The 2019 Rockstar Triple Crown MX PRO Nationals heats up Saturday when Gopher Dunes south of Courtland hosts Round 4 of the annual eight-round national motocross series.
Literally heating up.
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It was both cold and muddy in Minnedosa on June 15 when temperatures plummeted to 7-8 C.
“It was very, very muddy,” said Derek Schuster of Gopher Dunes, and Team Owner/Manager of the Honda Canada GDR Fox Racing Team, recalling Round 3 in Manitoba. “A storm kind of came in out of nowhere and it rained and rained and rained. It’s been a while since we had to do one that muddy, that’s for sure. When you’re a little bit used to summer, then it’s that temperature and raining – that is cold! It was an ugly day.”
It will be considerably warmer at the Dunes on Saturday, July 13, where races 250 and 450 motos start at 12 p.m. and conclude around 4:30 p.m.
The Honda Canada GDR Fox Racing Team will have two front-runners racing on their home track. Colton Facciotti leads the 450 division (MX1) with an eight-point lead over Phil Nicoletti and 29-point lead over third place Cole Thompson. Facciotti was second in the opener at Calgary, grabbing 55 points, the same as Thompson, race winner, then earned 57 points in Prince George taking first overall. Matt Goerke, 6th and 8th in the first two rounds, edged Facciotti to win Round 3.
Dylan Wright, Facciotti’s Honda Canada GDR Fox Racing teammate, is currently second in the 250 (MX2) class. Wright had climbed to the top of his division after winning in Minnedosa, but was one of four riders penalized for ‘exiting the track’ (and gaining advantage upon re-entry) in his last moto. So instead of having a 10-point lead he is trailing Marshal Weltin by two points.
“From a race team perspective, it’s been going really good,” said Schuster, noting that at one point in the season Honda GDR Fox led both divisions.
“And we’re super close to still having it. But it’s pretty rare, you could say, to have the same team leading the points in both classes. It’s the first time our team has ever done it, for sure. So it’s pretty exciting for us, we’re pretty happy about that. To have a guy basically challenging for wins in both classes every weekend is pretty cool.
“Each guy (Facciotti and Wright), every weekend, even the races they haven’t won, they’ve been battling for the win or close to it.”
But wins don’t come easy – for anyone. No one has more than one overall win in either division through the first three rounds.
“The points are actually quite tight,” said Schuster. “There’s quite a few guys bunched together up near the front in both classes, so it’s been really tight racing so far this year.”
For some teams, the break between the western and eastern loops of the series, which ends with Round 4 at Gopher Dunes, is welcome – it gives them time to refresh and regroup.
“For a team like us, where we really had the ball rolling, sometimes you don’t even want to take a break because you just want to keep that momentum going. We would have been just as happy keep on trucking right along.”
Both divisions will have two motos Saturday. Earlier practice and qualifying sessions, with about 60-70 riders in each class which will narrow down to 40-bike motos, are 8 a.m. to noon.
Gopher Dunes has been busy this week making minor tweaks to the track, said Schuster, “but nothing too, too major as far as changes go. It’s pretty close to the same layout as last year.”
Additional grandstands have been brought in for the MX PRO Nationals.
“We’ll have our regular food vendors here… and some other things going on for kids like bouncy castle and a little water lagoon – it’s supposed to be hot. Something to keep the kids busy between races.”
“This is our 15th year having the event here,” Schuster noted. “It started in 2005 and we’ve been going steady since then.”
Tickets are $35 general admission, $20 kids (4-12) online (www.rockstartriplecrown.com with links to eventbrite) or at the gate. VIP passes are available, as well as weekend passes.
“Online tickets are becoming more common, but to me it’s just as simple to buy them at the gates,” said Schuster.
After Gopher Dunes, the series heads east to Ottawa, Moncton, and Quebec City before returning to Ontario for the final round.
“Because the points have been so close and the racing has been so close, I would guess it stays that tight right until the end of the season. It should be pretty good.”
Sunday Amateur Racing
“There’s an assortment of classes for the amateurs on Sunday,” said Schuster, noting many of Sunday’s amateurs will camp at Gopher Dunes so they can watch the pros. “They’re all aspiring to be pros some day, so it’s cool to see how they ride the track.”
Schuster anticipates about 300-400 riders for Sunday’s racing.
“It’s the same track. There’s a couple little sections that are ‘mellowed down’ a little but for the most part it’s the same course.”