Wright Out of the Gate – Moncton and Ulverton

I was sitting in my room and happened to glance over at the Bronze Boot – the ultimate prize in amateur motocross racing. I started to wonder if I’ll ever get to experience the same ultimate high in the pro ranks that I did when I won my national intermediate titles and the prestigious Bronze Boot award in 2013. I wonder about how long it will take to stand on top of that podium again. There’s no feeling quite like it! You think to yourself … I’m ready for the pros. I’ve got what it takes to win there too.

So … for me, going pro hasn’t felt like a continuation of my amateur career. How could it? I finished the amateurs on an ultimate high. You go from winning or getting a podium finish in most of the races you participate in, to fighting to be in the top 10. The top 5 has often been just beyond my reach, with the exception of Calgary when I earned my first top 5 overall finish this year.

It feels like dropping back a few steps and having to climb the ladder all over again. It’s quite an adjustment. I’ve been fortunate as a rookie to finish in the top 10 and there were a few more motos where I was running top 10 before I crashed or had a mechanical issue. So … I know I can run up there with some of the accomplished veteran riders. For this reason, I’m more motivated than ever to feel that “high” again. I may be a rookie, but like most of my competitors, I never line up with any other goal in mind than to ride to win. Until that happens, I’ll continue to chase those riders ahead of me on the track and in the standings. I’ll battle hard against the best because I realize that that’s the way to become the best. I did it in the amateur ranks; now, I’m doing it in the pro ranks.

Things have been looking a little brighter these past couple of weeks. It was so nice to finish both motos in the last two rounds and to get some top 10 overall finishes. I earned a few more points which got me back into the top 10 – where I want to be.

Moncton was a fast track, with lots of big jumps! I really enjoyed racing there. I finished 7-7 for 7th overall. I’m happy to say that these motos were uneventful for a change. I got off to a good start, my Yamaha YZ250F was great, and I felt that I rode well from the gate to the checkers. After spending 13 hours in the van between home and Moncton, I realized that I have now travelled across Canada from one coast to the other! I think that’s pretty cool!

After a family vacation in PEI, we drove to Ulverton for Round 9 of the series. It proved to be one of my favourite tracks on the circuit. It was definitely hilly and is the only track like it! It’s too bad people are trying to shut it down permanently. It was such an awesome track to race on. It got really rough so I had to stand up a lot more and line choices became more of an issue. I’m really happy I was able to pull off an 8th overall considering that I got a flat tire in timed qualifying practice and ended up with a pretty crappy gate pick for moto 1. Because of the flat tire, I struggled to keep the bike on two wheels. I fell and hurt the palm of my hand when I landed on a rock. My hand swelled up pretty bad. There was just enough time before moto 1 to put some ice on it and take some Advil while my mechanic, Cale Foster, replaced the front tire. I may not have been able to put in the laps I wanted, but at least I qualified.

In moto 1, Topher Ingalls (#14) fell after the first turn and I was right behind him. It seemed like a good idea considering that Topher often pulls off a hole shot. Unfortunately, when he went down, I had nowhere to go but to crash into him. After what seemed like an eternity, I got back on my bike and got back into the race in last position … without a rear brake. Remember those hills I was talking about? Well, you can imagine how tough it was to make my way back up to the front. I finished a disappointing 16th.

The good news is Cale worked his magic and my bike was ready to go for moto 2! I got another good start, got into 6th and managed to hold onto that position until the end. I had Kaven Benoit in my sights and almost managed to pass him for 5th with two laps to go. Unfortunately, I slid out and lost precious seconds. I decided then and there that 6th would have to be good enough, and I proceeded to complete the race. The final result … an 8th overall for the day.

These last two results are encouraging as we approach the last round of the pro nationals next week at Walton.

Round 10 is now less than a week away. On Thursday, I’ll be making the annual trek to Walton. It’s unreal to think that just one year ago, I was there racing the intermediate class. Now … I have almost one full pro year under my belt. I have to admit that after the great year I had at Walton last year, I’m looking forward to racing there again. Maybe … just maybe … I can pull off a podium finish in my rookie year. (Wouldn’t that be amazing?!) I’ll certainly have my work cut out for me. I’m hoping to build on my 7-7 results for 7th overall in Moncton and my 16-6 results for 8th overall in Ulverton. I want another top 10 for Round 10!

Until I get to line up at the gate on Sunday, I want to wish the best of luck to all the amateur riders who are headed to Walton for this year’s TransCan. I look forward to watching you race this week! I’ll see you on the line, cheer you on at the fences, or I hope to cross paths with you in the pits!