By Billy Rainford
Good morning and welcome to TransCan Week! We just finished at Walton Raceway for Round 2 of the Rockstar Triple Crown Tour MX Nationals – “Walton 1,” as we’re calling it because Round 3 will also be there this coming Sunday – and so I’ve got a couple days to regroup and post as much content as I can about what we saw and learned over the past Saturday and Sunday of racing.
We saw everything but dust over the weekend up in Walton, Ontario. On these 2-day weekends, Saturday consists of just one moto for each of the 250 and 450 Pro classes. And because there was no amateur racing this week due to the upcoming TransCan, we were actually finished racing by around noon! It was actually pretty weird.
Greg Poisson has been helping DMX out at the races and I’m very thankful for his assistance. He was able to run around and snag a few video interviews at the end of the day while I did whatever it is I do on race day. Mostly, I just walk around looking for coffee.
Saturday was absolutely perfect, as far as the weather and track are concerned. The Walton crew had the track in minty condition. And the fact that we only had two races to get through, the 27-degree C weather and very light wind meant the track would hold up nicely.
Without a cloud in the sky, racers headed out and got their jobs done early and then they were finished for the day…and so were we. Like I said, it was a little weird.
We are under strict COVID-19 rules at the track and I hope everyone was doing their part to ensure we are running things up to code. There’s only so much Brett and Mel Lee and crew can do to enforce mask and social distancing rules, short of tossing people off the property for violating their few simple rules, so do what’s needed and let’s have a solid week of racing.
Let’s have a look at the racing in a bit more detail…
The 250 class was starting to look like “The Jess Pettis Show,” but you could tell it was eating away at #19 Marshal Weltin, and that he was wanting to share top billing in the class.
The other question that still needed an answer was, “Who would round out the podium and maybe join the fast two at the front?” We would get answers to both these issues.
#123 Ryan Surratt grabbed the moto 1 holeshot with Weltin and Pettis chasing.
Contact between the the 15 and 19 had us thinking we were in for some fireworks, but Jess managed to come around to complete lap 1 in the lead with a bit of a gap over Weltin and a nice battle between Tanner Ward, Marco Cannella, and #41 Jeremy McKie off to a great start in this one.
On a perfect track, Pettis managed to gain a little breathing room on the chase duo of Weltin and Cannella, who obviously wants to be part of this winning conversation in the class.
At the half, Pettis had a big lead over the two behind him, who then had a gap back to Ward riding alone. He had space over a nice battle between Surratt and young #164 Ryder McNabb, who continues to impress.
I do wish he were running yellow plates, though, so everyone would realize quicker what he’s accomplishing out there.
Behind them, #30 Hayden Halstead was putting in a workman’s effort moving up through the field, now sitting in 7th after getting by #21 Quinn Amyotte and McKie.
At the flag, Pettis had a gap over Weltin then Cannella. They had a large gap back to Ward and Surratt and then came McNabb in 6th with a big gap back to Halstead, Amyotte, and McKie, who had lost his rear brake in this one.
Overnight, the crew checked the forecast and there was little chance of any rain in the area. However, at 3:30am, the skies opened up and we got a pretty severe thunder and lightning storm with a ton of rain.
Of course, they rallied the troops and started packing the track in an attempt to salvage a raceable track in the morning.
The damage was done and the schedule was put on hold until 10:30am for free practice.
Only a few riders braved the muddy conditions but Weltin went out and hucked the big step up on the first lap! You could tell he had a fire lit under him. Pettis chose to skip free practice.
Nobody went out for the sight lap before moto 2.
When the gate dropped, it was Weltin out front being chased by Pettis who made a quick pass for the lead. Ward was 3rd and then #11 Davey Fraser and Halstead.
Halstead would be docked 3 places for an off-track excursion on the start.
Riders got pretty spread out at the 9:00 mark but that would change at the half.
McNabb was having some issues and fell back in the pack, having to regroup in the horrible conditions.
#325 Tallon Unger was putting together an impressive ride in 7th place just in front of Surratt.
Amyotte would be forced into the mechanics area to get his machine checked out.
At the half, Weltin got himself into the lead when a bad line cost Pettis time. If you went off the racing line to get around a lapped rider, you paid the price.
Late in the moto, the two were in a dog fight at the front. Cannella was alone in 3rd place, followed by Hasltead in 4th. The top 2 riders lapped up to 5th place in the mud!
At the flag, Weltin held on to a slim win over Pettis and then there was at least a 20-second gap back to Cannella in 3rd.
As soon as the podium riders got to the stage, the mechanics wisked the bikes away to get started on repairs for the 3rd and final moto.
You had to feel for #17 Cheyenne Harmon on Sunday. He just couldn’t catch a break on either start and was down early.
The final holeshot was close between Pettis an Ward with another great start by Fraser, with Weltin in around 4th.
At the end of lap 1, Pettis led Ward, Weltin, Cannella, McNabb, Surratt, Unger, and #118 Christopher DaSilva.
At the halfway mark, Pettis had a slight gap over Ward who had a nice space back to a heated battle between Weltin and Cannella. McNabb ran alone in 5th with a huge lead over Surratt and then it was DaSilva putting together a career best race with #381 Jacob Piccolo all over him.
Cannella got by Weltin at the 19:00 mark.
Both WEltin and Cannella would get past Ward with 2 to go. I heard Tanner had a huge stick stuck in a dangerous position on his bike.
At the end, Pettis let up a bit with Weltin and Cannella in their heated battle to the flag. 4th was Ward then McNabb with a huge lead over Surratt in 6th.
So, that perfect season is over for Jess Pettis. However, he does still have a perfect overall streak going.
Under perfect conditions on Saturday, 450 moto 1 got underway with #54 Phil Nicoletti out front. #76 Bryan Cormier put himself up in the mix early, but got shuffled back by the top riders pretty quickly.
When they came around to complete lap 1, it was Nicloetti, #16 Cole Thompson, #3 Shawn Maffenbeier, #9 Dylan Wright, #2 Matt Goerke, #10 Keylan Meston, #50 Bobby Piazza, and #28 Sam Gaynor.
When we spoke to Thompson early on Saturday morning, he said he was feeling better, but would he be feeling good enough to stay up at the front? We were about to have our answer.
Wright was on his move and Thompson was looking good.
At the half, Wright was out front after a pass near the mechanics area. Nicoletti was now 2nd with Thompson 3rd and then a gap back to Maff and Goerke. Meston and Medaglia were having a nice battle for 6th place with Medaglia making a pass.
Goerke would get by Maffenbeier and Meston would latch on to the rear wheel of Medaglia and keep pressing hard.
Gaynor, Piazza, and #26 Josh Cartwright were having a really nice battle for 8th.
Piazza would end up running on his own while Wright would put on a charge and ride to a nice lead.
The big bikes would go back to their usual 2nd position on the schedule for Sunday. The sun had come out and the track was starting to dry quickly.
Thompson was the only top rider to do the sight lap, so he got to see where the ruts and puddles had developed, so we were wondering if this knowledge would pay off.
#67 Brock Kelly also did the lap.
Thompson would grab the early lead with Meston, Wright, Goerke, Medaglia, Nicoletti, Gaynor and #317 Cooper Larche giving chase.
Wright would go to the front right away as Goerke got himself up into 2nd and would stay very close to Wright out front up to the 15:00 mark.
Just passed the 20:00 mark, Wright had moved out a bit ahead of Goerke who had a nice gap over Nicoletti and Medaglia. Thompso was alone in 5th and then Maffenbeier and Gaynor were fighting over 5th. After a huge gap behind them, Wright showed up again. They were lapping that far into the field in the mud!
After looking so good in Moto 1, Meston had some issues and had dropped back.
Teammates Goerke and Medaglia were the only riders who kept doing the peaked-up Natural Double in these conditions.
You could see something was up with Thompson, as Maffenbeier was really closing in now.
At the flag, Wright opened up a 20-second lead over Goerke who had a huge lead over Nicoletti in 3rd.
Holeshot to Thompson in this one, but something looked off through the lens of my video camera…
Wright and Nicoletti would come into contact with each other heading into turn one and both go down. They would pick themselves up and head out dead last.
By the time they came around to complete lap 1, they must have passed 30 riders each!
A red flag was shown and riders returned to the gate for a full restart. There was a lot of flinching on the line and Gaynor was the one caught for jumping the gate prematurely. The result was a dead engine start.
Nicoletti found himself with the lead.
After lap 1, it was Nicoletti, Medaglia, Wright, Thompson, Goerke, Piazza, Larche, Meston and #64 Liam O’Farrell.
Medaglia would make a pass near the mechanics area and take over the lead with Wright starting to close the gap on him.
#54 would fall after the amateur finish line as Medaglia continued to lead.
Thompson and Maffenbeier were having a nice battle. #3 would make the pass around the 19:00 mark.
Piazza would then take his turn at #16 who was in obvious discomfort and slowing.
Wright would make a pass along the ridge that leads toward the amateur finish line.
#54 was closing in on #2, Maff was riding alone as was Piazza.
O’Farrell would get by Thompson as would Cartwright.
The Goerke/Nicoletti battle was a good one late in the moto.
With a couple laps to go, Wright was again out front followed by Medaglia who had a gap over the Goerke/Nicoletti battle. They had a huge lead over Maffenbeier in 5th, then it was Piazza who rode alone ahead of a nice battle between O’Farrell and Cartwright.
Nicoletti would go down again with just 2 to go, but hold his position.
And so, Dylan Wright’s perfect season with 6 moto wins continues. Here’s a look at the points after the first 2 rounds:
So, that’s how it looked from my little note pad. Obviously, there are things that happened to riders out of my sight, and I apologize if I missed mentioning them.
What Have We Learned?
In the 250 class, Pettis and Weltin have separated themselves from all but Cannella. Don’t be surprised to see Marco put the #46 a step higher on the podium in the very near future.
McNabb is the real deal! I still wish he were running yellow plates so more jaws would be dropping at his performances.
Congratulations to Chris DaSilva on his best finish. He was up in 9th place on the last lap but had some trouble and dropped. a couple places.
In the 450 class, this streak is up to Dylan. He’s shown he has the speed to pass the best we have and that’s got to just fuel his confidence. I almost wish we didn’t have a red flag in that 3rd moto so we could have seen just what he would have done to keep the streak alive!
Goerke looked better again this week, but I’m just not sure anyone can bust out a performance that will threaten Wright’s pace.
Why does anyone ever underestimate Medaglia’s speed? No, he’s no longer 18, but don’t tell him that!
And that race by Meston really showed us some new aggression from the friendly Calgary racer. He always seems to run it a gear higher than everyone else. Sure, he gets better mileage, but this weekend something just looked faster with him.
I’ll end this week by just saying that we need you to wear masks where the crew tells you you need to. Put on a fashionable bandana if that makes you feel better! When else will you ever get to dress like a bandit?! Embrace it!
All it takes is for an authority to come onto the property and see you refusing to comply and shut it all down. Do you really want to be the person who sends everyone home?! I know I don’t.
Anyway, I’ve got a ton. of stuff to go through before heading back up to Walton, so let’s end your cup of coffee there. I’ve got James Lissimore at DMX World Headquarters, and he was up early and made a full pot, so I’ve got way too much caffeine in me already.
Have a great week, and I’ll see you all up at the TransCan. Oh, and now I’ve got to go see if anyone won a 3-pack of FXR Moto tee shirts for guessing the 2 podiums correctly…