Jason Abernethy of Port McNeill takes the first jump ahead of a pack of riders coming out of the hole shot Saturday

Jason Abernethy of Port McNeill takes the first jump ahead of a pack of riders coming out of the hole shot Saturday

New-look motocross track gets rave reviews

Abernethy sweeps as 7 Mile Track hosts Round 6 and 7 of Vancouver Island Motocross Association spring series

7 MILE — The first races at the newly reconfigured motocross track are in the books, and the riders have issued their verdict: the volunteers of Triport Motorbike and ATV Club have topped themselves.

“This is the best (track), hands down,” said Matt Kerrigan, one of a half-dozen riders who caravaned from Salt Spring Island for Round 6 and 7 of the Vancouver Island Motocross Association’s spring series.

“It was already the best, and with the changes it’s even better. Talk around the track this weekend was that we should have the nationals here instead of at Nanaimo.”

The 2011 Monster Energy MX Nationals Series returns to Vancouver Island for the first time in three years with racing at The Wastelands in Nanaimo June 11-12.

Local organizers and visiting riders alike hope someday the influx of pro riders will make the journey to the North Island to compete on the just-completed, 1.7-kilometer 7 Mile Track, complete with the first covered starting area on the Island.

“It’s awesome,” Port Alice rider Dallas Bradshaw said of the new layout, which includes a long, uphill run to a tight hole shot, new double jumps and a big uphill jump early in the lap. “I think it’s way more fun.”

Port McNeill’s Jason Abernethy continued his domination of the Junior GP and Junior MX-2 classes, sweeping motos both Saturday and Sunday in the latter and sweeping the former Saturday before retiring unbeaten on the weekend.

Local club president Mark Ellis, who spearheaded the resurrection of the track three years ago with a dedicated group of fellow volunteers, closed his weekend by winning the final moto in the Vet Junior class.

Bradshaw posted three runner-up finishes for the local club, earning second-place trophies in the Beginner MX-2 class both days and in the Beginner GP class Saturday.

Other local competitors included Brody Low, Arnie Irving and Travis Cote of Port McNeill and Tanner Smithson of Port Hardy.

On Saturday, Doug Bradshaw of Neucel Specialty Cellulose presented a $500 cheque to Ellis and Richard Klaric to help with the club’s activities.

The event turned the facility into a large campground for the May Long Weekend, as riders from the length of Vancouver Island gathered for two days of racing and camaraderie.

As racing wrapped up late Sunday afternoon, some of the campers and trailers eased onto Highway 19 to begin the trek south. But many families started pit fires and pulled up lawn chairs.

“Are you guys heading back tonight?” a woman asked one group gathered around a campfire.

“The camping’s too good to leave,” one of the riders replied.