MotoOnline.com.au highlights 10 things to watch this weekend at Qudos Bank Arena.
The highly anticipated AUS-X Open is only days away from taking place inside Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena. With a sellout crowd on Saturday night and close to capacity for Sunday’s show, plus the addition of several new events that will feature throughout both nights, it’s set to top last year’s effort. MotoOnline.com.au highlights 10 things to watch in Sydney this weekend.
1. Chad Reed, Cooper Webb and Ryan Villopoto
Chad Reed (Yamaha Factory Racing), Cooper Webb (Yamaha Factory Racing) and Ryan Villopoto (Monster Energy Kawasaki) are the headlining riders of the 2016 AUS-X Open, meaning they’re the number one guys to keep your eye on this weekend. Reed is going to be a fan-favourite racing in front of a home crowd, while his newly signed teammate Webb is tipped to be the favourite to win. Villopoto on the other hand is coming out retirement solely for the weekend’s event, which will be a rare opportunity for fans to witness.
2. Australian contenders
While the three riders mentioned above have stolen the spotlight, there is a contingent of Australian riders who have every chance to take an upset victory. CDR Yamaha teammates Dean Ferris and Dan Reardon are the strongest chance of stepping onto the podium, while Jay Marmont (MXR&D Husqvarna) and Kade Mosig (National Pump Monster Energy Kawasaki) are more so a long shot, however we have seen stranger things happen in supercross before.
3. Shannons Shortcut lane
Riders will have the opportunity to use the Shannons Shortcut lane once per race, and their strategy in doing so could be the deciding factor in the final results. The lane allows each rider to skip a rhythm lane in order to make up ground, essentially providing a shortcut. It’s sure to shake things up, and it will be interesting to see the strategies used throughout both nights.
4. AUS vs USA feature race
The Australia vs USA feature was only announced last week and it’s a great addition to the event. The race will see five riders from each country go head to head over a series of two-lap races, with the bottom two from each team being eliminated from each race. Australia will field Chad Reed, Daniel Reardon, Dean Ferris, Hayden Mellross (DPH Motorsport) and Jackson Richardson (Serco Yamaha), while team USA’s squad will consist of Ryan Villopoto, Cooper Webb, Justin Brayton (Honda Genuine Racing), Gavin Faith (Penrite Honda) and Justin Hoeft (KTM Motocross Racing Team).
5. Australian Supercross Championship finals
While the AUS-X Open is a once a year event, it will be held in conjunction with the final two rounds of the 2016 Australian Supercross Championship. This will see our Australian riders fighting harder than ever to ensure they cap off 2016 on a positive note, which in turn will provide even better racing. The addition of Reed, Webb and Villopoto could play to the advantage of some riders, while it could be damaging for others.
6. Reed-inspired YZ250
Yamaha Motor Australia’s Chad Reed-inspired YZ250 has gone viral on social media since it was initially posted last week – it’s an absolute masterpiece and will be on display in Sydney. It’s not confirmed, however many are hopeful of Reed taking to the track on the premix machine during opening ceremonies. If you haven’t seen it, we put together a Ride film on it this week.
7. ‘Sydney Beach’ sand section
The ‘Sydney Beach’ sand section is one of the biggest changes to circuit for 2016, and it’s bound to serve up some interesting moments. Supercross tracks are challenging in their own right, although the addition of sand increases the difficulty to another level. The section will run under the grandstands and through the storage areas in a makeshift tunnel, right before they re-enter the arena.
8. Monster Energy Best Trick
With $120,000 in prize money on the line over the two nights, the Monster Energy Best Trick competition will see several of the worlds best FMX riders attempt to defy the limits on a motorcycle. In one of the initial rider announcements, Clinton Moore hinted at unveiling a world-first trick at the event, indicating the competition will be at a significantly high level.
9. Best whip competition
Always a crowd pleaser, the best whip competition is a neat addition to the 2016 AUS-X Open. It will see a selection of supercross and FMX riders endeavour to lay down the most stylish whip in order take home a cool $1000 in prize money.
10. Monster Energy pit party
Prior to the event commencing, fans will have the opportunity to mingle in the pits and check out the motorcycles that will hitting the track later in the evening. Riders will be signing autographs, and there will be a host of brand activations along with world renowned DJ Brooke Evers performing from Monster Energy’s ‘Rig Riot’.