News 15 Oct 2015

The Point: Importance of Australian supercross

What the discipline means to select industry observers.

With one round of the 2015 Australian Supercross Championship in the books and the second at Jimboomba this weekend, MotoOnline.com.au talks to some key players in the industry to get their opinions on just how important the sport is for Australian motorcycling and the issues facing it today.

Image: Jeff Crow.

Image: Jeff Crow.

Jay Marmont (multiple supercross champion):
Growing up, supercross is what got me into racing in the first place. I was never more excited than I was after watching supercross as a kid and watching them go around a track inside a stadium or arena was an awesome experience. All I wanted to do was race supercross and most of my better results were in that sport. In my eyes it’s definitely a very important part of the scene. It’s lost some momentum the past couple of years, but it’s great to see it’s starting to pick up momentum again and see it recognised for what it’s worth. It’s a little early to tell what will happen this year, but I can see a lot of positives out of using different promoters for different rounds. Scott Bannan has done a great job at Jimboomba in the past and Adam Bailey and his team have a good view of motocross as well as being involved in the corporate world of racing, so I think they’ll do well. We need these times to get the sport back on the right direction, see what works, then try and get a few people to put their heads together and find the best thing for supercross in Australia and how to progress it moving forward.

Taylor Potter (SX2 privateer):
For me as a supercross specialist rider, it plays a huge part. The cost of racing supercross is a lot cheaper and the wear and tear on bikes is a lot lower, which makes it a more viable sport to get into. I don’t understand all the angles from a promoter’s point of view, but I think we need to go back to what worked – Spokes Promotions ran a small five-round series, attracted good crowds to each round and put the prize money up front. The biggest problem, as a rider, is there are no state or rural races any more. I was probably the last generation to come through where we could choose about 12 different state supercross meetings to race my 85 at throughout the year. Riders had so many other races they could do and they were fast as a result. The prize money wasn’t great, but it gave us something to gain experience at. Having only one Australian series now, it’s too expensive. There’s the transport, accommodation, the $300 entry fees – it’s only $120 in the AMA Supercross championship – and bike maintenance, all for 10 or so laps at Bathurst before turning around and going home. Riders don’t get experience from doing that a couple of times a year. The regional rounds really helped the scene here; everyone gained good experience, they were fun and attracted good crowds. I’d love to see those events return.

Image: Jeff Crow.

Image: Jeff Crow.

Yarrive Konsky (Penrite Honda owner and SX race promoter):
There has been an explosive growth of interest in two-wheeled motorsport. Australian supercross flourishes with a diverse range of opportunities for riders, teams, state and national controlling bodies. A minimum 50,000 spectators will converge trackside to watch supercross over six weekends. It’s the largest single staging championship/event in Australia. With the right holistic strategy it can aide in creating new participation and corporate commercial engagement. The business of motorcycle sport needs supercross to foster new interest and create commercial opportunities for riders and fans. The perfect example is the notoriety of American Supercross riders of world championship motocross riders. Supercross sells excitement.

Lewis Croft (marketing manager at Suzuki Australia):
There’s obviously brand exposure and marketability of supercross and we think it’s important that there is a supercross and motocross calendar – a race team needs two championships if they’re going to go through all the effort of trucks, infrastructure, human resources and pulling in sponsors. I like supercross and personally think it’s easier to see and keep track of the racing. It’s quite exciting and desires a high level of skill and riders like Matt Moss shine because he’s an all-round package and great at both motocross and supercross. We’ve had great success in supercross with Matt Moss, Josh Hill and Jake Moss going 1-2-3 in 2013, then Moss and Lawson Bopping finishing first and third last year. We channeled all our support into the premier class, but honestly we saw no net result and the RM-Z bike sales didn’t improve. The amount of dollars we spent versus the return on investment didn’t add up for us and with people now able to access global footage on their phone or computer, our championships are effectively competing against the MXGP and AMA championships. 10 years ago the only way you could see our models racing was by actually going to events, whereas now you can watch James Stewart or Ken Roczen in action with a few taps of your fingers. For us it came down to brand awareness and we can achieve that cheaper and easier by digital means rather than investing so much money into supporting a race team.

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