The Flat Track Canada tour opened their season at Welland on Saturday evening, July 31, with their first Parts Canada-backed National event in almost two years. At the spiritual home of Canadian Flat Track competition, almost all the top guns showed up. On a perfect evening for Flat Track, the rain held off and the stars put on a show.
The featured 15-rider strong Open Expert main started with the Bieger-built Honda framer of reigning number one Dustin Brown taking the point, passed for first at the start of lap two by the Sehl DTX Yamaha of Don Taylor.
Next the visibly understeering Honda framer of a motivated Brodie Buchan went low to take over the lead on lap three.
Taylor stayed on the high line and challenged Buchan from second, while Brown surrendered third to the DTX Honda of Hunter Bauer, back from National action in the U.S.A. Doug Lawrence was just of the lead pack in fifth with his DTX class Town Moto Honda.
By lap nine of 18, Taylor had dropped low to work on leader Buchan, while Bauer was trying the high line, this trio sometimes three abreast mid-turn. At mid-race, Taylor got inside for the lead, while seconds later Bauer went around the outside of Buchan for second.
At this point, Bauer started to hunt leader Taylor, this pair pushing the pace to the point that their entertaining battle didn’t allow staying-low Brown to make much ground from third. The track never truly got a groove, meaning a range of lines seemed to work, and none of the leaders were sure of their choice.
Dealing with heavy lapped traffic, Bauer finally jammed under Taylor between turns two and three, a lap later Taylor nudging underneath Bauer to unsuccessfully try to retake first. Bauer then hung on for the final two laps to take a dramatic victory from Taylor, Brown, Lawrence, and Buchan.
“It feels awesome to finally grab a win up here in Expert,” confirmed victor Bauer, busy racing the full season on the American National tour. “I was trying to figure out the lines, it was an animal out there. Then I found a line, got it to work, and battled my heart out. I had no idea this race was going to go, I really didn’t.
“The 20 lap main is not nearly as hard on my body as the races in the U.S. I had to hang tough, and figure out Taylor, he was pulling’ me for a while there. The traffic was a challenge.”
Bauer thanked his bike-builder father for “working his ass off,” as well as Nicky Kendall Racing and Dave Waters Auto Body.
“I got out kid-ed,” laughed an un-retired Taylor in Victory Lane. “I was chasing traffic, I felt like I was going pretty quick. Hunter was running some different lines, and we were chasing lines the whole race. I’ve been watching him race since he was on 50s.
“It was fun, it was hard, the line changed so much, and he was defiantly going for the bottom,” continued Taylor of victor Bauer. “When he went to the bottom, I jumped in behind him. We haven’t been able to race this track this way in a long time.”
Regarding early leader Buchan, Taylor said that “I knew he couldn’t hold that pace for a whole race. But he showed it could be fast on the bottom. Then when I hooked up with Hunter, I decided to go high again – it seemed I was playing more defence that offence.
“Really, I think in the end (winner) Bauer just figured out the better line. I’ve really only raced with him a couple of times, I haven’t been racing much lately, and I’m old enough to be his father! I haven’t raced in a few years, but I’ve been keeping in shape, riding Moto Cross.”
Following a great charge in the DTX race, Brown predicted a win with a switch to Kurt Bieger’s number one-plated Framer for the main event but admitted that “I might have missed the set-up a little. Now I wish we had stuck with our original plan, but the track was changing – so we had to try something.”
In the DTX main event, long time combatants Lawrence and fast-heat victor Taylor went at it all-out on the opening lap, trying the high line with Bauer and Brown in their wake. On the run into turn three on lap two, Lawrence got into the high-lined Taylor on the entry, almost causing a major incident.
By lap five Bauer, Lawrence and Taylor crossed the start/finish line three abreast, with Bauer’s move to the bottom looking productive. But this seemed to motivate Brown, who rode the cushion to work past Lawrence for third. Taylor went up into the loose stuff too and held on for victory, ahead of Bauer and Brown.
After the race, Lawrence stopped to ask officials why Brown didn’t receive a penalty for leaving the track before the start of his Heat Race, heading briefly to the paddock from the grid due to a fuel tank issue. Meanwhile Taylor and Brown were critical of Lawrence’s on-track tactics.
“I was less than impressed by Doug,” explained DTX victor Taylor. “We shouldn’t have to ride like that.”
“My bike was just really good,” continued Taylor of his Sehl Racing Yamaha. “I’ve been getting garbage starts, and on a night like this, with so many fast guys, that won’t work. It’s been frustrating to say the least, but the race was really a positive.”
To say Taylor’s evening at Welland was a return to form would be an understatement, it will be interesting to see if he decides to continue at the next National in two weeks time at Humberstone in Port Colborne, ON.