MotoOnline.com.au gets an array of opinions on the current downsizing of MX2 programs in Australia.
One of the biggest developmental shifts we’ve seen over the past few months is the amount of Australian factory motocross teams either downsizing or slashing their MX2 race programs.
The sudden change of heart has thrown the Lites class into uncertainty and turmoil as the best riders in Australasia vie for fewer seats and less support. It’s forced some riders to sit back in U19s and others are looking at walking away from the sport altogether.
MotoOnline.com.au speaks to a cross-section of the industry to get their opinion on this shift in the motocross landscape.
Luke Arbon – MX2 racer
My ride with Berry Sweet Yamaha has fallen through and right now I haven’t got a ride for next year. I’ve spoken to a few teams, but nothing’s come up and honestly, there’s no way I can afford to race the nationals without support. If nothing comes up I’m going to have to get a job and just look at racing the local races.
It’s a shitty situation and a lot of riders are facing the same problem. If we can’t get support in the 250s it’s going to make it harder to progress to the 450s and will seriously diminish the talent pool. I think it will restrict the sport to those who can afford to do it, not necessarily to those with the most talent. It’s not worth risking your life for no return or reward, and it’s making me question my future involvement in the sport.
Troy Carroll – Monster Energy Kawasaki team manager
The reason behind our decision to drop the MX2 seat is to focus wholly and solely on the MX1 riders. On race day it’s very difficult to jump between classes and give everyone the support they need. There’s too much pressure and money involved with developing the 250Fs; you need to spend a lot of money to get the horsepower gains and the parts budget we burn through is almost double that of the 450s.
In some ways MX2 is like Formula 1 where it’s all about how much power you can get out of it, whereas on the 450s, it’s about where you manage and place the power you have available. MX2 is a money-burning experience, but now we can focus on streamlining our operation and give each of our riders the attention and time they deserve.
Kawasaki will still have a Lites team of two riders, but it will be separate from Monster Energy Kawasaki. We’re giving all of our Lites development details to the new team so they have a great starting point from which to build a competitive race bike. Kawasaki will make an announcement about this new team in the coming weeks.
Gavin Eales – Serco Metal Mulisha Yamaha racing team manager
Serco will still continue its MX2 Yamaha campaign next year with Luke Styke and Luke Clout. Personally I think the race-teams are just spoilt with how good the bikes are nowadays. Three or four years ago every race team worked its arse off on race development, but now people are getting lazy.
Most race teams don’t have mechanics any more – all the young guys coming through are just professional parts fitters who wouldn’t know the first thing about engine development. Development is a fact of life and we do thousands of dyno runs to get our bikes finely tuned. From a financial point of view it’s probably not worth it and we wouldn’t do it if we were trying to make money, but we’re passionate about racing and it puts credibility in our products – what we race is what the customers can buy.
Yarrive Konsky – Carlton Dry Thor Honda Racing team manager
We haven’t completely withdrawn from running a Lites bike in competition. We have a concentrated effort in junior motocross competition for 2013 that we will announce shortly. We are still deciding and discussing what we will do in the 2013 Australian Motocross Championship.
There is a possibility we still may do something, however it’s more than likely we will support a satellite team. We are going to run Lites riders for supercross with Gavin Faith and Hayden Melross most likely to take the seats we make available. As for motocross we wanted to concentrate on the MX1 class as it has a higher profile and Honda has an all new 450.
The other reality is the economy is still recovering and we need to mindful of spend. It’s not only rider salaries that need to be considered, there are mechanics wages, parts, equipment for another rider and the building of fast factory Lites bikes.
Jay Wilson – MXD racer
The current trend is worrying for sure. It seems everyone is focusing on the 450s and there are a lot of Lites riders trying to score only a handful of seats. From what I understand it’s about the race teams trying to maximise their efforts and focusing on one class and cutting down on budgets. I get the fact the bikes are more costly to run, but the sport needs a healthy MX2 class to maintain and build the depth of the MX1 class.
My original plan was to step up to MX2 in 2013, but unless you’re already a top guy with a proven track record, it was going to be hard to get a ride. I’m going to sit back in MXD for another year, get some more experience and hopefully prove myself before I step up.
I know that when I do step up there’s a good chance I might have to go privateer myself. All the MX2 guys are struggling already, and to go privateer will make it twice as hard to get to each round. Without the support I’ve received in the past I wouldn’t be at the nationals now.