’s still got top 5 speed on any given day. Liam gets an A from me. I’d give him a plus, but his good finishes didn’t surprise me one bit.
7th 28 Sam Gaynor YAM – Sam finished 10th in his rookie season last year. We were all pretty impressed by that and expected quite a bit from him this summer.
Sam actually finished tied with Keylan Meston for 6th, so that is a really nice step forward for the young rider. He had to fight through a really sore and swollen foot at the final round, and you had to be impressed by the fight in this guy!
7th is a good finish and for that Sam gets an A.
6th 10 Keylan Meston HQV – I liked what I saw from the riding of Keylan this summer. We always used to comment that he seemed to be in a gear higher than everyone and didn’t look like he was pushing. Well, this summer looked different for the Calgary rider.
He’s till got podium potential under the right circumstances and that’s what we’ll keep waiting for. I’m giving Keylan an A-. The minus is there just to keep him pushing.
5th 54 Phil Nicoletti YAM – Phil came into the season as the defending Rockstar Triple Crown $100K champ, so winning is what was expected of him.
He would have done that every weekend had it not been for the newest 450 racer, Dylan Wright. And we all saw what happened at the final round at Sand Del Lee when he was leading but the two came together in the air.
Phil isn’t getting any younger and expects nothing short of wins up here in Canada. You know he’s not going out like this, so it will be great to have him back again for redemption. I’m giving Phil a B+. I can’t give him an A, simply because he didn’t run away with the series, like I’m sure he expected to.
4th 5 Tyler Medaglia KAW – What can you say about Tyler? He comes in and gives you what you’ve come to expect from him, and that’s 100% effort and a great attitude towards racing.
I feel like I underestimate him every year and he makes me eat crow each time. He’s faster than everyone behind him but is just off the top 1 or 2 by a smidge.
Tyler is a rider that any team would be lucky to have and I’m giving him a B+ for his 2020 performance.
3rd Shawn Maffenbeier YAM – I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised by Shawn’s 3rd place, but I still am. He looked to have made another step forward in his speed this season and that’s what surprised me.
There was a controlled aggression in his riding style that took him to a new level. Of course, His teammate getting hurt pt him on the podium, but he still looked great this summer. I’m giving Shawn an A and maybe even an A+ for this.
2nd 2 Matt Goerke KAW – To be honest, I’m a little surprised Matt got 2nd overall in this thing! But looking at the results (3-2-4-4-2) he was always right there. The top 2 riders got so far out front most weeks that it was easy to lose touch with the battle for the final step on the podium.
Matt just raced his last MX series of his career and will retire after SX. For him to go out with a 2nd place in MX is a great finish for the 3-time champion. I’m giving Matt a sentimental A+ for that.
1st 9 Dylan Wright HON – Like we all said before this series started, Dylan was either going to win this thing or die trying. Fortunately, he showed a ton of control in his first season on a big 450 and took this one home.
He was clearly the fastest rider on the track at every round and I think we’re all saying the same thing about Dylan, and that is that we’d love to see what he could do down south.
He’s got good people around him and should be the rider to beat for years to come in the premiere class. How could I give Dylan anything but an A++?! The extra plus is because he was a rookie in the class!
Congratulations to everyone who met or exceeded their expectations in the series. We now move over to Supercross, and that may produce a few different results.
Have a great week, everyone.