MotoOnline.com.au gets the opinions of five riders and industry insiders on the all-new Super Pole concept for 2013.
Tuesday’s news of some significant changes to the 2013 MX Nationals formats caught many people by surprise. After announcing a return to the traditional 30-minute formats late last year, WEM Management’s revealed a new Super Pole contest where the top five qualified MX1 riders will do another hot-lap.
$500 and five championship points will be awarded to the fastest qualifier, the second-fastest qualifier will grab four points, third will get three, fourth will earn two, and fifth place one point.
As with anything new, the news has drawn mixed reactions. MotoOnline.com.au talked to five key players, including WEM promoter Kevin Williams, to get their thoughts on the matter.
Kevin Williams – WEM promoter
I’ve been an avid campaigner for developing a product that’s exciting for the crowd. I thought the three moto format was good, but the riders wanted two races, so we’re returning to that this year, even though the jury is still out on it.
The reason for the Super Pole is to not only provide the fans with some extra excitement, but to award the fastest qualifier. Almost all other forms of motorsport give the fastest qualifier a major advantage by gaining a spot on the front row. With the 40-rider gate that doesn’t happen in motocross, and even the worst qualifier has a chance of getting to the holeshot.
The Super Pole will now give the fastest qualifier an advantage and a focal point for the crowd. With the unprecedented depth in the MX1 class this year, it’s certainly going to add even more excitement. I’ll also stress this is only happening in the MX1 class. MX2 and MXD will keep the traditional qualifying format.
The new points format (where there are now 35 points for a race win) will also see points go back further, and will put the emphasis on race finishes. Between the beefed-up points and the Super Pole, we should see a lot less situations where riders are tied on points at each round.
Some people will always be against change, but we’ll never stop trying to improve the MX Nationals product.
Jay Marmont – Monster Energy Kawasaki
I think the concept behind the Super Pole is good and it’ll certainly be interesting at the first round to see how it all works. I give Kevin Williams credit for trying to make the sport more exciting and interesting for the fans, but I’m still a bit sceptical about it. My main concern is that I would hate for a tight championship to be decided from a one-lap dash against the clock instead of each other.
I’d hate for someone to win a round because of a points difference created in Super Pole, but we’ve been dealt crazy formats before and everyone’s in the same boat. We’ll certainly be practising our sprint races as Billy Mackenzie and Ben Townley are always strong at qualifying. If there are points up for grabs it will definitely put more emphasis on qualifying – the last thing you want to do is start the day’s first moto already five points behind.
Ben Townley – Carlton Dry Honda
I think anything new is exciting and I’ve been outspoken in the past about how the sport needs to continually evolve to keep the fans interested. I commend Kevin for having the balls to try and change the sport’s direction.
To tell the truth, the first I heard about having points up for grabs in Super Pole is right now, but it’s definitely a game-changer. My first thought is it’s a bit unfair to the guy who qualifies sixth and you can lose valuable points just by having a bad qualifying time.
But it’s cool to have something different that sets the series apart from the rest of the world and give the fans something that they won’t see anywhere else in the world. I’m looking forward to the extra $500 the top qualifier gets, too. That’s a nice little pay-day and I’ll have to work out how much cash I’ll be earning per metre instead of per round! (laughs)
Craig Dack – CDR Yamaha team manager
I think the Super Pole is a great idea. We’ve been going through qualifying for the past few years without rewarded riders for their timed efforts and this is really going to give the sport some balls.
It’s all about rewarding the riders who do well; at the moment if you qualify between first and sixth there’s no real advantage. Other motorsports reward the top qualifiers with pole position, but we can’t do that in motocross. This is a great way to reward those riders and if you win four qualifying sessions throughout the year, that’s an extra 20 points. That’s a huge advantage.
A few people may be worried that a championship could be decided by a qualifying points differential, but you can’t look at it like that. Points are points and it doesn’t matter how they’re earned, especially when everyone is in the same boat.
Kirk Gibbs – Motorex KTM
The new Super Pole is definitely going to mix things up in MX1… good timing with me just stepping up from the MX2 class! It’ll be tough for the top five guys to punch out a quick qualifying time, then get back on the gate and do an even more important hot-lap for points. It’s going to make qualifying even more important as you don’t know when those points will count in the big-picture. I think it’ll make everyone ride on the edge a lot more, that’s for sure.
The new rules won’t change my focus at all, though. All I want to do is have fun, ride the best I can and stay relaxed. If I can do that I know I’ll be up front with [teammate Todd] Waters. We’ve been training hard and are heading in the right direction.