Highs and lows from Coolum's halfway point of the season.
MotoOnline.com.au pulls out the microscope and takes a closer look at some of the giant-killers and disappointments from the fourth round of the 2015 MX Nationals at Murray Bridge.
Lawson Bopping: Boppo is back! After several years in the wilderness fighting glandular fever, dealing with injuries and having factory teams fail to give him the ride he deserves, DPH Peter Stevens Yamaha’s Lawson Bopping broke through for his maiden MX Nationals MX1 overall victory at Coolum. Boppo was on fire from the moment the sun rose over the Sunshine Coast, setting the fastest time in Super Pole, then posting a 2-2 result after some epic battles with Ben Townley. Bopping’s finishes saw him zip up the points chase and he’s now in fourth place, just one point behind Adam Monea and seven behind Luke Styke.
Ben Townley: Kiwi legend Ben Townley was always a near-certainty to line up at Coolum for Honda, so there weren’t too many surprised people when he was announced as a late inclusion. What did surprise people was the speed that BT still possesses. For a bloke who’d done minimal bike testing and spent most of his time recently abroad supporting other racers in Japan and Europe, Townley was outrageously fast. He stormed to the first moto win and was in an overall position in the second race when he stalled it and dropped to third behind Bopping. BT had absolutely nothing left in the tank after crossing the line, but the smile he sported all day was a sign that we might see him line up for more races this year.
Nathan Crawford: After his break-out MX2 victory at Swan Hill last year, many expected talented youngster Nathan Crawford to win motos in his debut full-time year in the senior ranks. The Queenslander delivered at Coolum with a brilliant victory in the final race of the day, escalating him to second overall behind fellow Queensland sand-master Caleb Ward. It’s been an up and down season so far for young Nato, but there’s no denying he’s got the raw speed and talent to rack up more wins this year. This could be just the catalyst he needs.
Luke Clout: It’s been a rough few weeks for Serco Yamaha’s defending champ and current points leader Luke Clout. After a mega crash at Murray Bridge that forced him into damage control as his dominating series lead was decimated, Clouty entered Coolum still nursing an injured thumb. Now the blank sand track is brutal at the best of times and it’s a testament to Clouty’s doggedness that he valiantly fought to a second place in the opening moto, before succumbing to the obvious pain and finishing 20th in the final race. Clout underwent surgery on Monday and should be back fit and ready for round six, but his once commanding lead has ravaged and he’s now only five points ahead of JCR Yamaha’s Jay Wilso and Kawasaki’s Taka Katsuya.
Matt Moss: Who would’ve thought that we’d be writing about both defending champions in the Miss section of this article? Team Motul Suzuki’s Matt Moss made a comeback to racing this weekend after missing the last three rounds with injury, but even though he was solely using Coolum to get back up to race pace, he’ll be disappointed in his 17-DNF result. With the championship well and truly out of reach it was probably a questionable decision to turn up for the one round before a six-week break and risk further injury, but that’s the call they made.
Kale Makeham: A standout of the MX2 class the past few years, Makeham hasn’t been able to string together the results that most people were expecting of him. Still, the 19-15 results at Coolum were probably the worst results of his year so far. Fair to say Kale will be doing a fair bit of soul-searching over this break to try and unlock the consistent speed he needs if he wants to retain his factory Suzuki ride next year. The likeable Victorian is holding down 10th overall in the championship hunt in his rookie MX1 year, but finding another gear and some better starts will set him up for better results in the second half of the championship.