Blake Savage just needed a little more time to heal.
He got a break heading into Round 5 of the 2013 Monster Energy Canadian Motocross Nationals at Gopher Dunes on Sunday, July 14 – three weeks without a race after a four-weekend Western Canada stretch racing in Nanaimo (June 2) and Kamloops (June 9), then Calgary (June 16) and Edmonton (June 23).
One of two MX2 racers on the Gopher Dunes Racing Troy Lee Designs Honda Canada team, Savage had injured his left wrist training in the US just five weeks prior to the first round in Nanaimo.
“Just practicing for the nationals, I fell and had to get surgery on it,” said Savage, who was taking a brief break Monday at Gopher Dunes – the final day before the track south of Courtland closed to prepare for this weekend’s amateur and pro races.
He was given a 4-6 week recovery time and started training again after four weeks wearing a wrist brace. That only left one week to prepare for Round 1.
“I went into the first round a little less prepared than I wanted to be, not as great shape as I wanted to be, not as much testing on the motorcycle.”
His wrist wasn’t close to 100 per cent going into Nanaimo, but given that it was his ‘clutch’ wrist rather than his ‘throttle’ wrist he didn’t have to miss a moto.
“At the end of the races it was just really sore – couldn’t hang on.
“The first rounds started off slow, and then the last round in Edmonton went well. Scored a fifth place finish (in the second moto).”
The difference between fifth-seventh and higher results, for Savage, have been the starts.
“I haven’t been able to get the starts I needed to get Top 3. I had the speed to run Top 3, didn’t get the starts.”
With past experience in the US Amateur Motocross Championships and US Supercross Series, Savage went into his first Monster Energy Canadian Nationals aiming for Top 3 results. His goal for the second half of the nine-round series has not changed.
“I feel like I’m getting back to where I need to be – and that’s on the podium. I’ve got speed. I just need to put it all together. I’m finally scoring Top 5 finishes and now I’m getting close to being completely healed.”
Not only does he feel in better shape two weeks into his three-week break, and healthier, more practice time has improved his confidence.
“Now my goal is to be where I wanted to be at the beginning of the season.”
Considered the ‘toughest track in the country,’ Round 5 at Gopher Dunes will be a challenge.
“I’m not used to sand where I’m from, it’s more hard-packed dirt in California. I’ve never been a sand rider but staying here has helped me prepare for the sand. This is my home track now.
“I haven’t had any practice on any of the (national) tracks, besides this one, so I guess this one would be more of an advantage. Also I know some people in the area, I’ve done a TVR race, so kind of developed a bit of a fan base. So this is definitely kind of like my ‘hometown’ race.”
Savage admitted to being an early underdog in the MX2 division.
“Definitely,” he nodded. “Not many people knew my name, or even knew that I was going to be racing. Now I’m mixing it up with the Top 5 guys, and from being the underdog, it feels good.
His GDR TLD Honda teammate, Nathan Bles, could say the same. Their results have been similar with Savage in ninth place overall after four rounds, three points ahead of 10th place Bles.
“I’d say Nathan and I get along really well,” said Savage. “We train together and I’m always chasing him down, trying to get my intensity and my speed up. And he’s trying to keep me behind him, so that also pushes him.
“There’s always a little bit of racing tension, but Nathan and I get along really well. We’re both easy going people, so it’s pretty good between us.”
The fact remains, however, they are both gunning for the same podium.
“We’re close in speed, and he’s familiar with the tracks so he’s got the track advantage. I’m having to learn tracks week to week. We’re both on the same equipment, so it’s up to us to train hard and put in the results we want. But we’re also good about putting it behind us after the race.”
Blake Savage, 20
Hometown: St. George, Utah
Bike: Honda CRF 250R four-stroke
“I’ve been riding about 15 years,” said Savage. “Started when I was five and I’ve been racing ever since, pretty much since Day 1.
“My family lives in Utah, but I have a house in California – my sister and I – and I stay there most of the time now.”
Monster Energy MX Nationals
Castrol Raceway, Edmonton, Alberta
June 23, 2013
1. Brett Metcalfe (Kaw) 2-1
2. Teddy Maier (Kaw) 1-2
3. Bobby Kiniry (Yam) 3-3
4. Tyler Medaglia (KTM) 4-5
5. Jeremy Medaglia (Yam) 6-4
6. Gavin Gracyk (KTM) 5-6
7. Morgan Burger (Yam) 7-7
8. Ross Johnson (Hon) 9-9
9. Brock Hoyer (Kaw) 10-10
10. David Gassin (Hon) 11-11
1. Kaven Benoit (KTM) 2-1
2. Joshua Clark (Kaw) 4-2
3. Brad Nauditt (Hon) 3-3
4. Austin Politelli (Kaw) 1-6
5. Kyle Swanson (Hon) 5-4
6. Blake Savage (Hon) 6-5
7. Jared Allison (Yam) 8-7
8. Richard Grey (Yam) 7-8
9. Nathan Bles (Hon) 10-10
10. Parker Allison (Yam) 12-11
Overall Points after 4 of 9 Rounds
1. Brett Metcalfe (Kaw) 191
2. Bobby Kiniry (Yam) 147
3. Tyler Medaglia (KTM) 143
4. Teddy Maier (Kaw) 139
5. Jeremy Medaglia (Yam) 122
6. Morgan Burger (Yam) 121
7. Gavin Gracyk (KTM) 108
8. Brock Hoyer (Kaw) 98
9. Ross Johnson (Hon) 75
10. Dylan Kaelin (Hon) 61
1. Austin Politelli (Kaw) 187
2. Kaven Benoit (KTM) 154
3. Brad Nauditt (Hon) 151
4. Joshua Clark (Kaw) 140
5. Topher Ingalls (Hon) 128
6. Jared Allison (Yam) 112
7. Richard Grey (Yam) 108
8. Kyle Swanson (Hon) 96
9. Blake Savage (Hon) 91
10. Nathan Bles (Hon) 88
2013 Monster Energy Motocross Nationals
June 2: The Wasteland, Nanaimo, BC
8th Nathan Bles (10th & 5th)
12th Blake Savage (9th & 17th)
June 9: Whispering Pines, Kamloops BC
6th Blake Savage (7th & 7th)
13th Nathan Bles (17th & 10th)
June 16: Wild Rose, Calgary, Alberta
6th Nathan Bles (11th & 7th)
15th Blake Savage (5th & 31st)
June 23: Castrol, Edmonton, Alberta
6th Blake Savage (6th & 5th)
9th Nathan Bles (10th & 10th)
Sunday, July 14: GOPHER DUNES, COURTLAND, ONT.
July 21: Sand Del Lee, Richmond, Ont.
July 28: Deschambault, Quebec
August 4: Riverglade, Moncton, NB
August 18: Walton, Ont.