Features 28 Jan 2017

Deadline

Recalling this week in dirt bikes, presented by Alpinestars.

As the bulk of the attention globally remains firmly set on the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series, this weekend will see New Zealand’s primary pre-season race in the New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville.

We checked in with king of the Kiwis, Cody Cooper, earlier this week to get his take on the lead-up to his NZ title defence, in which he will target a sixth-career crown. Woodville, of course, isn’t a championship round, but it’s certainly one of the benchmark events across the Tasman.

Honda Racing’s Cooper is still in the early stages of developing the brand new 2017 CRF450R, so expect him to gain strength as the season goes on, and will be joined for the full season by Aussie Todd Waters on a satellite-type team. Jed Beaton will also be on a previous model Honda in the MX1 ranks.

Last year’s Woodville winner was Altherm JCR Yamaha’s reigning Australian champion Dean Ferris, who fell just short in his quest for the NZ title one year ago, but will enter the year as the favourite while Cooper is in the development phase with his CRF.

Image: Andy McGechan (BikesportNZ.com).

And making a welcome return to competition after spending all of 2016 on the sidelines will be Luke Styke, the former Aussie MX2 champion and grand prix regular putting in preparations ahead of the MX Nationals. He won’t be joined by teammate Kirk Gibbs this time around, as the latter is still in training after a lengthy layoff himself.

According to Andy McGechan over at BikesportNZ.com, the Aussie inclusion will see Ferris, Waters, Styke, Beaton, Daniel Banks, Trae Kuehn, Wilson Todd, Cody Dyce, Kaleb Barham, Morgan Fogarty, Chandler Burns and Mason Semmons all on track! And there’s a certain Ben Townley who will ride his Suzuki at Woodville as well.

It’s a great way to get the wheels turning on the racing season more close to home and, although it’s not always an accurate form guide for what we’ll witness when the Motul MX Nationals’ dates drop in April, it does usually set the tone for what’s to come. That’s it from me for this week, here’s Spence with more…

Well, wasn’t last weekend’s third round of the 2017 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship action-packed!? Although some of the action may not have been positive, I was definitely glued to the couch the whole time. The obvious talking point from the round was Ken Roczen’s huge and rather unfortunate exit from the 450SX championship.

That was one scary crash and I know I’m not the only one who is glad the German rider’s injuries aren’t worse. In saying that though, recent Instagram posts from Roczen confirm that the injuries to his left arm are still quite severe and his road to recovery will be long. With multiple surgeries ahead it’s still too early for anyone to predict when exactly the Team Honda HRC rider will be able to return to racing, but let’s hope it’s soon rather than later.

Source: Supplied.

Before Roczen’s mishap though, it was the altercation between Jason Anderson and Vince Friese that created headlines at Anaheim 2. That was an unfortunate issue that saw a title contender disqualified from the event and definitely stirred up the internet. Yes, Friese has a long history of coming in hot and taking out riders, but in this case, he may just be innocent. I’m a huge Anderson fan, but this did look like more of a racing incident after watching multiple replays.

You can have your own opinion on the matter, but the main issue here is that a rider of Anderson’s calibre can’t lose his cool like that. I personally can understand the frustration, especially with a rider like Friese who has a history of taking competitors down, but it just wasn’t worth it. The repercussions of his actions following the race have effectively taken him out of the 450SX title hunt, it’s unfortunate for Anderson and the sport in general.

Domestically, we’re deep into pre-season preparations and everyone is pretty quiet at this stage, but we’re still checking in with riders and industry personnel to keep our finger on the pulse. It’s an interesting time of the year for us media guys, but we’re leaving no stone unturned to be sure our viewers are up to date on the latest in our sport at all times!

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