With temperatures in the mid to high 30s and dry, dusty conditions, the rocks, roots and steep hill climbs claimed a few victims. Many others persevered and now have the bragging rights to have completed the toughest Cross Country in Ontario.
Most racers declared the morning Pee Wee race as the best ever with a great rocky and sandy course that led around the shores of the pond at the bottom of the famous World Championship extreme test. This venue proved excellent for spectators with a large crowd forming to take in the show. Our Pee Wee racers also had a portion of their course that went straight through a shallow section of the pond. Racers loved the opportunity to attack the water and cool off as their 30 minute race advanced into the day’s heat. Drama started early with the lead swapping between Holden Andrews, Connor Taplay and Aiden Billings. Nathan Taplay managed to keep his Suzuki JR50 on the pipe well enough to create a big splash in the water section. Connor had an early spill and it looked like it was between Holden and Aiden to battle for the lead. But Connor showed why he is a crowd favourite and serious up and comer by remounting and charging hard to regain the lead by the halfway point. He held it until the end and finished atop the podium with Holden Andrews and Aiden Billing in second and third respectively.
The Mini Junior and Mini Senior riders started their one hour race immediately following the Pee Wee event. The course for these young riders was an abbreviated version of the adult course removing the most treacherous trails. This still left a long gruelling course that featured a grass track with established sweeping berms. The woods trails were the faster, more open sections that still needed one hundred percent attention as rocks appeared frequently. Christian Wiesner once again handily took the Mini Junior win on his Husky CR 65 followed on the podium by Jackson Andrews and Ryan O’Neill. Wolfgang Wiesner took the holeshot in Senior on his Honda firing a wall of dust in front of the rest of his class. He held his lead for most of the first lap until a small get off slowed him that allowed Kyle Bichard to pounce into the lead which he held to the finish. Mike MacLennan and Wolfgang battled for the rest of the race with Mike taking the second position on the podium and Wolfgang third making it a complete Honda sweep of the Mini Senior class.
By the time the morning race program lined at the start temperatures were well into the 30s and riders were cautioned about dust on all parts of the course. The rocky hills presented some troubles for the riders on the first couple of laps until they became accustomed to finding traction on the sand covered granite. The part of the course that went around the pond allowed racers to cut far into the water as there was purposely no outside marker. Some racers opted for the conservative line along the water’s shore. Others opted to venture out into the water for a shorter line. All riders opting to risk it in the water ended up saving time short of one Husaberg rider that made a bad decision in line selection and turned his beautiful bike into a Swedish water pump.
Beginner saw an epic battle in beginner with up and comers Adam Wynia and Greg Andrews exchanging places for the lead. Adam ended up in front of Greg at the end by two minutes followed by the ultra quick Thiessen boys Justin and Cory in third and fourth respectively.
In Vet Senior we saw Keith Bichard absolutely demolish the rest of his class by taking advantage of the power of his 550 Husaberg to take the optional “Pro” line and making it up the famous rock face. Keith took home $100 from Wiesner Insurance for the fastest lap as it was Vet Senior selected for this award this time around.
Jeff Golden switched to a 450 four stroke from his regular small two stroke this time. Although he said the bike was a handful at this event it helped him take the win in the Super Senior class. Jeff is one serious competitor driving seven hours to get to this race which is the farthest in the series from his home near Windsor Ontario. Jeff was sad that we did not make his class have to ride the well known log section but something tells me by the end of the race he was accepting of this decision.
It was a talented Pro contingent that lined up for the afternoon race. Hard charging series regulars Steve Bond and Jason Griffeth were challenged by Kevin Cockayne, Brian Wojnarowski and Josh Long. We even saw Matt McCarthy come out of hiding for this event and buying his race license this late in the year. Everyone knows the speed Josh is carrying these days but Wojo is very experienced at this facility having ridden CEC events, Sprint Enduros and prior XC races on these hallowed grounds.
Josh nailed the Wiesner Insurance $100 Holeshot and kept ahead of the pack letting him breathe relatively dust free air. As the race went on he earned the Royal Distributing $50 Leader at Halfway Award. Soon after that some problems ensued. His drinking system was malfunctioning and this was not a good event for this to happen. He lost a lot of his lead he spent so long building up trying to repair it. Some clutch issues also surfaced and Wojo got close enough to go in for the pass. Wojo took the lead at lap 12 and never looked back. The Pro podium ended up with Brian Wojnarowski in first, Josh Long second and Kevin Cockayne in third.
In Intermediate Josh Phillips lead from start to finish looking unbelievably fast in the process. He was a stand out rider soaring over the big sand whoops and seriously stylish with the front wheel of his Husqvarna in the air as he cut through the water.
Kevin Block posted some very fast lap times in Junior allowing him to finish ahead of second place Shawn Marinoff. Another couple of fast members of the Thiessen clan; Jordan and Tyler, finished in third and fourth for the day.
When the very thick dust settled, all attendees helped clean up the property ensuring that we will be welcomed back in the future to this very special place. WEC wishes to thank those folks who helped make this event the special race it was.
Round 6 will take place August 11 at Gopher Dunes. Everyone should make note that this is a Saturday race and will feature the Moto Cross Country format. This means riders that typically ride in the afternoon race program need to be signed in earlier than normal. Gopher Dunes will showcase another Off-Road – Motocross Shootout and will be a spectacle not to miss.
Go to www.worldendurocanada.com for event news, complete results and up to date Championship standings.