Flat Track Canada had its first event at the famed Ohsweken Speedway, and for almost all of the program the final national of the 2016 season was flawless in execution and spectacle. After an evening of great completion on the half mile clay oval, the Expert Open class headed out for the final national race of 2016, ready to decide the 2017 No. 1 national plate.
Steve Beattie looked to have the overall FTC Title sewn up for the Kurt Beigger Racing Honda team, and merely needed to start the main event to earn his first career Flat Track Canada crown. But Beattie fell exiting turn two on the opening lap, causing a red flag and a long delay for his careful removal from the race surface by the Safety Team.
Beattie was off to the hospital with a broken collarbone and concerns about possible other injuries, details to come shortly. The race would start again from scratch, meaning that Doug Lawrence had a shot at retaining the Championship with his Town Moto/Parts Canada Honda CRF450 DTX machine.
There was some discussion as the field got ready for start two regarding the possible points ramifications, with various opinions suggesting a win, or maybe a top three, would allow Lawrence to retain his title. It turned out only a win would do.
On the second start Lawrence and a back-from-injury Don Taylor (Jim Sehl/Motovan/Motosports of Trenton Yamaha) again pushed to the front, joined by the Tyler Seguin aboard his Evans Honda. Eventually Taylor, the two time FTC champ in his first start since breaking a leg in an American event early in the summer, faded to place fourth and Seguin and Lawrence fought for the win.
Seguin eventually worked his way clear to take a well-deserved victory, the seventh different winner over the course of the 11 round series. Lawrence wasn’t far back for second and not sure where he placed in the points – unfortunately “Fresh” came up just short. Rising star Brodie Buchan worked his way up to third aboard another KBR Honda single.
“It feels great to win,” explained Seguin after a NASCAR-style victory burnout against the front straight wall. “It’s the last race of the season, but still, a win is a win. My season was really all over the place, and now things are starting to work we can maybe try some things down in the States.”
Lawrence was obviously emotional after a close race while trying to understand his title chances and consider the possible injuries suffered by rival-and-buddy Beattie. Veteran Beattie runs a suspension service business, and the new champ was tweaking Lawrence’s refurbished fork right before the first, late afternoon Pro practice session.
“An awful lot was going through my mind,” admitted Lawrence of the 15-ap main event. “At the end of the day, you really don’t want it to happen like that, the way things went for Steve.”
“I was maybe a tenth off where I needed to be, I was really close, in terms of lap times,” continued the outgoing number one. “I wanted to be in (Seguin’s) way more, maybe park him in the corners, but I couldn’t quite make that work.
“The track was really awesome, it got better and better through the program, and we really had some great racing here tonight.
“Right now it really seems like a long year,” continued Lawrence, who raced and won at two events on the Mopar CSBK road racing national tour in 2016 and recently finished seventh at the AMA Pro event in Springfield. “I’m looking forward to recharging my batteries and getting a new mind set, get geared up for next season.”
Buchan was satisfied with third place after a white knuckle run in the Main event.
“Everywhere I rode coming up, it was a cushion track,” explained the Pro based in Welland, ON, home of the famous short-track county venue. “This place is hard packed, and it seemed like I had to be really careful. So I’m pretty happy with the result, it was tricky and it seemed like the track got slick.”
In the Expert DTX category for stock-framed MX based machinery, Seguin held off Lawrence in a great fight at the front, Lawrence making a rare start in the “production” class after opting to enter on the machine he mostly uses at the short Welland venue. Doug Beattie (Honda) edged Buchan in another good dispute, for third. Buchan clinched the Expert DTX Title, distant rival Dave Pouliot (Kawasaki) hampered by a leg injury.
The Expert Dash-for-Cash victory went to the Honda framer of Steve Beattie, prior to the new champ’s season-ending injury. Lawrence was a close second with Seguin third.
In the Intermediate Open division, Tyler Brown hung on to win, after a great dice that went down to the wire against runner-up Cody Marentette and third man Luke Rahm, all Honda mounted.
In Intermediate DTX action, Brown won again, a bike length behind the fight for second, a dead heat between Marentette and the Sturgess Kawasaki of reigning Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike national road racing Champ Kenny Riedmann.
Top Novice was Jarrett Phibbs of Cottam, ON, who won both the Open and DTX divisions aboard a Honda CRF450.