The eastern leg of the Rockstar Energy Drink Motocross Nationals kicked off in Courtland, ON this past Sunday at Gopher Dunes, which has the unenviable reputation of being Canada’s toughest and most physically demanding track.
In addition to presenting the national contenders with a ratcheted up supercross style track, the summer weather in Courtland usually dishes out extremely hot and humid temperatures. This time out, however, the thermometer reached a high of only 29°C – about five degrees below normal – and humidity that held steady at 37% instead of in the 50+ range.
For Team Rockstar Energy OTSFF Yamaha’s Matt Goerke and Brett Metcalfe, however, the weather and challenging track conditions – which produced plenty of thrills and spills – did not prevent them from rising to the occasion and claim the MX1 moto wins. Goerke cleared the task in moto one; Metcalfe in moto two. It was the teammates first moto win of the season.
Their superhuman effort also presented the team with its first overall victory of the season, which went to Goerke on the strength of 1-3 motos. With second overall, thanks to his 4-1 results, Metcalfe made it a solid 1-2 punch for Rockstar Energy OTSFF Yamaha.
Goerke, who had recorded the fastest qualifying time on the man-and-machine eating deep sand of Gopher Dunes, nailed a top-five start, which saw him go from third place on lap 2 to second behind a hard charging Davi Millsaps. After stalling his bike, the defending champ dropped back to fourth for a few laps but reclaimed second place on lap 5.
Goerke would remain there for most of the moto, riding the wheels off his potent YZ450F to reel in first place running Millsaps. Towards the end of the race, Goerke was hounding Millsaps relentlessly, intent on sticking a pass on his fellow American. With four laps to go, Millsaps succumbed to the pressure Goerke was putting on him and made an error that saw him take a soil sample at the exact moment Goerke blitzed by him.
From that point on Goerke was on his way to a well-earned win, crossing the finish line by some 16 seconds over second place Colton Facciotti. Despite another get-off, Millsaps was still able to hold on to a podium position, taking third, just ahead of Brett Metcalfe. The Australian had to contend with a less auspicious start of the moto than Goerke. He rounded turn one around seventh place but quickly made his way into fifth, then fourth, the position he occupied for the rest of the moto.
The start of the second proved to be top drawer for Goerke and Metcalfe, diving into turn one in second and third place respectively behind Mike Alessi. Intense racing up front saw position changes left and right for the first five laps. Goerke displaced Alessi from first on lap 4, lost it briefly to Metcalfe on lap 5, reclaimed it seconds later, and then disaster struck for the two-time MX1 champion.
For Goerke, the race could have ended right then and there due to a hard crash that saw him summersault over his handlebars. Fortunately the deep sand cushioned Goerke’s fall and he was able to get back into the fray on an undamaged bike, albeit in a distant seventh place.
Showing true grit, the Florida native soldiered on to gradually work his way forward, having to contend with heavy hitters like Tyler Medaglia, Colton Facciotti, Mike Alessi and Kaven Benoit. It would take Goerke until the closing laps to claw his way into third place, but the moment he did he was assured of the overall win, finishing behind second place Millsaps and first place Metcalfe.
“I made it hard on myself today, stalling in the first moto. And then in the second moto I endod over the bars right after taking the lead. I managed to get up on my feet pretty quick but it took a few kicks to get my bike restarted and people are flying by me,” Goerke said. “For the next two laps I was in a bit of a state, recovering from the crash and relying on instinct. I knew if I wanted to end up on the podium again I had to pull out all the stops. I can’t thank my team enough for helping to make things happen today. We needed an overall win and with Metty grabbing second it doesn’t get much better than that.”
Metcalfe, meanwhile, riding like a man possessed, deftly defended his upfront position from lap 5 till the checkered flag. Although he was chased by the likes of Alessi, Benoit, and Millsaps, Metcalfe stayed the course and arrived at the finish line with a six-second margin ahead of Millsaps.
“Winning that second moto felt fantastic and taking second overall behind Matt made it a great weekend for the team. I must say the track kicked my butt. Every year it does. It was a struggle. You gotta have cajones to ride the dunies,”Metcalfe said. “It was a bit dicey for the first half of the moto but then I found my rhythm and started clicking off good laps after that. The Rockstar OTSFF Yamaha was working just awesome and I really got to thank the whole team. They really put it together today.”
In the points chase, Goerke takes over third place on the board while Metcalfe stays in fourth, tied with Colton Facciotti.
The Rockstar Energy Drink Motocross Nationals continue on Sunday, July 17th, 2016 at Motocross Ulverton in Ulverton, Quebec.
MX1 Overall Results: Round 5 – Courtland, ON
1. Matt Goerke (Yamaha) 1-3
2. Brett Metcalfe (Yamaha) 4-1
3. Davi Millsaps (KTM) 3-2
4. Colton Facciotti (Honda) 2-6
5. Kaven Benoit (KTM) 5-4
6. Mike Alessi (Kawasaki) 6-5
7. Tyler Medaglia (Husqvarna) 8-7
8. Cade Clason (KTM) 7-8
9. Shawn Robinson (KTM) 9-9
10. Morgan Burger (Yamaha) 10-10
MX1 Points Standing After 5 of 10 Rounds
1. Davi Millsaps 274 pts 2. Mike Alessi 239 3. Matt Goerke 237 (-37)
4. Colton Facciotti 235
4. Brett Metcalfe 235 (-39)
6. Cade Clason 183
7. Kaven Benoit 177 8. Tyler Medaglia 174 9. Morgan Burger 151 10. Keylan Meston 148