Craig Decker: North of the Border, Round Two

Extreme Sports 2003 Canadian Motocross Championships
Round Two Race Report From The Wastelands in Nanaimo, BC

By Craig Decker

I just got back to the 909 from another exciting weekend of racing up in BC. I decided I’d better sit right down in front of my PC to hammer out my race report because I am going to be spending the rest of my week cleaning mud out of my ears! Oh, and I may spend a bit of time praying to the rain gods to ease up a bit before Round three in Calgary this coming weekend. As a warm-blooded Southern California native, I am far from a mud specialist, and mud is exactly what we got on Sunday during moto two.

I flew into BC on Friday afternoon, and by that evening the rain had started coming down. It cleared up a bit for Saturday’s practices and qualifiers, but it remained fairly chilly. With rain threatening all day, the sun never came out which made the high 50’s temp feel even cooler. As if the day didn’t already have a dreary feel, our team had a big blow dealt its way when teammate and all around great guy, Blair Morgan, suffered a horrific crash. Blair’s throttle stuck wide open in the first practice session as he approached the finish line table. He and his Yamaha launched through the finish banner and well passed the landing of the jump. I didn’t personally witness the crash because I was also on the track practicing, but I heard it was gnarly! Blair has already undergone surgery to repair his broken leg. He also suffered a broken vertebra that I am told will not require surgery. Morale was definitely down in our pit area the rest of the weekend. Good luck on a speedy recovery Blair!

This past weekend marked the second time I’d been to The Wastelands. My first trip was two years ago, but the track was pretty much identical. It’s really hard-packed and has shale in it so the roost can be killer! There are a couple small jump sections and one whoop section. All in all the track is pretty basic and it doesn’t get real rough, allowing more guys to go fast. This can be pretty frustrating at times, but it certainly makes for some exciting racing for the fans. Speaking of the fans, I’d just like to say how cool everybody is up in Canada. The crowds aren’t as big as those seen at an AMA outdoor national here in the states, but the vibe is just as cool. There seems to be more of an open, friendly atmosphere. The pits are open all day allowing the fans to get up close and personal with their racing heroes. Everybody’s been really cool to me and I appreciate that! With that said… let’s go racing!

During Saturday’s qualifiers the rain held off and the track was pretty good. Roy won the first six-lap qualifier pretty easily. A native of Canada, he’s got these tracks pretty dialed. In qualifier two I got out of the gate in about fourth place, but I was able to move in to the lead pretty quickly. By the end of the moto I’d pulled out about a 10 to 12 second lead and felt really good. As long as the rain held off, I felt I had a great chance at the win on Sunday.

When I woke up Sunday morning rain was still in the forecast, but it seemed to be holding off. The temp remained pretty chilly so I wore a jacket on the line to stay heated before the motos. Despite rain lurking on the horizon, the track crew watered a ton before moto one, leaving the track pretty slick. I got a great jump out of the gate and pulled the holeshot. I rode pretty tense early on and Roy and Lange were able to get by me. The Wastelands is Lange’s home track so I knew he’d be tough there. In fact, he’s won this race the last two years in a row. Once I settled in and found my groove, I was able to get back by him and rode comfortably in second. Roy was flying and I couldn’t reel him back in. We finished the moto in that order.

Shortly after the conclusion of the first moto the rain started coming down, and it didn’t let up! The track continued to get wet and slick, and I knew I’d have my hands full in the second moto. Most of the Canadian riders grow up racing in wet conditions, and therefore have a distinct advantage when Mother Nature cries her eyes out. When the gate dropped for moto two, Marco DubĂ© jumped out to the early lead, but I got by him early on. I felt pretty good given the wet conditions and started pulling away. Had the track been a little drier I definitely think I had the speed to win, but it kept coming down! JSR was killing it in the mud and I could see him coming at about the halfway point in the moto. An experienced mud rider, JSR got by me and I settled back in to second place again. Thinking that I had everything well in hand to cruise in for second, I stalled my YZ450 in the mud with only two laps left to go. Lange was able to get by me and I got re-started to hold on to third place. My 2-3 moto finishes for the day were only good enough for third overall as Lange went 3-2 for second.

Round three of the Canadian Nationals is next weekend at Wild Rose MX Park in Calgary, AB. Once again the forecast calls for rain, so I encourage the local tracks here in So Cal to water heavily this week for practice. Wild Rose also sits in Blackfoot Honda’s backyard, so I’ll undoubtedly have my hands full. I’ll check in again next week to give you the update. Have a great week and pray for NO RAIN!