Four-time Canadian motocross champion Colton Facciotti, who has been battling a virus for the past two weeks, was not in peak condition Sunday for Round 5 of the Rockstar Energy Drink Motocross Nationals at Gopher Dunes, south of Courtland.
"We haven't quite got all that sorted out yet," said Honda Canada GDR Fox team owner Derek Schuster at the end of the day's racing. "Once he's been on the track once - whether it's a practice day or race day - he's kind of done for the day. He's been sick since pretty much Thursday-Friday before Round 4 (Regina)."
Knowing that he wouldn't have much left in the tank for the second MX1 moto, Facciotti was on a mission earlier in the afternoon, knocking off Florida's Matt Goerke, Californian Mike Alessi and the rest of the MX1 pack in the first moto. But in the second moto, Facciotti slipped to eighth - fourth overall - while Alessi and Goerke finished 1-2 overall.
"We knew going in that he had to do his best in the first moto," said Schuster. "In the second moto, we were basically looking at is as 'take what we can get.'"
"Did what I had to do," said Facciotti, interviewed on the podium late Sunday afternoon. "To win that first moto, that was great, kind of got the monkey off my back. Pretty much spent all my energy in that first moto and had nothing left for the second moto.
"This is definitely one of the toughest tracks in Canada, let alone the world," said Facciotti. "It's getting pretty gnarly out there, so I'm just happy that I made it through safe... and just gritted it out."
Season-wise, Facciotti has been near the top finishing 4th overall and third twice, back-to-back, before illness wore him down in Regina where he was 8th overall. At 233 points, Facciotti is currently 3rd overall behind Goerke and Christophe Pourcel (France), four points ahead of Alessi and five ahead of Tyler Medaglia, with all five riders still in the running for a national championship.
"Still well within striking distance of the points lead," said Schuster, "so we're happy with that at the halfway point."
Teams had a bye week following Round 4, allowing Facciotti an extra week to recuperate.
"He wasn't able to train the way he should, but he didn't waste another weekend not feeling well, so that's good," said Schuster.
Facciotti last won at Gopher Dunes in 2014.
"I was blown away - we were not expecting a moto win today," Schuster smiled. "So it was pretty cool to see. He's got a lot of grit and determination to gut it out like that."
Dylan Wright, 19, a new addition to the Honda Canada GDR Fox team, had a slow start in the MX2 series recording finishes of 10th, 6th and 12th in the first three rounds. But that was followed by a 3rd place 'podium' in Regina, and another third at Gopher Dunes Sunday.
"He had 12 crashes in the first six motos of the year, two motos per round... so he was on the ground at least twice a moto," said Schuster. "So his results were not good, you can't be crashing like that and get results. A couple on the starts, a couple by himself, some getting tangled with another rider - not all of them his fault.
"He's been working a little on his consistency, and Colton's been working with him on that side of things, but he really turned it around in Regina. No crashes that day and third overall.
"Today, not the greatest start in the first moto, but I think he showed he was maybe one of the fastest guys on the track - if not the fastest guy - and came up second after he was a long ways back."
Fourth in the second moto with a hard spill, Wright returned to the podium.
"In the second moto, he passed the guys who ended up finishing 1-2 - passed both of them - and about a half lap later he was on the ground again," said Schuster. "So I think he was really frustrated with that because he felt like he had a win within his grasp today.
"He still got another podium, so we went from 6th, 7th, 9th to 3rd overalls two weeks in a row, and he kind of showed himself a little more, that he can run with those top guys. So I think that's definitely what we'll be going for the rest of the season. I think we're looking at it as a real positive today."