Photos by James Lissimore

After a flight from Ottawa to Toronto, another from Toronto to Vancouver and then a ferry ride from Vancouver to Nanaimo, we finally made it to The Wastelands Motocross Park.

Now that I’ve experienced my first plane ride, I have to admit that I’m not quite sure what all the fuss was about. Other than the take-off and the landing, it really wasn’t all that different from being on a bus or a train … except that it was a whole lot faster!

Once the whole team was together, it was quickly time to shift our attention to the track and the racing.

a.brown_14_nanaimo_jl_2057

Al Brown of MotoXXX Fame is one of the best engine guys in the business. He was “slumming” it with Team MX101 Yamaha for Nanaimo. Or is he just our secret weapon? We could use a few more Logos in these pics, I think.

A popular question everyone has been asking me is: How did you like the track? Well … I have to say it lived up to its reputation. For me, the Wastelands brings new meaning to hard-packed. In fact, the track was like cement. Once they watered it, it was like an ice rink.

I’m pretty grateful now that I had the opportunity to do some off-season training in South Carolina where I got to ride tracks with similar conditions. I also have to admit that Cale and Kevin made a great call by choosing to have me run the mousse tires (thanks Dunlop). With all the flat tires happening during race day because of those sharp, jagged rocks, I believe it proved to be a key factor in my results.

 

14_nanaimo_jl_0175

Not your typical race rig, the MX101 Yamaha pits are really comfortable for getting work done.

Speaking of hard, pointy rocks, I’ve got a few welts because of the roost that got churned up during the moto. It’s at times like that that you really appreciate your goggles (thanks EKS brand) and your chest protector (thanks FOX).

Speaking of FOX, not only did they provide me with some great gear, boots and helmets for the race, but they went above and beyond the call of duty as a sponsor. Jason Moore made a personal appearance at the track and was super helpful between motos. (You’re the man Jay!)

 

d.wright_14_nanaimo_jl_1311

Dylan trying to find something that resembles sand to land on. There wasn’t any.

So … what was it like racing my first race as a pro? Well … I have to say I’m quite happy with my 6th place finish overall. It was so cool that Jesse, Shawn and I were all in the top 10 in moto 2!!

Considering that I had never been out West before (the scenery is so awesome!), that I had never seen the track before, and that you only get about 35 minutes of practice time (15-minute morning practice and a 20-minute timed qualifier) before the race, I can look back on that day with pride and satisfaction.

I managed to get some decent starts and was able to catch up and pass a few guys in the first couple of corners in both motos. My Yamaha YZ250F was mint and the set-up was sick. While I was happy with my 8th place finish in moto 1 and 7th place finish in moto 2, which put me 6th overall, I believe I could have finished even better in moto 1 if I hadn’t lost my rear brake with about 5 laps to go. I think that might explain why I missed that inside rut in the last corner before the finish line when Kyle Swanson passed me and crossed the finish line only fractions of a second ahead of me. Thanks to Cale, we lowered my rear brake before moto 2 because we think I may have been unknowingly dragging the brake throughout the race. The good news is we figured it out. My brake worked much better in moto 2 and I was able to get another top 10 finish.

Another thing that made it challenging for the racers was the fact that the track was really one line so it was really hard to make a pass. It seemed to me that every turn was a bowl turn. Because it was so slippery, you really wanted to get to the inside, set your opponents up, and try to push them wide. For me, that seemed like the most effective way to get ahead in the race. That works … if you’re the one on the inside.

 

d.wright_14_nanaimo_jl_2195

Riding the berm 5 feet above the track. Only top pros can rail the sky.

In moto 2, I tried to pass Jeremy Medaglia on the outside. That turned out to be a bad plan. I was carrying quite a bit of speed when I hit a hole … which sent me over the berm … which sent me over the handle bars … and into the fence. So much for trying a different line. While it was a bummer that I went down, at least I was able to get back on the bike and battle back for a 7th place finish. I feel really lucky that I didn’t get injured like Jess Pettis. (Get well soon buddy!) Nanaimo is known for claiming many riders early in the season. I’m so happy to be able to say that I wasn’t one of them and that I survived Nanaimo!

So what’s next? We’re off to do some practice, some off-track training and some bike work before Kamploops!

Thanks to everyone for your messages of good luck and congratulations! I really appreciate it. These good vibes, combined with the positive results at The Wastelands, help boost my confidence going into Round 2 next week.