Features 13 Feb 2016

Moto 360

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

Some important news broke yesterday with Motorcycling Australia announcing the provisional dates of the 2016 Australian Supercross Championship, just hours after we revealed that all systems are in place for a second AUS-X Open in November.

Putting two and two together, the two nights of AUS-X Open competition will likely both be championship rounds this season, capping off the title in a mega Sydney event. For fans and the sport, it sets up another great build-up to the popular event.

Last year following the incredible inaugural AUS-X Open running it was a bit of a quiet end to supercross in Melbourne, so finishing on a high at the biggest event on the calendar definitely makes sense if that’s what happens.

Image: Jeff Crow.

Image: Jeff Crow.

But first, there’s a 10-round MX Nationals series to contend with and Williams Event Management is actually celebrating 20 years involvement in the series this year.

“As we approach the start of a brand new series, myself and the Williams Event Management team are very excited to be heading into WEM’s 20th anniversary year as a company and to be taking the MX Nationals to a whole new level in 2016,” Kevin Williams said.

“Collectively as a series, in 2015 we really broke a lot of new ground, and as always we are now looking at the different areas that we can step up this year, to continue to make the MX Nationals a high energy, action packed racing experience.

“In the coming weeks we will be making a number of big announcements and we’re sure that fans, spectators, teams and more will all be just as excited as we are.”

Williams also spoke of the upcoming announcements, hinting that 2016 official partners and MX Nationals support classes were just some of the big things that would be revealed.

“Some of the big things we’re very excited to share next week will be who some of our official partners are for the MX Nationals in 2016,” he added.

“Our support classes will also continue to be an integral part of the MX Nationals this year, and we are very excited to be working with the FIM, Youthstream and Motorcycling Australia to put together support classes of a world class standard.”

So all things are taking shape for a mega season domestically in terms of motocross and supercross, which we’ll be covering the entire way. I’ll hand this over to Adam Spence for his addition to this week’s Moto 360…

As the 2016 Australian racing season comes closer and closer, we’re slowly seeing more movement amongst the riders in their pre-season preparation. Up until this point things were very quiet domestically with most riders and teams keeping things low-key for the moment.

This week we saw the KTM Factory Motocross Racing squad take it to the track to kick off their 2016 testing with defending MX1 MX Nationals champion Kirk Gibbs and sole factory KTM MX2 contender Caleb Ward. Fellow teammate Luke Styke was absent from the sessions, still recovering from injury.

It’s a big thing for Ward to be offered a spot on the factory KTM team in the MX2 category as that sector of the KTM program has been non-existent since the official team’s return. The young Queenslander swung a leg over a race-spec KTM 250 SX-F for the first time this week and he was thoroughly impressed to say the least.

If everything falls into place correctly, 2016 is gearing up to be a big year for the 18-year-old. He’s clearly a very talented rider with tonnes of fitness and speed, showing that on several occasions on the MX Nationals circuit. Now he’s combining that with arguably the best MX2 equipment in the paddock.

Image: Chonnie McCosh

Image: Chonnie McCosh

Another aspect of Ward’s involvement with the KTM Factory Motocross Racing team is the riders and personnel he’s surrounded by. To start with, the team manager, Rob Twyerould, brings a wealth of knowledge to the table, the guy has been there and done it. Not only is he knowledgeable, he’s also one of the most approachable and easy-going guys you will meet in the pits.

A new and experienced addition to the 2016 KTM program is Jess Foreman, former mechanic of multi-time MX1 champion Matt Moss. Foreman will be paired up with Ward for the 2016 season and it’s a winning combination in my eyes. Foreman has been through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows with Moss in previous years, he’s seen it all and he’ll be exactly what Ward needs.

Riding alongside Gibbs and Styke in 2016 is bound to improve Ward’s riding also, you can guarantee he is watching Gibbs’ every move out at the test track. In a lot of ways Ward’s style and approach to the track is similar to Gibbs. He’s smooth, aggressive and calculated, meaning Ward should be able to relate easily to any tips Gibbs is giving him along the way.

Last year I actually ate my words predicting that Ward would win the 2015 title, he came out and injured himself right away, but I’m happy to admit I was wrong. This year though, I’m going to stick with my guns and say it’s time to watch out for Ward – he’s got everything he needs to put himself on top in 2016.

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