Look back at the 2013 MX Nationals' second half.
This weekend marks the return to action for the 2014 MX Nationals racers, who have spent the past five weeks finding some extra pace or letting the body heal. But this time a year ago, the round six series return at Appin proved to be one of the most pivotal rounds of the whole championship.
After capitalising on the mid-season break by heading to the US for a month, eventual MX1 champion Matt Moss used the start of the second half to seriously springboard his campaign.
At the same time that Mossy was starting to drop the hammer, the wheels began to fall off of Todd Waters’ season. Just two weeks before Appin, the Motorex KTM racer broke his collarbone during a Queensland state race and was forced into damage control mode around the hardpack circuit.
“We purely rode in defence mode today,” said Waters. “The medical guys went to great care to tell me exactly what was at risk if I crashed on it, so we kept it together and got through able to walk away.”
Waters’ gutsy performance wasn’t lost on team manager Rob Tywerold either, describing his ride as “a Herculean effort”.
While Waters gritted his teeth and circulated for 11th overall – successfully maintaining the red plate until round seven – the Suzuki pairing of Moss and Cody Cooper traded MX1 moto wins and ended up 1-2 on the podium.
In another significant moment, KTM rookie Kirk Gibbs posted his best ever MX1 moto result (second place) and bagged his second-ever MX1 podium at Appin.
“As long as I’m at the pointy end, I’m happy,” Gibbsy said at the time. “Things are a little harder in MX1 adjusting to the bike and the depth of talent, so to be running up near the front with these boys is something I’m just stoked about.”
There was even more drama in the MX2 field. With Serco Yamaha rookie Luke Clout snapping his femur just days before Appin, while holding down second in the championship, the title race became a lot more interesting.
The ladder was shaken up even more on race day, when Honda’s MX2 contender withdrew halfway through the day nursing his broken wrist. That injury and its subsequent complications forced Cachia to sit on the sidelines for a long, frustration-filled nine months.
And then there was Kale Makeham, who became the first two-stroke rider to ever win in the four-stroke dominated MX2 class. While Serco Yamaha’s eventual MX2 champion Luke Styke won the day by two points, Makeham’s moto one speed around the Appin hillside caused all sorts of bench-racing fodder, and arguably helped spark the two-stroke resurgence in MX2.
So what does this tell us about the return of the MX Nationals to Swan Hill this weekend? That anything can – and probably will – happen. In footy there’s a huge mental edge to having the final say in the first half and scoring first in the second half. Racing is no different.