We're deep into the heat of the summer now, and the 2014 motocross season has been raging across the land for a couple of months. Local race series are over for the spring, the Women's National West Championship has concluded, and the Canadian Pro National series has headed east. The AMA National circuit is in full swing and moving past the halfway point. Some local racers headed off to the Western Nationals in Raymond, Alberta, while others are just about to head to Washougal, Washington, for some amateur racing, followed by a day watching the best of the best battle it out in the Washougal round of the AMA Nationals. Yup, if you love motocross, this is the best time of the year.
The Canadian Rockstar Pro Nationals kicked off in Nanaimo. — Jim Muir photo
Vancouver Island Championships
We spent our spring racing weekends contending the Vancouver Island Championship Series. It was well attended in some classes, like Supermini and Junior, but lacking in others. The mini classes, especially the 65cc class, have enjoyed a bounce back from the brink of death.
For the past several years there has often been barely a legal class of five riders for the 50cc and 65cc classes, but by the last few rounds of this season they were up to 15 kids competing in the 65cc class. I'm hoping this is a good sign for the future.
Drake Richmond established himself as the fast guy of the mini wheel set by winning the 65cc class in convincing fashion. In fact, Drake won every round except the one Devyn Smith showed up at from the mainland.
Drake Richmond won all but one round of the Vancouver Island 65cc championship. The 65cc class has about tripled in sign-ups over the past couple of years. — Jim Muir photo
Supermini and Junior were the only other classes to have a regular sign-up in the 15 or more range. In the Junior class it was all about Nolan Egeland early in the season. He was almost perfect until he broke both of his wrists at the Nanaimo Amateur Day. After that the top spot on the podium was handed over to his R.E. Cycle/Seehorse teammate Harrison Bradley, who ended up winning both the Junior MX2 and Junior GP titles. Egeland still managed to finish second and third in those series, despite missing the last three rounds.
The Supermini class was the most exciting class of the year, and not just because my son is in it. Unlike the other largely contested classes, the Supermini class didn't have a guy who won every weekend. In the end Joey Parkes was faster than everybody else more often than not and he handily won the title, but Brandon Johnson, Tanner Meyland and David Bradley all won overalls and motos. There were half a dozen riders including Ethan Oullette and Jesse Talboys who could run at the front of the Supermini pack on a given day. It was great racing.
Women's National West Championship
This year we finally got to see the young Kennedy Lutz from Saskatchewan racing at a pro level. She was impressive. Just off a hugely successful mini bike career that saw her score some podium finishes at big American amateur races, and barely 14 years old, Kennedy held on to reigning women's western champ Hailey Larson for most of the series and ended up with a very respectable second place overall finish.
Larson was just a bit too much for Kennedy to handle. Larson rides like a pro, regardless of gender. Although she just missed the cut, Larson didn't look one bit out of place when she rode qualifying and attempted to get into the Men's Pro National. She's that good.
Canadian Pro National Series
Although we have had many big-name riders come up from the United States to race in our Canadian National Pro series, we have never had a rider as highly ranked as Mike Alessi compete in the whole series. Alessi finished second in the 2012 AMA Outdoor series, and is still in, or very close, to his prime.
We have also never had an American team anywhere near as big or prestigious as the MotoConcepts team race our series. This is big. I said from the start, though, that I thought Colton Facciotti could beat Alessi in his own country. So far Colton is doing just that. He hasn't always been as fast as Alessi, but he has been more consistent and mistake-free. Alessi ran out of gas in a moto at Gopher Dunes and Colton's slim lead became substantial. It's looking like there is a really good chance Colton could pull it off. Hopefully beating Alessi will garner him some attention from bigger American teams. I think Colton deserves a shot at the big time. He's shown over and over that he can run with the best in the world.
Colton Facciotti is definitely the man of the summer. He currently leads the MX1 Championship series. — Jim Muir photo
The best in the world
Meanwhile, in the premier AMA Pro Nationals south of the border, two KTM riders are stealing the show in MX1, while two Yamaha riders are dominating the MX2 class. Ken Roczen and Ryan Dungey, both from the Red Bull/KTM team managed by multi-time world champion Roger DeCoster, are swapping wins in the MX1 class. Roczen, though, seems to be winning a little more and has worn the red plate (leading the series) all season, right from the opening round.
In the MX2 class it was Jeremy Martin and his Yamaha teammate Cooper Webb at the front of most motos early in the season, but Blake Baggett has been showing signs of his old speed recently and has won some motos. Baggett has moved into second place behind Martin, just ahead of Webb in third. Canadian-raised Dean Wilson, who was a favourite to win this series, suffered a severe gash to his leg in the opening round and missed several subsequent rounds healing up. He has just returned to racing and has been finishing just outside the top five as he struggles to regain his form.
Off to Washougal
We're just about ready to pack up and head to Washougal for some amateur racing and then the Pro Nationals. In all, about eight or nine families are joining the convoy for the Canadian Invasion. Tune in next month to find out how this adventure turns out.