With mostly sunny skies and a high of 24°C, ideal racing and spectating conditions greeted one and all at the opening round of the Rockstar Energy Drink Motocross Nationals in Kamloops, BC on Sunday. A sizeable crowd flocked to Whispering Pines Raceway for the start of the season to see an international field of riders bang handlebars, including former World Champion Christophe Pourcel from France, who made his debut in the Canadian MX1 Nationals with an overall win based on 3-1 motos.
For Team Rockstar Energy OTSFF Yamaha, the first round of 2017 CMRC MX1 points chase got underway with a third place podium finish for Matt Goerke in moto 2. Coupled with a fourth in moto 1, the Florida native brought home a respectable fourth place overall finish on the day. His new teammate, Tim Tremblay, didn’t quite fare as well, ending the day with 18th overall; and this due to a DNF in the second moto.
Neither Goerke nor Tremblay’s results quite reflected their level of racing, which, like that produced by the rest of the top contenders, proved to be full-throttle on the rough, tough, and demanding Whispering Pines track.
The start of the first MX1 moto saw Tremblay shoot into turn one in fifth place; Goerke was not far behind him in eighth. While Goerke clawed his way into the top five – which he accomplished by lap six – Tremblay moved briefly into fourth to then slip back to eighth place, where he ran for nine of the 15-lap race. A small error in the closing laps saw him drop one more position, crossing the finish line in ninth.
Once Goerke had installed himself in fourth place on lap 10, he poured on the gas to reel in third place running Pourcel. With three laps remaining, Goerke managed to stick a pass on the Frenchman, but lost it right back, having to take satisfaction with fourth place at the finish line.
Although Kaven Benoit held court up front for more than half the moto, after getting the holeshot, a crash saw that position taken over by California’s Dillan Epstein, another newcomer to the series. Benoit would finish sixth while Epstein, who no one had heard of before, suddenly became a household name by keeping the lead intact to the checkered flag.
The start of the second moto saw both Goerke and Tremblay put their potent YZ450Fs into the mix with a third and fifth place respectively as the freight train barreled into turn one. Although Facciotti briefly led the throng, Pourcel took over before the end of the first lap, after a get-off by Facciotti.
An on fire Goerke, who had quickly maneuvered into second place, after Facciotti’s error, hounded Pourcel till the halfway point of the moto, at which time he replaced him as the new leader. Pourcel, however, stayed close enough to No.2 ranked Goerke to mount a passing challenge of his own, which he did a few laps later, reclaiming the lead and securing the moto win.
Facciotti, who managed to regroup after his first lap crash, soon came knocking on Goerke’s rear fender as well. With just three laps to go, the multi-time champ managed to displace Goerke, who tried everything to hold Facciotti at bay, from second place. At that point Goerke’s chances of ending the day with an overall podium finish went down the drain.
“When you think you got things under control only to discover you’re not quite there it’s a bitter pill to swallow. I’m not exactly sure where, when or how I dropped the ball, but I know I rode hard and I wanted that second moto win real bad. Good news is that this was the first race of the season and not the last,” Goerke said.
Tremblay, meanwhile, was unable to hold on to or improve on his fifth place start. Before the midway mark of the moto he found himself dealing with an unidentified mechanical gremlin. He was unable to reach the mechanics’ area to have it checked out and had to retire from the race.
“I had a blast this weekend at Kamloops for my first national with my new team. Unfortunately I got a bit tight in my arms in the first moto and had to settle the pace to end up ninth. We’re still not sure what happened in moto two,” Tremblay said. “My YZ450F was running amazing and next thing I know my race was over. Overall, though, I’m really happy with my bike and the team. It was a good learning curve. Everybody worked really hard. Can’t wait for next round.”
While the opening round was not a bad round for Goerke – he was where he was expected to be, racing with the frontrunners and collecting points – for Tremblay it was not quite the start he had hoped for. But with a long hot summer and nine rounds left on the schedule, the possibilities are endless for both riders.
“Overall, for our first race of the year, things went well. I felt the bikes worked good. We had a very unfortunate DNF with Tim, but
that’s part of racing and we will move forward. After a long off-season, the first round is about seeing what’s up with everybody else,” team manager Steve Simms said.
“It’s kind of about measuring yourself up against the competition, see where they stand, see where you stand. I think we did just fine. We know where we stand. We know where we need a bit of extra attention,” said team manager Steve Simms.
The Rockstar Energy Drink Motocross Nationals resume Sunday, June 11th at Blackwater MX Track in Prince George, British Columbia.
MX1 Overall Results: Round 1 – Kamloops, BC
|Christophe Pourcel (Husq)
|Dillan Epstein (Kaw)
|Tyler Medaglia (Hon)
|Colton Facciotti (Hon)
|Matt Goerke (Yam)
|Kaven Benoit (KTM)
|Kyle Chisholm (Hon)
|Mike Alessi (Kaw)
|Cade Clason (KTM)
|Keylan Meston (Yam)
|Tim Tremblay (Yam)
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