Features 17 Jun 2015

The Euro Report

An Australian take on the MXGP World Championship.

The top of talented Australian riders have a strong history in MXGP competition, from the era of Jeff Leisk, through Chad Reed, Andrew McFarlane, Dean Ferris and many others along the way, but at times it feels like we have been off the radar of sorts in between. So when a current rider lands on the podium or close to it, there’s lots of reasons for Aussies to stand up and take notice.

Of course having two Aussie racers right now on board factory Husqvarna teams – Ferris on the Wilvo Nestaan team and Todd Waters on IceOne Racing – is a strong indication that our MX Nationals series is widely respected globally. And that it’s producing world class racers.

Waters’ breakthrough podium at Maggiora on Sunday was a great reminder of our promising internationals, especially in such difficult conditions on one of the most historic tracks there is at Maggiora, Italy. It was a really, really impressive result for Todd at 4-4 moto finishes.

Source: Husqvarna.

Source: Husqvarna.

To see Waters overcome his fair share of injuries and setbacks while adjusting to the high pressures of grand prix racing is inspiring for many of our domestic motocross riders and his desire/work ethic is what’s no doubt driving him to the top.

The aforementioned Leisk, Reed, McFarlane and Ferris remain the only Australian riders to win GPs in history; Ferris the most recent with his success in 2013 on board a factory-supported Yamaha in MX2. And now, Waters is the next to be truly knocking on the door.

Ferris has had a tough year by his standards in 2015 on the FC 350 in MXGP, coming off a mixed season last year that included a dream stint in the US with Red Bull KTM before injuries struck while training in Australia, badly breaking his wrist. Once recovered he returned to Europe, but was soon after injured once again with a broken femur at the GP of Brazil.

However you can’t deny that Ferris has the potential to conquer Europe once he gets the ball rolling once again and, right now judging by Antonio Cairoli’s switch, you’d have to think he’d be better off on a 450 in the sport’s premier class. His fifth overall in France a few weeks ago highlighted his potential before illness ruled him out of Italy.

Source: Husqvarna.

Source: Husqvarna.

And looking ahead, the promise is there. Luke Styke has already spent a season in MX2 GPs, struggling with the private KEMEA Yamaha team, but now he’s paired up with KTM locally on a 450 back home he’s eager to get back to Europe in a year or two with the right outfit. If he does, the experience of 2014 will pay dividends.

More immediate could be Styke’s current teammate Kirk Gibbs, who is currently leading the MX Nationals title chase and has a desire to try his hand at MXGP in the future as well. He won’t just go for anything and depart the comforts of KTM Australia, but if the opportunity arises as it did for Waters, you can guarantee he will be one to make the most of it.

The list goes on and on of riders who would like a shot at a world championship, because unlike once upon a time, Europe is becoming the go-too place and a more realistic option before taking on the US. The Chad Reed route, you could say, but it’ll never be easy.