Features 21 Nov 2012

MotoInsider: 46

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The Terex Australian Supercross Championships are in the books for the inaugural year under the promotion of International Entertainment Group and it’s safe to say that the season was very much a success. Supercross looks to be back on the right track and we can’t emphasize what a relief that is to the industry as a whole. What 2012 has done is create a very stable platform to build from in years to come.

Australia has long been recognised as number two to the US when it comes to creating consistently good supercross series, especially when Global Action Sports too control in 2008. Unfortunately that didn’t last longer than four years, so it was up to IEG to take the reigns and hopefully rejuvenate the sport once and for all.

It’s an interesting story how IEG has come full circle in a way, since its sister company Full Throttle Sports was actually the company behind hosting the three rounds of the 2007 series at the 11th hour. IEG was formed in 2009 when they won the rights to the Australian Superbike Championship, which they still run to this date.

In fact, this Friday night in Melbourne will be the Australian Motorcycle Awards, showcasing the series presentation for both the supercross and superbike series. It’ll be unique in that it brings the sports together and will be great for the industry since the Australian Motorcycle Expo is already taking place down there this weekend.

The result of having Jay Marmont crowned champion for Monster Energy Kawasaki and Chad Reed winning all three races while at home gave the series a real feel good vibe about it as it drew to a conclusion. While Marmont and the locals can celebrate a local champion, Reed headed off back to the US on Monday and was stoked with the progress he made during the series.

One thing to ponder is that Reed’s TwoTwo Motorsports deal with Honda is up at the end of 2013, with some predicting he’ll hang up his boots at the end of next year. Chad likes to have a bit of fun about this particular topic and is no way decided at this stage, but if he does, could Newcastle have been the last time we see him on home soil? I personally doubt it, but it’s something to consider that is for sure.

Jay Marmont and Chad Reed celebrate their respective success at Newcastle's finale. Image: Simon Makker/Makkreative.com.

I mentioned Chad returning to the US on Monday, well the only person to beat him back over there was Luke Clout, who has returned to ride the Mini O’s in Florida. Clout was impressive as part of Serco Yamaha Metal Mulisha Racing, carrying the weight of the team after Luke Styke bowed out injured following round two.

The next major rider to head to America will likely be Daniel McCoy, who is planning on doing a number of AMA rounds with minimal support from Yamaha if he can lock it in. After finishing second for CDR Yamaha in supercoss, there’s no doubting his form, and since he doesn’t yet have a 2013 deal he might as well go and try his hand at A1 come 5 January.

As we’ve mentioned before, the second CDR Yamaha seat alongside Lawson Bopping will be taken by Scotsman Billy Mackenzie for the outdoors at least, while McCoy will likely be invited back for supercross unless he seals a fulltime deal with another manufacturer.

Carlton Dry Honda Thor Racing has Ben Townley and Ford Dale in the bag, while you can count on seeing Matt Moss and Cody Cooper at Motul Pirelli Suzuki. Monster Energy Kawasaki will see Marmont return to the fold for a second season, as Adam Monea is first in line for the second seat from what we are hearing at events.

As for KTM, we’ve mentioned previously that Todd Waters and Kirk Gibbs will spearhead their line-up, which is possibly the worst kept secret of the silly season to date. In fact, most of these riders that are switching teams will be on their new bikes within the next couple of weeks, so be sure to drop us a line if you spot them at your local track!

It’s actually a fairly frustrating time of the year for reporters, since rider signings are usually common knowledge in the paddock before we’re allowed to publish when they’re made official by teams. It’s a courtesy type of thing, which is understood, but then again, sometimes announcements are delayed to the point that we look like we’re not doing our job right when we tippy-toe around the subjects.

Who will be riding where in 2013? The Lites class is a hard one to tip as factories scale back support. Image: Simon Makker/Makkreative.com.

For the most part, if we get tipped off by a source that somebody is riding somewhere and we’re confident that it’s factual, you’ll see us mention it a ‘most likely’ or ‘all but certain’. That way, we’re covering ourselves in case the mentioned deal falls through, but believe me we wouldn’t publish in the first place if we weren’t confident the signing was going to happen sooner or later.

At the same time, we’re also cautious not to blow the lid on deals that are in the works, potentially spoiling it for the potential riders. It’s a tricky time, but a mostly fun one and I’m a firm believer that some well informed speculation is positive for the sport.

One thing we are seeing ahead of 2013 is a concerning lack of support for the Lites class. With 250Fs coming in very costly for development and maintenance, the majority of factory teams are opting to focus on their 450 programs next year. Considering the success of Open class specific team CDR Yamaha outdoors over the past five years, it’s quickly becoming the trend.

Serco Yamaha Metal Mulisha Racing is tipped to be Clout and Styke, who would have to rate as favourite for the outdoor title. Aside from that, the Lites team structures become far more complex as Honda, Kawasaki and potentially Suzuki will scrap the 250F program from within their current teams.

KTM’s all-new factory super team will focus its energy on the 450 class, desperate to win with the highly revamped 2013 model 450 SX-F, meaning that minimal factory support will be extended to the Choice Motorsports KTM effort.

After winning both the outdoor and SX titles this year, Honda is yet to decide where to place its support when it comes to a 250F. The DPH Motorsport team has been ultra professional this year with Cheyne Boyd at the helm, but so has the Queensland-based MX Factory team in motocross at least.

After winning outdoors and in SX this year, Carlton Dry Honda Thor Racing will cease its 250F operation. Image: Simon Makker/Makkreative.com.

Surprisingly, both of them have been linked to Kawasaki next year, as has the revamped Zero Seven Motorsports outfit. Between Kawasaki and Honda’s Lites deals being up for grabs, a number of these very solid privateer teams have their hands up for factory support.

As you can see, the ball’s still very much up in the air when it comes to finalizing any Lites teams at this stage, meaning many of the top riders are being forced to nervously await for info on their futures. In the coming weeks they’ll be getting anxious, as seat time in the lead-up to 2013 will be vital.

Depending on budgets from Japan, if Suzuki opts not to field a 250F next year out of the Jay Foreman’s Motul Pirelli Suzuki truck, it makes sense for Raceline Pirelli Suzuki to take over their Lites operation. However, with longtime team manager Chris Woods heading south to Carlton Dry Honda, that team’s structure is up for a major reshuffle itself.

As of Monday, Suzuki regulars Steven Clarke, Errol Willis and Jay Wilson were uncertain of their futures, as are many of the sport’s leading Lites riders. Ryan Marmont has added interest after a solid supercross campaign, but he too is yet to find anything in concrete.

One surprising development this week has been the strong rumour of Kade Mosig fielding interest from the Metal Mulisha-backed Star Valli Yamaha team in the US. We haven’t spoken to Kade directly, but multiple sources are suggesting he could be testing the bike in the coming weeks. Stay tuned…

That’s all for this week, thanks for stopping by and a big congratulations goes to everybody who made the supercross season the success that it was in the 2012 season. Well done!