Everything fell into place for New Zealand’s Mason Phillips at the latest round of the Canadian national motocross championships in Quebec at the weekend.
Rain had turned the round six event at Ste-Thecle, QC, into a mud bog and organisers were forced to cut the racing from two motos to one for both the MX2 and MX1 classes.
But when the Kiwi KTM rider from Mount Maunganui altered his routine to start his bike in third gear on the slippery launch pad, it worked a treat, propelling him to the holeshot for a start-to-finish win.
The round win shot Phillips to 11th place in the series standings, a welcome boost after he had been forced to sit out the previous round following a practice crash.
Mud proves to be as great equaliser in racing, especially motocross, something that Royal Distributing KTM team-mates Phillips and Kyle McGlynn as both riders carded their first career overall national wins in MX1 and MX2 respectively.
Although the first MX2 moto ran its full course, CMRC officials decided to shorten the first MX1 moto to 15 minutes plus two laps. As it turned out those would be the only pro motos of the day. Rain kept falling and in the process made the track virtually impossible to navigate despite attempts by work crews to rectify the hopeless situation.
While the second MX2 qualifier managed to proceed in the rain, but with lap times dramatically dropping, MX1 qualifiers were cancelled. The top 10 were seeded according to their current points standings, with the rest receiving their gate pick based on a lottery.
After a long delay for track maintenance after the MX2 race, the first MX1 moto finally got underway.
Phillips snared the holeshot followed by Yamaha’s Colton Facciotti, Kawasaki’s Kevin Johnson, Yamaha’s Dusty Klatt and Suzuki’s Tyler Medaglia.
Klatt and Medaglia, who were running strong in the lead group early on, ended up going down for a taste of mud soup, with Klatt getting back into the fray outside the top five and Medaglia outside the top 10.
Other than Phillips putting a comfortable gap on Facciotti, and Johnson losing third to Honda’s Tim Tremblay, very little changed up front. Johnson eventually slipped back to an eighth place finish.
Meanwhile, Kawasaki’s Paul Carpenter crashed in the first turn, to only get taken out by another rider a few laps later. Undaunted, he still managed to bulldoze his way through the mud to card ninth. His team-mate, Bobby Kiniry, also went down in the first turn to crawl his way into a sixth place finish.
By the time the chequered was waved Kiwi ace Phillips found himself crossing the finish line about 17 seconds ahead of Facciotti, who was trailed farther back by Tremblay.
Although he didn’t win, for Facciotti it turned out to be a good day, as he handily extended his points lead over Klatt and Carpenter.
“I seriously wasn’t expecting a lot, I had a big crash at Gopher last weekend and I had a heavy concussion,” said Phillips afterwards.
“For the first time ever, I did a third gear start. It was really slippery on the concrete and actually after the MX1 moto, Eric Nye told me and Jeff Northrup that we should do third gear because of how slippery it was. So I tried it and man, the bike hooked up so good. I never changed a single gear the whole start straight.
“I pulled the holeshot and rode my own race, nobody challenged me and I won by seventeen seconds over Colton (Facciotti).
“I had clear vision which helped out a lot, those other guys were sliding around back there trying to fight it out in the puddles and the mud. I didn’t know what to expect but I wanted to go out there and have fun. I had fun, I won the race.
“This is my career highlight for sure and I intend to treasure it.”
STANDINGS after six rounds:
1. Colton Facciotti 251 points
2. Dustry Klatt 224
3. Paul Carpenter 215
4. Bobby Kiniry 166
5. Jeff Northrop 145
6. Tyler Medaglia 140
7. Mitch Cooke 135
8. Kyle Keast 111
9. Liam O’Farrell 108
10. Tim Tremblay 107
11. Mason Phillips (New Zealand) 99
12. Kevin Johnson 96
Words and photos by Andy McGechan & Chris Knight, www.BikesportNZ.com