Photo Report | Rockstar MX Nationals | Kamloops, Round 1
Photos and captions by Billy Rainford
This week’s Photo Report is brought to you by RTR Performance in Kamloops. Be sure to check them out while you’re in town.
The waiting and guessing is over. The 2017 Rockstar Energy MX Nationals are underway. We know who did the work over the winter and who could use a bit more. Last year, the temperature hit close to 40 degrees Celsius and a lot of guys melted. This year, we were treated to perfect conditions. The trick in the Okanogan Desert is to keep ahead of what would be a dust bowl if left unchecked. The crew did a great job, for the most part, and there really wasn’t a whole lot to complain about. This is Motocross, not Supercross, and the elements and different track conditions are a huge part of it.
The biggest question mark seemed to be the arrival of 206 World MX Champion, #377 Christophe Pourcel. Would he be the same guy who won 2 250 Supercross titles? If so, who was going to step up to challenge a rider of this caliber?
There were lots of other stories that go along with the first round of a series, so let’s have a look at some of the racing action.
If you’re looking for a fun rider to cheer for, look no further than #210 Scotty Miller. He’s all the way from Colorado and probably has more fun out there than anyone. He finished 33rd with 34-28 motos.
Who tried to race both classes? #41 Michael Fowler was going to give it a shot but he had a mechanical on his 250 early in the day and focused on the MX1 class where he finished 15th (17-15).
#126 Teren Gerber is from Alberta and has flawless style. I have a bunch of photos of him and not one is bad. And that’s saying something for me! He finished in 17th (19-16).
Ontario’s Drew Roberts is a long way from home and finished a solid 15th in the first moto. Troubles in the 2nd kept him back in 34th for 20th overall.
I think #712 Cory Steeves was the top finishing Intermediate rider at round 1. His 32-24 gave him 27th. We normally have a yellow plate higher than that so you know there’s a good group of young Pros in the class now because there were a lot of Intermediates in qualifying.
Jonah Brittons has made the move to the Pro plates for good. The RTR Performance supported rider finished 23rd with 18-31 motos.
24 is Ryan Lalonde from from the Island. His 2-stroke Yamaha sounded great and he was 16th.
I was curious to see how #266 Christopher Fortier would do in his first Pro race here in his home country. He qualified up in 6th and then finished 14th (10-14).
#21 Davey Fraser is back and on a 2-stroke for the Carlson Racing Team. He finished 13th (11-13).
Kelowna, BC’s #33 Casey Keast is also a full-time Pro rider now. He went down a bunch and had to come from way back in the pack each time. He finished 12th (13-10), but he has the speed for better.
#19 Hayden Halstead came back from a 14th in moto 1 to finish a very solid 8th in moto 2 for 11th.
#14 Dylan Wright dug himself a little hole at round 1. He went down in turn 1in the first moto and had to fight his way to 16th. 6th in the 2nd moto was good enough for 10th overall. Watch for him to improve greatly on this in Prince George.
Geran (pronounced like Duran Duran) Stapleton is from Australia. He’s going to fit in well this year and finished round 1 in 9th (7-12).
I swear, #47 Tallon LaFountaine got buried deeper in this berm on the previous lap than anyone I’ve ever seen! It was crazy. He literally disappeared for a second so we waited for the next lap, ask Dave Snider. It may not have been fast, but it looked amazing. He’s up from California and finished 8th (8-11).
It’s good to see #25 Taylor Arsenault giving it another solid go this summer. He looked pretty good and finished 7th (9-9).
This is what #388 Ryan Surratt looks like. He’s also up from California and grabbed the first moto holeshot. He said he froze up a bit out front and is pretty fresh off arm pump surgery. He was 6th (5-7).
#100 Jacob Hayes is at the top of some people’s MX2 lists. He kept things smooth to get through the first round this year and finished 5th (6-4). He’s got more to show as we move forward.
#16 Jess Pettis is from up the highway in Prince George. He had a lot of fan support and looked solid, running at or near the front both motos. His 2-5 gave him 4th.
#787 Josh Osby definitely came to play. He was the leader of the first race of the season and said he wasn’t the biggest fan of the soil. He’s an eastern guy, after all. He was consistent with 3-3 motos for 3rd.
Anyone who counts #1 Cole Thompson out is in for a long summer. The defending champ knows it’s a 10-race series and will be there every week. His 4-2 gave him 2nd. He wasn’t happy at the end of the day, but these guys never are unless they win by 30 seconds.
#12 Shawn Maffenbeier won round 1 last year without winning a moto. This year, he dominated both and went 1-1. He’s done his homework, as Cole said on the stage, and will be a challenger for the title. He also gets the red plates for The Peeg this week.
Shawn gets a hug from his mom after the 2nd moto.
The MX2 podium: Shawn Maffenbeier, Josh Osby, Cole Thompson.
It was great to see #58 Jeremy Medaglia decided to head west and line up on a privateer Honda 450. He was in a 25+2 laps battle in the first moto and finished 12th. I was told he’s fighting some sort of bug and decided not to line up for moto 2. They want to find out what it is that’s ailing him before he races again. 12-DNS put him 19th.
#38 Tim Tremblay started out the day well and was in that same battle with Jeremy. He was 9th in moto 1. He was up near the front in moto 2 when he suffered a mechanical and wasn’t able to finish. I spoke to him at the end of the day and he took it like a true champion. Watch for him this week in Prince George. He’s fast at Ulverton and should be here in BC too.
#29 JC Bujold is in the MX1 class for 2017. He’ll continue to improve and finished 17th (16-18).
If you’re going to emulate anyone’s roller style, it should be #501 Ryan Millar. He’s still got that silky smooth style and finished 16th. His plan is to be at all 10 rounds.
#195 is Scott Champion. He finished 13th in moto 1 and then suffered some electrical issues in the 2nd and dropped a few spots to 16th. They found a wire shorting out and he hopes to improve as we move forward. He was 13th.
I thought #72 Graham Scott looked smooth and relaxed out there. He ended up racing all alone out there but held his pace and finished 12th (15-13).
#77 Nathan Bles says he’s not quite racing like he knows he can, yet. He’ll get there and finished 11th with 14-10 motos.
#8 Keylan Meston was up near the front in moto 1 and finished 8th. He was down early in the 2nd and had to fight his way through the pack to get 12th. He was 10th.
#7 Cade Clason wants to better his number this year but it’s not going to be easy. His 11-8 motos put him 9th.
There’s no way we saw the best of #5 Mike Alessi in Kamloops. He started up near the front but fell back and out of contention in both motos. 7-9 motos put him 8th.
#11 Kyle Chisholm came into Kamloops fighting bronchitis, so his late-moto charges were even more impressive. 10-6 gave him 7th.
We learned that #3 Kaven Benoit definitely has the pace to win this title. He led and was pulling away in moto 1 until he tucked the front end and went down.
He said he could really feel his sore ankle late in the motos and must have been happy with his speed and to leave round 1 with 6th (6-7).
Like I said, these guys aren’t happy unless they’re dominating, and #2 Matt Goerke is proof of this. He made the pass on Christophe Pourcel to take the lead in moto 2 but then gave it up again.
To be honest, an unhappy Matt is a really interesting interview. Unfortunately, a team member denied my request. He said he was fighting the bike and will look for some settings to improve this week. 4-3 gave him 5th.
#10 Colton Facciotti is on his game late in a moto. I spoke with Christophe and he said he saw Colton coming late in that 2nd moto. I told him to get used to it. He had to pass a lot of guys in the first moto and then pressured Pourcel on the final lap of moto 2 but got caught up in a lapper battle and took 2nd. 5-2 gave him 4th.
#6 Tyler Medaglia is obviously happy with his new ride. He cooled his cycling regimen heading into this season and says he feels stronger and ready to go. He looked really good and finished 2-4 for 3rd overall.
Canada is also going to like #108 Dillan Epstein. He fast on the track and is a really good interview on stage. When Benoit fell in moto 1, it handed the lead and win to Dillan. More impressive was his come-from-behind 2nd moto where he came all the way back to 5th from outside the top 10. He was 2nd.
Hmm, I wonder if a former World Champion and 2-time Supercross champion is fast? The anwser is yes. #377 Christophe Pourcel came into round 1 and finished 3-1 for the overall. He knows it’s not going to be easy, but he is definitely one of the guys to beat. He said he’s in for the full series and, if he’s happy, may even consider more time in Canada.
MX1 podium: Christophe Pourcel, Dillan Epstein, Tyler Medaglia.
I’m always there to take photos, but rarely there to help. Round 1 is in the books. We’re off to Prince George for the first time. Have a great week, stay tuned for ‘Faces at the Races’ and video highlights. Kevin Thompson says, “Stop taking pictures, lend us a hand, and we’ll see you at the races…”