Features 5 Mar 2014

MX Hub: 9

An all-access view of Australian MX and SX, presented by Alpinestars.

As the new MX Nationals season falls upon us this month, a number of title favourites are beginning to emerge with ever-apparent pit whispers doing the rounds – the usual pre-season who’s hot, who’s not banter. It’s the perfect recipe for anticipation.

One man stands tallest as title favourite and that’s defending champion Matt Moss. He’s pretty much been full-gas since winning last year’s supercross crown, headed to America and did well there, before returning home and blitzing local tracks.

To give you an idea of his current form, Moss set his fastest ever lap of Appin’s traditional circuit (not the MX Nationals track) on Tuesday and is quite possibly the first to break the 2m00 barrier. It’s frighteningly quick!

Moss is at one with his Suzuki RM-Z450 and has seamlessly gelled back with Jay and Jess Foreman upon return to Australia. Can he be stopped? You’d be hard-pressed to bet against him at this point.

Twin brother Jake is also seemingly in his prime, loving the factory-supported Kawasaki KX450 (we still haven’t had official confirmation whether Monster’s back or not yet) and absolutely flying between practice sessions in Queensland and New South Wales.

If there’s one person who knows Matt probably as good as Matt knows Matt, it’s Jake. Confusing, I know…. just re-read it a few times! Will that inside knowledge be enough to topple him though? It wasn’t last year in MX or SX, but then again Jake is at ‘home’ on the Kawasaki and has real factory support now.

The dynamic between Jake Moss and Adam Monea will be interesting to take notes on throughout 2014. At times there was no love lost between Monea and former teammate Jay Marmont last year, following a few on-track altercations that eventually resulted in an exchange of words within the Kawasaki confines.

Monea is one of the most determined guys in the sport, not intimidated by anybody whatsoever, and he has just one goal: to win races and championships. No doubt that’s the goal for all the top racers, but Monea is ultra intense on race day.

Image: 64MX Photography.

Image: 64MX Photography.

Jay Marmont’s also on the rise, confident in his return to CDR Yamaha and to me, it’s a mental game for him right now. If he can enter the season with momentum, there’s no doubt he can build momentum as the races wind down. It’s the intensity he’ll require to beat Moss in the early laps that will prove pivotal.

And of course, Billy Mackenzie will be in the mix entering his second season at Yamaha fresh from some positive showings in New Zealand. To me, if the Scotsman gets all his ducks aligned, wins from him will be no surprise at all. And judging by his improved consistency last year, he can be a title threat.

Plus, another couple of Yamahas from the DPH crew will be challenging them along the way in Kade Mosig and Sam Martin. Word is from down in Victoria that these guys could be further up the field than some expect.

KTM’s youthful combination of Kirk Gibbs and Ford Dale will no doubt have the speed to feature up front, but racecraft and the belief they can win races week in, week out will determine their title chances. I wouldn’t rule them out either.

Cody Cooper is probably one of the most questionable factors. He’s displayed speed to burn time and time again, but then again in recent years at Suzuki he was well off on a number of occasions. It’s one of the great unknowns in domestic MX – what Cody Cooper will turn up on race day?

It’s no secret that Cooper struggled to find a setting he was completely satisfied with early on last year, so perhaps the switch to Penrite Honda and working closely with Ben Townley will iron out any former kinks we’ve seen. He’s certainly been impressive (as always) back home.

There will actually be another Kiwi on a factory MX1 bike this season; Rhys Carter riding alongside Matt Moss at Suzuki. He’s inked a late deal to take the seat of countryman Cooper in yellow, but an official announcement is yet to be made.

Arguably the most anticipated team to appear, only just confirmed yesterday, is Craig Anderson’s Husqvarna Motocross Racing Team – featuring full support from HQVA while Anderson retains backing from Berry Sweet. Their signing of Brock Winston could be genius and he’ll be a real underdog this season, just like he was on his way to third in MX2 last year.

Of course there are stacked fields throughout not just MX1 but also MX2 and MXD, so stay tuned for a closer breakdown of what’s to come over the coming weeks. For now though, here’s Makker…

It’s been a pretty damn crazy week for me. I’ve spent the lion’s share of it in New Zealand helping the Frew brothers organise the 2014 Farm Jam. While the event itself was probably the most successful we’ve held, the crazy Southland weather gave us plenty of heart palpatations and grey hairs.

Source: KEMEA Yamaha.

Source: KEMEA Yamaha.

The day before the Jam we were hammered by heavy sleety showers and hailstorms, forcing us to cancel the popular freeride contest. In fact the only riding that went down all day was some mental BMX sessions on the quarterpipe built inside the Frew’s woolshed.

Event day dawned gloomy, but both the moto and pushy jumps were sodden from more overnight rain. Desperate times called for desperate measures, so we hired a PoziTrak and Levi Sherwood got to work scraping the top level of muck off the jumps, while the other riders grabbed bags of cement powder and scattered it over the run-ups and landings to absorb the remaining moisture.

Things got more drastic on the BMX course, where the riders covered the jumps with hay and diesel and lit them on fire in order to dry the trails out in time.

And y’know what? It all worked and both events ran perfectly, much to our relief! The crowd got right behind the riders, the weather held off (just), there were no major injuries and the riders in all disciplines pushed themselves to the limits.

You know it’s getting heavy when 2012 Red Bull X-Fighters champion Levi Sherwood admitted he was forced to pull tricks he rarely does at X-Fighters and X Games in order to claim the win!

On the same day, the 2014 World Motocross Championship held its season opener at Qatar, and it was great to see Red Bull Ice One Racing Husqvarna’s Todd Waters pull a gritty 11th place round result, despite having a qualifying crash that he later described as being the biggest in a long time.

On top of that, Australia’s Meghan Rutledge clean-swept the WMX at Qatar, establishing herself as a firm title favourite early on. However it wasn’t all beer and Skittles: Luke Styke had a tough maiden GP, after he was forced to pull out midway through the opening MX2 moto with a bad viral infection.

With the second round this weekend at Si Racha (Thailand), there’s very little time for Stykesy to catch his breath before he’s back behind the gate. We hope he’ll be fit and ready for this weekend.

That’s all from me this week. As always, remember to check out all of MotoOnline.com.au’s social networking channels and be sure to Like us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter and Instagram for even more behind the scenes insights. Just search MotoOnline.