Highs and lows from round nine over the weekend.
MotoOnline.com.au pulls out the microscope and dissects some of the surprises, standouts, shockers and disappointments from a pivotal ninth round of the 2016 Motul MX Nationals at Toowoomba.
We last saw American Kyle Peters on Australian shores back in 2014 when he raced the Australian Supercross MX2 championship for the Wilson MX Honda team. He finished third then, so we were interested to see how much pace the North Carolina native could show outdoors on the bigger 450cc machine. As it turns out, he has plenty. The National Pump Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team ring-in set the fastest Super Pole time, then put the MX1 field to the sword in the opening race with a wire-to-wire win. In the second race Peters worked his way from fifth place on the opening lap to second behind Ferris, but left the door open for Kirk Gibbs to sneak back past late in the race, forcing Peters to settle for third place and second on the day.
Nathan Crawford and DPH Motorsport Yamaha’s Jed Beaton entered T-bar tied on points for the MX2 championship, so from a mathematical point of view, the chances were high that someone would come away from Sunday with a bigger smile and a slight upper-hand. That extra spring in the step belonged to Crawford, who was solid all day. The 19-year-old stamped his authority on proceedings early on with a dominant 10-second win in the opening MX2 moto, then backed it up with a runner-up result to fellow Queenslander Caleb Ward in the second moto. By comparison, Beaton will be ruing a 5-3 result that now sees him 11 points adrift of Crawford entering this weekend’s final round at Coolum.
CDR Yamaha’s sole racer continues to fight to the death for this MX1 championship. Coming into Toowoomba, Dean Ferris trailed Kirk Gibbs by nine points in the title fight and he left with that lead sliced to just six points. The Kyogle-based racer qualified fastest, but finished just out of the Super Pole points. That obviously lit a fire under him and he hounded Peters all the way to the line in the first race, then led from holeshot to chequered flag in the second to finish the day on top of the box. As a little piece of trivia, if Ferris and Gibbs finish 1-2 in both races at Coolum in that order, they’ll be tied on championship points. That means those valuable Super Pole points on offer next weekend could prove to be the defining factor in this championship.
No matter how hard you try, four will never fit into three. Kawasaki’s recruitment of Kyle Peters for the final two rounds meant someone would potentially draw the short straw in the MX1 championship hunt and unfortunately this time it was Todd Waters who would finish off the podium. It’s only the second time in the second half of the championship that Waters hasn’t featured on the dais and the loss of that vital handful of points to the American has cause for consternation within the Wilson Coolair Motul Factory Suzuki camp. By no means is Waters out of the championship hunt, but at 24 points off the lead, he’s going to need a fair bit of luck to fall his way and channel his inner Steven Bradbury if he wants to claim the title.
This year hasn’t gone Serco Yamaha’s way at all and Toowoomba typified the sort of luck they’ve faced all season. The day started promising with Wilson Todd and Wade Hunter qualifying third and fourth respectively. In the opening race Hunter grabbed a great start and was scrapping for third place when he caught a track tyre and crashed hard enough to DNF the race and sit out the second moto. Todd, meanwhile, finished an impressive second to Nathan Crawford in the opening moto, then led 10 of the 12 laps of the second race before suffering an issue at the death. If it wasn’t for bad luck, Serco would have no luck at all.
Davey Motorsports KTM’s Jayden Rykers had a day to forget at Toowoomba, despite showing flashes of brilliance throughout. After qualifying ninth, the Perth racer holeshot the opening MX2 race and finished third, but got cleaned out early in the second race while barreling along in fifth place. The impact saw him highside off the top of a single and go down hard, resulting in a disappointing DNF for the two-stroke rider. The scratching all but ends his hopes of a top three finish in the MX2 championship, but he’s already promising to come out swinging at the final round this weekend.