Features 31 Jan 2015

Moto 360

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

We’re now less than two months from the opening round of the MX Nationals at Horsham on 29 March, which – as we have witnessed in the past – will fly by and before we know it we’ll be all systems go for the 2015 domestic season.

Last weekend in New Zealand we saw a host of Aussies on hand for the Woodville Grand Prix and it was both positive and a mixed bag for some. What did we learn though? I’ve listed a few things that caught my eye below:

– Despite missing much of 2014, Honda’s Cody Cooper is still the man to beat in his homeland and has to be the favourite entering the NZ nationals next weekend. With the overall at Woodville and a close second to Kirk Gibbs in the feature race, time’s definitely not up on the veteran Kiwi’s career just yet. Plus, this pending announcement that he’ll be back with Penrite Honda in Australia is due any day/week now.

– Gibbsy, in his third year on the 450 with KTM, will be stronger than ever in 2015. Experience counts in the premier class and with consistency in his program, the time is now for Gibbs to stand up and take home the number one plate. If that doesn’t happen in NZ, there’s a major chance he will get it done at home this year once and for all.

– Kiwis are supremely quick on home soil. With Cooper winning, Scotty Columb third, John Phillips fifth and Rhys Carter sixth (plus former Australian champion Daryl Hurley ninth), these guys rip on home soil (and elsewhere actually!). And that carried over into the 250s, with Michael Phillips, Josiah Natzke, Kayne Lamont and Hadleigh Knight all in the top five. Queenslander Caleb Ward was second.

Image: Andy McGechan (BikesportNZ.com).

Image: Andy McGechan (BikesportNZ.com).

– Fourth overall was an exceptional result for Luke Styke, who is openly using the NZ season as a platform for the MX Nationals over here. After a tough 2014, he needs race miles on the 450, which he will certainly get over the next two months. Come Horsham, this experience will be vital for the 2013 MX2 champ.

– We probably expected better than seventh overall and sixth in the feature race for Jacob Wright with JCR Yamaha, but rest assured any kinks will be ironed out when the nationals open as he works closely with Josh Coppins. Same goes for Jay Wilson. The word is both found difficulty in adapting to the track conditions experienced on Sunday.

And then the news came yesterday that, while training in California, Matt Moss has separated his shoulder and his headed straight back to Australia in a bid to regain fitness before the MX Nationals start.

It’s a huge blow for Moss after what has been a frustrating number of appearances in the US this time around (in contrast to 12 months ago), but the time off could also come as a blessing in disguise after a packed couple of years for him in Australia, the US and Europe for MXoN, Bercy, etc.

Simon Makker has more on the Mossy story and more below, so now’s a good time to hand it over to him…

It’s amazing how quick the tables can turn in motocross. Yesterday two-time defending Australian Motocross Champion Matt Moss broke the news that he’d popped his shoulder out while training in the US, damaging muscles and nerves in his rotator cuff in the process.

The injury has cut short his disappointing US trip and will see him looking mournfully at his bike for six weeks as he waits for the injury to heal.

But muscles and nerves are funny things; sometimes they can heal rapidly in a few weeks, while other times the same injury can niggle and plague a rider for months.

There’s no telling which way it’ll go, but we have every confidence that Mossy will be getting the best help and support he can find in order to kick this injury’s arse and get on the front foot.

Image: Simon Cudby.

Image: Simon Cudby.

As soon as we heard the news, though, we instantly shot worried looks at our calendars to find out how that places him for the opening round of the MX Nationals. All going well, Mossy should be back on his yellow steed around the middle of March, just two weeks before the series starts.

While no-one wants to gloat or be outwardly pumped at this development, the news would’ve been fairly well-received by Mossy’s nearest rivals.

They’ll have a six-week advantage in their training and preparation, and for the likes of Kirk Gibbs, Adam Monea, Luke Styke, Cody Cooper, Jake Wright and Kade Mosig, they’ll be race-tuned with the New Zealand (the US for Monz) season now gearing up.

The thing about Mossy, though, is that he’s always dangerous. In fact, you could argue that he’ll be even more dangerous at the opener because of this setback. The last thing he’ll want to do is let the pack smell blood or weakness at the outset of the season or start the championship on the back foot.

The cat has definitely been thrown among the pigeons, though, and as always, we’ll be keeping close tabs on each development as the domestic season looms.

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