Features 21 Mar 2012

MotoInsider: 11

Take an all-access look at your sport every Wednesday on MotoOnline, presented by Oakley.

It’s been a massive week in our sport this week, with the revelation that Ben Townley will officially be riding for TwoTwo Motorsports in Lucas Oil Pro Motocross instead of the Australian Monster Energy MX Nationals as originally planned.

The rumour started gaining steam late last week and by the time Friday afternoon came, I knew it was only a matter of time before the contract would be signed, sealed and delivered.

By Monday the deal was basically done, so we were lucky enough to gain an early exclusive interview with BT before the announcement was made. What this allowed us to do was release an interview with Ben about the deal right as the deal was announced, and it’s now been published on sites worldwide.

No doubt it’s a no-brainer for Ben to take the ride and although it must have been a horrible decision for the Carlton Dry Honda Thor Racing team to let him go, I think it was the right move. Hopefully it makes their relations and respect closer than ever.

Chad Reed’s going to be a great asset to BT in the AMA outdoors this year and already he seems to be relishing the opportunity of working side-by-side with a former world champion. Chad won’t be on track himself for now, so he’ll finally experience the ups and downs of a real team owner without being the guy on track.

As for Australia, it’s a shame that Ben won’t be battling for our title, but we’ll still be lucky enough to witness him on track at the Conondale season opener next weekend on 1 April. He has to be the favourite for the W considering his NZ form, so it will be a great way to see him off before he takes on the U.S (if we don’t see him at any other rounds, that is).

How will BT go in America? I’m tipping a huge year if he remains injury free. He’s confident, healthy and definitely in form, which will translate well once he gets on the factory Honda. You only have to look back to 2007 to see that he’s one of the best on the planet right there alongside Ryan Villopoto and co.

Ben Townley was the headline in motocross yesterday as he joined TwoTwo Motorsports. Image: Shayne Rice.

I mentioned Jay Marmont’s speculated knee injury earlier this week and it seems more and more people have an opinion on it each day. According to Jay, the truth is he might not be 100 percent by round one, but he will be there without a doubt. You never know though, sometimes a small injury can bring the best out of class athletes when the pressure’s on.

Townley’s departure blows the door wide open when it comes to the championship chase. I spoke to Josh Coppins yesterday (who was working away on his farm at the time!) and he admitted that his title chances were well increased with BT not on the start gates.

Marmont said that he wanted to race BT, which would have really cemented him as one of the world’s best if he managed to beat him, however now we may never know over the course of a full season. As for Brad Anderson, he didn’t really seem concerned either way.

And that’s the thing with Anderson, he really is flying in under the radar since Townley has stolen all the limelight at Honda. You don’t win two British championships with luck, his team is better than it has ever been, and he’s already won here in Australia at Raymond Terrace in 2010. That will feed his confidence.

I think that this year we are going to see a tyre war of sorts develop between Dunlop and Pirelli. The factory Yamahas and Kawasakis are on Dunlops, while Honda, Suzuki and KTM are on Pirellis. If one brand starts to dominate over the other, expect some discussion between teams and riders about the very topic.

It looks as though Brenden Harrison will be a scratching from round one for JDR/KTM Factory Racing, still recuperating from surgery during the off-season. In addition to that, our film guru Guy Streeter commented in the iMoto Community this week that Sam Duncanson is out as well – get well soon, guys.

Just quickly, another rider who should be riding but most likely won’t be is Cody Mackie. He’s got a movie deal of sorts in the works (no, he hasn’t been casting for a lead role alongside Brad Pitt in Hollywood while he was in America), involving stunt riding. Stephen Gall has long been known to be involved with the Mad Max film, so I’d expect it’s part of that without speaking to Mackie direct.

Monster Energy Kawasaki will still have Jay Marmont on the gate at Conondale.

Speaking of Streeter above, he was out with Dan McCoy and Tye Simmonds filming today and early reports are that both are gaining strength as the pre-season continues. McCoy is getting sorted on the Hart and Huntington team, which is now on Suzukis, while Simmonds is ironing out any kinks he may have as a privateer Honda rider.

Both are using Ken Wheeler’s Factory Spec suspension this year and I also believe that both have Ross McWatters of MCD doing the engine development. It’s an interesting combination and one that could see both help each other gain strength during the season – even if they are on different teams and riding for different manufacturers.

Simmonds won’t be replacing Townley at Carlton Dry Honda Thor Racing at this stage as first thought, with the team still working out if it will have anybody on the bike at all when Townley’s not here. Remember, he’ll be back for supercross if the series goes ahead.

Honda has an impressive line-up this year across a variety of teams as it supports the factory team, as well as Simmonds, Jake Moss and Cheyne Boyd. Brad Anderson won in Victoria last weekend, as did Boyd, signaling a strong start to their racing campaigns in 2012.

All in all though, there are so many questions to be answered, so many tests taking place right now, and the general feeling is positive heading into this season. I’ve just been planning what content we’ll have in place on a round by round basis, which is set to outdo last year’s coverage by a long margin (all going to plan!).

That’s it here for another week on MotoOnline.com.au, remember to check out our social networking sites by searching us on Facebook or visiting @MotoOnline on Twitter, because we do post some content there in between the actual website updates.

Thanks as always for stopping by! Check back this week for our MX Nationals Fantasy League, which will again be hosted by Doova in the Forum right here on MotoOnline.com.au. We’re expecting a big battle in 2012.