Features 6 Feb 2013

MX Hub: 5

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Australia’s number one outdoor team finally announced its rider line-up of Billy Mackenzie alongside Lawson Bopping for 2013 yesterday, confirming what just about everybody knew would happen since late October last year! It’s a very new team for CDR Yamaha and they quite possibly will enter the season for the first time in a very long time without the status as title favourites.

In saying that tough, many are expecting Mackenzie to shine under the guidance of Craig Dack and co, making for a very interesting battle that looms ahead. Thinking back to 2010, who would have thought that by 2013 we’d see Mackenzie at Yamaha and then rival Jay Marmont at Monster Energy Kawasaki?

Anyway, one thing you can bet on though is that Mackenzie and Bopping will take moto and probably round wins during the year. Why aren’t they title favourites? Well, a rider on a red bike using the number 101 will probably take that role into round one as long as he’s fit.

Alongside him, we’ll have the likes of Todd Waters, the aforementioned Marmont, possibly the Moss brothers and many more that have won titles in a variety of classes and no doubt could do so again if they put all the pieces together. That’s not a complete list of contenders by any means, just a few names I thought of on the spot because we do also have a heap of dark horses in the mix.

There’s also a kid by the name of Tye Simmonds we know who is working his butt off to make a comeback of sorts in his young career under the wing of recently retired national legend Craig Anderson. Man, this year’s going to be epic!

Mackenzie’s signing means that supercross standout Daniel McCoy is out of the team for the MX series, but we already knew that. He’s working on a support program though before re-joining the team for supercross, if a deal can be cemented. Funnily enough, DMC isn’t bitter about the team opting for Billy over him, instead taking an understanding approach and putting his head down to try and secure a good seat for himself.

The long-awaited announcement has finally come, Billy Mackenzie and Lawson Bopping will be lining up as CDR Yamaha's MX1 contenders for 2013.

The long-awaited announcement has finally come, Billy Mackenzie and Lawson Bopping will be lining up as CDR Yamaha’s MX1 contenders for 2013.

Following that shocker announcement that Mackenzie will be joining CDR Yamaha months after we already reported it, next thing we’ll have the surprise news of Adam Monea to Monster Energy Kawasaki alongside Jay Marmont… no rush guys!

But in all seriousness, I spoke to Dacka on the phone just hours before the official announcement came out and he basically said it was a case of getting everything in order before confirmation could be released. While the riders deals are a priority, there is a lot more the teams have to finalise from behind the scenes before officially announcing their upcoming programs.

I’m sure Kawasaki is in a similar situation, however the frustrating part is that although we’ve seen visual proof countless times via social networking in recent months that Mackenzie was riding Yamaha and Monea will be at Kawi, they are restricted in what they can say about their deals on the record. Hence, that’s why you haven’t read any stories with comments from either rider on the subject. It all comes out eventually though…

Speaking of Kawasaki real quick, take a look at the bottom of this week’s edition of the MX Hub to see their latest ‘star’ rider Doug Duffy. We’re not sure what the exact deal with this character is, but it’s a high quality online film featuring the Monster Energy Kawasaki team throughout. It’s worth a look!

Today I called Brett Metcalfe here in Southern California to speak about his 2013 prospects, which we have spoken off the record a few times in recent weeks. Well, any hope of him coming to Australia for this season is over, because he’s going to stay in the US and hopefully secure an outdoor deal here. He’s also been linked to a Canadian deal, but the first priority is the Lucas Oil series in America if he can source a seat.

Metcalfe became a surprise inclusion in the Australian silly season just recently when approached by a couple of teams. One is believed to be Motul Pirelli Suzuki, which makes sense since their negotiations with Matt Moss stalled late last month. It was also highly speculated that Honda was considering a seat for Metcalfe, possibly for later in the year during supercross.

But right now it doesn’t look like either will happen (you’ll see a detailed report in News from today), so it makes you wonder who Suzuki will sign alongside Cody Cooper outdoors. General manager Perry Morison did say the door wasn’t completely closed on a Moss signing, but the important thing was that they had to mutually agree to terms. If they can do that, he will be a contender. If not, there are plenty of quality riders remaining without seats (more on that below from Makker).

Brett Metcalfe confirmed he will remain in the US for 2013 after recent rumours of an Australian return.

Brett Metcalfe confirmed he will remain in the US for 2013 after recent rumours of an Australian return.

The Motorex KTM team is quietly putting all the pieces in place for its return as an in-house factory effort, working closely with MX1 title threat Todd Waters and rookie Kirk Gibbs. I’ve got a good feeling about this close-knit team, with results being the ultimate priority under the guidance of grand prix legend Jeff Leisk and the technical expertise of Rob Twyerould and Danny Apro.

All in all it’s shaping up to be a strong season, one with a few very important changes in effect and Spence will be highlighting some very important factors below about those points. For now though, here’s Makker with his week’s MX Hub contribution…

One of the things that’s been bugging me this past week is just how many top-level Australian riders (not just in Australia) are yet to land rides in 2013. At the last count, Brett Metcalfe, Errol Willis, Matt Moss, Dan McCoy, Josh Cachia and Luke Arbon are yet to sign any sort of deal with a team.

But one of the most shocking announcements I heard this week was 2011 GNCC podium finisher Josh Strang is without a ride for 2013 and is looking at buying bikes and doing life tough out of the back of a van. The guy won some of the toughest cross-country races in the world, has a ridiculous work ethic and is super-professional but still can’t get a ride?

Something’s wrong. Is the industry hurting that much that some of the best racers Australia has ever produced are still desperately seeking rides for 2013?

I understand that money is tight at the moment, and it’s a big investment to hire these top-level riders. I also understand that there’s always a natural progression of racers who fall off the boil or are surpassed by the next wave of talent. But look at that list in my first paragraph and tell me who of those guys can’t win races.

And let’s consider the fall-out of this little trend: if these guys can’t get rides they’ll more than likely have to try the privateer life for a couple of years then turn away from the sport disheartened at not being able to compete, or will cut their losses now and go work in the mines (as Jake Moss so nearly did last year).

This could shrivel up the talent depth on the start-gate to just a handful of blokes with team seats and the odd local A-grader looking to rub elbows with the elite. We saw a warning sign of this at Horsham in 2012 when there were only 18 guys on the MX1 start-gate. My guess is we’re going to see this sight become more common in 2013 unless the situation is somehow addressed quickly.

Over to you, Spence.

A worrying sight to see riders such as Matt Moss still without a ride for 2013. Image: Grant Reynolds/FiftySix Clix.

A worrying sight to see riders such as Matt Moss still without a ride for 2013. Image: Grant Reynolds/FiftySix Clix.

As the Raymond Terrace season opening round of the 2013 Monster Energy MX Nationals looms near, WEM has announced a number of changes for the 2013 season – once again adding another element of excitement to the series. It seems WEM have taken in the good and bad comments from last year’s series, resulting in Kevin Williams his crew putting together some solid improvements for the new year.

You can click here to check out the full complete list of changes, which includes the crowd pleasing return of the traditional two 30-minute moto format, but I would like to point out a few key things that stand out within the list of updates for 2013.

First up, the Super Pole lap. At the conclusion of timed qualifying, the top five riders will return to the start line and each rider will be fitted with a GoPro camera. When directed they will do one sprint lap, the result of this sprint lap will then determine the top five positions for qualifying.

The key point here will be that there is valuable championships points on offer for each and every one of these top five riders, along with the fastest qualifier scoring an extra $500.00 in their pocket. This means that not only will the Super Pole lap be intense, but the final minutes of regular qualifying will be just as important. If you’re not in that top five at the end of the session, you have zero chance of scoring any ‘bonus’ points.

As mentioned above, the traditional moto format has returned, but this new Super Pole system will definitely suit the sprinters, meaning the importance of sprinting will still be vital in 2013 even though the motos have switched to 30 minutes a piece.

Another significant change is the decision to award points to riders all the way down to 30th place. Having points awarded down through 30th position is a major incentive for privateers to keep battling it out against the best in the country. Before, the chances to score points were slim at select rounds with high entries, so now with 10 extra point-scoring positions, privateers throughout will get a little more incentive to keep toughing it out and working on their craft at a national level.

Finally, another important change is the introduction of the Eject Helmet Removal System, which will be mandatory for all riders competing in the series – this is a first in Australia, and a great addition safety-wise in my opinion.

In an effort to further improve rider safety and medical service at the MX nationals, all riders must fit the system to their helmet, this device has been used in the American motocross and supercross series’ for some time now, and has also spread into other sports including Indy Cars.

This updated safety regulation brings our series in-line with the most high-calibre events in the world, a great move on WEM’s part to assure our series is held in regard as one of the best in world, along with making sure our riders are kept as safe as possible at all times.

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