Annd we’re back! After a weekend off from action in the Rockstar Energy MX Nationals, we were back in action at the famed track in Courtland, Ontario, known as Gopher Dunes. Just saying those two words together is probably enough to give ex-racers nightmares for a week.
Known as the ‘Toughest Track in Canada,’ The Dunes is the round in the series that marks the halfway point and gives us the most stories at the end of the day. Although the weather actually went easy on everyone this year, the track itself was one to be remembered…and talked about in therapy.
We all know what to expect when we head to the sand track that sits in the middle of a flat field near the sandy shores of Lake Erie, but this year it went to another level. To quote Nigel Tufnel, 2017 Gopher Dunes went to 11 (Google it, Bowker!).
In fact, at the end of the day, the story going around the pits was that when track owner Derek Schuster asked #377 Christophe Pourcel what he thought of the track, Christophe simply said, “The track is shit…it’s garbage” and walked away.
It sounds like #377 Christophe Pourcel was NOT a fan of the Gopher Dunes track | Bigwave photo
I got this information secondhand and wasn’t able to get in touch with Derek himself this morning to confirm the quote, but I’m guessing it’s not far off, if not exact.
OK, I get it. Most people will agree that Gopher Dunes is a tough track, but the conditions this year took it to the next level. I walked the entire thing many times over Sunday and I can tell you that you could literally lose a small car in some of the bomb holes!
Everyone we spoke to at the end of the day said they fell at least 3 times per moto. Some said they lost count! I asked Tyler Medaglia what he thought of it this year and he said, straight up, “It was the toughest track I have ever ridden, period!”
So, what was so different this year?
The Pro Section along the trees at the far end of the track was left to fester over the year and was already in rough shape when the riders hit it for the first time during first practice. It was relentless and gave riders a sneak peek into the future. When they made the tight bowl turn left at the end of the section, they were greeted with bomb holes the size you’ve probably never seen before. It was rough!
Yes, they touched the track up during the breaks, but they really just filled in the holes to give riders the illusion of smoothness. One lap and the fresh sand was pushed aside and riders were back to standing, hanging on tight, leaning back, and praying for the strength to make another lap.
It definitely became a test of survival. As a media guy, I think it’s great. Most riders I spoke with knew they were in for a tough day and simply accepted that. You get through the day the best you can and try not to do too much damage to their points chase.
I’ve only interviewed Christophe once at Kamloops and I found it to be really enjoyable. You know what you’re going to get from him…the truth. He doesn’t sugar coat anything or look for the politically correct way to say things. Like I always said about interviewing Davi Millsaps last season, “If you don’t want to know the answer, don’t ask him the question.”
Whenever someone tries to hype up a question, assuming Christophe is going to get all revved up about a situation, he simply says something like, “Well, that’s racing.” He’s never phased by anything that happens on the track; he’s seen pretty much all of it over his career.
So, when I heard that he told Derek the track was shit, I’m ready to believe it. I will do my best to speak with both of them to get some real quote for us. Watch for that when I come up for air after getting some content from the weekend up on the site. It’s a process…
There were a lot of new riders to watch this past weekend at Gopher Dunes, too. One in particular was young #184 Tanner Ward. As part of the ‘Fab 3’ riders, Tanner was the only one not getting ready for Loretta Lynn’s so he was fine to line up in the MX2 Pro/Am class.
#184 Tanner Ward made his debut in the MX2 Pro/Am class and showed he has the speed to run with the established riders | Bigwave photo
Tanner qualified 7th fastest as an Intermediate and looked to be ready for a great debut. He was running alone in 5th place throughout the first moto until just a couple laps left to go. He got out of shape and crashed hard. He got a ride back to the pits and rested before the second moto.
In that 2nd moto, he held his own and rode to an impressive 8th place. Their plan is to hit the entire eastern swing of the nationals, so watch for him to keep impressing us as we head to Notre Dame du Bon Conseil this coming weekend.
I want to also wish #653 Mike Beaudin who took a horrible crash over the finish line jump during MX2 qualifying Sunday. He came up short and got launched over and onto his head. It was a tense few minutes as the medics got him stabilized and ready for transfer to London.
Mike underwent some serious back surgery yesterday and now has 10 screws in his back and a few rods. He’s in remarkably good spirits but the prognosis isn’t great at this point. He says he’s got no feeling from the waist down but is staying positive for that to improve over time.
He’s here in London and is allowed visitors, so we’ll head over there later this afternoon to check in on him.
#1 Eve Brodeur and #44 Kennedy Lutz go head to head at Gopher Dunes | Bigwave photo
The Women’s East MX Nationals battle we’ve been waiting for took place Saturday at Gopher Dunes. It was round 1 and there was more excitement heading into this one than any we’ve seen before. #1 Eve Brodeur is the 3-time and defending Women’s East champ and #44 Kennedy Lutz is the rider looking to put an end to her run.
Here is a video showing some of the action from the second moto. Watch for a photo report later here on the site.
OK, it’s time to get to work on the Highlight Video from yesterday. I hope this got you through another cup to get the week started. Have a great week, everyone.