Round three of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship took place in Lakewood, Colorado, and while I’m sure it provided thrills and chills, I’m not here to talk about that. Nope, I ventured north for the first round of the Rockstar Triple Crown Motocross Championship at Wild Rose MX Park in Calgary, Alberta, Canada!
Yeah, Canada! I hadn’t been to my native land for a race in a few years so I thought it was time. The series up there has seen some upheaval the last couple of years with the switch from CMRC to Jetwerx and the addition of AX and SX before and after the nationals (although the SX races are really still AX though, don’t ask). The MX portion of the series has been reduced from 10 rounds a couple of years ago with the CMRC to just eight this year. Combine all three events and you have your Grand National Champion or something like that.
By the time CMRC was done, it was pretty much universally thought that it was time for a change. Enter Jetwerx guys, who have a history of promotion of arenacrosses and are Canadian. Big things were promised, dreams were created, and we (the collective Canadian moto community) embraced the change. Things seemed to be on the upswing.
But… then it didn’t really go up. Last year was the first for the new era of Canadian Motocross and it looked a lot like every other year. Not all the teams/riders embraced the AX portion of the series, not everyone got paid in a timely manner, there were some protests, some claims of nepotism, some public apologies by Jetwerx and from the outside looking in, it was a rather chaotic first year.
It was the first year so you can’t expect the undertaking to go super smoothly but the things I heard were rather rough. ISome promises broken, some rough waters but I’ll still give them the benefit of the doubt in year one. Everyone makes some mistakes, right? It’s with this background that year two of the series kicked off with still some premier teams and riders choosing to not race the four race AX series before the nationals. It's weird to me that factory KTM and the series icon Colton Facciotti choose to not support this endeavor.
I don’t think the switch from CMRC has been the boon everyone thought it would be but all you can do is try to get better which the Jetwerx guys are trying to do.
Before we get too far into this, don’t get me started on the CMA, who ran motorcycle racing in Canada for decades and remains, for some reason, still the official affiliation of the FIM. CMA hasn’t been relevant in 20 years, they’re hanging on by a thread, they don’t bring in much money or hold any races but those guys at the FIM stubbornly refuse to help Canadian racing by dropping CMA and getting with someone else, whether it was CMRC or now Jetwerx. You combine this decision by FIM with the drug testing penalties/non-penalties down here in the U.S. and I begin to wonder the board meetings look like with these clowns.
The Calgary track reminds me a bit of Lakewood actually and looking where Denver and Calgary are located on a map and that makes sense. It’s clay that gets crusty and rutty after being watered and mixed up. Dust comes up here and there, there’s some elevation and it’s not far from the downtown core which is great. Cool track, good crowd, and great racing all day.
By the way, whether it’s CMRC or now Jetwerx, the fact that live timing didn’t work at the opening round of MX is incredible. Seriously, it’s been probably 15 years in a row that the opener didn’t have live timing working at some point. Doesn’t matter that it worked at the earlier AX rounds, this was MX. It’s an amazing streak. Congrats to everyone involved in this process over the years. I look forward to 2020 seeing a glitch. It’s Cal Ripken-ish at this point.
I love to give “Filthy” Phil Nicoletti shit. It’s pretty much what everyone in the industry does to Phil and adds to the legend that is Phil AKA “Eeyore.” But I have to give it to Phil, he didn’t lead a lap in Calgary but he was the fastest guy there. Of course he went 2-2 for third overall because, that’s so Phil. But his starts were good, he got held up by Mike Alessi in the first moto, and once he broke free, he closed on Colton Facciotti. Second moto he was in second, catching Cole Thompson quickly, stalled his bike and then had to get back around Alessi and Facciotti (which he did in two laps). He looked very good and on the PulpMX Show this past Monday night he said that he should’ve looked into going to Canada “years ago” because it’s been good for him. He’s making money, he’s running up front, it’s not as serious as the U.S. and like Bobby Kiniry years ago and Matt Goerke now, he’s discovering the joys of Canadian moto.
I didn’t have him winning the title his first year up there but after riding so well on a surface he’s not that great at, maybe I have to revise my thinking. Nicoletti was very good in Calgary and it pains me to say this.
My list of greatest Canadian riders ever looks something like this:
- Ross Pederson
- Jean Sebastien Roy
- Colton Facciotti
- Carl Vaillancourt
- Al Dyck
- Blair Morgan
- Dusty Klatt
I’m sure I missed someone but that’s the basic list. I think if Colton Facciotti pulls off this MX1 title, he might jump past Roy and into the number 2 spot. Seriously, he’s been that impressive for a long time and injuries surely held him back from another couple of titles. Facciotti’s already said this is his last season so as defending champion, it would be nice for him to add another plaque to the mantle.
In Calgary, he jetted out to the first moto win rather easily, it was classic Facciotti where he looked like he was barely trying. “Filthy” closed in on him a bit but he had it in control. Second moto wasn’t as good for Colton, who mentioned he had been sick. He couldn’t do anything with Phil (twice!) and Cole Thompson while Alessi was on him. He tied for the overall win with 1-3 scores and although his performance was off last years when he just killed everyone, it was a good start to the year.
Cole Thompson took his KTM to the overall win with 3-1 scores. He passed Nicoletti early in moto two (like, first lap or two) and then rode steady to take the win. Last year, he won the title in the AX and SX portions of the schedule, but he struggled in comparison in the MX part. It was surprising to see how far off he was of the leaders, especially in the beginning of the series. So his win this past weekend had to feel good for Cole and the team. MUCH better start to the outdoor series for the #16. Cole doesn’t have a lot of friends in the pits amongst the other riders but that’s okay, the checks still clear, right?
Alessi has an interesting arrangement this year. He’s off the Kawasaki he rode the past few years and now rides with the GDR Honda team (same team as Facciotti). Only he’s basically buying a spot under the tent. He’s got a bike from the SmarTop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts Honda guys that’s basically like the one Malcolm Stewart has. Different suspension and motor than Facciotti. It’s unique for sure and after a down year last year, the 800 is coming into 2019 more pepared than he has been in awhile.
How did it go for Mike? Well you want the good or the bad? Good you say? Well, he got the holeshot in both motos and led the early laps on a track he’s won on before. He looked really good. He led 11 laps on the day. Now it’s time for the bad. He went 4-4 and wasn’t on the level of the top three guys. He looked tired and I think he was pretty bummed and/or shocked afterwards at what happened. The speed’s there but hard to see how Mike’s going to get the fitness needed this quickly, right? The track this weekend is sandier and much rougher than Calgary, we’ll see what he can do. His starts were on point though but what else did you expect?
I don’t know what was up with two-time MX1 Canadian champ Matt Goerke this weekend. He’s now on a Kawasaki and was pretty strong in the AX schedule. This weekend though, it was rough. Seriously, he was pretty far back and it wasn’t the Goerke that we’ve seen the last few years (last year wasn’t good either but I understood that he wasn’t healthy). He was off the pace and let’s hope for him and his new team that things get better at the softer tracks.
The MX2 class in Canada should provide some great racing. Better than I thought and that’s because the defending champion, Jess Pettis, got banged up pretty good, first back in SX and once he healed up from that, crashed again getting ready for Canada. So he went into the first round with zero or little time on the bike and although he got both holeshots, he went backwards pretty quickly.
To me, if he’s 100 percent, he’s got this title because A.) he won it last year and B.) he’s a rider on the rise. But he might be giving up too many points at the first two or three rounds to get back that #1 plate. After him, the class appears to be wide open. Luke Renzland took Pettis’ old spot at MX101 Yamaha (Poor hot dog vendor) and went 6-1 on the day. Renzland raced one national last year up there and did pretty well. Calgary isn’t his ideal dirt conditions but he looked pretty good in moto two. He’ll get better as the softer dirt tracks start appearing in the series starting this weekend and back east.
Josh Osby, a rider on Renzland’s old team (kind of), took the overall with steady and fast 2-2 rides. He closed on Luke at one point in moto two before settling for second and the overall. Osby has raced in Canada a ton so he knows the series and tracks. He’s a very underrated rider and although he was banged up in SX later in the series, he can go very fast. Nicoletti told us on the PulpMX Show that he thinks Josh just needs to step up the off the bike work and he can be even better. Let’s hope he figures that out because to me, I think some U.S. teams could grab him and make him a top five or better guy week in and week out. He’s got skills.
All of us “experts” talked about Pettis, Renzland, Dylan Wright, and Tyler Medaglia as being the guys in MX2 but Osby could easily win this thing. First round down and he’s the guy right now.
Wright has long had the talent to win the MX2 title but the GDR Honda rider is a bit like the Jerry Robin of Canada—if Jerry was a race winner I guess. The point is that Dylan is fast but he either crashes or can’t always keep a bike running that well. He’s a very stylish rider and has a lot of heart but as I said, he sometimes he overrides himself. This usually ends up with him cartwheeling. Every team he’s been on, whether it’s MX101 (poor hot dog vendor) or now, GDR Honda, have tried to work with him on slowing down to go fast.
Has he figured it out? The first moto was impressive as he ripped through the contenders and took off with a relatively easy moto win. Second moto he was right there off the start, slid out in the just-watered first turn and had to come from the back. Which he did! Dylan was all over third when he went Dylan and he crashed, taking out a flagger in the process. He got up, crashed again I guess somewhere, and STILL salvaged a sixth. What an entertaining moto for Wright and the crew but that’s not what they want. They want the first moto. IF Dylan has figured things out, and that’s a big IF, he could walk to this title.
Tyler Medaglia is a two-time 250MX champion that was kicked out of the class for winning it and had a successful 450 career. Heck, he won his first 450MX national last year in something like eight years. He dropped down this year (because it’s legal after five years out of the class) because his team needed a guy to race there. I’m not generally a fan of older guys who have been set in 450’s dropping down. You lose a bit of that edge and craziness you need to be successful in 250s in my opinion. But T-Dags is a pro’s pro and his first MX2 race in, like, forever, he was cleaned out by an unmanned bike early in moto one. Second moto he was third in his usual strong, steady performance. If there’s anyone out there that needs the extra five minute moto length in MX1, it’s Tyler who’s in great shape.
Don’t ask me why the MX2 class is only 25 minutes instead of 30 and why the payback is so crappy. The original thought was because it was an East/West series for a few years that it would be like a stepping stone class but that’s been gone a long time. CMRC just never bumped the payback up (because, well, that would cut into profit) or the moto times up when it became a national series like the MX1 class. And it’s mind boggling that changing the MX2 class payback/moto length to the same as MX1 wasn’t the very first thing the Jetwerx guys did when they started a new series. But nope, it’s still 25 min plus two and garbage payback.
Great to see Marshal Weltin get a ride in the series as well. He went 4-4 on the day, for fourth overall in MX2, but he led laps in moto two. That has to feel good for him and he told me that a shoulder injury held him back a bit in the moto. Still, after a poor SX showing for the back-from-Europe Weltin, he impressed back on the outdoor tracks.
As I said, between Osby, Renzland, Wright, Pettis (once he’s healed up), Weltin, an on the rise Tanner Ward (KTM Canada rider), and T-Dags, the MX2 class might be more exciting up there than the MX1 class for the first time in years.
One last note: Mike Brown is a manimal. He’s almost 50 years old and because his main sponsor is FXR, a Canadian-based gear company, Brownie drops into the series up north from time to time. He raced the 125 class (a new addition this year) and went 1-1 in that. Well, duh he was a past 125 national champion so of course he should. But, again, he's pushing 50! Then he went out there and finished top ten OA in MX1. He beat series regulars and yeah, that’s pretty bad ass. He’s awesome. Mike Brown did four motos at 48 years old or whatever and finished top ten in MX1. Let that sink in.
Thanks for reading OBS from Canada! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to chat about this or anything else.