Features 19 Mar 2014

MX Hub: 11

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

Just over one week out from the MX Nationals, the Australian motocross industry is about to come alive once and for all in 2014. Anticipation is building, riders and teams are in the final steps of preparation and we here at MotoOnline.com.au are eagerly awaiting the first gate-drop of the new season. Here’s our latest from around the traps!

Source: Penrite Honda.

Source: Penrite Honda.

NZ momentum

The final round of New Zealand Motocross will be contested this weekend at Taupo, just days out from the Australian season opener. Will it be of benefit or hindrance to the likes of Cody Cooper, Billy Mackenzie, Kirk Gibbs, Jay Wilson, and more? You’d have to say it will work in their favour, but on the other side of the equation, the Australians that have been preparing locally will be rejuvenated and ready to come out firing from the outset as well. Picking a winner from the outset will be very, very difficult – but these guys have the NZ finale to get through first.

Local hints

Don’t think though that the locals have just been chilling at home doing a few motos here and there while the wait for the MXN season drags on, because Moss, Adam Monea, Jay Marmont and co have also been contesting various events in the lead-up. A number of guys were on track at Appin during a club event on Sunday, while of course the Victorian contingent contested the first state championship event at Horsham. Monea swept the Pro Open class from Dylan Long and Kade Mosig, while in the Pro Lites it was Kale Makeham winning overall from Monea and Joel Milesevic – all three winning motos during the round. Defending champion Dylan Long was fourth and also a podium factor. It’s heating up!

Kawasaki’s Monster involvement

Finally we receive confirmation that Monster Energy is back with Kawasaki, which is good news to keep a worldwide brand like that in the sport both as the series sponsor and co-title sponsor for Kawasaki. There was quite some time there that many thought Monster was out, but when all’s said and done we’ll see them sharing the naming rights with incoming brand National Pump Services for the season. According to team boss Troy Carroll it’s been an ultra-smooth pre-season and both guys are well and truly ready to do battle come Broadford. Also, a piece of interesting news that may otherwise sneak below the radar is that the team has switched from Dunlop to Pirelli tyres for this year’s campaign.

Question mark over Cachia?

There’s ongoing suggestion that Josh Cachia could miss select rounds of the MX Nationals depending on results from an appointment with his surgeon this week. He’s still been struggling severely with his troublesome wrist injury that ruled him out of much of last season, but Penrite Honda is yet to officially confirm his status whether he’s in or out – basically remaining uncertain themselves. Fingers crossed his health improves quickly, cos otherwise we might be denied the opportunity to see one of the country’s most talented riders right where he belongs in the battle for the MX2 championship.

Champ chats

Looking for some interesting stories to take up time in the off-season locally? The MX Nationals website has a series of ‘Chatting with a Champ’ interviews on the site in the lead-up to season 2014. It’s a good read across the likes of Cachia, Marmont, Ford Dale, Meg Rutledge and more, so head over and take a look when you get a moment by clicking here. On the topic of the series, search MX Nationals on the iOS App Store and you will reveal plans of hosting the event program in 2014. Round one’s not available yet, but it’s a neat concept by WEM.

Meg in MX2

Speaking of Rutledge, fresh from winning the first round of the Women’s Motocross World Championship in Qatar, Kawasaki has confirmed she’ll mix it up with the guys in MX2 during 2014 as she makes further progress in her stellar career. It won’t be easy by any means, but racing against the country’s best 250cc competition will do her wonders when heading back overseas during the season. She’ll no doubt be one to keep an eye on!

That’s it from me for this week, here’s Makker with the latest from his base up in Queensland…

Source: Kawasaki Australia.

Source: Kawasaki Australia.

Sheehan second at X-Fighters opener

The Red Bull X-Fighters series fired up at its traditional home in Mexico City on Saturday, and it was an absolute cracker. It was made even better by Australia’s Josh Sheehan claiming second to Kiwi 2012 champion Levi Sherwood. Sheeny pushed Levi to the limit and came within an ant’s dick of upsetting him, but in the end Sherwood’s trick hyper-extension (and recently added 360) was enough to claim the win, while defending champ Tom Pages crashed out attempting a 540 Tsunami Flair in the quarterfinals. The next round at Osaka, Japan, is shaping up to be a tantalising affair, as organisers have confirmed a Double Backflip ramp will be added to the circuit. Armed with this and the 540 Flair, Sheehan has to be a hot favourite.

Ford Dale injured?

Yesterday afternoon the MX Nationals Facebook page posted a cryptic photo of Ford Dale’s seat-less KTM 450 SX-F wishing him a speedy recovery, and stating he will miss the “first few rounds”. We haven’t had any luck trying to contact Ford for the low-down, but from what we’ve heard he’s picked up another knee injury in New Zealand, probably at round three of the NZ MX Nationals. We certainly hope it’s nothing serious… the poor bloke can’t win a trick on the injury front at the moment!

Joel Dinsdale’s car crash

We were shocked and saddened to hear the news that GYTR Yamaha’s MXD title hopeful Joel Dinsdale was involved in a serious car crash yesterday near Mackay. Dinny was actually on his way down to South East Queensland for the team’s official shoot when his ute left the road and hit a tree. The latest we’ve heard is the tough little bugger is in a critical but stable condition with head, neck and leg injuries. Insider sources say Dinsdale is definitely out for the season and possibly longer. It’s a blow not only for the industry, but for GYTR, who now have to contemplate bringing in a last-minute recruit to the team to pit alongside rookie Jed Beaton.

Monster Kawasaki moving

I had a good chat with National Pump Monster Energy Kawasaki (now there’s a mouthful) team manager Troy Carroll a couple days back for his Industry Insight interview and mentioned the team will leave its long-standing base in Toowoomba at the end of the year, and relocating to Yatala, between Brisbane and the Gold Coast. The area has become a real motorsports hub over the past couple of years, with several V8 Supercars teams, distributors and stockists setting up camp in the thriving industrial area.

Ben Townley returns… kind of

I had an unexpected call from The Honda Shop race team manager Ben Townley yesterday, and he’s confirmed he’ll return to Australia as Penrite Honda’s race mentor for the upcoming MX Nationals. BT began the role last year with Ford Dale, but has now taken Josh Cachia under his wing. Speaking of Cachia, he was supposed to race the NZ MX Nationals series, but is still recovering from his wrist surgery in July last year.

That’s a wrap for this week’s MX Hub. 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.