North of the Border ’04: Racing the Canadian Nationals with Craig Decker

Just like last year, we’re following along with Craig Decker as the Californian races the 250 class in the CMRC Canadian Nationals. For ’04, Craig’s full-time gig is still testing for Kawasaki, but when it comes to racing he moved from the Blair Morgan Yamaha team to Morgan Racing’s Coors Light-sponsored squad, and is mounted on a Suzuki RM250.

Round 1: Nanaimo,BC

“The scene in Canada is a lot smaller. There’s not as much money involved, and the spectator turnout is smaller than in the U.S., so it’s a little bit more relaxed. Everybody gets along with one another. The riders and mechanics are really friendly. It’s a lot less pressure. It’s fun to go up there and it’s not such a high-pressure deal.”

“The first year I went up to Canada was tough. That’s when Mike Craig, Pedro (Gonzalez), and Casey Johnson and a bunch of other Americans were there. Then it kind of tapered off a little bit, but now there are more guys again—the 250 class is a lot tougher this year. John Dowd came up and Damon Huffman was back, and there’s also Keith Johnson. There are seven or eight guys who could win a moto.”


“For ’04 I wanted to switch back to a two-stroke. I just felt it was going to be a lot better on the small tracks. Everything is tight and small, and I just felt that the four-stroke was a little too big for up there.”

“Pre-season testing went good, but was pretty uneventful. I did it whenever I didn’t have to do any testing with Kawasaki. There wasn’t really a whole lot to do. Mitch (Payton at Pro Circuit) did the top ends of the motors, and I did some testing with RG3 for my suspension.”

“Moto one started good. I holeshot and (John Sebastien) Roy got around me right away. so I was running second and he got a gap on me. Then 13 minutes in a guy had crashed and was laying in the track, so they red-flagged it and we all went back to the gate. It was a bum deal because Huffman had crashed and we’d had lapped him. Dowd had also crashed and was around last place, so everyone got back to even. Even Dusty Klatt who got third overall, he didn’t even start the moto. So on the restart he pulls in and Down and Huffy are back on even ground. It just kind of blew. The moto had been a good break for me and it was taken away.”

“We restarted and did a whole new 30 minute plus two lap moto. I was a little bit disappointed in that. I think they made a bad decision, but that’s the way it goes.”

“I got off second on the restart. Marco Dubé holeshot it and I got by him at the end of lap one. I led for a few laps and Roy got by me again. It stayed that way to the end. No one was really pressuring me and it was pretty uneventful.”

“In the second moto I started about eighth. I didn’t get the best of starts. I got into sixth behind Dowd, and it took me a while to get around him. I didn’t get around him until almost the halfway point. When I caught the next guy, which was Dubé, it too me a long time to get around him, too, because Dowd was on my ass and I couldn’t get too creative, or he would have snuck back by me. Once I got around Dubé I kind of broke away. By then the top three guys were out of reach. I pretty much rode it in for a fourth that moto.”

“The finish was kind of unfortunate…I scored 2-4 for the day and ended up in a three-way tie and got fourth overall. But I’m still tied for second in points, and it could have been worse for sure.”

“Next week we’re at Mission Raceway near Vancouver, so it’s another West Coast race. The track there is small, tight, and kind of sandy. Last year it was really rough, and it should be good. The track at Nanaimo was hard-packed smooth, so we had ten guys going really fast. I think this weekend it’s going to separate everyone a little bit more, so I’d say there are only going to be three or four guys on pace the whole moto.”

250cc Nationals — Round 1, Nanaimo BC

  1. Jean Sebastien Roy 1-1
  2. Damon Huffman 4-2
  3. Dusty Klatt 3-3
  4. Craig Decker 2-4
  5. Marco Dubé 5-5
  6. John Dowd 6-6
  7. Brad Hagseth 7-8
  8. Doug DeHaan 9-7
  9. Keith Johnston 8-9
  10. Ryan Lockhart 10-13

125 West — Round 1, Nanaimo BC

  1. Dusty Klatt 1-1
  2. Ryan Morais 4-2
  3. Jeff Northrop 3-4
  4. Kyle Beaton 5-3
  5. Colton Facciotti 2-7
  6. Erik Vallejo 7-5
  7. James Marshall 6-6
  8. Brad Smith 11-9
  9. Ryan Mitchell 15-8
  10. Rory Sullivan 10-14