Features 7 May 2016

Moto 360

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

Is it just me or are racing seasons flying by faster than ever before? The anticipation for Anaheim 1 feels like just a few weeks ago, but in reality a full season has gone by and this weekend the Las Vegas finals will conclude the 2016 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season.

It’s been a great season from many angles, but still, the predictability of the sport at its highest levels can become repetitive week in, week out. By now we know that either newly-crowned triple champion Ryan Dungey or Ken Roczen will win, unless something out of the ordinary takes place.

Sure, Jason Anderson (Anaheim 1/Detroit) and Eli Tomac (Daytona) have won races along the way as well, but it’s been a rare occasion for that type of upset to happen, no doubt. So what can we put it down to? To me, it’d have to be the fact that Supercross is just so hard at the professional level – very few can match the sheer performance that the very best do.

It’s not an equipment thing like we see in Formula 1, it’s purely rider skill and the work that goes in behind the scenes. A top team is essential as well of course, but it’s just an extremely difficult sport to excel in when you consider just how great riders such as Dungey have become.

In fact, the least consistent aspect of Supercross would be ESPN’s coverage here in Australia. Who knows what they’ll deliver on Sundays regardless of what the scheduled programming is! I’ve heard whispers that it could transfer to Fox Sports locally from next year, which would be a great improvement with their wide range of channels to work with.

Image: Simon Cudby.

Image: Simon Cudby.

Taking a more broad approach, as fans we need to embrace the guys who aren’t necessarily winning, but are still supremely impressive dirt bike riders representing the sport’s biggest brands. Every single person on the track (well, most times) is world-class and you have to respect that. Too repetitive? Probably. However that doesn’t stop us tuning in religiously 17 times per year.

From an Australian perspective, simply following Chad Reed’s progress each round is a pleasure. While he may not be the dominant rider at the front of the field on any given weekend these days, seeing him ride out the final years of his career while still remaining competitive enough for podiums at the least has been a real positive for our country that’s for certain.

And then there’s the 250SX series, both the Western and Eastern Regional titles producing entertaining action that’s far less predictable on a weekly basis. Add in the Aussies like Hayden Mellross, Jackson Richardson, Luke Clout and co. who are learning their craft in the US and it becomes obvious why we all love it so much.

So another season’s about to be in the books, Dunge is the man again, Reed seems safe in fifth for the standings and the 250 titles are still undecided (keep an eye on them this weekend!). There have been far more exciting Las Vegas finals, but then again, we’ll all be anticipating A1 2017 as soon as the final chequered flag flies. Here’s Adam Spence for more…

Let me just start off by saying last weekend’s Broadford Motul MX Nationals event a wild one to say the least. On Saturday afternoon the forecast was showing possible rain overnight and unfortunately they were correct – it rained cats and dogs!

Arriving at the State Motorcycle Complex bright and early on Sunday morning, I was praying the track wouldn’t be an absolute mess, but obviously I was kidding myself as the track was as sloppy as can be. The clouds were also coming and going, which meant for me I had the plastic bags on call at all times to cover my camera gear.

Luckily for myself we had one large shower before the racing began and only minor sun showers later in the day, but for the riders on the other hand, it was tough all day long. The track at the start of the day was one of the most sloppy and slippery I’ve personally witnessed. It was an absolute mess.

As expected with a mud race, you’re bound to run into bike issues, especially in the MX2 category. Unfortunately for KTM Motocross Racing Team’s Caleb Ward, he was one of those who fell victim to dreaded mechanical problems. I was right there when Ward’s bike gave up during moto one and the frustration for the likeable Queenslander was quite obvious.

Image: MXN.

Image: MXN.

Ward knew his closest championship contenders, along with an improved Dylan Wills, were all up front battling for the lead while he was walking back to the pits. As we know, the day just got worse from there with a late moto two crash seeing him finish 15th and drop to seventh overall in points.

It was such a huge swing and momentum change in such a short amount of time, it really showed just how much mother nature and freak mechanical issues can play a role in this sport. Luckily for Ward though, the series is heading to Murray Bridge next where he swept both motos last year. I have a feeling he’ll be on fire there.

Another interesting topic from the event is the fact that DPH Motorsport rider Jed Beaton now leads the MX2 title chase after a perfect 1-1 performance. Now that in itself isn’t overly interesting, but the face that he is a former Serco Yamaha rider is. Have we got a trend starting to form here with former Serco riders?

Jay Wilson departed from the team after just one year with the Queensland-based outfit, then returned on a smaller Yamaha-supported ride and took home the title. Beaton in almost the exact same situation, now riding for DPH, finds himself in the championship lead three rounds in to the series.

Now this may just be a coincidence, but if Beaton does go on to claim the 2016 MX2 championship, which he definitely could do, it might just begin to bother the top-ranked Yamaha crew slightly. The remaining seven rounds will be interesting that’s for certain!

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