As the Island Championship Series crosses the halfway point it’s time to start pointing out some of the highlights of the season so far. A lot of riders have really stepped up their game, and some of the classes are the best they’ve been in a long time. It’s time to give a nod to the stand-out performances of the year. Of course there are the usual stand-outs, like Cameron Bradley in the 50cc class, and Joe Nikirk in the 85cc classes, but I’m talking about riders who have made an impression this season specifically. Of the little guys I’m perhaps most impressed with Adam Polichek in the younger 50cc class and Justin Daniels in the 65cc PeeWee class. Both of these riders rode well last year, but have cranked it up a notch or two so far this season. In the 7-11 85cc class Wyatt Youland has taken his riding to the next level. He’s always shown flashes of brilliance, but perhaps rode a little over his head at times and had a knack for hitting the dirt. A trip south over the winter, and a lot of spring riding has smoothed out his style and now he appears to be riding with more confidence and within his ability…which is substantial! Of course Joe Nikirk and Harrison Bradley are the stand-outs in the older 85cc class, but I’ve been especially impressed with newcomer Tyler Wilson, who just showed up and started going head to head with some of the best in the class. I have to make note of the impressive riding of Autumn Gould on her 85cc bike in the Ladies class. This little girl is on the gas! Dwayne Richmond has been the new stand-out in the age classes. As I’ve said before, dude is seriously fast for the 40+ class! Also impressing the hell out of me in the age set are Jason Cissell and Derek Thompson. Of course Thompson has been around for a while, but he seems to have really improved this year. He was always solid, but this year he seems more motivated and focused somehow. The Junior class is still pretty wide open, which is a great thing in and of itself. Every time the gate drops I’m wondering who’s going to be at the front, and there seems to be half a dozen or more guys who can win the class this year. There are guys like Eli Titus, Alex Haley, Nathan Donohue-Bragg, Stephen Weme, and Zack Mix that I expected to be near the front all season, but I have to give special props to Isaiah Haylett and Keelan Porter for stepping up beyond my personal expectations and proving they have what it takes to win as well. I’m also thrilled to see Camille Baker riding the Jr. classes. I think it’s good for her, and for the class. The Youth and Intermediate classes are a stand-out event at every round. It’s been a while since we consistently had 20 or more guys lining up for the fast classes. Man, I love it! These classes have been largely about the incredible gains made by SG Power rider Ryan Lalonde this year over last. Lalonde has moved up a whole riding level, and seems to be dragging a lot of the Intermediates with him! Although Lalonde seems to have Corey Cardinal covered at the moment, the challenge has forced Cardinal to start working harder at his riding again. I’ve learned over the years never to count Cardinal out, he has a habit of beating the odds; like winning the Jr. class on a CR150F, or winning Supermini on a 65cc bike! Other huge gains have been made by Daniel Vanderbasch, Blaine Morrow, and Damon Riesach. Connor Barnes has finally matured and seems to have fixed his consistency issues. He could always run near the front of the pack, but seemed prone to heart-breaking crashes at the worst times. This year he has the mental aptitude to hold it all together for complete motos. Finally, I would remiss not to mention the incredible string of performances put in by Intermediate newcomer Jason Abernethy. Jason is rock solid consistent, rides hard for 20 minutes, and is deceptively quick. He makes it look easy, which is what the best riders do. Keep an eye on this kid over the next couple of years.
I’ve also taken time to consider my own performance this year, and made some changes to try and improve the Race Reports. In this Report I’ve created galleries for each class. This allows me to post more photos, larger photos, and make them easily accessible. Just click on the 1st thumbnail of the gallery and then you can scroll through them…this works better than the slideshow. Click on the image to leave the gallery. Let me know what you think of the new format by ‘liking’ it on the bar at the end of the post if you approve, or leaving a comment if you prefer the old format.
Although Cameron Bradley continues to dominate the older 50cc class, the battle right behind him is intense. Kyron Ketch, Ryder Roth, Joe Jenkins, Hudson Scheres, and Cole Wasmuth are all very close in speed and can beat each other on different days. Ryder Roth seems to have a bit of an advantage and sits 2nd in the standings, but this weekend showed that the runner-up spot is really anybody’s for the taking. Ketch and Jenkins both finished ahead of Roth in at least one moto this weekend, and Scheres and Wasmuth could conceivably do it as well. Adam Polichek once again dominated the younger 50cc class, but it’s great to see several new little kids like Ty Cyr (2nd) and Dax Wilcox (3rd) getting onto the podium. It’s also great to be back up to twelve 50cc bikes after having some events with only four or five last year.
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With Andrew Bradbrooke sidelined for a couple of weeks the battle for the 65cc class has been between Cameron Bradley, Justin Daniels, and Kolton Pieters. Daniels appears to be the quickest of the bunch, but Bradley is right there when things go wrong for Daniels, and Pieters is not far behind. Just behind them Cole Farup has done a great job getting up to speed in the 65cc class, and Wyatt Soderstrom and Joe Jenkins have also shown significant improvement in the first half of the Championship Series.[Gallery not found]
It somewhat saddens me, after talking to Joe Nikirk’s father Dan, to learn that Joe may not attend the Raymond Western Championships this year. Joe is at the top of his game, and this is his year. I’m partially saddened for Joe not getting the chance to prove where he’s at against tougher competition, but mostly I’m saddened for my own morbid curiosity. Joe is faster this year than last, he’s gaining those extra fractions of a second he was losing last year. He was the only small wheel rider successfully jumping the long double before the final turn this weekend. I was very impressed to see Tyler Wilson doing it in practice and early in the race program, but apparently he ate it pretty good there and stopped jumping it by the end of race day. I would love to know where Joe stands against faster competition, but I understand it’s a long and expensive trip for the family to set out on. As I mentioned I was super impressed with Tyler Wilson this weekend after he jumped from 5th most of the season to 2nd overall in the older 85cc class. True, Harrison Bradley had a flat tire in the first moto, and Wyatt Scheres beat him in that moto, but Wilson really upped his game with two podium moto finishes. It’s tough for a kid to start racing against these guys so late in the game, and to actually start beating most of them is almost unheard of. Tayne Schroeder is also getting into the heat of things, with a 4th place moto in the first race and 5th overall. In the younger class Wyatt Youland proved he is the man to beat despite not winning the class. Wyatt fell early in the second moto and put on a charge to come from last to right on Brandon Johnson’s back wheel in second. To Johnson’s credit he rode smart and kept Youland behind him for several laps to hold on for the second moto win and the overall. Colby Egeland finished on the overall podium and has really spiced up the class. Now he and Tanner Meyland also have to contend with David Bradley who’s back from injury. These three are really going to mix it up over the second half of the series, I just know it. Meyland beat them both in the second moto to claim 4th overall. Tanner has developed a habit of starting slower in the first moto and storming back with great second motos. Youland was also the highest finishing of the younger 85 riders in the Supermini class, earning an overall podium behind Nikirk and Harrison Bradley.
We had four Beginners out this weekend, here’s a little gallery of them.[Gallery not found]
I can’t say I’m sorry Camille Baker didn’t race the Ladies class this weekend, nor can I honestly say I hope she comes back to it! There’s only so many ways you can say, “Camille Baker won the Ladies class without incident”! Camille does just fine in the Junior classes and really it’s only riding there that she gets any kind of competition to improve herself. With Camille out of the running though, the class was wide open and Autumn Gould, who has been riding awesome this year, took both motos and the overall in Ladies! Congrats Autumn, well done! Jessie Jenkins was second and Dana Wacker and Ana Jellema swapped moto finishes but finished in that order. Dana also rode Beginner GP, all by herself, and won that class![Gallery not found]
The Ageless Classes
Turns out the Ageless Classes aren’t so ‘ageless’ after all! In fact, they’re all about age! Controversy surrounded the 40+ class all week when rumours began to circulate that at least one rider in the 40+ class was not yet 40. A decision was made to request riders provide proof of age upon signing up for the 40+ class, and that any riders under 40 would not be allowed to ride in 40+. It was agreed that the 25+ class would be fired up for these riders if they did not want to ride Youth. What is it Shakespeare said about the best laid plans of mice and men? Or was that Hemingway? Anyways, all the meticulous planning was for naught because the referee over-ruled the club and allowed riders under 40 to ride the 40+ class. Unfortunately the this is not the referee’s, or the rider’s, prerogative. It’s a rule, like Intermediates can’t ride Junior. So CMRC will be adjusting the 40+ results for the season according to the rules. I, however, will just report what happened. I’ll leave it to the people in power and the riders to sort out who’s legit and who’s prematurely aging! I will say though, that I agree this rule should be enforced. I get that it’s all in fun, but as one well over 40, I know that there is very little good about getting older. Riding the 40+ class is one of the few advantages to aging, and at this age every year makes a difference. One rider who doesn’t seem to show his age in this class is Dwayne Richmond, who once again went 1-1 and won the class. I have no intention of naming the youngsters pretending to be 40, but since I have said on a few occasions that Richmond doesn’t ride like a 40 year old, I will clarify that he is apparently not one of the riders under suspicion. He’s really 40 or more! Jason Cissell also rides incredibly well for his age and went 2-2. Jason James rounded out the podium with 4-3 motos, just beating out Kevin Armitage who went 3-4. Erik Egeland appears to be riding back into form. He was a little off his pace for the first couple of rounds he raced, but his 5th overall this weekend showed the speed is still there. Vet Master was once again won by Derek Thompson, who also finished 2nd overall in Youth. That’s quite an accomplishment. Thompson is riding great this year, he seems to be seconds a lap faster than last year. Kind of like when Andrew Short switched from KTM to Honda and suddenly moved up about 5 positions in the standings! It wasn’t without a battle though, as Dwight Dockendorff gave Thompson everything he had and kept him in check for several laps. Dockendorff and Thompson pulled away from Dwayne Richmond in the first moto, but he held on for 3rd. Richmond didn’t score any points in the second moto though, and 3rd overall went to Jason James. Vet Junior went to Sean Evanishen who looks almost fast enough to be competitive in the Master class. Chris Mace and Shawn Aigner rounded out the podium in Vet. Jr.. While these three riders went 1-2-3 in both motos, the battle behind them is wide open. Props this weekend though, to Matt Muenzler and Dion Klassen who each had a 4th place moto and finished 4th and 5th respectively.[Gallery not found]
It was a great day of racing in the Jr. classes! We had 3 different moto winners, and a first time overall winner with Isaiah Haylett. I have to say I am super impressed with Isaiah this year. Last year I predicted he would be in the hunt this year, but I honestly did not expect him to be doing as well as he is. Isaiah is not only in the hunt, he’s killing it! Isaiah was on the podium in all of his motos this weekend, and in the final GP race he worked his way into the lead and held of Eli Titus for the whole moto, finally inching away from him toward the end. Haylett won Jr. GP overall, and was 3rd in MX-2. Speed Merchant supported rider Stephen Weme also had a great day, winning MX-2 with 1-2 motos, and scoring a 4th in the first GP race. Nathan Donohue Bragg was the only multi-moto winner this weekend, winning one moto in each of the Jr. classes, and finishing 2nd overall in both. Alex Haley was 3rd overall in GP; his lessons with the Lalondes have definitely helped his starts. He got at least one holeshot this weekend! Zack Mix, another Speed Merchant rider, was also on the podium in the first MX-2 moto, and finished 4th overall in that class. Eli Titus didn’t have the kind of weekend he had last weekend. He had one 2nd place moto, but finished just off the podium in both classes. The Junior classes this year are all about parity. From week to week it seems like any one of half a dozen riders can step up and win motos. I love classes where you have no idea who’s going to win when the gate drops. This class is going to go down to the wire this season for the Island Championship!
The big news in the Youth/Intermediate class this weekend was the absence of Ryan Lalonde, who has dominated these classes so far this year. I heard reports that Ryan had switched up his routine in preparation for Nationals, now only three weeks away, but I also heard he was sick. Whatever the case he was not present, which left the door wide open for someone else to win one! Not surprisingly, Corey Cardinal walked through the door and won both Youth and Intermediate this weekend. Cardinal has been training with his new sponsor Coreqi Fitness, and generally getting back into the swing of things. If anyone has a shot at taking a few motos from Lalonde this year, it’s most likely to be Cardinal. Derek Thompson was spectacular in the Youth class this weekend. He beat Cardinal in the first moto, and finished 2nd in the second moto for 2nd overall. It amazes me when a guy can ride the Vet class and still do this well in Youth. I hope Derek takes a shot at the Nationals this year. Connor Barnes rounded out the podium with a couple of 3rd place finishes in Youth, and was 4th overall in Intermediate. There was a guy riding well up in the pack in both classes this weekend that I didn’t recognize. Kyle Liebaert finished 3rd overall in Intermediate and 4th in Youth. He was right there with the fastest guys; I hope we get to see more of him in the second half of the season. Daniel Vanderbasch was a little off in the Youth class, finishing 5th overall, but was closer to where we’ve come to expect in the Intermediate class where he racked up two 2nd place finishes behind Cardinal. Jason Abernethy put in another solid weekend, and scored a season high 4th in the first Intermediate moto. Damon Riesach came out like a man on fire and led at the start of several races, showing he has the speed to run with Cardinal, but the best he could finish was 4th in the first Youth moto. Riesach is just a little bit of consistency, and maybe some fitness away from being consistently on the podium. On a sadder note, Blaine Morrow crashed hard in practice and knocked himself out of competition for the weekend. Jordan Piccolo apparently did the same early in the day on Sunday. Hope these guys have speedy recoveries and get back on the line real soon!
Well, now we get a week off, which I for one am ready for! I’ll use this week to update rider galleries for those who’ve purchased a photo package…thanks so much! Hopefully the series standings will be fixed on the CMRC site soon so everyone can see where they stand. I know Elaine Blackburn has been trying to get this sorted out, but it sounds like the program is not co-operating! For all you riders, it’s a week off to heal up, practice more, and get prepared to come out guns a blazin’ in Port Alberni on May 27th!