Features 17 Jul 2013

MX Hub: 28

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The Monster Energy MX Nationals title chase couldn’t be shaping up any nicer, with just four rounds remaining and four points separating Matt Moss and Todd Waters in the premier MX1 title chase. Waters still holds the advantage, however the momentum has shifted to Moss in the mid-stages of the season.

Waters did an incredible job to salvage 10th place overall considering he had shoulder surgery just a fortnight earlier and it could have been even better save for a difficult moto two that included an awkward crash right in front of the commentary tower.

But the speed displayed by Moss, who also made a number of mistakes in that second moto, was as expected following a trip to California recently. Matt’s twin brother Jake was also right on the pace and finished third in moto one, but he too suffered a disastrous second moto.

The sleeper right now is Cody Cooper, because although he’s a fair way off in the title chase and currently sits fourth, his performances of late in moto two have been spectacular. On Sunday the two-time Kiwi champ rode away from the pack and if he can get starts and staty out of trouble in both motos, he’d be very, very dangerous. Same can be said for a lot of guys though.

Two of the most impressive guys right now have to be MX1 rookies Kirk Gibbs and Adam Monea. Gibbs was second in moto one and Monea charged to the runner-up in moto two. Both look like they belong up front, both are gaining confidence and both are easily exceeding expectations.

Billy Mackenzie sits third in the standings after a real consistent effort, but you get the feeling that CDR Yamaha team owner Craig Dack is beginning to apply additional pressure at this point of the season. If CDR is to win a sixth championship, Mackenzie needs to win races and make it happen with four rounds remaining.

Mackenzie was disappointing in moto one but rebounded nicely in moto two, but he will need good scores in both motos to factor in the title hunt at Coolum in September. Dack is becoming increasingly frustrated with Lawson Bopping too, who has so much promise, but just can’t get a start or put it together on race day. Fingers crossed he can find what he needs to challenge right at the pointy end.

The Monster Energy MX Nationals are back in full swing and Matt Moss took the overall MX1 win on return. Image: Jeff Crow/Sport the Library.

The Monster Energy MX Nationals are back in full swing and Matt Moss took the overall MX1 win on return. Image: Jeff Crow/Sport the Library.

The tension may be rising between Dack and his riders at CDR, but at Monster Energy Kawasaki there are reports that Monea and four-time champion Jay Marmont’s relationship isn’t so rosy following a number of incidents this year. Remember the pair came together at Murray Bridge and again there was reportedly a close call at Appin, so things are heating up in the green camp.

Monea has been the most successful rider on the team this year with a podium at Wonthaggi and a number of great motos, while Marmont continues to struggle in finding his mojo on the KX450F outdoors. Problem is, it was Marmont who was expected to lead the way for Kawasaki and he has questioned teammate Monea’s aggressive style. It will be a rivalry worth watching in the coming rounds.

Still, Marmont did look much improved at Appin in seventh overall. On paper his result isn’t as good as he actually rode, but it was the first time he’s finished inside the top 10 overall since Raymond Terrace’s opening round of the season back in April. Here’s hoping he can gain momentum from this point, turn things around and we could possibly see Jay on the podium for the first time since 2011 when he wrapped up that year’s title.

Speaking of Kawasaki, it was interesting to note on the weekend that while the Zero Seven Motorsports Kawasaki team was on the 2014 models, the official factory team has opted to remain aboard the 2013s considering just minimal changes have been made.

You have to feel for Carlton Dry Honda at this point with every single one of their riders under an injury cloud of some sort, forcing the team to scramble for replacements again in the lead-up to Hervey Bay. Click here for more on that situation as of yesterday afternoon.

Daniel McCoy had been with the team for the first half of the season, but departed during the mid-season break. It’s no surprise then that Honda has interest in him again and he’d be a very legitimate candidate for Supercross, however he’s also been linked to a number of teams this week including TM Racing and Craig Anderson’s Berry Sweet/Lucas Oil Yamaha squad. Chances are you’ll see McCoy back at the nationals sooner, rather than later.

Serco Yamaha have confirmed that runaway series leader Luke Styke will remain their lone MX2 contender in the outdoors following the heartbreaking injury of rookie teammate Luke Clout, and Styke as usual did the business at Appin on Sunday.

It was also nice to see Kade Mosig back on the box and absolutely flying in both motos, despite recently returning from a back injury and still dealing with an MCL injury to his knee. Just back from the sidelines, Mosig’s results without the pressures of going for a championship were some of the best of the weekend.

And I have to mention the two-stroke win of Kale Makeham in moto one – how good was that? A rookie support rider on a KTM 250 SX beating the factory-backed four-strokes straight up! Makeham has been the revelation of the season so far and you can guarantee that a number of teams will be chasing his signature for 2014.

Enough from me though, here’s Makker…

The Carlton Dry Honda Racing team can't catch a break right now. Image: Jeff Crow/Sport the Library.

The Carlton Dry Honda Racing team can’t catch a break right now. Image: Jeff Crow/Sport the Library.

It was great to see the Appin round of the Monster Energy MX Nationals living up to the expectation of being a cracker of a round. The track proved again to be a one-lined affair, with many riders passing remarks that it took a lot of work to get around a fellow racer, even if they were significantly slower. As a case in point it took Cody Cooper about three laps to find his way past a 15 metre-wide Gareth Swanepoel in the opening moto!

Speaking of ‘Swimming pool’, you’ve got to really feel for the Carlton Dry Honda Racing team right now. The stand-in Swanepoel and title contender Josh Cachia both succumbed to wrist injuries around the demanding, hardpack circuit, and suddenly the Red Wing were faced with an empty truck.

The team has already said they were keen to field two riders (one in each class) for the remainder of the MX Nationals, but there aren’t too many riders at a loose end who could muscle up for a top 10. Cheyne Boyd must be a pretty tempting option, but word is he’s asking a relatively hefty riding fee. Errol Willis would jump at an opportunity to prove his mettle and throw his name back in the MX2 ring after a 1-1-1-1 performance in the KTM Two-Stroke Cup this year.

Kiwi Justin McDonald is a long-time Honda rider, has podiumed in Australia in the past and is always running in the top 1-5 positions in New Zealand. Dan McCoy still has a Honda practice bike at home and ran fairly respectable results in the stacked MX1 class. Will Honda give him a second chance?

It’ll be interesting to see which way the team slides and give someone a shot at making a statement in each class.

Meanwhile, being a Queensland-based bloke, I’m hearing a lot about the new Qld Supercross Championship that’s expected to hit in November. It’ll be a two-round affair at Robbie Marshall’s and Matt Haworth’s tracks, will feature junior and senior classes around full American-style supercross tracks.

Word is the round at Haworth’s will be an exact replica of the 2011 AMA Indianapolis track! If this (click here to view) track map video is anything to go by, it’s going to be amazing. Stay tuned for more updates and news as we hear it.

That’s all from me this week, here’s Spence!

As Gobert and Makker mentioned, the sixth round of the Monster Energy MX Nationals certainly did deliver and live up to the hype. Appin’s Bellbird Circuit proved a tough challenge for each and every rider with its deep ruts and slick hard-pack soil.

Standouts for me at Appin had to be Kale Makeham’s MX2 moto one victory and Todd Waters heroic ride in the MX1 class just two weeks after breaking his collarbone at Townsville. Obviously Matt Moss and Luke Styke’s overall wins were impressive, but I would imagine most of us expected that from those two anyway.

Makeham rides that KTM 250 SX two-stroke so well. His throttle control is out of this world and he seems to just flow around the track effortlessly. Watching Makeham out at Appin the week before the event I was just so impressed with his hard-pack speed on the premix bike, and he continued to do so on race day.

Luke Clout is looking at a possible four to six month recovery time, but more will be known over the coming weeks. Image: Jeff Crow/Sport the Library.

Luke Clout is looking at a possible four to six month recovery time, but more will be known over the coming weeks. Image: Jeff Crow/Sport the Library.

On Sunday Waters was yet to swing a leg over the bike since his accident two weeks prior, he then went out to lay down a solid seventh overall in qualifying and then back it up with a 10th overall on the day. Yes, Waters may have lost a huge chunk of his lead to Moss, but he salvaged the red plate and now has a weekend off before Hervey Bay to recover and come back stronger.

Hervey Bay will be an interesting round that’s for sure. Can Moss kick off a winning streak? Will Waters rebound and regain control of the championship? Will Styke continue to win rounds through to the end of the season, or will he suffer another late-season fumble? It’s coming down to the business end of the championship now.

Today I spoke with Styke’s injured Serco Yamaha teammate Luke Clout who unfortunately broke his femur one week ago practicing in Western Sydney. The impressive rookie is back at home on the couch resting up following successful surgery at St. George Private Hospital in Sydney.

“They said the surgery was 100 percent and I go see a doctor in two weeks for a check up,” Clout told MotoOnline.com.au. “After that I should be able to start doing some physio and just start walking and stuff. They said about three to six months recovery time, but just depending on how everything goes it could be quicker than that – that’s just the time for a normal person.”

Clout’s doctor believes his recovery time should be faster than that of an everyday patient, but he is not getting ahead of himself just yet. Although he does have a possible late Supercross appearance on his mind, he will certainly remain off the bike for the required amount of time.

“The doctor reckons it’ll be quicker than that, but Serco isn’t pushing us to get back any time soon so we’re just going to take as long as it needs,” he added. “It’s about four months until the last round of Supercross, so my plan is to try and do the last round, but I’m not really pushing for it.”

The luxury here for Clout is that he is currently in talks to put together a 2014 deal, so the pressure to get back on the track and perform really isn’t there. Much the same as fellow MX2 contender Josh Cachia who bowed out of the series on Sunday with wrist injuries, he already has his 2014 deal locked in with Carlton Dry Honda Racing.

These two top MX2 contenders may be in a crappy situation right now, but I can assure you they will be feeling a lot better about themselves knowing they have great support behind them for the future. That’s all from me this week!

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