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Last Wednesday’s launch of the Monster Energy MX Nationals, Australian Motocross Championship, gave us our first glimpse of what we can expect when the gates officially drop at Raymond Terrace’s MX Central in NSW next month.
The anticipation ahead of the new season is quickly starting to rise after what feels like an extended off-season of sorts, however by the time round one arrives I’m sure the entire industry will still be scrambling to put the finishing touches on their structures for 2013.
It all started last week when Yamaha launched their race teams at the Raymond Terrace Bowling Alley on the Tuesday night, before the series launch was held at the track Wednesday. It was a fairly low-key event, with teams applying their final touches on the bikes during that very morning.
Williams Event Management managing director Kevin Williams launched the series in a briefing to the teams and then it was go time, our first real look at many of the top guys on track together. The leading factory teams were there apart from Carlton Dry Honda, plus TM was even on hand with their new team.
Only CDR Yamaha had its semi at the event and while Lawson Bopping and Billy Mackenzie were taking part in the MXN launch, Stefan Merriman and Daniel Milner were on hand at the complex working on some filming and photography as part of CDR’s new off-road effort. And then there was Daniel McCoy lapping on a CDR-built bike, but he will be in a satellite role at least for the nationals.
Speaking of Bopping, he’s actually packed up this week and headed to California to prepare for the season ahead, avoiding the weather that’s affected so many in recent weeks as he searches for some quality seat time. Will it pay off? We’ll have to wait and see. Remember though, the last time he returned from a trip to America he won his first and only overall at Hervey Bay.
CDR hadn’t actually finalised its 2013 livery in time for the launch, but some with fresh new looks included the Serco Yamaha MX2 team, complete with different primary colourways for Luke Styke (blue) and Luke Clout (black) respectively. The GYTR Yamaha team also features a fresh new look.
Craig Anderson’s Berry Sweet/Lucas Oil Yamaha team was there at their home round with Tye Simmonds aboard their lone YZ450F. He’s put in a massive effort throughout this off-season and is confident of the program that Anderson has in place for him this year. Tye’s a rider who responds well to pressure, so combined with his respect for Anderson, we could see him as a true title threat despite the team’s private status this year.
Motul Pirelli Suzuki is also yet to finalise its look for 2013, but Matt Moss and Cody Cooper were both on hand and looking confident for the season ahead. Jake Moss had his satellite Suzuki on hand, but wasn’t riding during the launch with his Campbell Mining team.
The Raceline Suzuki team has an all-new structure and look for this year, as Ryan Marmont and Geran Stapleton made their first real public appearances in yellow. With Chris Woods heading to Honda as team manager this season, Raceline has former Jay Marmont mechanic Ben lane at the helm. That team will be one to watch all season long.
Monster Energy Kawasaki revealed a revamped look for both Jay Marmont and Adam Monea at the launch. Of course Marmont will revert to his customary number two outdoors this year (we’d been so used to him with the number one plate!), while Monea will use the number three. Together, the team looks unreal for this year and they’ve also now got LA Designs painting their Monster Energy lids.
Another Kawasaki team on hand was the Wilsons Racing effort, making the trek down from Queensland with Luke Wilson. Wilson will step back to the MX2 class this season and, as always, it’s a team that is presented as nicely as the best of them.
The Motorex KTM team enters the new season with a heap of hype, so the launch was a nice opportunity for the team led by Rob Twyerould to debut in the MX Nationals on home soil. An all-Aussie team of young guns Todd Waters and Kirk Gibbs, they’re focused on the job at hand but seem to be having a blast doing so.
Interestingly, the team confirmed that they’re actually using the Factory Edition of KTM’s 450 SX-F, based on the very bike that Ryan Dungey is racing in the US. While last year the Factory Edition was majorly different to the production model, this year once converted to race spec they’re actually pretty similar.
Apart from the orange frame that’s standard, the engine cases and clutch cover have been redesigned to minimise weight by removing the kick-starter boss to save 0.5kg. They’re trick looking bikes and this team will make a huge impact this season, no doubt about it.
And so now you’re probably wondering who was setting the pace? Well, teams had their stopwatches on each other throughout the day, but the general feeling was that all the leading contenders were on a similar pace around the dry, slick MX Central circuit.
We’re just over a month out from round one now and it’s shaping up to be a mega season ahead. While Makker’s over in Japan on a snowboarding vacay, here’s Spence…
As Gobert said, last week’s official Monster Energy MX Nationals series launch went off with a bang at Raymond Terrace in New South Wales. The riders looked refreshed, excited and ready to battle it out during the 10-round series. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to click here and check out our action and interview films from the day.
Also, be sure to head over to www.mxnationals.com.au and check out the all-new website which is powered by MotoOnline.com.au. Here at MotoOnline we have been working hard to create a website that will provide fans and competitors with all the information and entertainment they are looking for – we’re pumped with the final product and we sure hope our viewers are too!
Back on the series launch topic, one notable rider who was not on the track spinning laps during the day was Errol Willis. The 2011 Under 19s motocross and supercross champion has been unable to land himself a team slot for 2013 after a slightly rough rookie season in the MX2 class – although, he did undoubtedly show flashes of brilliance throughout the year.
I had been checking in with Willis over the past few weeks, as he had been working to find himself a deal and get onto a solid program. But after seeing a post by Willis via Instagram (@willis283) early this week, it was obvious that he had not been able to find that deal and he would be doing his own thing for this year.
I quickly hopped on the phone to Willis and got the down low on his 2013 plans. He has definitely stepped back his program, working a full-time job and racing part-time. With such hype surrounding the young rider in recent years, it is interesting to see how quickly things can change for the worse in this sport.
Something cool about his program for 2013 is his choice to ride a two-stroke. Now without getting into the politics of four-stroke vs. two-strokes, I’m just pumped that we will be hearing another crisp premix machineblasting around the track – you just can’t beat that sound. Click here to view the complete news story on Willis’ 2013 plans.
Well that’s all from me this week, I’m off to throw some new Motul oil in the Project Moto 2013 Suzuki RM-Z250 thanks to the guys at Link International. Fingers crossed this horrible weather stays away so I can throw on my One Industries gear from C&R Imports and get back out on the track for a fresh Project Moto update!
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