Features 19 Mar 2015

Countdown: 2015 MX Nationals title threats

Five factors that have blown the MX1 ranks wide-open this season.

As excitement and anticipation builds for the 2015 MX Nationals, MotoOnline.com.au pin-points five factors that have all but blown the MX1 championship race wide-open over the off-season.

Image: Andy McGechan (BikeSport NZ).

Image: Andy McGechan (BikeSport NZ).

5. Styke’s return:
After crushing the MX2 competition at the 2013 MX Nationals, Luke Styke was lured to the illustrious MXGP world to race the MX2 class for Kemea Yamaha team last year. The novelty soon wore off after several clashes with team staff, followed by a huge crash and season-ending injury at Finland, and Stykesy found himself looking for ways to return to Australia. A call to KTM Motocross Racing Team boss Rob Twyerould set the wheels in motion and it wasn’t long before Styke was a sealed deal to return home as a contender for the MX1 championship. With a season of GP racing experience under his belt and a genuine enthusiasm about being back home again, Styke could definitely upset a number of apple-carts this season.

4. Factory rookies and returners:
Since last year’s MX Nationals there’ve been a huge number of changes within the factory teams. When you look at it only five seats have remained the same, with Kirk Gibbs, Matt Moss, Cody Cooper, Adam Monea and Jake Moss re-signing for 2015. Newcomers include the returning Styke, Kade Mosig (CDR Yamaha) and Kale Makeham (Team Motul Suzuki), while we’ve also got former champion Dan Reardon making a sensational comeback to racing with CDR. As well, we would have seen Jacob Wright back for a full campaign with CDR if it weren’t for his devastating knee injury. How these guys take to their new rides is going to play a key role in how each round shakes out.

3. Monea’s familiarity:
If anyone should feel comfortable heading into the 2015 championship, it should be Adam Monea. Monz comes into this season with a distinct advantage of having been with Troy Carroll’s NPS Monster Energy Kawasaki team for two seasons already and he’s becoming more of a force to be reckoned with as each year passes. On top of that, Monea’s got all his ducks in a row after teaming up with one of the most experienced wrenches in the pits with Michael Marty (formerly Serco Yamaha). If there was ever a year that Monea expects – and is expected – to step up and claim the MX1 title, it’s 2015.

Image: Andy McGechan (BikeSport NZ).

Image: Andy McGechan (BikeSport NZ).

2. Perfect pre-seasons:
Kirk Gibbs and Cody Cooper have gotta be feeling pretty good right now. We’re 10 days out from the opening round and these two blokes have both had near-perfect pre-season build-ups. The pair went 1-2 in the New Zealand Motocross Championship that wrapped up on the weekend and they’re both fit and healthy. The biggest factor is whether Cooper can translate his blistering speed at home across to Australian tracks in a consistent manner. Consistency isn’t much of a problem for Gibbs, who was one – if not the – most consistent riders in the paddock last year. With a perfect off-season, extra speed and consistency to burn, it’s little wonder that Gibbs is widely-tipped as a heavy favourite for the championship this year.

1. Moss brothers playing catch-up:
While their rivals have enjoyed an exceptional build-up to the season, two-time champion Matt Moss is running a race against time in order to be ready for next weekend’s opening round at Horsham. Both he and his brother Jake suffered serious set-backs to their campaigns while riding in the US during the off-season – Jake broke his leg before he’d even lined up for a round of the AMA Supercross, while Matt popped his shoulder out and suffered ligament and nerve damage to his rotator cuff. Both Moss boys are tentatively back on the bike and are trying to make up for lost time, but they’re effectively trying to claw back a six-week head-start that their rivals have. How ready they’ll be next weekend is anyone’s guess, but we’re expecting them to enter with the intention of minimising the points damage they could potentially face.