Features 17 Jul 2014

Race Recap: Caleb Ward

MX2 sensation speaks after his second victory of the season.

North Queensland teenager Caleb Ward stormed to his second Monster Energy MX Nationals MX2 victory in three rounds and leapt up to fourth overall in the championship hunt after an imposing display at Conondale. MotoOnline.com.au caught up with the 17-year-old two-stroke racer to get his take on his blazing speed and what his goals are for the remainder of the series.

Image: Simon Makker.

Image: Simon Makker.

Caleb, awesome ride on the weekend, mate. How do you rate your performance?

The first two motos that I won were sweet and I’d probably rate them an eight or a nine out of 10. I had heaps of fun and enjoyed the track and enjoyed riding my own race. At the start of the last moto I spun on the concrete gate, then wheelied, so I had to pull the clutch in. Everyone was gone and I had to work my way from about 20th to 10th. I felt like I rode a little tight in the middle of the race and came good towards the end. I kinda wish it’d been a 30-minute race as I was catching the guys in front of me and I could’ve made a few passes.

Did you feel any pressure going into that third moto after dominating the first two?

Not really. I figured I’d go out and do the same as I did in the first two. I wasn’t too worried and tried to focus on my own race. At Wanneroo I felt a heap of pressure in the last race as I’d never won an overall, but this time I thought I’d done it before so I just focused on putting in another good race. I tried to treat each race separately instead of looking at the overall.

Everyone’s results were all over the place on the day, and there was a bit of confusion as to who had won the overall. Were you surprised to find you’d won despite a 10th in the final moto?

I was really surprised. I thought I would’ve been on the podium, but I thought Errol Willis had taken the overall. It was about 20 minutes after the final race that I found out I’d won the overall, so I was pretty happy with that.

You’ve won two of the last three rounds now, one on a sand circuit and one on hard pack. On top of that, you’re now fourth overall in the championship. You’re proving to be a serious contender for the MX2 championship.

Yeah, I’m pretty happy about that. It was good to prove myself on hard pack on the weekend and open up a few eyes as well. This is my first year doing the whole series – last year I only raced two MXD rounds at Toowoomba and Coolum, so I haven’t seen hardly any of the tracks before. I haven’t even raced at Gladstone before, which is the closest round for me.

Image: Simon Makker.

Image: Simon Makker.

You were seriously quick in the opening two motos, your fastest lap was two seconds a lap quicker than anyone else in both races. How the hell did you manage that?

I’m not really sure [laughs]. I clicked with the track and I didn’t get nervous or put pressure on myself. I focused on putting in consistent, fast laps and I found some different lines that the others weren’t doing. I tried a heap of different lines and found some good ones that definitely paid off. The Axis Motorsports guys did a great job setting my bike up as well. We’ve only spent a couple hundred bucks on parts that you can buy over the counter, so while everyone’s saying my bike is a rocketship, it’s nothing high-tech. They’re just good at what they do.

What did you think of the Conondale circuit?

I loved it. It was more my type of track and it was big, fast and open. I grew up riding grass track with Todd Waters’ old coach in a cow paddock with markers set up, so I had a lot of fun on Sunday, especially at the start of the day when the track hadn’t completely cut in yet. I would’ve like for it to have been ripped deeper and with more ruts, but it didn’t worry me. It meant I could be creative and pick my own lines, which was pretty cool actually.

Well now that you’ve won two of the last three rounds, what are your goals for the season?

At the start of the year I set a goal to place top three in the MX2 championship and I really think that’s achievable. A lot of people doubted me at the start, but I’m getting closer to the front-runners at the right part of the series. I’m looking forward to the last three races, especially Coolum, where I’ve had good results in the past.

Thanks for the chat, Caleb. All the best for Raymond Terrace.