Features 5 Jun 2013

MX Hub: 22

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Five down, five to go. Can you believe the MX Nationals halfway point is already here? Personally, I’ve enjoyed this year’s series probably more so than any since I launched MotoOnline.com.au back in 2009. Why? Emerging Australian talent.

The performances of Todd Waters and Matt Moss at the head of the MX1 field have been epic, plus we’ve had the likes of rookies Adam Monea and Kirk Gibbs also sneak up onto the podium already.

And then in MX2, seeing title favourites Luke Styke and Josh Cachia joined on the podium by the likes of Luke Clout, Kale Makeham and Brock Winston has also been unreal.

International stars Billy Mackenzie and Cody Cooper have also of course been right up there (especially BillyMac on a consistent basis), creating plenty of talking points for us in the press. For Australian Motocross, it’s a very interesting period.

Last weekend at Conondale was another enjoyable round, albeit with a muddy track and mostly overcast skies. Still, the racing was on point and it was a great way for the series to reach the halfway point. Next up will be Appin on 14 July and I’m already eager for the gates to drop!

Expect a few developments over this six-week break we just entered as many of the sport’s standouts make a few revisions. The Moss brothers headed to the US yesterday with Alterego Elite’s Dan Reardon, while Luke Styke is scheduled to spend time with Dean Ferris in Europe over the coming weeks.

On the topic of Styke, the word is that he had an opportunity to ride for the Monster Energy Dixon Yamaha team in a couple of GPs, but Yamaha Australia wasn’t keen on him doing them. Regardless, he is picking up a lot of interest from European teams and press at this point from what we understand – probably largely thanks to Ferris’ early MX2 success.

The riders will line up behind the gates at Appin on 14 July when the Monster Energy MX Nationals series resumes. Image: Simon Makker/Makkreative.com.

The riders will line up behind the gates at Appin on 14 July when the Monster Energy MX Nationals series resumes. Image: Simon Makker/Makkreative.com.

At Honda there continues to be rumblings that Daniel McCoy and the factory Carlton Dry team will part ways at least for the remainder of the outdoors (remember, he’s a Supercross specialist of sorts), although the team is yet to officially release anything.

On the injury front, Kade Mosig should be back on his Zero Seven Kawasaki in the coming weeks, Ford Dale is undergoing knee surgery today, and Josh Cachia’s most likely going to keep braving the pain of a nagging wrist injury through the mid-season.

MX1 series leader Waters will continue to work his way back to 100 percent following his head injuries sustained in the lead-up to Broadford, and he’ll contest the Manjimup 15,000 this weekend in Western Australia alongside the likes of Gibbs, Jay Marmont, Weston Peick, Jamie Law and more.

Waters’ plan to ride a number of GPs during the break stalled when he got injured, so we’ll have to wait until later in the year to see him take on the world. In saying that, with the final five rounds all squeezed together and Supercross soon after, it’s going to be a tight schedule especially since he’s in the title hunt.

For most, it’s time to re-evaluate, set some targets and really focus on making the most of the season’s second half. Remember, when these next five rounds pass us by, Supercross will start up just two weeks later and create a whole new ballgame.

The biggest question in the series so far has to be Jay Marmont. He was competitive at Raymond Terrace and finished fourth overall including a second place in moto one, but has since struggled to mount a challenge for the top positions.

The four-time champion has failed to finish in the top 10 overall since then and sits 11th in the series, but nobody is really sure why at this point. He’s said his Monster Energy Kawasaki is good and his fitness is there, but things just haven’t been clicking for whatever reason. Fingers crossed he can figure out soon and we’ll see him back where he belongs up front.

Overall it’s been a lot of fun to date and we’ve had a ball providing the coverage we have so far. Apart from the timing hiccups that WEM has had through Tag and the difficult track conditions we’ve witnessed in recent rounds, the series is well and truly powering forward.

Here’s Makker…

Matt Moss is proving to be Todd Waters' closest competitor as the championship hits its mid-point. Image: Simon Makker/Makkreative.com.

Matt Moss is proving to be Todd Waters’ closest competitor as the championship hits its mid-point. Image: Simon Makker/Makkreative.com.

It’s hard to believe we’re already halfway through the MX Nationals and are facing a six-week mid-season hiatus where all we can do is relive the season so far and speculate as to what the second half will hold.

The season has been nothing if not interesting so far. The racers have faced a real variety of track conditions, from the sand of Wonthaggi and the high-speed grass-track of Conondale to the man-made mudbath at Broadford.

While Todd Waters has been the man to beat in MX1, it’s been interesting to watch the rise of the Motul Pirelli Suzuki racers Matt Moss and Cody Cooper, the ever-present Billy Mackenzie, and the mid-season surge of Waters’ team-mate Kirk Gibbs.

Speaking with Coops after his win at Conondale proved to me just how important perfect bike set-up is. Cooper had been struggling to find a fork setting that suited him and the copious amount of testing they did hampered his training regime and his motivation, hence his second-moto struggles. It looks like it’s all been ironed out now and we should see him feature more on the podium in the second half of the season.

However, the title fight is likely to boil down to a two-way stoush between Waters and Moss. Waters has been hampered by his head-knock and that’s coincided with a surge of momentum towards Moss. I reckon we’re going to see some cracking battles between the two of them when the series resumes!

On a different tack now, but I’ve heard from multiple sources that Australia’s two main FMX mags are on the rocks. What does this mean for print journalism? Is it palpable evidence it’s dying? Or is equilibrium finally being restored as the minor mags disappear from an over-saturated moto magazine market?

Personally (and I hate to say this as I love having something physical to read) I think it’s a sign of things to come. Magazines are gradually being overtaken by web and publishing houses are going to have to continue to evolve to keep up with the digital times. If not, they’ll meet the same demise as Kodak and Borders bookstores…

Over to you, Spence!

If you checked out our comprehensive coverage of Conondale’s fifth round in the 2013 Monster Energy MX Nationals, or if you were lucky enough to attend the event, you may have noticed chunky canisters hanging off the sides of each and every riders goggles.

If so, then you realised that a total tear-off ban had been enforced for the event, the one and only time that will occur on this year’s schedule. The ban is put in place for obvious reasons, the plastic tear-offs are a huge hazard to the environment.

Cody Cooper puts his SCOTT Works Film System through its paces at Conondale on his way to the overall win. Image: Simon Makker/Makkreative.com.

Cody Cooper puts his SCOTT Works Film System through its paces at Conondale on his way to the overall win. Image: Simon Makker/Makkreative.com.

The picturesque Conondale circuit sits in close proximity to a river, which then leads directly into a National Park. Somehow I don’t think hundreds of plastic pieces drifting downstream into the park would go down well. The fact that we are even allowed to shred up the land and pollute the air is a touchy subject these days.

This issue of tear-offs being a nuisance to the environment has been creeping up over recent years, with various tracks around Australia, New Zealand and the US slowly implementing some kind of tear-off regulation. A common rule to combat the issue has been to ban the use of tear-offs during practice days, quite a reasonable attack I think.

Although this does not remove the issue, it definitely does help in a big way. In race situations you obviously have no time to pull over and grab fresh goggles or clean your lens. And unless you’re the type of guy that wants to be the practice day champion on a Sunday, then yes, I think a tear-off ban is acceptable in those situations.

Now this is where roll-offs come into play. Many riders, such as myself, have never even used roll-offs before. With the fairly inexpensive, reliable and simple tear-off system, why would we ever choose roll-offs? That is the interesting part about these systems, they are rarely used and such an unfamiliar piece of equipment.

I spoke with Bernie Ryan from C&R Imports yesterday and he offered up some interesting views on the situation. Working alongside SCOTT for many year, Ryan has seen first-hand the evolving goggle market and it’s current issues it faces today, you can click here to view that story.

Amongst many, the one point Ryan raised that definitely applies to the average rider is the fact that if we keep giving people reasons to complain about our sport, we’ll soon see more and more venues being shut down. Noise restrictions and dust issues have already done so – do we really want to add more to that list?

We may not like it, but the sport and its regulations will always evolve, and the switch to roll-offs could be the next big change unless manufacturers can put together a bio-degradable product that can measure up to the current standard.

So next time you’re out riding and think you need to do a sweet tear-off pull/whip combination to impress your buddies, just stick to the whip.

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