Features 1 Oct 2016

Moto 360

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

You just can’t beat the Motocross of Nations for entertainment. Each year that I follow it closely online, the more I enjoy it – there’s something about the scoring system that keeps you glued to every lap. And as an Aussie, I was proud to see our guys claim eighth overall for the 2016 edition.

Sure, we’ve had better results – a best of third in 2011 – but we’ve had worse as well. Aside from the end result though, you can’t help but be thankful that Motorcycling Australia, the local industry, teams and top riders always pull through the represent our nation and do so in such a professional manner.

I was particularly impressed with newly-crowned Motul MX Nationals champion Dean Ferris during that second moto (MX2/Open), battling with some of the best grand prix guys in the business and proving he’s world-class once again. If he doesn’t go back to Europe next year, he certainly should the year after.

That race was one of the best I can ever recall watching and I’ve watched a lot of racing in my time. The initial Jason Anderson/Jeffrey Herlings battle was epic before the latter made a mistake and went down, while the battle behind them was absolutely mega as so many top-level guys battled for position.

Todd Waters did an exceptional job as we expected and very near finished inside the top five to start the day in moto one (MXGP/MX2), but a late error dropped him down the order to P7. Still, it was a performance that showed that – like Ferris – he too is among the best outdoors. And I’m sure initial selection Kirk Gibbs would have done just as well if he wasn’t injured in the lead-up.

As for Mitch Evans, the reigning Australian MXD champion who was called in just days out from the event following the injury of Jed Beaton, he finished both motos, gained experience and will be a great investment for the future. He copped some heat as our MX2 entry, considering he hasn’t raced the pro class outdoors at home yet, but he was an 11th-hour choice and took on the challenge of his career.

We had Adam Spence put together an insightful Q&A feature on Thursday to show our audience how the selection process takes place, specifically based around this year’s squad, and you’ll see it’s not as easy as picking a rider and sending them – especially at the last minute in terms of replacements. For Evans, the opportunity fell in the window of his school holidays, so we were fortunate to have him there in the first place and I’m tipping he’ll be back there again later on.

That’s it from me for this week, the final round of the Australian Superbike Championship is on at Winton this weekend and I’ve got my hands full with that as we speak, so here’s Spence and then Jeremy with more…

Source: Supplied.

Source: Supplied.

Well wasn’t that one of the most drama-filled Motocross of Nations events in quite some time? Even before the event started we saw Team Australia deal with multiple team changes due to injured riders. Once the event kicked off it was Team USA who almost missed out on the main show – imagine that, the most successful team in MXoN history missing out on a shot at the Chamberlain Trophy? Crazy to think it almost happened.

I’m sure Alex and Jeremy will speak about the event too, so I’ll leave some of the larger talking points to them and focus one incident that really needs to be addressed. Jason Anderson being landed on after winning the opening moto was one of the most unfortunate and unexpected racing incidents I’ve seen in a long time; but that’s what it was, a racing incident.

Chihiro Notsuka, of Japan, was the rider who unfortunately landed on Anderson and almost broke the internet with videos of the incident spreading like wildfire around the world. This was obviously a very serious situation and luckily Anderson escaped the crash without any injuries (he did however already have a broken foot following a qualifying crash), but the amount of flack Notsuka copped was totally uncalled for in my opinion.

Since when was a rider considered an idiot or a goon for jumping the finish line on the final lap? I am aware that onlookers have said Anderson slowed considerably on approach to the jump, but Notsuka was still racing for position and definitely wasn’t right on the American’s tail approaching the obstacle. Anderson rolled the jump in celebration, just like many riders in the past have done, that’s totally fine. But Notsuka’s decision to jump is also totally fine, there’s no need to make him feel even worse than I’m sure he already did.

The internet is a wonderful thing, it allows us to communicate with the world, share information instantly and basically do or say anything we feel. But that’s where this issue has stemmed from for me. If the roles were reversed, would everyone be speaking so badly of Anderson? I highly doubt it. So let’s give this guy some support, there’s no need to be such a negative and hurtful bunch of human beings. Maybe nobody else will agree with me, and that’s fine, but there’s my view on the racing incident. I’ll hand it over to Jeremy…

Source: Supplied.

Source: Supplied.

The MXoN is by far one of my favourite events of the year, even if I am forced to watch it via a 13 inch screen on my couch. As Spence mentioned, this years event was pretty eventful, and I would like to say it’s was one of the most dramatic we’ve seen in recent years.

While I was scrolling through social media in between the live broadcast, I noticed a lot of negative comments regarding Mitch Evans’ selection, which is just extremely disappointing. I think Mitch should be incredibly proud of his efforts – along with Todd Waters and Dean Ferris – as it’s a big responsibility and after several riders knocked the opportunity back due to a variety of reasons, it was great to see him step up and take on the role at just 17 years of age.

I personally think we should be thanking him, rather than criticising him. I saw plenty of comments from people chiming in with how the MXoN selection process works, with a lot inaccuracies being spread around. Spence put together a great Q&A piece during the week, clarifying exactly how it works.

Moving on, it’s a relatively quiet weekend in motocross and supercross, both locally and internationally. The KTM Australian Junior Motocross Championships will wrap-up by Sunday, if South Australia’s wild weather calms down. I can imagine the finals will be pretty interesting, particularly in the older age groups where there are several riders who have proven themselves on the world stage earlier this year, which is obviously a great sign for the sport.

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