By Billy Rainford
What day is it? It’s Monday? OK, I guess I’m in the right place. After three full days in the heat and humidity at Gopher Dunes, you could tell me anything and I’d be ready to believe it.
Three days, you ask? Yes. We headed there early on Friday to get our Husqvarna Motorcycles Canada 2021 FC350 media bike set up for our upcoming video project with Greg Poisson that will shed more light on Mental Health Awareness.
Julien Perrier from Addikt Graphics set us up with some beautiful graphics and Steve Beattie helped us get a slightly stiffer rear shock spring installed in the WP Suspension. The bike looks amazing and will now handle Greg’s non-Schoolboy frame. Can I say that?
I didn’t really have to do anything while I was there on Friday, but just being out there all day in that heat started off what was going to be a very busy couple days on a wobbly foot.
I did head out for a nice road bike cycle with a few guys. The roads southwest of the track are pretty good for riding. Most traffic stays on Highway 59 and the other main routes, so the backroads are pretty deserted and make for some pretty safe cycling.
Ethan Ouellette on his insane bike was the first to agree to a pre-race day ride. Bryan Cormier, his buddy, Marco, Hayden Halstead, and Marco Cannella made up our peleton.
It’s always good to get out and spin the legs before a busy weekend, but these young kids only know one speed, so I was a little concerned with the pace they wanted to hit. Hayden, Marco, and I stayed off the rear and kept things very light. I think it was the right move. Thanks for the ride, guys.
Speaking of cycling, anyone who is hanging out in the London area between now and Walton, fire me a message if you’d like to get out for a pedal on either the roads or the trails.
Lets’ talk a little about the racing at Round 1:
We all knew that the rider to beat was going to be former 250 class champ, #15 Jess Pettis. The question was who was going to be nipping at his heals.
Most people I spoke with thought that role would belong to #19 Marshal Weltin on his new team, and we were all right.
Jess and Marshal set out on a blistering pace out front and were definitely the guys to watch for the win.
They have very different styles out on the Gopher Dunes track. Jess looked to be in complete control at that pace while Marshal tended to look a little more “effortful” out there.
Unfortunately for Marshal, that aggressive riding style put him on the ground a few times over the 3-moto format and he was forced to settle for 2nd place behind Jess. But don’t worry, this battle is far from over.
Like we said in our pre-season podcast, the biggest question seems to remain, “Who will round out the podium?“
We all knew Marco Cannella and Tanner Ward were going to be ready to keep marching toward a title, and they made good strides in that goal.
The final moto of the weekend was just brutal on the riders. I felt bad enough walking around the track snapping photos and shooting video clips. I can’t even imagine what that last one was like on that track in that heat.
Jess went 1-1-1 and took the round win. Normal points are scored for each moto and then the usual round points are handed out at the end of the 3rd.
Second place went to Marshal who, like I said, made it tough on himself by going down a few times.
3rd place was where the action was.
Marco and Tanner tied for the position with 58 points each. Tanner had the spot clinched after Marshal went down and put the #18 up into 2nd place. Unfortunately, the heat was hitting him hard and he started to make mistakes and it looked like he could “bonk” at any time.
Marco went by when Tanner fell before the finish line near the very end of the race.
Tanner said afterward that he doesn’t even remember the last lap! If you’ve ever been there yourself, you know exactly how he was feeling. Actually, I bet there are a few riders out there who wouldn’t mind being told what the hell happened on the final couple laps!
He recovered pretty quickly, and was most upset with all of us hovering over him trying to help. I once woke up in a canoe filled with ice water, being dunked by medics, so I just wanted to get in there and let him know what to expect.
Anyway, I’ll just leave the recap there and head on to the 450 class.
There were lengthy discussions about how the 450 class would play out. Depending on who you spoke to, #9 Dylan Wright (the rookie in the 450 class) was either going to crash himself out of contention or possibly run the table.
The safe bet was on the two veterans in the class, defending Triple Crown champion, Phil Nicoletti, and Cole Thompson.
Cole was removed from the equation when he mysteriously started dropping back out of the battle for the win in the first moto on Saturday.
It was later revealed to me that Cole was throwing up in his helmet and was completely out of sorts. He’d suffered a nasty cut under his are and it had become infected.
He dropped back and then rode around the edge of the track, cutting abruptly to the finish line which earned him insult to injury with a 5-position docking for cutting the course.
16th is definitely not where he should have started the season!
He went to the hospital to get things sorted out and returned to the track Sunday morning to try again.
It only lasted a couple laps and he was forced to pull of the track and call it a day. Such a disappointment for the ultra-smooth and fast rider out of Brigden, Ontario.
I hope he gets it all sorted out in the coming days so he can come out swinging at Walton Raceway in a couple weeks. The chance to the MX title may have just gone away, but there are still W’s to accumulate.
Phil is a gritty rider from the USA who you know isn’t going to leave anything on the track. He’s a no-nonsense rider who usually lets his results do the talking for him.
After losing the first moto to the “new kid,” the team had to be looking for answers. In Pro Racing, you can never accept a loss. You need to keep your mental edge by looking for reasons. The last thing you want to admit to yourself is that someone else was better and faster than you.
But Dylan wasn’t finished on Saturday. He came back and won both motos on Sunday and proved to everyone that he’s the real deal in this class and that he’s here for on thing, the title.
Phil gave a good effort and the two of them had the entire east end of the track ahead of #2 Matt Goerke in 3rd place in that final, brutal moto. It was pretty amazing to watch, actually.
#5 Tyler Medaglia proved, once again, that he’s never to be underestimated. He was a solid 2nd in the first moto.
You always know he’s one of the fittest riders on the gate, so he can never be counted out on days like these.
Unfortunately, he caught his handlebar in the stomach and had a really hard time breathing in the final moto.
He was able to hold on for 5th, but it didn’t look very easy.
There were many other stories, but I’ll save those for another column.
OK, I see that it’s already noon here, and that’s my coffee cutoff! We’ve got lots more content to get up on the site. Greg and I did some Post-Race Chats where were talk about what happened from our perspective on the track.
I’m going to edit a couple voice-over videos of the actual racing action, so please stay tuned for those.
Have a great week, and thanks for checking us out. My cup is now empty, so back to the coffee pot I go.
Let me also thank the entire MRC/Jetwerx crew for working so hard to ensure we have a series to watch, compete in, and report on. It couldn’t have been easy. Also, to everyone who is at the races, keep doing what we’re doing, and we’ll get through this crazy summer.