This week’s coverage is brought to you by our pals over at Peak Honda World
Unlike pretty much every other motocross track in the state of Colorado (save for Pueblo, which is no longer running motocross events *pours one out for the homie*) the moto track at IMI is just a component of a multi-motorsport facility. Sprawled across the, quite frankly, pretty baron landscape which the property rests on, are several competitive motorsports tracks: from motocross to go-kart to circle track (and probably a shit ton of others that I’m not confident enough to assume on), the complex is flush with opportunities for motorheads to get their tweak. However, on this weekend, IMI Motorsports Complex’s most important track played host to the 4th Round of the much-touted Rocky Mountain Showdown series. For years, IMI was a middling facility when it came to their motocross amenities. Poor maintenance, unstellar prep and weird layouts were all a plague to the track’s reputation. But, as of recently, there have been notable improvements to all three factors. Most of the jump faces, in addition to the layout, looked safe and clean. The prep was decent, although it’s kind of difficult to prep and maintain the subpar dirt that remains a burden to almost all of Colorado motocross. The turnout was close to the series average, garnering around 650 entries: the only bummer turnout was in Open Pro where there was barely a half gate full of riders. Having said that, there was still some great action throughout the afternoon, so let’s get busy.
Again, Mitchell Gifford continues to be the guy locally. After an underwhelming outing at Loretta’s (his words not ours, actually his words were pretty much ‘it was bogus’), Mitchell was able to lay claim to a big win at the Kicker Arenacross on Saturday, and then parlay that into another 5/6 moto win day. However, that’s not to say he did so without serious challenges from Cody Gray, John Citrola and others. In the first Open moto, Cody got a good start but buried his Yamaha in some deep stuff and tossed an on-ground Superman. That shuffled Cody back quite a bit, and led to Mitchell Gifford taking the lead pretty quickly (we know how that usually ends up). Kyle Summers put in a strong ride behind him and was able to snag up a 2nd in that moto, followed by Citrola in 3rd. Moving to the 450s, it was a similar situation, except Cody didn’t get sketchy early in that moto, but instead snagged up an early lead. After leading the fellas around for a bit, Mitchell was able to reel Cody in. Shortly after Giff-Daddy had Cody in his sights, he made an aggressive pass and was into the lead, again. Following them was a resilient Joey Olson and an invigorated Citrola. In the 250s we see more of the same with Mitchell and Cody leading the pack, with everyone else filing in behind them. Michael Sweney, Tyler Valentine and Ryan Porter rounded out the top 5 in that one.
In the afternoon, things got shaken up a little bit. In Open Pro, Cody, John and Joey all got out to good starts, as Mitchell was buried around midpack. The 3 of them would battle for essentially the entire moto, but that probably played a role in Mitchell making his way up to them rapidly. It was around lap 3, when Mitchell made his final descent on the lead group. Once he had them in his sights, the Colorado Springs native made quick work of all 3: passing them within a lap. Oddly enough, though, once he got around them, Mitchell didn’t check out by any means. So speed doesn’t appear to be the reason why Mitchell is winning a lot of these motos. Finishes went Mitchell, John, Cody & Joey. In the 450s, it was a pretty similar story, as Mitchell started off behind both Cody & Citrola, then showed the same aggression & assertion in making his way past both of them. They would file in line, and run a standard moto as the 3 were in lockstep, without much battling for the remainder of the moto. In 250s, it appeared to be a repeat of the first moto until Mitchell’s pace slowed as he began to look down at his bike. It was at that moment when he realized his seat was MIA, and was forced to cut his moto short. This opened the door for Cody, Sweney and the fast Wyoming-ian(?) Ryan Porter to slide in to podium spots for the moto and the overall.
We were able to grab a few words from the re-stoked Citrola, and here’s what he said:
EM: So, it seems like you’ve really taken that next step recently, what has made the difference?
JC: My program during the week. My training has stepped up a bunch, from mountain biking and the gym to eating right and being focused. What has sparked that is I just got tired of being a 5 or 6th place guy. I wanted more out of my self when I know I can be better. My intensity has changed a lot, charging the whole moto and putting it all on the track.
EM: Do you think racing the nationals has helped you hear locally?
JC: Absolutely, riding with the top guys and seeing that speed and riding those rough of tracks makes it to where you comes here the track is a highway and my confidence is a lot higher.
EM: How big do you think confidence is in this sport?
JC: In my personal opinion confidence is super important, especially in starts. Knowing that you can rip the holeshot and ride strong & fast the whole moto is definitely huge. Doing my first national at Lakewood was an eye opener. Seeing speeds I’ve never seen before and riding the gnarly track that the top guys do. At Lakewood, I was a second off making it right through but I definitely think I became a better rider from that. Millville was insane. It all comes down to how you prepare for it. And there was no way I could have prepared for that race. Absolutely brutal to say the least. But again I came out faster and stronger and ready to better my self for the upcoming races.
EM: Do you plan on hitting any more nationals this year?
JC: Still on the ball if we are going to Ironman or not, we’ll see how this next week goes and go from there. 2018 I’m planning to do a lot of the nationals. See if we can put together everything and try and do most of the nationals.
EM: What are your goals for 2018?
JC: Goals are to finish out this year strong and train and get ready for next year. Next year goals are to make it into the nationals and get some top 20 finishes and dominate the RMXA series.
EM: What about long-term?
JC: Do this as long as I can, I wake up everyday and want to ride my dirt bike. So as long as I’m healthy and walking I’ll be riding my dirt bike.
For the Love of the Sport?
There’s not much certainty in this world, except for death, taxes and a big turnout in 250 C. It’s ironic, because the class that could most benefit from a thinner gate, is the class that is always the most stacked. It was cool this weekend, because despite the sizable overall turnout, the class wasn’t broken up by qualifiers. Giving the riders a shot at a two moto format is easily the most fair to those fellas. So who was able to deliver up the goodies in the first two moto 250 C Sunday we’ve seen in this whole series? Who else but the young fella who just laid claim to 11th & 7th overalls at the prestigious Loretta Lynn’s amateur national? That’s right, Jaylend McCarty picked up from a strong performance in Hurricane Mills and carried that momentum right to a clean, decisive sweep in local 250 C competition. Following him was the fast, but slightly outmatched, Jack Pedersen. In route to his 2-2 moto scores, he was forced to battle his way past a resilient Joseph Dixon in the 2nd moto. Joseph was solid on the afternoon as he scooped up 3-3 moto finishes. However, a determined New Mexico resident, Tyler Rodriquiez didn’t make it easy on him as he put in a strong late moto charge to snug right up on Joe’s rear wheel in moto 2. Rounding out the top 5 was Cody Rohr, with 5-6 moto finishes.
Now we move on to the oldies of our sport, you know the same fellas who paved the way for what we’re doing today? Big turnouts in the senior classes have become more and more commonplace in this new series, as there were nearly as many entries in 40+ B and Super Senior as there were in Open Pro. In the 40+ class, two riders really stood out: Mark Bennett and Derek Raycraft. Both riders were head and shoulders above their competition as they checked out in both motos. Not to mention, the duo was straight up sending it on some of the gnarliest obstacles on the track. The twosome swapped moto finishes in the class, with Mark Bennett edging Derek Raycraft for the overall. Steve Sanders, Sean Peterson & Thedo Remmelink rounded out the top 5 in a surprisingly competitive class. In the Super Senior division, the always quick, John Burfiend was on a tear as he guided his orange (5 bucks to whoever can find a word to rhyme with that) machine to 1-1 moto finishes on the afternoon. Following suit were the likes of Mark Bennett and Jeff Pendergraft. Great racing and much to respect to you all for continuing long past any doctor recommended riding age.
Week-in and week-out, these young fellas continue to impress with their grit, balls and all out battles. This week was no different as both the age group and open classes were stuffed with action. In the first 7-9 moto, Ryan Boutilier had some early mistakes, which opened the door for Jeremy Roe to pick up the dub. For the older (but still little) rippers, Dillon Blecha was just on fire and was able to check out with Jeremiah Willoughby and Aden Finley following in behind. Moving on to the open division, it was none other than Jeremy Roe who was able to steer his machine to the first moto victory. In the afternoon, the tides turned a little bit when Ryan Boutilier caught fire and was able to runaway with two decisive victories in the age group and open classes: which was some solid redemption for the Pueblo dweller. Jeremy was still able to capture the overall in open with 1-2 moto finishes after a stellar charge in moto 2. Oh by the way, Dillon Blecha continued from his stellar morning, to dominate in the 2nd age group moto. Important sidenote, was the epic battle between Jeremy, Ryan and Aden on the bigger displacement later in the afternoon, those dudes were going at it.
Anyway, we were able to snag up a quick convo with Ryan Boutilier (just like Jeremy, wise beyond his years) and this is what he said:
EM: How’d the weekend go?
RB: It was good. In the morning the track was really rough, really deep ruts, had some bad motos and had some crashes. Went back and thought about it, then came back out and was able to win both of my 65 motos.
EM: Did you do any nationals this year?
RB: Yeah, this was my first year doing the Nationals, we did about 4 or 5 of them. I do a lot of outdoor nationals, and some indoors.
EM: What’d you think of them?
RB: It’s really tough. Really big competition out there, it’s a blast getting to race them. It makes me a better rider to race some people who are faster than me.
EM: So you’re pretty ballsy when it comes to hitting jumps, what goes through your head the first time you hit a big jump?
RB: Thinking about if I’m in the right gear, and have enough power to make it. But other than that, I just hold it wide. I kinda get a little scared with big jumps the first time I get them. I just stop thinking about what would happen, then I start thinking about having enough power to make the jump.
EM: What do you like about racing dirtbikes?
RB: Like that there’s a lot of competition, your adrenaline gets really high and you have a lot of fun when you’re going fast.
Sweet words little dude.
The 50 class was downright epic on Sunday, with killer battles and massive sends galore. For some reason, and it couldn’t possibly be due to geographic location, there were some blazingly quick Wyoming dudes who showed up to do battle. In the 50s, Kevin Christine was the one to represent the state just north of Colorado. Kevin, repping old Mike Brown’s number, was impressive on the afternoon. He was able to navigate his ear-piercing Cobra to a 2-1 in the open class, and a 2-3 in his age group. Cole Blecha was an absolute beast in the older age group, as he swept the class clean on the afternoon. Steady Eddie of the day has to go to Kalvin Valdez, as he was competent in snagging up a couple second overalls in his 50 classes. We would be slightly remiss, however, if we didn’t give a little shoutout to Zach Redd out of New Mexico. The young shredder wasn’t super consistent, but he did grab up a nice moto win in the first open moto. More than anything, though, it was incredible to watch those little guys sending about any double that their small machines could muster.
Alex Vestal, building off of his already impressive year, was a game-wrecker in the Schoolboy class as he was able to go 1-2 in Schoolboy on a Supermini. Besting fellow ripper Bronson McClure in the first moto. Well done.
Chace Reinhard, whose dad was recently injured practicing at Lakewood, was on a mission after an early crash. Chace diced his way through a pretty thick herd, and placed his screaming two-stroke in 2nd. We can only imagine your pops would’ve been stoked to see that effort.
Kacey Pekola continued on her path to destruction of Women’s Pro competition, going 1-1 again on the day. Not to mention, she was hucking the living shit out of a massive triple every lap, so that was cool.
Well… That’s All Folks.