Features 14 Feb 2015

Moto 360

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

Social media was buzzing earlier this week when we dropped the news that the 2015 MX Nationals will run without title sponsorship following a three-year partnership with Monster Energy. At first glance, it’s not good news at all, but in digging a little deeper it became clear that Williams Event Management (WEM) anticipated the exit in some ways.

As one of the most popular domestic series in the world that’s attracted a host of top international talent in recent years, there’s a value to the title sponsorship. If that target isn’t met then, like we will see this year, there won’t be a naming-rights sponsor.

What is positive out of this is that the sport’s stable enough to go for at least a year without a title partner and WEM is moving to a revised structure for 2016 where it’ll try to attract single round title sponsorships rather than an overall supporter.

On paper, it should be more simple to gain smaller amounts of sponsorship and I think it can be achieved, but it’ll still be a challenge to secure deals for all 10. What it will do is magnify the importance of success at each individual round (no doubt everybody will look to the opener and Coolum’s finale as the first options).

Image: Simon Makker.

Image: Simon Makker.

It’s good to see WEM stand by its values though, because in tough times it’s easy to make decisions and reduce rates in a bid to secure something at all, but once the set price is devalued it’s difficult to boost it back up in the following years.

Over in Europe last weekend it was positive to see Todd Waters gain momentum in the Italian international series, while Dean Ferris was also solid at the Hawkstone International in the UK. These pre-season races – and the form they display in them – will do wonders for the Aussies coming off of their injuries in 2014.

Some disappointing news came in this morning that Hayden Mellross suffered a broken leg while training this week and has been forced out of Dallas’ opening East Coast 250SX round in the US this weekend. Mellross is hoping to return in a few weeks, but after such a positive build-up, it’s a tough break to see him sidelined so close to his debut. Heal up, mate!

And before I send this over the Simon Makker with his take from NZ, congratulations to Australian Motocross and Supercross Champion Matt Moss and wife Sophie on their wedding yesterday. Wishing you guys all the best! Here’s Makker…

It’s been a busy old week really, with plenty to write home about after all the action last weekend, where we saw the opening round of the Australian Enduro-X Nationals fire up at my old stomping ground of Brisbane, the first hit-out a number of Australian and Kiwi motocross racers at the opening stop of the New Zealand Motocross Championship.

From what I’ve heard, the Enduro-X was a ripper opener, with the course tougher than last year’s instalment, but still easy enough to ease the riders back into the game.

I had a good chat to CDR Yamaha’s Tom McCormack this week for the Profiled article we ran yesterday and he said there has been plenty of noise that the next round at Sydney is going to be brutal and a big step up in the difficulty stakes.

For many riders who struggled at Brisbane, the news is going to conjure up no small amounts of fear and trepidation, while the likes of US rider and points leader Mike Brown will be relishing the upcoming challenge.

Image: John Pinnell.

Image: John Pinnell.

In fact, it’s fair to say that if Browny continues to show the same pace that he did at Brisbane for the rest of the series, the real battle is going to be for second and third.

Brisbane has already taken its toll on some riders too, with CDR Yamaha’s Chris Hollis sidelined for the rest of the series as he tries to recover from some shoulder ligament damage he sustained in a crash on Saturday night. It’s expected that Hollis will be fit and ready for the AORC at Kilkivan, QLD, on 21-22 March.

Meanwhile, over in the Land of the Long White Cloud, there were a couple of surprises to come out of the opening round of the NZ nationals. Josh Coppins-coached Jay Wilson even surprised himself when he left the challenging New Plymouth track carrying the number one plate ahead of Michael McGoldrick and Hamish Harwood (who made a surprising return after rupturing his spleen during the Christmas break).

It was an awesome day for the Altherm JCR Yamaha team, with Wilson’s teammate Scott Columb taking home the silverware from Kirk Gibbs and Johnny Phillips. The second round of the NZ Championship will be held at the scary-fast Timaru track (South Island) on February 22.

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