Highs and lows from round eight over the weekend.
MotoOnline.com.au pulls out the microscope and dissects some of the surprises, standouts, shockers and disappointments from a tough eighth round of the 2016 Motul MX Nationals at Shepparton.
KTM Motocross Racing Team’s defending champion Kirk Gibbs proved why he’s the current points leader in the tense MX1 class fight by claiming both the Super Pole points and round win around the challenging Shepparton circuit. In doing so, Gibbs snapped Dean Ferris’ two-round win streak (and his Super Pole dominance) and again proved that he’s not going to let this championship go without fighting tooth and nail for it. Gibbs placed third in the opening race, then capitalised on a last-lap crash by Ferris to clinch both the race and round win.
The MX2 title fight:
Wow, the MX2 class turned up the heat on Sunday, as DPH Motorsport Yamaha’s Jed Beaton and Husqvarna’s Nathan Crawford locked horns, then finished the day locked on 507 points apiece in the championship chase. Beaton, who held the red plate earlier in the season, was handed the win in the opening hit-out after Crawford and Serco Yamaha’s Wilson Todd were penalised 15 seconds for jumping under yellow flag conditions. Although KTM’s Caleb Ward took the second race win, Beaton finished a close second and took the day’s honours, while Crawford had to settle for fourth. With just 15 points separating Beaton, Crawford and Ward, the stage is set for a barnstorming final two rounds.
Three rounds ago Yamalube Yamaha’s Mitch Evans was a seemingly insurmountable 40 points adrift of MXD front-runner Connor Tierney. Since then Evans has been riding like kid possessed and on Sunday the North Queenslander absolutely schooled the rest of the development class. After posting a qualifying time a full second faster than anyone else, Evans smashed the field by 45 seconds in the opening race, then almost 56 seconds in the second to dominate the round and swipe the red plates. Evans seems to be gaining more and more speed each week, and with two home state rounds remaining, all bets are on him to take home an inspiring championship title.
One man’s gain is another man’s loss and this weekend it was CDR Yamaha’s Dean Ferris left picking himself out of the mud (literally) on Sunday. In a twist that distinctly had a Nowra feel to it (when Moss dropped his bike late in the final race to hand the race and round wins to Ferris), Ferris had a small crash on the final lap of the second moto while in control of both the race and round victories, allowing his nemesis Kirk Gibbs to gain the upper hand and extend his slim points lead to nine markers. As with the MX2 class, this battle between Ferris, Gibbs and Todd Waters is going to go down to the wire.
While all the attention was on the heated on-track and off-track exchanges and drama between Jed Beaton and Nathan Crawford, Wilson Todd’s inspired ride in the technical conditions has been largely overlooked. The Serco Yamaha rider was actually the first rider to the checkers in the opening stanza but was pinged 15 seconds for jumping under yellow flag conditions, shuffling him back to second behind Beaton. Had he kept both wheels on the ground, the quiet-spoken Queenslander could’ve landed himself his first-ever MX2 podium after his fifth place finish in the second race. Still, Todd will take heart in the fact his race pace was right up there on Sunday and will only get better the more experience he gets.
Crankt Protein Honda Racing’s Jay Wilson was flying the team’s colours on his lonesome on Sunday with Dylan Long not joining the action, but it was a tough day at the office for the 2015 MX2 champion. Wilson was plagued all day, with a qualifying lap time that was seven seconds slower than Kirk Gibbs after experiencing electrical problems. He was then lapped by Waters, Ferris, Gibbs and Kade Mosig in the opening MX1 race with a damaged exhaust, before falling awkwardly early in the second moto and tweaking his wrist and pulled the pin on the rest of the race. Wilson will be very eager to forget all about Shepparton and focus on finishing the season on a high note over the final two rounds.