Thursday, February 9, 2017

Getting Off The Island

What do Heath Harrison, Noah McConahy and Dean Wilson have in common? They all started this season on privateer island. They each had the passion and drive to get off the island.

We hear many in the industry relate to the privateer community as privateer island. A tight knit group of guys who are very able to race a motorcycle. Many on the brink of night shows, main events and the consistency that may get them off the island. Some eager to get off for the first time and willing to do what it takes to line up behind the gate, it's a crowded place; deep with talent.

Heath Harrison had a successful 2016 season, especially shining in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross 450 Championship. He'd make the switch from Kawasaki to a KTM 450 SX-F and find himself getting great starts and running toward the top 10. Come 2017 Harrison would line up in the tight confines of Amsoil Arenacross. He'd come out strong and win the first two rounds. The results would earn Heath a chance at putting the number 68 under the Cycle Trader Yamaha tent in replace of the injured Bradley Taft. Phoenix would be his first race on the blue bike and his speed looked to be there. Heath admitted the timing was a little off from his Arenacross to Supercross transfer but was feeling more comfortable every time he threw a leg over the bike. That would show to be true come Oakland as Heath transferred from his heat and rode to an impressive 10th in the 250 main. Look for Harrison to be a 250 Main Event threat for the remainder of the 250 West Championship.

Rider: Heath Harrison | Photo: Kyle Pesci
Noah McConahy has been steadily making a  name for himself. Heading in to the 2016 supercross season he was dealing with a wrist injury and contemplated walking away from the sport to help his brother run a landscape company. In the final hour JMC Motorsports from Noah's home state of Washington put together a small team for Noah and fellow 250 Racer, Chris Howell. McConahy's 2016 proved successful. He'd make 250 mains in Supercross and run towards the front of the 450 class during the nationals. Often being the top Husqvarna, Noah's name was thrown around when the factory team was without a 450 rider. The phone never rang. A new attitude and look on racing brought Noah to A1 on the same team but knowing he belonged in the mix. When Tyler Bowers went down with a fractured femur at Phoenix, Noah's phone would ring from the 51 Fifty Yamaha team. Making his debut under a semi at Oakland, nerves looked to get to Noah during qualifying and he'd crash...a lot. He must have got it all out of his system because when the lights turned on for the night show, the number 59 found his groove. After transferring from his heat, Noah rode to a career best 9th place in the 250 main event. 

Rider: Noah McConahy | Photo: Connor Moore
Dean Wilson belongs on a factory team. Seeing past champions struggle to obtain a ride is always a little mind boggling. This year teams would pass on a few as they filled their 2017 team rosters. Determined, Dean would start his season off on a privateer Yamaha. Like his amateur days he'd turn to his father to turn the wrenches on the number 15. The Wilson's would be found not under a factory tent but buried with "The Others" pitting out of an all white Sprinter Van. With the pressure on nobody but himself, Dean would qualify 18th and finish the night 13th in a stacked field. Through the first 5 rounds he'd make progression every week.  As weather and brutal tracks began to claim riders, names begin to be thrown around as fill in riders. Christophe Pourcel has been battling injuries and with  Husqvarna wanting to race the Canadian series an opportunity became available for all parties. Pourcel will take time to heal, then head to Canada to contest the Rockstar MXNationals. Dean Wilson has taken the reigns of the 450 left sitting next to Jason Anderson under the Rockstar Husqvarna rig. The transfer was relatively easy after Dean spent the past seasons with parent company KTM. At Oakland he'd qualify 6th overall and finish the night 10th, marking his first top 10 of the season. His trip to the island was short and we expect weekly improvements as the season progresses.

Rider: Dean Wilson | Photo: Connor Moore
As the season continues will we see the island get smaller? Who is next to find a way off and who may just find themselves drifting towards the island? 

-Kyle Pesci

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