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Finally, the Monster Energy MX Nationals will return this weekend at Hervey Bay in Queensland, commencing the second stretch of the 2012 Australian Motocross Championship. Five rounds are in the books and five remain, all to be played out across a two-month period between now and the end of August.
I’m a big fan of the schedule that Williams Event Management has pieced together this year, with the two-part series making for the strongest calendar in memory. Hopefully there’s consistency gathered in the years to come, kind of like what we see in the US with annual events on specific dates.
For more on this weekend’s race, check out the Fan Guide that Adam Spence put together for MotoOnline.com.au earlier this morning. It has all you need to know heading into the race weekend.
Massive news broke yesterday afternoon that Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jay Marmont will sit out Hervey Bay, ending his hopes of a fifth-straight championship. It’s a bitter blow for Marmont, who we mentioned last week in the MotoInsider might be uncertain for this weekend.
In some ways, Marmont’s injury woes remove the pressure that’s been building upon him in recent months. Not off to a good start due to a pre-season injury, he was behind the eight ball from the outset. With former teammate Josh Coppins leading the way early, no doubt that pressure has been mounting.
But now, he’s able to focus on winning motos, enjoying his time on the bike more and, more importantly, start focusing on supercross once he’s 100 percent fit. In fact, he started constructing his supercross track today and I know that he’s determined to defend his number one plate there so this season’s not a total loss.
What I am interested in seeing right now is who Craig Dack has in mind to replace Coppins in 2013. He probably doesn’t have anybody official right now (remember how long it took him to confirm Lawson Bopping after Marmont departed?), but within the next few weeks I believe we’ll see Dack start to get serious about potential replacements.
Coppins is retiring and that’s all we know, although there has been a few passing jokes that CDR Yamaha is eager for him to continue on. Realistically though, a championship before he bows out would be the ultimate way to call it a career following a top couple of years in Australia.
To do so though, Coppins will have to overcome the likes of Todd Waters and Brad Anderson. Waters won again last weekend in the Sunshine State series, continuing his exceptional mid-season form. If he wins this weekend at Hervey Bay, you would almost have to elevate him to be title favourite.
Anderson is the dark horse. He has been solid all year, but seems frustrated with his form at the same time as he’s suffered from arm pump and a few nagging problems. If he gets it right during these final five rounds then he’ll be dangerous for the title, so we’ll definitely keep an eye on that.
I spoke to Lawson Bopping earlier today while preparing his column that will be uploaded tomorrow, and he’s really confident following a few great weeks in the US. Boppo went straight after Murray Bridge, despite initial concerns of CDR Yamaha’s Dack, and he’s certain that it’ll pay off.
It’s well recognised that riding well in Southern California doesn’t always relate to the tracks we see back here in the nationals, but Bopping is aware of that and he’s sure that he can transfer a number of things across in order to help him progress for the series’ second half.
If Bopping can get a round win, or at least a few motos, under his belt in the coming months, pencil him in as a title contender for 2013.
While Bopping has been on the podium already this year and has had a reasonable successful year to date, Dan McCoy has had a tough one by his standards. He too has been in the US, so if you want to get his take on that, then click here for yesterday’s interview.
Coppins is the guy right now who’s flying in under the radar and I have a feeling that’s exactly how he likes it. He’s been spending time in England during the break and has a top three in British motocross to his name since Murray Bridge. The one thing you can bet that he’s been working on is shorter moto intensity, because when it comes to the 30, he’s got them dialled.
I suspected that we’d see more MX Nationals regulars at Horsham last weekend in the final round of the Victorian titles, but that wasn’t the case, perhaps due to the heavy rainfall in the region. We haven’t been there since 2010, but with the expected return of Marmont and Mackenzie, it’s shaping up to be a good one.
Tye Simmonds suffered a heavy crash on the weekend and was originally in doubt for Hervey Bay, but a quick phone call to him today confirmed that he does intend on riding. The Honda privateer crashed while riding at home, suffering a broken nose, but ultimately avoiding initial suspected arm injuries. We’ll have more on his status later in news.
Of course this weekend we’re also excited for the MX2 and MXD categories, because those titles are really heating up right now. With so much talent on offer, so many professional factory and satellite teams, plus a heap of guys desperate to make improvements during rounds six through 12, we can’t wait to see how they pan out.
We just had late news that Brenden Harrison will sit out this weekend’s Hervey Bay round, a decision made by the JDR/KTM Factory Racing team in recent days. Harry did recently race the Queensland titles, but they want him 100 percent fit in time for SX and he’s just not quite ready for the nationals right now.
One thing off topic for a moment is the fact that Monster Energy is tipped to be replacing Vodafone on the Triple Eight V8 Supercars team next season. That’s all well and good if it goes ahead (the rumour is that they could have just one car in Jamie Whincup), as long as the brand remains loyal to its motocross roots.
A quick chat with Monster athlete manager Dave Ellis over the weekend confirmed that they’re soon finalising their budgets and plans for next year, but I’d expect them to remain strong in their motocross involvement for the years to come. If anything, I personally would like to see a greater crossover between the sports and athletes they support.
Well that is it for another week here in the MotoInsider, thanks for stopping by as usual. Don’t forget that this weekend we’ll be back in full force for the MX Nationals round with updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – sometimes streaming between all three! Just search MotoOnline and you’ll find us.