Features 16 May 2012

MotoInsider: 19

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

We’re right in the middle of one of our biggest fortnights of the season, with the Wanneroo round of the Monster Energy MX Nationals just gone by, plus the Murray Bridge round backing it right up this weekend in South Australia on Sunday.

It was a long and tough weekend in the west, another two-day event on the calendar, and the way the track developed throughout the two days made for what is expected to be the toughest round on the scheduled. By Sunday afternoon the track was brutal, riders were beat and equipment well used, and every rider who got through it deserved any props they got.

Many of the riders I spoke to admitted that this week will be a quiet one for them, a recovery week of sorts, mainly due to the torture that their bodies went through just days ago. The bonus is that Murray Bridge is a single-day event (and we welcome them back with open arms!), so it’ll be a much lighter workload for all at round five.

WEM managing director Kevin Williams announced from the podium on Sunday afternoon that the MXN series has completed a four-year deal with the AJS club, which will actually be staged out over eight years. The MX Nationals will race at Wanneroo in 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020 from what we understand. It was a good event, too, with fans lined throughout the circuit, sometimes a couple of rows deep.

MX1 winner Josh Coppins said that Wanneroo is every bit as tough as Lommel in Belgium when it comes to hardcore sand tracks, and you only have to watch our Race Reflection film to see just how tough it was on the riders – they were spent and weren’t afraid to admit just how tough it was! In fact, many said it was much harder than when the series visited Wanneroo in 2009.

You have to give credit to Todd Waters and Lawson Bopping in 2012. In their early 20s, these two have risen to become the next in line when it comes to Australian talent on 450cc bikes. Both with factory backing and both enjoying multiple podiums in 2012 already, the future has arrived. They’re both strong enough and fit enough for the premier class, and continue to prove themselves as real title threats.

Jay Marmont had world champion boxer Danny Green in his corner at Wanneroo. Image: Alex Gobert.

Jay Marmont reminded us all why we can never write him off on Sunday as he fought his way to a first moto win for Monster Energy Kawasaki, coming from behind to stage a last lap attack on Coppins in moto two. Despite having to take in two drips from the Suzuki RACESAFE crew on race day, he was firing in that moto and I think everybody apart from his closest rivals was pumped to see him back.

We all know by now that a couple of crashes and a badly corked calf was all she wrote for Jay in the final moto, but he definitely showed that he has speed on his side no matter how tough it gets. This was all after he again tweaked his knee during the week and required yet another MRI to make sure the ACL wasn’t damaged.

It was a sight to see when world champion boxer Danny Green turned up at Wanneroo on Saturday with his son, on hand to cheer on Marmont and the Monster Kawasaki crew. Jay took a lot of motivation from Green and had trained with him during the week, with the pair instantly gelling and holding a great amount of respect for eachother.

This battle between Serco Yamaha Metal Mulisha Racing teammates Luke Styke and Kirk Gibbs has simmered in recent weeks, mostly due to Gibbsy’s sudden downturn in results. He’s not saying much right now, but the word is that he’s still very much struggling with that pre-season wrist injury and also had the bad luck of a flat tyre in WA. What he needs to do is get through Murray Bridge (and he’ll be strong in his home round) before resting up during the break.

Styke on the other hand was absolutely incredible once again with his MX2 overall. He went into the round hoping for at least fourth place in every moto, but far exceeded that with two wins and a fourth. Seriously, nobody would have thought he’d be so dominant and so far he’s gotten stronger at every round with momentum on his side. Even crazier, he’s still working during the week!

A common them in the MX2 class this year has been the Victorian contingent toward the front, which includes a nice mix of experience and youth. Cheyne Boyd and Adam Monea rose to their first podiums of the year at Wanneroo, plus Josh Cachia and Kade Mosig were again amongst the front-runners. Between them, all five have landed on the box at one point or another in 2012.

Dan Reardon has been flying KTM's MX1 flag alone in 2012. Image: Alex Gobert.

Speaking of Cachia, the hot rumour going around last weekend was that JDR Motorsports is looking to sell its Australian race team. Currently fielding teams both here and in America, sources suggest that JDR wants to focus on its U.S. operation and would be open to sell the Aussie arm if an interested buyer is to appear.

Now, I’m not sure what you would buy exactly, and if it would include the factory support from KTM Australia, but everybody was talking about this rumour in WA. I asked JDR owner Derek Rynenberg and KTM Australia general manager Jeff Leisk what the deal was, but neither confirmed that the rumour was true. I’ll take it as where there’s smoke, you’ll usually find fire.

KTM uncovered its 2013 model bikes in the U.S. today and as we suspected, the current Factory Edition 450 SX-F has basically become the production version for next year, albeit with revised styling. They’re launching the bike in Italy as we speak, so it begs the question whether or not the JDR team will have one for Dan Reardon before the year’s out?

Reardon’s had a tough, tough go of it in 2012 as JDR’s lone rider on the MX1 bike, and we’ve heard time and time again that he’s not completely sold on the bike at full speed. So, will KTM give him the opportunity to ride the new one, or will he have to find his own way to make the current model suit him this season?

It’s an interesting factor because on one hand we all know he can ride, but on the other hand, KTM is certain that the current 450 SX-F is a top five bike on any given weekend. Their marketing with this new bike is vital after signing Dungey in the AMA with so much success, so if Reardon does ride it, they want to be certain he’ll continue that great form that we’ve seen from Dungey.

I believe we are going to see a host of MX2 class riders step up to MX1 next year. Following a reign of overseas riders heading to Australia, it would seem the current crop of young talent is maturing enough to step up and many of them are eager to do so. Just a few of them who could do damage on a 450 in 2013 would include Gibbs, Styke, Dale, Monea and even Harrison if he can return from injury in decent form.

Cachia and Mosig both have the talent to be strong anywhere they ride, but they’re both pretty small, so it’d be important for them to train specifically for MX1 (or, KTM could pull out a 350 for Cachia!). Dale has already spoken to Honda about a 450 ride if he can put together a full season this year, and I know for a fact that there are rival manufacturers out there with an eye on Gibbs. As for Styke, we know Coppins is retiring come Coolum’s finale…

Tye Simmonds (pictured) and Jake Moss have experienced the ups and downs of privateers this year. Image: Alex Gobert.

And then there are the current MX1 guys who have experience in the class and are racing as privateers right now. The names Jake Moss and Tye Simmonds come to mind, because sometimes when you lose a factory seat and get it back later, you tend to want to keep it even more than the first time (case in point, Luke Styke).

We are getting a little ahead of ourselves here by going through those guys, but the reality is in Australia that riders are mostly selected from their form during the outdoors. Since we’re almost at the mid-season break, it’s now when team managers will probably nut out their short lists of who is capable of what.

That’s it from an Aussie perspective, but remember to come back tomorrow for an AMA update via Steve Matthes in The Matthes Report. He’s sure to have plenty of info as the gates get set to drop on the AMA series, so stay tuned for that.

Want to know where the Australian Supercross series will be held in 2012? We’re hearing two rounds in Victoria, one in NSW and the finale again at Ipswich. The interesting thing is that round one could be at the Deni Ute Muster on 29 September, and another could be held alongside the Australian round of the MotoGP World Championship in October. You heard it here first.

And finally, before we go, MotoOnline is now on Instagram, the popular photo-sharing social networking application. Search us on there and follow us, for some very cool behind the scenes shots direct from our iPhones at the races all season long.

That is all here for yet another week in the MotoOnline.com.au MotoInsider column, so thank you for stopping by and remember, we’ll be right back at it with all the MX Nationals coverage we can offer this weekend direct from Murray Bridge.