Features 10 Feb 2016

The US Report

Taking a closer look at the current American racing scene.

It has been quite a few years now since we’ve had such a consistent presence in the US racing scene. In previous seasons we’ve had riders such as the Moss brothers, Josh Cachia and Lawson Bopping contesting select events, but right now we’re seeing Aussies pop up a lot more frequently online and on the live TV broadcast.

The amount of media coverage Lawson Bopping, Hayden Mellross and Luke Clout have received during the 2016 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship has been impressive. It would have been even better if Jackson Richardson hadn’t been injured early in the season also.

With Australia’s greatest export, Chad Reed, coming closer and closer to the end of his impressive career, it would be great to see the next generation of Australians filling that huge gap Reed will leave when he decides to hang up his boots.

Image: Simon Cudby.

Image: Simon Cudby.

It’s clearly a large gamble to pack up and head stateside with minimal support and a tonne of hope, but take a look at Bopping for example. The New South Wales rider is over there on a YZ450F he bought and bolted parts onto – no practice bike, no big budget, just the bare minimum. He’s mixing it up with the best of the sport, getting TV time and being noticed by many, it’s awesome to see.

Switching gears to the American riders, is anyone else thoroughly impressed with GEICO Honda’s Christian Craig? The guy has always been super smooth and an absolute pleasure to watch on a motorcycle, unfortunately he, like many others, found the ground a few too many times and decided to pack it up early in his career.

Fortunately the 24-year-old, while working a regular 9-5 construction job, realised he wasn’t finished yet and decided to make a return to professional competition. Craig, the son of former professional racer Mike Craig, has put it to defending champion Cooper Webb on multiple occasions and really spiced up this west coast series.

Image: Simon Cudby.

Image: Simon Cudby.

He may not have the outright raw speed of Webb, the guy’s blistering pace for 15 laps is obviously hard to match, but Craig is getting closer and closer. In the meantime, he’s also using his super smooth, calm and calculated approach to his advantage as we saw last weekend at the Glendale round.

Webb hounded Craig for the majority of the 250SX main event, but the Honda rider remained calm, battled to stay ahead and in the end reigned supreme due to the Yamaha rider’s unfortunate mistake during an aggressive passing attempt. Craig earned his very first career win, after leaving the sport and being a ‘normal’ person, he came back and won a 250SX west coast main event.

What’s exciting is Craig hasn’t seemed to have reached his full potential just yet, if he can get that extra edge and really find his true form, he could be quite dangerous. Not only is Craig fast indoors, but his 2015 outdoor performances show he’s no slouch on a motocross track either. Let’s hope he keeps building into the outdoor season and mixes it up with Webb, Martin and the rest – the more battles the better!