It’s a little awkward writing about the Nanaimo Round of the Island Championship Series when I’m on the board. Especially when all I really want to say is what a great day of racing it was! How great was that track? How cool was it seeing Dusty Klatt, Kyle Beaton, Spencer Knowles, and Jara Romancik tearing up the track at Pro speeds! And how awesome was it seeing SG Power rider Ryan Lalonde, from right here on the island, take on Dylan Delaplace from the mainland, and outrace him for the sweetest piece of the $1000 Intermediate pie? I’d really like to point out how fantastic all these things were and a whole bunch of other things, but you know, it’s a little awkward because I’m on the board! Maybe I should start right there, and say what an awesome job Mark Swanwick and the rest of the NMA board are doing. It’s great to see new energy trying new things, and it’s great getting new people out helping to make it all better. I won’t list all the people involved at the track this spring, but I will tell you that I know for a fact that a lot of people have pitched in and we the board, and all the members, are so grateful to everyone who’s helped. You can see who’s been involved in making it all happen at nanaimomx.com and even get involved yourself!
I know a lot of people were either elated or traumatized when they arrived Saturday morning for practice and saw the track. Mike Schott and Mark Swanwick ripped and backbladed most of the track, but parts were left just ripped. I heard Intermediates and Juniors saying they loved it, and I saw mini-wheel parents rolling their eyes and shaking their head in disgust! The idea was to get some moisture into the track and to try to have some actual ‘soil’ on the track come race day. After just a few rounds of practice the track had worked in and, with a couple tiny touches by Jamie Windsor and the blade, the track was easily negotiable by even the smallest bikes. The track was bladed and minty for race day. No-one seems to differ on that opinion, I had a lot of people saying it was the best track ever in Nanaimo by race day. I’d like to say that was the plan, and that I had a lot to do with it, but really all congrats go to Mike Schott and Mark Swanwick on this one. I have this little thing I say to my son Tanner based on his usual behaviour when I am working on his motocross bike. I tell him, as he’s getting comfy on a chair, “It would really help me if you could just relax and watch me while I’m working, and make sure that you constantly criticize me and tell me what I’m doing wrong, okay? That would be great.” Well, that’s kinda what I did for Mike and Mark this weekend!
I know this event came together late and in a hurry, but it sure had a lot going on. We tried some things, and made some sacrifices. We want to try and make motocross as fun and affordable as we possibly can. We lifted gate fees for riders; personally I just don’t think it’s ethical to charge riders to come into the grounds so they can pay us to race and provide the entertainment we all crave! I’ve always said it’s like charging a band a door fee to come into a club and play music! It does cost the clubs money, and none of us have a lot, but it saves riders $130 over the season if they attend every race, and I think that means more to them than to the club, as long as we can stay alive without it.
I could go on, but I’m sure I’ve gone on too long already, unlike the races which ended promptly at 4:30 (another thing we’re working on!)…so, to the racing!!
As excited as I get about seeing top level Pros on the track, or a really heated line up of Intermediates, I get almost as charmed when I see new little 50cc racers out at the track, and kids that started last year launching off jumps and showing how much they’ve improved in one year! We had a few brand new riders out this weekend in the 4-6 class, and several returning 7-8 50cc riders showing the new kids how it’s done. I know the new kids will be showing the next batch of new kids the same things a year from now! It’s great to see 10 50cc riders at the track.
Again, the 65cc class is pretty close to double the size we saw last year! I can’t say how thrilled I am to see the gates filling up, it just makes it so much more fun. This weekend’s promo perks to the mainlanders, trying to get more competition over here, may have paid dividends in the 65cc class among others. Mainlander Tyler Gibbs showed up and kinda stole our locals thunder in the 65cc class. He showed our locals where the measuring bar really is in this class. Of our locals I have to say I was especially impressed with Justin Daniels who stepped up and battled Andrew Bradbrooke all day for second spot. Bradbrooke was good for it in the morning, but Daniels seemed to find an extra gear in the afternoon and stole second overall from Bradbrooke. Kolton Pieters looks to be for real as he held on for two solid 4th place finishes, and 50cc superstar Cameron Bradley has already worked himself into the top half of the 65cc class, finishing 5th in both motos out of 11 riders.
Over 20 riders showed up to compete on 85cc machines, divided almost perfectly between the younger 7-11 class and the older 12-16 class. In the older class Harrison Bradley finally beat Joe Nikirk, but Joe’s streak was broken by his broken chain not by his competition! That said, Bradley did manage to beat Nikirk straight up in the 1st Supermini moto, but couldn’t back it up in the second. Nikirk won the overall, with Bradley an ever closer 2nd. Steven Macdonald seems to have found his speed again to go along with the style he always displays. Macdonald was a solid 3rd in Supermini and 4th in the older 85 group. Wyatt Scheres was the surprise in the older 85cc group taking 2nd overall. He placed 5th in Supermini. Scheres has great style when he’s on the gas. I also continue to be impressed with newcomer Tyler Wilson who finished 5th in the older 85cc class. In the younger 85cc class it was all mainland visitor Tyler Gibbs. Wyatt Youland was a solid 2nd, and Brandon Johnson was third but not far ahead of Colby Egeland and Tanner Meyland who swapped finishes just off the podium. Egeland held off Meyland in the second moto to take 4th overall.
Special Feature! New to the Report this week is a re-cap of the weekend as seen through the eye of Joe Nikirk, the island’s top 85cc racer. Thanks Joe!
Camille Baker not only dominated the Ladies class as usual this weekend, she also made her presence felt at the front of the Junior GP class! Seeing her run at the front of the Jr. class gives you some indication how fast this lady is. Chelsea Masters continued to impress with her second overall, and Autumn Gould laid down a fantastic moto finishing in second behind only Camille in the first Ladies moto! Autumn finished 3rd overall in the class.
The Ageless Classes
Dwayne Richmond has checked out on the +40 class. Where is Ron Hyde when you need him!? There always seems to be one or two guys in the +40 class who are obviously former Pros or close to it, that don’t seem to be aging properly like the rest of us. Dwayne Richmond is that guy this year. By half way through the race he was about half a lap ahead lapping the Ladies class very politely. Behind him though, and heated battle ensued between two unlikely foes. Dave Barnes, like many top Pros, has begun a regiment of going south to California to train in the winter. His program is obviously paying dividends because he and Erik Egeland, who just bought his new Suzuki off of Dave, fought tooth and nail for two motos over second place. In the end Egeland was able to reel Barnes in and beat him in the second moto for second overall. Barnes beat Egeland in the first moto, but had to settle for the last wrung on the podium. Aside from Richmond messing up the bell-curve it’s a very tight and competitive +40 class this year. Only first and last, and one other guy, finished in the same spot in both motos! Derek Thompson again steam-rolled the Vet Master class. Where is Paul Gallagher when you need him!? Mike Dunn did show up, and he ran well, but he was no match for Thompson. The Vet Junior class was a real treat though. We seem to have half a dozen new faces out this year, and with Matt Kerrigan per-occupied doing icky work stuff, the door was wide open for a new Vet Junior winner. Sean Evanishen walked through the door 1st in both motos. Matt Meunzler was on his high horse in the first moto. He rocked the start and held on for a very impressive 2nd. His 9th in the second moto didn’t help his overall score though. Ryan Middleton put two solid motos together to finish 2nd overall and Shawn Aigner finished 3rd overall with two 4th place motos. Ryan Bradley, sire of the Bradley Boys who dominate many of the classes they race in, has begun his march on the Vet Junior class. He started a little rough, but came on strong with a 3rd place in the second moto. He must be getting riding tips between motos from his kids! It’s great to see so many new faces out in the age classes, I think the Series Championships could be very competitive this year.
After two rounds the Junior class is still wide open! It’s clear who the contenders are, but no one has really taken charge with any consistency. That’s what I love about Junior! From here on in any one of these top riders could take control of the class…or not. It all depends on who wants it the most, and who works hardest at it. Eli Titus was expected to be at the front of the class, but after a spill took him out of the opening round in Campbell River, he was left to prove himself at Nanaimo. Eli scored two wins in the MX-2 class to take the honours, but struggled to 6th in GP. Likewise Nathan Donohue-Bragg won both GP motos, but struggled to 15th overall in MX-2.That shows how competitive this field is. Stephen Weme had three 2nd place motos in Junior, taking second overall in MX-2 and 5th in GP. Like Titus and Donohue Bragg, Isaiah Haylett was awesome in MX-2, finishing 3rd overall, but had a dismal day in GP finishing 15th overall. Alex Haley is fast enough to run with the best in the class, but he seems to be having problems with his starts. His best moto was a 2nd in the first GP race. It was great to see Keelan Porter on his big 450 running in the GP class. You don’t really know how fast a guy is until you see him racing against other bikes. Porter finished with two 4ths in GP. Other notables were Camille Baker who showed she’s not afraid of no stinky boys, as she held sway near the front of the GP class all day. She finished 2nd overall. Nolan Egeland made the jump from 85cc racing to bike wheel racing this weekend, and showed that he will be there real soon. Nolan finished 5th in MX-2 against a tough field of 17 riders. What an awesome bunch of Juniors we have this year!
Make sure you check out the start video for the Juniors! I got a little closer to the action than I intended and James Cool’s rear tire hit me in the stomach and knocked me head over heels down the hill! I rolled out of it and continued filming…all in a day’s work.
We talk about ‘levels’ in motocross. As a rider you’re always trying to get to that next level, and it sometimes seems like there is always another level waiting for you when you get there. Ryan Lalonde is operating at the top level we usually see on the island…he’s just about a Pro. Then there is the Canadian Pro level, and then above that there is the Pro ‘contender’ Level. We had four Pro contenders out racing in Nanaimo this weekend. What a treat to get a little preview of the Nationals and see these guys go. Dusty Klatt, Kyle Beaton, Spencer Knowles, and Jari Romancik will all be contenders at this years Nationals and they were all present at Nanaimo…showing Ryan Lalonde and our other top guys what the next level is all about! And ya, Dusty was the fastest. Beaton was probably second fastest, but he blew his motor up and only finished one moto. Romancik won the Youth class, but Spenny went down in the first moto and had to scramble to get back to 4th by moto’s end. Knowles won the second Youth moto and finished 2nd overall. It was absolutely thrilling to see 20 fast guys lined up for the Youth class! The track just comes alive when the gate drops on this many fast guys. Dylan Delaplace dropped over from the mainland and beat Ryan Lalonde for the final podium spot in Youth. I believe he was on a bigger bike, and I also think Lalonde didn’t show Delaplace all his cards in Youth. Like the savvy racer he has become Lalonde didn’t put it all on the line until the $1000 payout Intermediate class. Once the money was on the table, and Delaplace was on an equal sized bike, Lalonde seemed to find another gear. After winning the first moto, with Delaplace second, it was all down to the final moto of the day to see who would win the $360 1st place Intermediate payout. Jason Abernethy got the holeshot with Delaplace right behind him, but Delaplace went by and took the lead very quickly. My heart sank when I saw Lalonde buried in about 7th place on the first lap. I have to admit, after seeing them race head to head for three motos I didn’t think Lalonde would be able to catch Delaplace from that far back. I’m learning however, that Lalonde has that extra gear when he needs it. He started passing guys two or three a lap, and within only a few laps he was into 2nd place, and to my dismay Delaplace was only a few seconds ahead…but even that seemed like a lot. Lalonde wasn’t daunted, he did what he does best, he put his head down and charged. Within a couple of laps he was on Delaplace’s back wheel and starting to show him some love! He tucked inside a couple of times and had a look, but Delaplace shut the door. The writing was on the wall though. About five or six laps, going into the last corner, I saw Lalonde ride into the outside of the berm and cut inside. I could see that he had Delaplace beaten dead, but a tree obscured my vision for the actual pass. When only Lalonde emerged from behind the tree I knew Delaplace had resisted the pass but failed and gone down. I knew that based on the entry angles and speed Lalonde had the pass sewn up, whatever happened behind that tree I’m confident Delaplace never had a fighting chance. Ryan Lalonde doesn’t push the issue often, but it’s good to know he isn’t afraid to get in there an make things happen when he has to! Once by Lalonde cruised home. Delaplace got up and worked his way back to second, but there was no way he was catching Lalonde. Daniel Vanderbasch, Connor Barnes, and Blaine Morrow seem to be the most consistently quick of the other Intermediates racing on the island, with Jordan Piccolo and Jason Abernethy not too far behind. Derek Thompson, who we know is at least 30 years old because he races Vet, made a strong impression in the Youth class with a 5th overall. Very impressive for an ‘old guy’! I’m just lovin’ having so many Intermediates racing on the island. This is the level of racing that makes Pro level riders out of Intermediate level riders!
I had too many good shots of the fast guys to edit and layout…so you get a gallery instead. Here’s 77 of my best…just click on the first one and keep rolling![Gallery not found]
That about sums up this weekend…ready to roll into Port Alberni next weekend! If you’re looking for photos don’t forget to see me at the track, I’m already getting a pretty good collection. Thanks again to my advertisers: SG Power, VI Honda, Arrow Cycle, RidersWest Magazine, VIMX, STS Racing, Speed Merchant, N.M.A, R.E.Cycle, and Ride Industries. This week I’m especially grateful to R.E.Cycle who came through with a big chunk of the Intermediate payout for the weekend.