The off-season is here everyone and – outside of a select few that get to take part in the upcoming MXoN in Holland – it is time to relax, get to work on trying to get better in the off-season and lock down what and who you are going to be riding for in 2020.
Then there is the select few that use the off-season to go and cash in on off-season races that don't mean a whole lot. Unless you want them to mean something. That is the thing with these races – if you don't have the type of race you want, then you write the thing off as meaningless and happy that you made some cash. If you did well, then it's something that indicates you are going to be on fire in 2020. That is why the off-season races are awesome, it can be whatever you want it to be and you make money!
First up is the Montreal SX this weekend. This is a little different than usual, because the Canadian racers that are there are beginning their own three race SX series and continuing on in their year-long AX, MX and SX championship where the winner of the 450s gets 100K courtesy of Rockstar Energy Drink.
Dean Wilson, Justin Brayton and Malcolm Stewart are the "invaders" coming into Montreal to try and plunder some of the Canadian series gold they pay out. Riders like Phil Nicoletti, Matt Goerke and Cole Thompson are there racing the whole series with Phil holding a twenty-five-point lead on Thompson for the overall number-one plate.
Let's break down the riders.
The guy who is coming up with the most recent results is, obviously, Wilson. He just raced the last half of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series whilst dealing with a shoulder injury. He also had a nice 450SX season going until he injured that shoulder late in the season. Wilson's also racing in Canada, which is the country he resided in for most of his formative years as a kid when he and his family came over from Scotland. He even raced for Canada at the MXoN one year! It's not exactly like the prodigal son returning but he'll have some people there that knew him way back when.
Justin Brayton hasn't raced since the Hawaiian supercross as he doesn't do the outdoors series. Brayton just got a promotion to the HRC team for 2020 but first he's got to hit up his usual off-season races to collect his cash and trophies. He'll head to Montreal as the favourite, because that's what Brayton does in the off-season – he wins races.
Stewart hasn't raced since the third week of January when he broke his femur in Glendale. Stewart's had a long road back to getting on the bike but he's looked good since he started back (Mookie flying at the test track is the permanent rumour out there every year) and should be in the fight for a podium if his fitness is where it needs to be. Not racing for that long time is a rough go.
What about the Canadian guys? Well, Thompson's specialty is definitely indoors and he should be in the mix with Stewart for a podium as will Nicoletti. I know that some of the Canadian teams aren't stoked that there are some riders who aren't in a championship battle showing up but, hey, they sell tickets that help the race get put on in the first place. If Thompson pulls off a second whilst Nicoletti can only muster a fifth (it's a three-moto format by the way) then that certainly tightens things up for the overall Triple-Crown championship, right?
The American-based riders can throw a wrench into things but most likely the three riders coming up will occupy the top three spots and we'll sort out the regulars from there. In my opinion – and if I was a team manager for Nicoletti and Thompson – I'd tell them that they have to be careful out there and not race any of the American guys too hard where it causes them to crash. The overall championship is what matters here, not individual glory against a rider that has nothing to lose out there.
Last year it was Stewart taking the win but the other two riders that are coming weren't there and the track had some massive whoops, which played into Stewart's hands perfectly. This year the promoters are bringing in buggies and UTV's to race so the track, like many of its past years, will be much tamer than the usual supercross track. This should play into everyone not named "Stewart" out there.
We are off! Race one of the off-season this weekend and I'll be there to check it out. Should be a good one, for sure!
Words: Steve Matthes | Lead Image: Husqvarna/Simon Cudby