No American motocrosser grows up dreaming of winning the Rockstar CMRC Canadian National Championship. However, for more and more riders from the States, going to Canada for the summer has become a viable way of at least continuing to chase their moto dreams. Once the spots for Lucas Oil Pro Motocross teams have been filled, a rider has to do what he can to earn money and stay in the game. And for many years, riders including Jim Turner, Doug Dubach, Damon Huffman, and Mike Alessi have chosen to compete in Canada.
The ten-race Rockstar CMRC Canadian National Championship is a nice working holiday for some of these riders. It heads west to east with four races in a row, a week off, and then six more races over eight weeks. The MX2 class (250) does a pair of 25-minute-plus-two-lap motos, and MX1 is 30-plus-two, just like on the AMA tour.
In 2017, riders like Rockstar OTSFF Yamaha’s Matt Goerke, Monster Kawasaki’s Mike Alessi, PR MX’s Scott Champion, Nut-Up Kawasaki’s Dillan Epstein, Redemption Racing’s Cade Clason, and Huber Motorsports’ Kyle Chisholm are all lining up against homegrown Canadians like GDR Honda’s Colton Facciotti, Huber Motorsports Tyler Medaglia, and Thor KTM’s Kaven Benoit. Also added to the mix is Christophe Pourcel, the former FIM MX2 World Champion and two-time AMA 250SX East Champion, riding for Rockstar Husqvarna, just as he did in the States. And he fits right in, especially when the series is in the French-speaking part of Canada. “I think it was good for me financially to race here and getting myself in a good place with a good team and sticking with them,” says Goerke, a two-time MX1 Canadian Champion and one-time AMA National winner.
“I think it was a good idea for sure, especially when you see the people having a hard time getting rides in the USA.”
The surprise of the series through seven rounds is California’s Epstein, who was once on the verge of a Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki ride coming out of amateurs but was passed over, left adrift on the edge of motocross relevancy. Epstein showed up at round one in a van and trailer with MX2 teammate Ryan Surratt and has been riding well, with winning four motos and hovering around the top five in MX1 points as of press time.
“When I go out there and I’m qualifying well or beating them in a moto, I feel proud of myself for once, because Pourcel is no joke, Goerke is no joke, Facciotti, Benoit—none of these guys are a joke,” Epstein says. “They’ve all done something big, whether it’s been in Canada or in the U.S. or somewhere else.
“What I like about the series is how it’s so laid-back and everyone’s cool, even the team guys,” Epstein adds. “In the U.S., if somebody doesn’t know you, they’re not even going to try to talk to you. The guys here don’t care who you are or what you are or what you aren’t. It’s like, ‘Hey, dude, what’s going on? How are you?’ I like that part of the aspect because what it does is it brings everybody together; everyone’s here doing the same job, whether you’re a factory guy or a privateer guy. We’re all doing the same thing, essentially.”