By Jeff McConkey and Billy Rainford
Welcome to week #23 of the DMX Frid’Eh Update Presented by Canadian Kawasaki. The traveling circus we call the Rockstar Triple Crown MX Tour has made it to the next round up in Prince George, BC. So far, we’ve been to Calgary and Popkum/Chilliwack and this week finds up 9 hours north of Vancouver in the small town of PG.
Last summer was the first time we made a stop at the Blackwater MX Track just outside the biggest city in the central BC area and by all accounts, riders really enjoyed the track. #23 Jason Benny has never been here before but I think he will find that he does quite well here. He likes sand (they’ve added a ton…more, actually) and the elevation changes may remind him a little of the track that landed him on the podium in 2017, Deschambault.
This is Jason’s first time heading all the way to the west coast for the nationals and he’s had a bit of an up and down series, so far.
We grabbed him for a quick conversation to get his thoughts, so check it out:
Direct Motocross: Hey, Jason. You seem to be on DMX a lot lately! Let’s get people caught up on how your first 2 rounds have gone. Can you take us through Calgary? I know it wasn’t a good one for you.
Jason Benny: Calgary was not a good one for me. I crashed in the first turn of first moto and got hit by someone while I was down. I hurt myself pretty bad but finished the moto. Then, in the second moto, I was taking it easier but still crashed twice and had a lot of trouble to get the bike running again after the second crash. Popkum was better, I liked the track a little more and did not get any bad luck. I scored 9th and 8th for an 8th overall.
Hey, guys, happy Friday.
After the first 2 rounds of the Triple Crown MX Tour, we have a rider in each class that has been a standout. In the 250 class it is Jess Pettis. I feel like we are giving Jess the ‘Most Improved Rider Award’ every year. This guy just keeps getting better, over and over. Going into the season, I had Jess pegged for 5th overall in 2018. I called him for a few wins here and there, along with a few mistakes and bad rounds. But, I also said that he would win the title come 2019.
Well, it’s looking like he may be a year early. Yes, we are only 2 rounds in, but Jess looks great. I don’t want to jump the gun and just hand the title to him, as there are two others that are very strong in this title chase.
Shawn Maffenbeier is our defending champion. He has the speed and fitness to win, for sure. But this year he’s added another element — he’s a smarter racer. He knows that sometimes a 2nd, 3rd, and even a 4th on certain tracks or days is just as good as a win. He hit the dirt a few times last season and he also suffered 4 DNFs. That can not happen this season if he wants to repeat as champion. I feel that Shawn will be there every weekend and if he ends up winning the title, it will be his bad races that win it for him.
My 3rd title contender is Josh Osby. Josh looked to be on his way to winning last season until he had a season-ending crash in Nova Scotia. Leading up to the incident, Josh had stepped up his game and looked to be the guy to beat. This season, Josh knows most of the tracks, and has a year of Canadian racing under his belt. I think, just like last season, he will pick up steam as we go. He just has to make sure he doesn’t allow Pettis and Maff to get out of reach.
Joey Crown should be in this mix, but it looks like he’s riding himself back to 100%. It’s a bummer for Joey, as I really think he could be in this fight had he not been injured. As time goes on, Joey will get back to his winning ways, but for him I think the championship will be too far out of reach.
Heading into Prince George, you just can’t bet against Pettis. He will be the guy to beat and I think this is a round where Maff will take the smart 2nd and let Pettis race off to checkers or wreckers. Here are my round 3 predictions:
1st Jess Pettis
2nd Shawn Maffenbeier
3rd Josh Osby
4th Joey Crown
5th Tanner Ward
In the 450 class, it had been ‘The Colton Facciotti Show.’ Yes, others have been good, but Colton has been great. He and his bike are just looking like a match made on Christianmingle.com. As of right now, I don’t think anyone can straight up beat Colt without him crashing or having a mechanical. When you’re on, you’re on, and that’s Colton right now.
Behind Colt, guys are having good races, but, at the same time, they are struggling to put 2 motos back to back. The others are very talented and very capable of winning. Matt Goerke is a machine that doesn’t understand the word quit. This guy busts his ass no matter what, and he never gives up. He’s dug himself out of a points deficit in the past and there’s no reason why he can’t be up there beating Colt. He had a run in with Cole Thompson last week and I do t think it will bother him. Matt is racer and that is what he will continue doing right until the end.
With Cole Thompson, I was expecting him to be the guy to beat early on, to be honest. He just looked so damn good in AX. He’s had a few crashes and bad starts which are not his thing, but I expect a perfect Cole ride to go down soon. I think as soon as we get a super-technical track, we will get Cole’s smooth style and the #16 will amaze us. Come Prince George tomorrow, I am still on the Facciotti band wagon. I feel he will make the track look easy on his way to another 1-1.
Here are my predictions:
1st Colton Facciotti
2nd Matt Goerke
3rd Tyler Medaglia
4th Cole Thompson
5th Mike Alessi
In Women’s West action, it really is the Kennedy Lutz and Brittany Gagne show. Yes, Tara Gieger came in and dominated, but that was a one-off appearance. For the remainder of the season, the top two will go at it, and the rest of the pack will have their individual battles. The women had a bit of a mud race in PG last year, so I really do hope they get a dry track to experience the fun, that 99% of the men said they had on this track last season.
Here are my PG predictions:
1st Brittany Gagne
2nd Kennedy Lutz
3rd Danika White
4th Dominique Daffé
5th Mariah Gautier
Short for me this week. Have a great weekend and #smileforBC, #liftwithscott and #4estrella.
Hello, everyone. It’s completely my fault this Update is so late. I woke up this morning down near Kits Beach in Vancouver and then had to make the long drive north to Prince George. My plan was to pull over at a Tim Hortons or a Starbucks and post it up, but there weren’t any!
Not only that, someone managed to flip their camper trailer in the middle of the road and were lined up and stopped for what seemed like hours.
Anyway, this Update will mostly be the Jason Benny interview. Jason has been showing up an awful lot on DMX these days, hasn’t he?!
We’ve got Michael Earle working the camera for the race photos this weekend, so that will give me more time to get into the pits for some candid ‘Faces at the Races‘ photos. You’ve been warned!
Actually, while I was stop-and-starting my way to The Peege today, Micheal was here already and went headed over to the track to check things out. Here are some of his shots from this afternoon at Blackwater MX.
So, young Jake Piccolo crashed down south at a Loretta Lynn’s Regional Qualifier at Horn Rapids and sustained a foot injury and tib/fib break on his right leg. Apparently, another rider decided not to jump a double and came over into Jake’s line and the two of them went down pretty hard. I spoke with his dad, Dan, today and they found a great surgeon in New Westminster who knew exactly what to do.
Jake is recovering now and will hopefully get the OK to go home either Saturday afternoon pr Sunday.
When I asked if this meant they were OUT for the TransCan, Dan only said that they will wait until Jake is 100% healed and ready before they make any decisions on his next race.
Great to hear surgery went well. Good luck with your recovery.
Enjoy your week down at Club MX, Sam Gaynor. You earned that one! Sam won our DMX Total Devotion Award at the MMRS Madoc National last summer. The prize was a free week down at Club MX in Chesterfield, SC.
They’ve been busy at work over in Minnedosa, MB where they’ll host round 4 of the Triple Crown MX Tour at McNabb Valley MX.
Brad McNabb sent over a few shots for us to see what they’ve been doing in preparation for this huge race. Check it out.
So, I’ve talked about it for a couple years, but now I’m actually trying to do it. At the end of the racing day, I hop on my mountain bike and ride the track to get a sense of how tough it ended up being.
I start Strava at the starting gate and do a full lap up to the point where I’ve covered every inch. Here are the first two tracks: Wild Rose MX and Popkum Motor Park.
If anyone has the energy to join me, I’ll be walking my bike up and down the hill of the Blackwater MX track this Saturday…
Wild Rose MX – Calgary, AB
Popkum Motor Park – Chilliwack, BC
The live stream starts at 12:00pm PT/3:00pm ET Saturday afternoon. All you have to do is click HERE and you’ll be taken there.
While you’re on that page, scroll down to see the LIVE TIMING.
I’ll leave you with this time lapse video of my drive from Vancouver to PG today. If only it were this fast!
See you at the races…