Photo Report | Gopher Dunes National | OTSFF
By Billy Rainford
This Gopher Dunes Photo Report is brought to you by OTSFF. Give them a click to see how they can help you.
The eastern swing of the 2017 Rockstar Energy MX Nationals got underway this past weekend at the famed sand track, Gopher Dunes. The notorious track is known to give racers their most demanding challenge of the season. The 2017 version of the track was even more gnarly than in years past, even without scorching temperatures.
There are always more stories coming from this one day of racing than in all the rest combined, it seems. If you didn’t fall 3 or 4 times, it was a surprise. Every rider we spoke with seemed to have more than a couple stories about being down in a corner somewhere.
We’d like to wish #653 Mike Beaudin good luck with his recovery after a bad crash over the finish line during qualifying.
#2 Matt Goerke went into this weekend undefeated in overalls here, so we were all expecting it to be another sand riding clinic by the Florida native. Here’s a look at some of the racing action from another brutal day in the sand that will be giving riders nightmares for a long time to come.
The Dunes was even tougher than it was when they last said it was the toughest…which seems to be every year.
We’ll have to start this one off on a bad note. #194 Kein Denzler was up from Ohio and finished 26th in moto 1. He had a crash in the second moto that has apparently removed one or two of his fingers! We hope everything turned out as good as it could for you, Kein.
#164 Mitch Goheen from ‘Just Giver Productions’ laced ’em up and qualified for the motos. He finished 30-26 for 31st.
#211 Jack Wright drove to California with me in January with less than 12-hours notice. He lined up for his first MX2 Pro/Am race and finished 27th with 34-20 motos.
#781 Zack Zager considered racing both classes at Gopher Dunes. He was out there for both in practice and then came to his senses and concentrated on the MX2 class on his 250 2-stroke. 22-22 motos gave him 24th.
#742 Jesse Kirchmeyer from New York State was out in the slower MX2 practice and had me trying to read his jersey to see who the fast rider was. He had troubles in the first moto but then came back for a 10th in moto 2 for 20th.
#25 Taylor Arsenault had another solid first moto, finishing up in 8th. He went down in the first turn of moto 2 with Hayden Halstead and Chris Fortier. He was sitting in the medical area at the end of the 2nd moto after he was hit in the knee by another rider. He said he’s going to be fine, but it looked sore. 8-32 put him 18th.
Speaking of Hayden, he had a great first moto clawing his way up to 6th. After going down in T1 in moto 2, he was moving steadily forward until a mechanical issue had him waiting at the finish line for the checkered flag. 6-28 gave him 16.
#184 Tanner Ward made his highly anticipated step into the MX2 class and looked great. He showed he has the speed to challenge for top 5’s but a hard crash late in moto 1 put him from 5th to DNF in a hurry. His 8th in moto 2 put him 15th.
#35 Jason Benny has been pretty solid all summer, but he took it up a notch this week and grabbed the 2nd moto holeshot. He was thrilled to be on stage and finished 12-19 for 14th.
On the podium, Shawn Maffenbeier joked that he’d like to see the slow motion replay because he was sure he edged him out for the holeshot. | Jeff McConkey photo
#100 Jacob Hayes was running up in 5th early in moto 1 until a rear shock problem took him out. He led a couple laps in the 2nd moto and finished 5th for 12th.
I didn’t even realize #807 Drew Roberts finished in the top 10! You know it’s a tough day when 13-13 puts you 9th. Great ride for the local.
It was great to see #384 Jeremy Pronovost and his dad back at the races. He looked good and watch for him to keep improving as we head east. 10-11 gave him 8th.
#21 Davey Fraser probably ties Matt Goerke for most passes this week. He battled from the back and finished a very solid 11-9 for 7th.
#33 Casey Keast didn’t make things easy on himself either. He was forced to charge through the pack in moto 1 after having troubles early. He finished 7-7 for 6th and said afterward that the place lived up to the hype.
I was pretty surprised when #338 Ryan Surratt told me the track wasn’t that bad at the end of the day. He finished 5-6 for 5th.
#787 Josh Osby was always up near the front Sunday. His very solid 4-3 motos gave him 4th.
#14 Dylan Wright had a breakout ride here as an Intermediate a few years back. He put together a couple very impressive rides again and finished 2nd in moto 1 and then came back through the top riders after a hard fall in moto 2 to finish 4th for 3rd overall.
#1 Cole Thompson doesn’t get passed often, and after it happened in moto 1 where he finished 3rd, he came out and took a mediocre start in moto 2 and passed his way to the lead and the win. 3-1 gave him 2nd overall and he still has a 40-point lead in the series.
#12 Shawn Maffenbeier got out to the lead early in moto 1 and lead 14 of the 15 laps. He lead early in the 2nd moto too and then finished 2nd at the flag for 1st overall.
MX2 Podium: Shawn Maffenbeier (1-2), Cole Thompson (3-1), Dylan Wright (2-4).
There were a ton of new riders at Gopher Dunes. #424 Jonathan Mayzak came up from South Carolina and finished 27th (20-33).
#614 Bennet “You Can Call Me Larry Enticer” Amyotte missed qualifying for the motos by 1 spot Sunday.
#32 Eric Jeffery joined the Redemption Racing squad for the eastern swing. He had a solid 1st moto in 15th and took 21st (15-24).
#44 Jay Burke slammed into the start gate in the second moto and went flying. He hung tough and finished 23-16 for 19th.
#40 Taylor Ciampichini looked good and hung tough in the top 20 both motos. 18-17 gave him 17th.
#111 Kyle Chisholm had a good first moto up in 8th but then, as he was making passes in moto 2, his kill switch malfunctioned and he was forced out. 8-34 put him 16th.
#195 Scott Champion was 14th with 16-15 motos.
#108 Dillan Epstein had the speed to take the moto 2 win but a suspension issue when he was challenging Alessi for the lead slowed him down to a crawl. 4-25 gave him 13th.
#56 Brock Leitner was Mr. Steady at Gopher Dunes and took 12th with consistent 14-13 motos.
#77 Nathan Bles found himself up in 3rd place early in the first moto. He hung on for as long as he could and finished 11th. His 12th in moto 2 gave him the top 10 overall he’s been looking for.
#8 Keylan Meston looked very relaxed early on the rough track. 12-10 put him 9th.
It was great to see #262 Jesse Wentland back on Canadian soil. Mike Parliament from MP1 Suspension helped him out Sunday and he finished 10-9 for 8th.
#7 Cade Clason was all 7’s at round 5. He was always in the mix looking to strike and finished 7-7 for 7th.
#38 Tim Tremblay is looking forward to the east and looked strong in the sand. He was 6th (9-5).
To say #377 Christophe Pourcel wasn’t a fan of the track is an understatement and he let Derek Schuster know. He felt they should have done more intermission grooming. His 6-4 motos put him 5th and he won’t share the red plate as we head to Quebec.
#10 Colton Facciotti gave the partisan crowd what they wanted as he took the win in moto 1. He’s been very ill and just didn’t have the strength to repeat that performance in moto 2, even after another great start. His 1-8 gave him 4th.
#6 Tyler Medaglia had a very good day Sunday. He was fighting for the wins all day and finished 5-2 to get onto the podium in 3rd.
#2 Matt Goerke hadn’t lost an overall yet at Gopher Dunes. After crashing at the start of the first moto, we all sat back and watched yet another amazing display of sand riding from him. He went from last to 2nd place. He expended a lot of energy in doing so and it showed in the 2nd. He still finished a very good 3rd, but it wasn’t enough for the overall. 2-3 gave him 2nd.
It was #5 Mike Alessi’s day Sunday. | Jeff McConkey photo
He actually could have won both motos if he hadn’t fallen while leading moto 1. He led every lap in moto 2 and took the overall (3-1).
MX1 Podium: Mike Alessi (3-1), Matt Goerke (2-3), Tyler Medaglia (5-2).
Mike says we need to go for group rides every Saturday because it’s obviously good luck. Oh, and he added, “See you at the races…”