Features 28 Nov 2012

MotoInsider: 47

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The Australian racing season is a relatively short one when compared to the gruelling amount of races they do in the US, but when it comes to the off-season, almost everybody looks forward to time some time off and consistent weekends at home for the most part.

With the confirmed MX Nationals schedule not commencing until 14 April at Raymond Terrace in New South Wales (two weeks later than this year’s Conondale opener), Aussie moto fans have near five months to wait until we see the sport’s top domestic riders in action.

On that note, the nationals will see he return of Raymond Terrace, Broadford and Toowoomba next year, while Swan Hill will make its debut on the national calendar. Obviously there are a variety of tracks that are worthy of a national, so it must be a very difficult process when WEM is selecting the series dates year in, year out.

Western Australia was never going to be on the schedule for 2013, instead planned to be held in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018 from the outset. We will see the rider favourite circuit of Coonabarabran scrapped, as well as Moree – both circuits based in country NSW. The fourth track removed from the schedule again is Horsham, but remember this was only a late replacement for Barrabool on the schedule in 2012 anyway.

And then apart from the circuits mentioned above, we’ll see the returning venues of Murray Bridge (albeit without MXD), Wonthaggi, Conondale, Appin, Hervey Bay and the finale at Coolum. Some are popular, some aren’t, but what the series does do is spread the love throughout the east coast of Australia reasonably evenly and into SA as well.

The MX Nationals are shaping up for another big 2013 season. Image: Simon Makker/Makkreative.com.

What I personally would like to see, and I have mentioned this to Kevin Williams in the past, is some kind of consistency in the dates on the schedule. While Wanneroo might be able to alternate with another event on the schedule, it would be ideal if we had key dates on the schedule that fans could look forward to each year, similar to like they do in the US. Easier said than done, I know.

Another major factor we will see in 2013 is that all rounds will be single day events. I’m a big supporter of that structure, mostly due to the costs of two-day events and minimal pro class action we were seeing on the Saturdays. I expect that traditional two-moto formats will be reintroduced, as there are a selection of support races at most events.

For the non-pros, they’ll be happy to see the 2-Stroke Cup expand to three rounds, the Amateur Cup at two rounds, Rookies at a round and the Vets at two rounds. There will also be Quads at a pair of the rounds once again this season.

Anyways, in case you missed the news story last Friday, here is the schedule once again:

2013 Monster Energy MX Nationals Championship Calendar:
Rd1 – 14 April – Raymond Terrace, NSW (MX1, MX2, MXD)
Rd2 – 28 April – Murray Bridge, SA (MX1, MX2, MXQ)
Rd3 – 5 May – Wonthaggi, VIC (MX1, MX2, MXD, 2SC)
Rd4 – 19 May – Broadford, VIC (MX1, MX2, MXD, Amateur Cup)
Rd5 – 2 June – Conondale, QLD (MX1, MX2, Vets 30-39, Vets 40-plus)
Rd6 – 14 July – Appin, NSW (MX1, MX2, MXD, TBC)
Rd7 – 28 July – Hervey Bay, QLD (MX1, MX2, MXD, MXR)
Rd8 – 11 August – Swan Hill, VIC (MX1, MX2, MXD, Amateur Cup)
Rd9 – 25 August – Toowoomba, QLD (MX1, MX2, MXD, 2SC)
Rd10 – 1 September – Coolum, QLD (MX1, MX2, MXD, 2SC, MXQ, TBC, Vets 30-39, Vets 40-plus)

Class Descriptions:
MX1 (Pro Open); MX2 (Pro Lites); MXD (Under 19s); MXQ (Pro Quads); 2SC (Two-Stroke Cup); Amateur Cup (B- and C-grade All Powers); MXR (13to 15 years Rookies); TBC (class to be confirmed).

Another thing to take note of is WEM’s inclusion of Monster Energy as title sponsor in the release. It looks like the energy drink giant will be back in 2013 and that in itself is great news for the sport, mostly due to branding and of course the budget that they provide, not to mention marketing support.

Of course, as always, the five months will fly by and before we know it, the Australian Motocross Championships will be in full swing throughout the 10-round duration. When it comes to the media, this time of the year is always full with bike test schedules, new product releases and the fun that is the official silly season.

And then there is the upcoming American Supercross season, which starts the first weekend in January 2013 and has a major Australian following due to the likes of Chad Reed and co. Next year we’re likely to see Reed, Byrne and Josh Cachia as the lone Aussies within teams behind the start gates during SX while Brett Metcalfe will focus on the outdoors.

There will also be appearances by the likes of Daniel McCoy if he can get equipment sorted, as well as Jackson Richardson as he did in the earlier part of this season with great results. Needless to say, there is always plenty of local interest in this series and it keeps us busy during the summer months, that’s for sure.

The silly season is possibly one of the most enjoyable, yet frustrating aspects of this time of the year as we try our best to gain the hot tips (and reliable ones at that!) of who’s heading where. Team announcements tend to flow through inconsistently, but they give us plenty to write about and this year will be a very special one as far as Australia goes. Last year was as well, come to think of it!

Honda had its championship bikes on display at the Australian Motorcycle Expo last weekend. Image: Alex Gobert.

Rumours regarding pending announcements of Todd Waters to KTM and Adam Monea to Monster Energy Kawasaki hit their peak last week as Waters was spotted aboard a number 47 KTM at Appin doing motos and Monea was doing the rounds at the Australian Motorcycle Expo in Melbourne wearing a Monster Energy Kawasaki hoodie – hey, could be just a coincidence, right!?

Anyway, either way it’s good fun figuring it all out and that’s how we take up the time for the most part. It’s also a good time to piece together a few features we’ve been working on doing for a number of weeks, including today’s feature Industry Insight interview with Andrew Hopson uploaded by Adam Spence.

Hoppo is a massively experienced guy in the industry, working with world class teams like Pro Circuit and American Honda, so to shed some light on those kind of guys is great for the sport and shows the talent we have within the sport on a local basis. Stay tuned for many more features that will take you between the lines of the sport throughout the off-season.

Speaking of the Expo, held in Melbourne last weekend, we saw a number of the winning manufacturers from this season celebrating their respective title wins. Honda had both Ford Dale (MX) and Gavin Faith’s (SX) championship-winning CRF250Rs on hand, while Kawasaki had Jay Marmont’s SX-Open championship KX450F on display. Yamaha also had the YZ450F that Josh Coppins raced to the MX1 outdoor title earlier this year.

It’s a fitting reward for the sport to see these bikes displayed amongst the latest and greatest 2013 production models, with enthusiasts flocking to see them ahead of the new year. What I think it signifies is the importance of racing from the brands’ perspective.

That’s all for this week, a relatively quiet one in the sport, so thank you for stopping by and stay tuned for much more to come throughout the off-season into the new year.

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