Features 29 Oct 2014

MX Hub: 43

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

With just one round remaining in the 2014 Penrite Australian Supercross Championship, there’s a lot of interest surrounding the Brisbane Entertainment Centre season finale coming up on 8 November.

To end the season with a return indoors will be great for the series, but make no mistake, promoter Full Throttle Sports has to make this event work in order to further establish a platform for next year and beyond. Finishing on a high note would do wonders for the series.

Between the success of Bathurst and Phillip Island, now heading to Brisbane next, the reduced three-event/five-round structure across the three major states in 2014 seems to have worked. Sure, grids aren’t exactly stacked in the pro (heat races anyway) or supporting classes, but it’s no doubt been promising.

Returning indoors to a place with the history of the Brisbane Entertainment Centre brings back a lot of memories for many in the industry, but we’re still lacking in areas that the sport needs to attract. Hopefully in time, we will see an increased number of clubman and junior riders in events.

Between the rejuvenated national series that includes these feeder classes and the Queensland Supercross Championship, there are options that will enable riders to try their hand in the stadiums, which in the future will hopefully increase the championship start gates.

Image: Marc Jones.

Image: Marc Jones.

We’ve seen all kinds of reasons on social media why events are or aren’t working of late, but from my end it’s been an improvement and that’s what we need at the moment. Where will it end up? Only time will tell.

And when all’s said and done after Brisbane, the ever-popular MX Nationals pre-season will take charge: Matt Moss going for number three, Luke Styke back in the mix with KTM, CDR Yamaha featuring a fresh new line up… the list goes on. And in MX2, plus MXD, those titles will once again be wide open!

For now though, here’s Simon Makker with the latest from his base up in Queensland. And while we’re at it, sending all the best to Makker as he relocates back to his home of New Zealand in the coming weeks! The good news is he’ll still be on board with us, which means our NZ coverage will be boosted alongside all his regular contributions.

Today’s news that Honda is pulling out of the MX2 class is a huge blow for not only the class, but the sport as a whole. It doesn’t come as much of a surprise after race team boss Yarrive Konsky hinted along similar lines a couple of months ago, but it still raises warning bells and is a hammer-blow to the guts of the class.

Since 2012 we’ve seen Kawasaki, Suzuki and KTM all exit the class as full factory teams. The mass exodus leaves Serco Yamaha as the sole manufacturer team in the MX2 in 2015.

It’s a disturbing trend, but the bigger question is why has this once-burgeoning class brimming with talent fallen out of love with manufacturers who are choosing to put all their eggs in the ‘premier’ MX1 basket?

Is it because the class doesn’t gain the media or public exposure of the MX1 class? Is it a perceived costs versus benefits thing?

Is it a testament that these high-powered quarter-litre four-strokes really are money-pits that are significantly more costly to maintain? Is it because of the resurgence of the two-stroke and the extra resources the teams need to pour into the four-strokes to make them competitive?

However the trend of manufacturers disappearing began before 2013 when the two-strokes began to take hold.

Image: Jeff Crow.

Image: Jeff Crow.

It’s entirely likely that it’s any number – or all – of these factors that have taken the shine off the MX2 class from a manufacturer’s point of view.

But whatever the case, something needs to be done and fast to remedy this situation. I don’t see the same issue facing the MXGP’s, Canada’s or the States’ MX2 fields, so I’m unsure why we’ve found ourselves in this situation.

To stick our heads in the sand and ignore the problem could be catastrophic for the sport. What’s needed is for all concerned parties – manufacturers, teams, promoters, sponsors and even media – to sit down and have a good, honest conversation about the situation and come up with strategies to turn this trend around.

Let’s ask the hard questions, make some tough decisions and find some solutions before it’s too late. The alternative of simply sitting on our hands isn’t an option if we want our sport to continue growing.

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