After the heavy, rain soaked sand of Gopher Dunes ¿ which set the stage for the most demanding motocross of the ’05 season to date ¿ riders contesting the CMRC Canadian Motocross Championships will be racing on the hard pack clay surface of Circuit de Joliette this weekend.
If the rain holds off for Round 6 of the MX1 title hunt ¿ which would be the first time since the series got underway in Mission, BC ¿ the biggest challenge, other than derailing four-time defending champion Jean Sebastien Roy’s unbroken winning streak, will be Joliette’s infamous giant rockers. Whatever the case, for the incomparable JSR, equally at home in sand, hard pack, mud or anything else that can be thrown at him, this first of two home province rounds will more than likely be another routine race that will see his points lead stretched from sky-high right into the stratosphere.
Team Honda Canada Blackfoot Fox Racing’s JSR won’t be the only Quebec native looking for a win in Joliette, however. Fellow French Canadians Marco Dubé (KTM Canada), who had a season to forget so far, and Simon Homans (Yamaha Canada), who had a banner season so far, will be equally on fire to climb the highest step of the MX1 podium. For former National Champion Dubé, just finishing in the top-10 would be an improvement over the dismal results he carded so far this year. Even though Homans is still looking for his first overall podium of the season, he is currently ranked second Canadian in the points chase, holding down a sixth place ranking.
The four Americans separating Homans from series points leader Roy ¿ Gavin Gracyk (Team Suzuki OTSFF), Keith Johnson (Team Suzuki OTSFF), Craig Decker (Morgan Racing Yamaha) and Damon Huffman (Team Honda Canada Blackfoot Fox Racing) ¿ will all be on the gas to beat the Quebecers on their home turf.
Gracyk, currently second in the championship, should be extra motivated to reduce the 81 points deficit that separates him form JSR. Johnson, always a rider to be reckoned with, trails teammate Gracyk by just three points, a miniscule gap that puts him in a good position to become Gracyk’s main rival for the rest of the season. Decker, who saw his second place in the current rankings drop to fourth at Gopher, is only six points behind Gracyk. Huffman, runner-up to teammate JSR in ’03-’04, is just nine points behind Gracyk, ensuring a four-way American battle that could once more reshuffle the top-five standings.
Multi-time National Champion Blair Morgan (Morgan Racing Yamaha), once again on the comeback trail ¿ this time from the aftermath of a WSA Snocross leg injury ¿ has been steadily improving each round. The Prince Albert, SK native, currently ranked seventh, should be considered a threat to upset the top-five status quo, starting in Joliette where he is more than capable of claiming his first podium of the season. In the 2002 Nationals ¿ the last year that Morgan campaigned a full season free of injuries ¿ he brought JSR to his knees at Circuit de Joliette by beating him in the first moto. Unfortunately, the second moto had to be cancelled because of a torrential downpour, so no one will ever know who would have grabbed the overall.
Dusty Klatt (Team Honda Canada Blackfoot Fox Racing) ¿ now free to concentrate on the MX1 class for the remainder of the season, after nailing down his second consecutive MX2 West title ¿ will no doubt turn his current 10th place ranking into a single digit in Quebec. He’s looking at a gap of 14 points between himself and Mike Treadwell (Team Suzuki OTSFF).
In the MX2 East Championship, Homans, who is contesting both classes, will be up against series leader Chad Charbonneau (American Honda), second place Michael Willard (KTM Canada), and third place Doug DeHaan (Yamaha Canada). Only 10 points separate Homans from Charbonneau, who made his CMRC debut at Gopher Dunes last weeek, instantly establishing himself as a household name in Canada’s burgeoning motocross scene.
DeHaan, who was in contention for the MX2 title last season, finishing third overall, will pull out all the stops to claim a championship crown this year, something that has eluded him so far in his illustrious career. Defending champ Donnie McGourty (Team Honda Canada Blackfoot Fox Racing) is faced with rectifying a disastrous start to the MX2 East season last weekend that saw him card fifth in the first moto and a DNF in the second because of severe pain in his wrist. The American injured the wrist during practice, a handicap his team hopes will not haunt him for the remaining three rounds of the four-round series.
Racing action gets underway in Joliette at 1PM with qualifying heats on Saturday, July 23rd. The first heat of the MX2 East Championship starts at 11:00AM, Sunday, July 24th.