Features 10 Jan 2015

Moto 360

An all-access view of Australian dirt bikes, presented by Alpinestars.

The new year is upon us and so far, week one of 2015 has been a great one. We’re constantly tweaking and refining the process of delivering this very website, which is an almighty challenge, but a rewarding one at the start of each year. And part of that is that this very feature is now titled Moto 360 (formerly MX Hub) and will be coming to you on Saturdays!

Like racers, teams, or many companies in the industry, we view the new year as a time to reassess goals, move forward and generally improve strategies. And it’s definitely not hard to get excited, because just like you, we’re stoked when the points start from zero in the new racing seasons.

Anaheim 1 is always the perfect way to kick-start the new year (without forgetting Dakar, as Simon Makker discusses below), but this year it was a tough start of sorts for the Aussies. In fact it was a difficult night for many – nobody has ever claimed an opening race of a series is straightforward!

I didn’t expect Chad Reed to win straight up, but probably be closer to the top five than he was, but he’s since said there were some technical issues that hampered him, so fingers crossed he picked up momentum this weekend in Phoenix. You’d be mad to doubt him at this point.

Image: Simon Cudby.

Image: Simon Cudby.

Matt Moss is good enough to be in the main, so that was disappointing by his standards after such an incredible recent run of form. Brett Metcalfe was definitely solid, even if 17th isn’t outstanding on paper, and I think it was a good return for him.

A few people have asked if Metty will show up at Monster Energy Kawasaki in place of the luckless Wil Hahn in coming rounds, but given his agreement with Team Dirt Candy now on board a Suzuki, I think it’s a long shot and we definitely won’t be seeing him back in green this weekend at Phoenix.

From what we understand, Brett and Dirt Candy have long term plans together, so if Kawasaki didn’t want him for this year after a strong outdoor season with them in 2014, what’s the point in splitting with his new team for another short-term fill-in position? But, as we know, this is racing and anything can happen.

Possibly the biggest disappointment was the injuries that kept both Adam Monea and Jake Moss out of A1 – a crushing blow for the Australian factory Kawasaki team, which has poured a massive amount of resources into this project.

Jake broke his leg training and is doubtful to line-up at all in the US this year from what I saw, while Monea has a nagging knee injury that possibly won’t see him on the gates until Anaheim 2 next weekend. Regardless, let’s hope they come back strong and ready for the MX Nationals in a few months.

Jackson Richardson fell short of a main event berth, which was a shame for him after a very strong showing in the closing stages of last year, but he’ll bounce back in the coming rounds. And the news has since filtered through that Luke Wilson will join him in 250SX come Anaheim 3, which will be great to see.

Overall though, A1 certainly wasn’t our night and, really, just wasn’t that exciting for one reason or another. The delayed telecast from ESPN Australia didn’t do the excitement levels any favours either, but they’re due to come back live by round three unless something changes.

That’s it from me for now, thanks for stopping by as always and we look forward to your company as the action continues to heat up. Here’s Makker with his first instalment of the year, direct from his new/old base in New Zealand…

Welcome to an exciting new year! We might only be one week deep into 2015, but already the action is coming thick and fast with both the Monster Energy Supercross and the Dakar rally already running full bore.

After a quiet few months rounding out 2014 it feels great to see things starting with a bang in January.

Speaking of Dakar, I don’t know about you guys, but the first thing I do when I get up in the morning at the moment is check out the Dakar results to see how our boy Toby Price is doing. Pricey had people rubbing their eyes in disbelief when he finished fifth on day two and he’s now up to fifth overall after taking second in the stage overnight.

If you had to pick someone who has far too much talent for one person on a motorcycle, you’d have to choose Price – he dominated junior motocross, is almost unbeatable in enduro, excels at desert racing and is upsetting a tonne of experienced rally riders in his rookie year. Imagine how much of a force Price will be in a few years’ time with some more kilometres under the tyres!

Image: Simon Makker.

Image: Simon Makker.

Last week during my Christmas break I had the opportunity to do a shoot with young Kiwi ripper Josiah Natzke. A couple months back it was announced he’s signed a whopping five-year deal with factory KTM to race in Europe, where he’ll race until the wing of MX legend Stefan Everts.

Natzke’s only 16, but after spending a few hours with him on a dodgy practice track hidden in the Waikato hills, I’m convinced he has what it takes to be the next big thing out of New Zealand behind the King brothers, Josh Coppins and Ben Townley.

While on the subject of New Zealand, I’ve heard noises that 2014 Team Motul Suzuki racer Rhys Carter will again be racing the 2015 MX Nationals, but will drop back to the MX2 class aboard a Suzuki. There’s been no official word about it or what team he’ll be riding for, but it’ll be great to see him back behind the MXN start gate.

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