Features 12 Sep 2015

Moto 360

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

To open this week’s edition of Moto 360, first I must congratulate Team Australia on another incredible International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) showing this week, with one day still remaining over there in Slovakia.

Without the legendary all-rounder and reigning AORC champion Toby Price, GNCC ace Josh Strang or even multi-time national champion Chris Hollis in the World Trophy team, our enduro heroes have once again proven amongst the world’s best in Europe.

The youthful Junior Trophy team members haven’t put a foot wrong all week, nor have the Women’s Trophy trio, shaping up to be a triumphant week of competition for the Australians – win or lost at this point with just the final motocross test today.

Closer to home, I’ve been doing a lot of research into the 2016 motocross team structure during this past week, breaking the news that the KTM Motocross Racing Team will retain new MX Nationals MX1 champion Kirk Gibbs alongside Luke Styke, while teenage talent Caleb Ward has been drafted into the factory team.

Gibbs and Styke are under existing ongoing agreements with KTM next year, so if something does come up for Gibbs following his MXGP appearance at Glen Helen next week he will have to be released by KTM Australia to do so. It’s unlikely to happen, but you never do know. KTM’s Rob Twyerould also clarified that there has been no discussions with Dylan Long.

Image: Jeff Crow.

Image: Jeff Crow.

The new Husqvarna team that we’ve previously mentioned will be managed in-house, with meetings taking place during the week to finalise the the program. Once that’s sorted, then we can expect them to start negotiating with potential riders more heavily. But don’t expect big name signings, because the budget should reflect the brand’s low volume sales at this point.

NPS Monster Energy Kawasaki confirmed with us that Adam Monea and Dylan Long will continue into supercross (more on that from Simon Makker below), but nothing is signed for 2016 and that should be done in the next week or two. We hear Long is high on the agenda, but Monea may go elsewhere if rumours are to be believed – team manager Troy Carroll wouldn’t confirm or deny either way.

An interview with Matt Moss this week revealed he hopes to have a “different” deal signed for 2016 prior to supercross, indicating it’s something other than Team Motul Suzuki. Where that is, we have no real indication right now, but all kinds of riders have been linked to Suzuki’s factory program including new MX2 champion Jay Wilson (to name one) if he doesn’t get a ride in Europe.

As for Penrite Honda, Yarrive Konsky’s Full Throttle Sports is still in discussions with Honda Australia for 2016, which isn’t finalised. Until an agreement is struck, rider signings won’t be able to take place. Like Suzuki, multiple riders have been tipped to be joining Honda if they do continue racing past this year, but there’s nothing concrete at this moment.

What we did find out this week is that for the supercross season, SX2 champion Gavin Faith will move up to a 450 and be joined by Venezuelan Anthony Rodriguez, who was sixth in the AMA Eastern Regional 250 Supercross series. There’s no word yet if the team will continue to run a 250 to defend the title now that Faith has stepped up.

Yamaha is where the majority of speculation currently lies for 2016. As suggested last week, sources continue to link Dean Ferris to CDR, but team owner Craig Dack declined to comment when contacted. Where there’s so much smoke, there’s usually fire, and I wouldn’t mind betting this is a done deal, but Ferris or Yamaha aren’t yet ready to announce. We will wait and see.

What Dack did say however was that with supercross still to run and growing in relevance, it’s difficult to lock in riders now. There’s no word on whether they’ll revert to two riders or stick to three, but as of now and the results of Kade Mosig in motocross, it’d be surprising to see him let go. It’s a curious position CDR finds itself in right now.

If Ferris does come back as anticipated, that will mark the end of his courageous European journey, in which he solidified himself as a world class racer. I don’t think he’s peaked over there, but at the same time it’ll definitely add to the domestic series if he does return. In contrast, expect Todd Waters to remain with Husqvarna in MXGP for a third-straight season.

Source: Supplied.

Source: Supplied.

And that’s just the factory MX1 teams that we’re really paying close attention to right now, because there are of course many satellite and MX2/MXD teams that will sort themselves out in the coming weeks and months.

There are so many high quality riders on the market right now and potentially many changes to take place as every team looks to give themselves the best chance of winning championships. Given the results we saw this season outdoors, it’s clear pretty much every top team has what it takes to win races/rounds when the chips fall their way.

That’s where I’ll hand this over to Makker for today…

So much for mucking around! The silly season has barely had time to really get fired up and already we’re beginning to see the six factory teams (including the new Husqvarna outfit) take shape for 2016.

KTM Motocross Racing Team will field the same MX1 riders as they did this year with 2015 champ Kirk Gibbs and Luke Styke all locked in. One difference we will see next year is the welcome addition of a new MX2 factory seat added to KTM, with Queenslander Caleb Ward securing the spot.

After several tough years for MX2 riders it’s heartening to see a manufacturer apart from Yamaha see the value in investing money into the quarter-litre class. Hopefully this is something of a turning tide and we’ll see more factory-backed MX2 seats crop up over the coming seasons.

Monster Energy NPS Kawasaki have confirmed that Adam Monea will be joined by Dylan Long for the upcoming supercross season. Where this leaves Jake Moss next season is anyone’s guess, but he’s told me in the recent past that if he doesn’t get a good-paying factory ride next year he’s going to pull the pin on racing.

It’d be a hell of a shame to lose someone of Jake’s talent and caliber due to a miserable year riddled with injury, so I’m really crossing my fingers something comes up for him whether that be at Kawasaki or elsewhere. Missing supercross – if he doesn’t recover in time as we suspect – gives him one less chance to show what he’s still capable of.

Image: Jeff Crow.

Image: Jeff Crow.

On a different tack now, but the penultimate round of the Red Bull X-Fighters will be held in Pretoria, South Africa this weekend. It’s promising to be a huge affair with Bundaberg’s Clint Moore well and truly in the driver’s seat to claim the title.

If he’s successful, he’ll be the second Australian in two years to take the championship as he wrests it from the grip of Josh Sheehan. Standing in his way is French revolutionary Thomas Pages, who’s just 20 points behind Moore with two rounds remaining.

What is surprising is that third-placed Levi Sherwood has pulled out of Pretoria citing a complication to the ankle injury he sustained at the same round last year. While that’s the official word being used, I’ve heard unconfirmed reports that the real reason he’s a no-show is something of a protest over the use of trick-specific ramps for individual riders.

I’ve hit up Levi to ask him what the story is, but hadn’t heard a reply as this went online. If it’s true it’s a hell of a sensational move considering Sherwood is one of Red Bull’s prized athletes and the energy drink company runs the entire World Tour! If we hear anything further on this, one way or the other, we’ll let you know.

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