If the 2010 CMRC Monster Energy Motocross nationals taught us anything, it's that you should expect the unexpected when it comes to motocross racing. No lead is ever safe, either in the standings, or on the track. Last year, defending MX1 champ, Colton Facciotti, won every moto he finished, but two huge crashes left him on the sidelines. That left his Blackfoot Red Bull Yamaha team-mate, Dusty Klatt, to reclaim the crown he won in 2006. But it wasn't easy for Klatt, as a pair of mechanical DNFs at Edmonton set him back a ways in the 9 round series. Still, he charged on, never giving up, and in the end, it paid off. He was even able to clinch the title with one round remaining on the calendar, as a double DNF by OTSFF Rockstar Suzuki's Bobby Kiniry at round 8 allowed Dusty to claim his second CMRC MX1 title, and fourth CMRC national title (2004/2005 MX2 west champ.)
In 2011, there's no doubt that Colton Facciotti (2011 #10) and Bobby Kiniry (2011 #3) will both be back looking for redemption against Dusty Klatt (2011 #1). But the competition doesn't stop there.
2009 MX2 champ, and last years MX2 runner up, Teddy Maier (2011 #12), has picked up an MX1 ride for the Monster Energy Leading Edge Kawasaki team. Teddy will no doubt be a front runner with his smooth style and high fitness level, not to mention his experience racing the Canadian tracks over the years.
New to the Leading Edge team for 2011, will be Matt Goerke (2011 #101). Matt was, at one point, doubtful to even line up for the Canadian series this year, as he was injured at the Jacksonville supercross, in a first turn crash that also involved James Stewart. However, Matt is in Canada and is working hard to be as ready to go as he can be when the gate drops this weekend. Matt could perhaps be considered the fastest guy on the starting line if healthy, as he is the only rider in the field to have an AMA 450 national overall victory on his resume. (Southwick, '09)
Another rider who will be looking to step up and make a run at a championship, is Roal Distributing KTM rider Kyle Keast (2011 #4). Kyle has never won a moto or an overall, but has hit the podium many times and on certain tracks has shown that he definitely has the speed to pull off a win. Armed with his new factory ride, perhaps the longtime privateer Honda rider can step up to the next level.
Also on KTMs in MX1 this summer, are Robby Marshall (2011 #774) and Michael Willard (2011 #62). Robby is a bit of a darkhorse, but has shown plenty of speed at certain AMA nationals in the past, notably Southwick. Willard is a two-time CMRC MX2 east champ, so he knows how to win titles in Canada.
The above riders are all capable of being near the front of the pack, but as usual with the Canadian nationals, there are always surprises when the first practice rolls around. Late entries and guys who have been flying under the radar, commonly have fans wondering, "Who's that guy?" Who will they be talking about this year? We can only guess, but there's bound to be at least one rider who comes out of nowhere and surprises everyone.
At the end of the day, I think it's hard not to be excited about this season. The depth of the class seems to be as good as ever, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the riders who missed out last year will have done to ensure they don't miss out again. And what about Klatt, the defending champ? Will he have stepped it up even further to make sure he keeps his #1 plate? Time will tell, and we won't know for sure for a few months, but I believe that in less than a weeks time, we'll be on step closer to having some answers.