News 31 Mar 2010

Racing Insider #13's weekly behind the scenes column is dedicated to the Rockstar Energy MX Nationals season opener this week, which was run and won at Horsham last weekend.

This week’s Insider is a special edition dedicated to the season opener of the Rockstar Energy MX Nationals, the series kicking off at Horsham in Victoria last weekend.

The Pro Open podium was made up of Marmont, MacKenzie and Waters on Sunday afternoon.

The Pro Open podium was made up of Marmont, MacKenzie and Waters on Sunday afternoon.

The opening round of the 2010 Rockstar Energy MX Nationals was a great success despite the rain that came midway through Sunday’s race program, the club at Horsham in Victoria doing an excellent job of preparation in the lead-up to the event.

At the end of the day it was Billy MacKenzie winning on debut for the Troy Carroll-managed Kawasaki Racing Team, the international star from Scotland proving too consistent during the day for the Aussie contingent.

But don’t be fooled by MacKenzie’s victory, because even though he is a world championship race winner, Cougar Bourbon Honda Thor Racing’s Todd Waters did come from behind to pass him and win by over 10 seconds in the dry opening moto.

BillyMac did manage to win moto two, but only after privateer young gun Dean Ferris through the win away on the final lap, before defending Pro Open champion Jay Marmont won the third and final moto despite suffering from the flu.

It’s going to be an intriguing year that I think will see a lot of different race winners during the season, because guys like Ferris, Tye Simmonds, Cody Cooper, Cheyne Boyd, Andrew McFarlane and even Dan McCoy have the pace to pull of a win or two.

All eyes and much of the attention was on Simmonds and his trick JDR Motorex KTM 350 SX-F heading into the round, but he was adamant that he just wants to get through the first two rounds before making a charge for the remainder of the season. It’s easy to forget that the kid’s a rookie in the Open class.

Simmonds’ teammate McFarlane was a surprise second quickest in qualifying and ran strong in the dry for moto one to finish third, and then placed fifth in the muddy final moto for sixth overall. There were whispers from Queensland during the off-season that the former world and AMA championship regular was having trouble adapting to the Austrian KTM, however there were no signs of that whatsoever at Horsham. His experienced father Ron McFarlane is his mechanic at JDR for this season.

One rider I was super impressed with was Craig Anderson on his Husqvarna, turning up with his own team and looking professional in the pits, but also putting in a solid ride for sixth in moto two. It was something to see when he lost his seat in moto one, completing the moto after losing it on lap one.

The Cougar Bourbon Honda Thor Racing team is world class.

The Cougar Bourbon Honda Thor Racing team is world class.

Speaking of quality pit set-ups, you have to hand it to Yarrive Konsky’s Cougar Bourbon Honda Thor Racing team as their new truck wrapping and complete team outfit looked unreal at round one. Woodstock’s out, Cougar’s in, but either way it’s a cool looking effort.

The Pro Lites action was all PJ Larsen in his debut for JDR Motorex KTM in Australia, while teammate Ryan Marmont proved his title potential with a solid second overall in his return to KTM.

The likes of Larsen, Marmont, Kirk Gibbs, Cody Mackie, Michael Phillips, Luke George, Ford Dale and Lawson Bopping are all contenders for the season, but I have a feeling that the bar has been raised with Larsen’s arrival from the U.S.

It was especially cool to see George back in action and competitive after his life threatening crash at Coolum’s season finale last year, and you can almost guarantee that he’ll be back up on the podium in no time as he gains momentum.

George’s Kawasaki KX250F was littered with Pro Circuit goodies at Horsham, although nobody is exactly sure just how close it is to the team’s bikes from the U.S. All that we know is that he is getting assistance from Pro Circuit and Mitch Payton direct from California.

There were actually a lot of guys using Pro Circuit suspension on the weekend, including BillyMac and Mackie on the factory Kawasaki team, however it was interesting to note that McCoy has a pair of Pro Circuit Showa forks in his KTM 450 SX-F, but maintains the WP shock in the rear.

McCoy’s KTM complete with backing from Hart and Huntington also looks awesome this year, so it will be cool to read about it as he and Benny Foster from Dirt Action are completing a Project Pro series through the year that will be covered in the mag each issue.

Perhaps the coolest part of the weekend that had people talking was the addition of having 250cc two-strokes up against the four-strokes in the Pro Lites class for the first time. What made the rule even better was that Cam Taylor, 1993 Australian 125cc Motocross Champion, holeshotted moto one and then Kiwi Darryl King did the deed in one of the other motos. King capped off the unbelievable debut of the two-strokes with second in the mud in the final moto despite the slippery conditions probably favouring the four-strokes. It sure did bring back some memories hearing the two-strokes on track during the opening practice.

A sign of just how popular the series is becoming was the fact that series organisers Williams Event Management were concerned that there world be too many media representatives on track come race day! The worry was that it may upset the television footage, however we’ll wait and see how it looks when it airs on Fuel TV.

One kid who looks like a new rider this year is Josh Cachia, fresh to the Coastal KTM team and dominant in the Under 19s class. We’ve always known that Cachia is a talent, but the way he controlled the class last weekend was a great sign of things to come for the 2010 season.

Another notable thing that we noticed throughout the weekend was the fact that the AXIS Motorsports/Team 07 Hondas of Michael Addison look very much similar to the Troy Lee Designs bikes in the States.

Cachia will be a young gun to watch this season.

Cachia will be a young gun to watch this season.

In fact, the whole paddock is looking better than ever this year, filled with decent sized transporters, top level teams and professional riders who are out to make names for themselves at the top of the sport.

Bring on Canberra and round two, where there will be four motos back-to-back for the Pro Open (15-minute motos), Pro Lites (12-minute motos) and Under 19s (10-minute motos) classes – a massive test of fitness and courage from the teams in the hardest format of the year.

If you missed any of our coverage from Horsham, then check out our video interviews that were posted by lunchtime on race day here, our image gallery here, and our post-race Moto Talk with PJ Larsen here.

We also sent through updates via Twitter on race day and saw some positive results from that means of social networking, so look for expanded coverage of behind the scenes action, race action and images to be posted at the remaining rounds. You can find us at

One final note, the opening round of the official online MX Reflex Series on the Playstation 3 will be held tonight, and we have one position left on the entry list. Head over to the Dirt Chat in the Forum and get in on the action, you’ll love it.

That’s all for today, check back next week in an expanded edition of the Insider where we’ll preview the MotoGP season opener along with the ASBK’s second round to be held at Hidden Valley in the Northern Territory, and the Australian Four-Day Enduro that’ll be contested at Portland in NSW. It’s going to be a big weekend for Australian motorcycle racing, that’s for sure!

Thanks for reading once again…