Kyle Stephens: Ignition Racing Racer X Canada Factory Rider for a Day
 

 

 

Our goal, from day one, has been to give Canadian racers the exposure they deserve and bring the sport in Canada to a new level. For 2007, we have created the Racer X Canada Factory Rider for a Day program, which gives a different up-and-coming racer a chance to experience a factory-like experience with all of the exposure and attention the boys in the big rigs normally receive. There is no way we could get this project off the ground without the support of our sponsors and supporters. Ignition Racing, who is best known for developing their noise reducing dB dawg, has signed on as the title sponsor, and Maxima Oils, Dunlop tires, Pro Wheel, Ride Industries, Universal/TCI, Lime 9 MX, Destroyer Films, and Ogio have made sure our team will be using the best products in the industry each weekend.

 

 


 

Ignition Racing/ Racer X Canada's Factory Rider for a Day, Kyle Stephens.  

Allison Kennedy photo

 

After our Ste-Julie debut of the Ignition Racing/Racer X Canada Factory Rider for a Day program with Jeremy Medaglia, the RXC crew was pumped to head to our home track, Gopher Dunes, and to work with one of Canada's youngest and most talented intermediates: Edge Performance Kawasaki's Kyle Stephens. The 14-year-old Orangeville native decided to make his pro debut under the RXC awning, on a track he has logged countless hours on in the past few years. If Stephens qualified, he would join Colton Facciotti, as one of the youngest Canadian riders ever to qualify for a pro national. It was a lot of pressure for the promising young star, and he handled it like a champ (and possibly, like a future National champ).


 

Stephens and fellow fast guy, Richard Grey, review the practice lap times.

Allison Kennedy photo

 


 

Stephens makes an early morning video appearance for the Destroyer Films crew.

James Lissimore photo

While last weekend's FRFAD had some pro national experience under his belt, for Stephens, everything was new. Things were hectic, as Stephens raced six motos in the Ontario Provincial event on Saturday in the heat and humidity. The team managed to get his bike through tech and things organized for Sunday morning, but Stephens decided to sit out Saturday's optional pro practice, having spent nearly the entire day on the track and the better part of last week reviewing lines on the Gopher track with riding coach, Ryan Gauld.


 

Kyle gets some encouragement from his father, Randy, before he heads out for moto one.

Allison Kennedy photo

 

 


 

After running #41 for all of his early career, Stephens made the jump to #573 for Sunday's motos. He chose the number in honour of Gavin Gracyk, who wore those digits when he first came to Canada with Richmond Kawasaki. Stephens said he has always looked up to Gracyk, and will run the number when he turns pro.

Allison Kennedy photos

Stephens headed out for the first pro moto with high hopes and great expectations but the speed of the pro class and the rough track conditions proved to be an eye opener. He started in the tail end of the pack but started picking off some riders, settling into 22nd place for six or seven laps. About mid-moto, he crashed and slipped back to 30th but regrouped and re-passed a few riders. He later cased the finish line jump ... hard. He tried to continue, but he was in obvious pain. He pulled off, deciding to take a DNF and regroup for the second race.

 

His first pro moto was a real eye opener for Stephens, but he quickly regrouped for moto two. 

Allison Kennedy photo

 
Despite the fact that Stephens already had a lot to be proud of (he'd pulled a good start in the moto and qualified easily for his first pro national), he was disappointed about his first moto results. We were all surprised that it took the 14-year-old very little time to regroup and to decide that he should go out in the second moto and just do his best. He started the second moto in dead last but that might have been the best thing for him as he was able to pass a few riders early and regain some confidence. Stephens put his head down and started putting in solid laps on the tough Gopher track. Before the midway point of the moto, his rear shock seemed to overheat and he had a few very close calls on the massive Gopher breaking bumps. He slowed and lost a few positions but then regrouped once again, changed his lines, and started moving forward. While a group of riders congregated near the finish line, waiting to roll the jump when the checkers flew, Stephens stayed determined, finishing the moto in 18th and earning three points in the first pro national of his career, a huge feat.

We had a chance to get Kyle's take on his first pro national. Here's what he had to say:

RXC: Tell us what happened in the first moto?
Kyle Stephens: Well, I almost killed myself off the double–the finish line double. I knocked the wind out of myself. When I crashed, I bent my bars a little and that threw everything off. The second moto was better.

How did the pro class differ from what you were expecting?
It was nothing like I expected. I thought it was just going to be another race, but longer. It wasn’t. Everyone was more aggressive, riders were side-by-side everywhere.

You looked pretty shaken up after the first moto, but you regrouped and went out for the second. How did that go?
I got last gate pick—or close to last gate pick—because of the first moto and I ended up getting pinched off halfway up the start. I hit a haybale around the first turn with my leg so I was lucky I stayed up there. As I was going into the second turn, guys collided and I had to go around them, then I was on the outside and more guys passed me and then I just started coming back. It's definitely different than I thought, but it feels good to finish that moto. It was really hard because I didn't see the halfway mark and I was thinking, ‘It has to be over halfway?’ Then the two-lap board came out and I was like, "Aahh, I’m almost there.”

How would you compare the first moto and the second moto?
First moto, I didn’t know what to expect and it was just chaos. But second moto, I knew what to expect and I knew guys were going to drop off because it was so rough. So I just tried to stay smooth and consistent and it worked out okay.

You ended up scoring three points in your first ever national. How does that feel?  
I am definitely happy about that. It’s an eye opener for me about how the nationals work and how fast the pace is. I am just going to keep plugging away and start training harder and that’s it.

What do you have to work on for Sand Del Lee?  
Definitely I need to work on my corner speed on the track and, in the gym, I just need to work on my endurance and I’ve got to get stronger.

Who do you want to thank for helping you out?
Kawasaki Canada, Edge Performance, Fox Canada, Ogio, Red Bull, Metal Mulisha, Bondi Engines, BWR Suspension, Sunline, Gaerne, SixSixOne, Works Connection, Racer X Canada for putting on this program, it’s been a lot of fun. My mom, my dad, Chinny and everyone in my crew.   

 


 

The checkered flag waves on Stephens first pro national experience. We're happy that we were there to capture it.


Allison Kennedy photo



 

Stephens signs an autograph for an admiring fan. 

Allison Kennedy photo



A huge thanks to the Stephens family, Chinny and Edge Performance for letting us share in a huge day for Kyle. We know that Kyle is going to go far. His determination and resolve in the second moto proved that. We can't wait to see him gain even more experience at the Sand Del Lee national and we are proud to have him as part of the RXC Factory family. A huge thanks to our sponsors: Ignition Racing, Maxima Oils, Dunlop tires, Universal/TCI, Pro Wheel, Ride Industries, Ogio, Lime 9 MX and Destroyer Films. This week, a special thanks goes out to Gord Gilliatt from Podium Grafix for his last minute help with the Factory graphics. Watch for the
RXC Factory Rider for a Day rig at Shadow Valley in Manitoba. Come by and meet our Morden riders, Ryan Millar and Josh Penner and pick up your limited edition stickers.

Click on the Racer X Canada Factory Rider For a Day sponsor links below to show your support: