Features 11 Mar 2017


Recalling this week in dirt bikes, presented by Alpinestars Australia.

It’s natural that in Australia, when it comes to off-road and desert racing, much of the attention goes to the remarkable feats of Toby Price. And for good reason, considering the mainstream media he has attracted as last year’s Dakar Rally winner. But it was unreal this week to see Between Trees released, featuring EnduroGP champion Matthew Phillips.

The Tasmanian, who is still just 23, has made a huge impact on enduro at the international level with four world titles to his credit. The way that he has done it has been unique in itself, shifting between a range of manufacturers, but competing at the top of his game regardless of the brand beneath him.

Back in 2013 Phillips entered the Enduro Junior series with CH Racing aboard the old-school Husqvarna machinery (prior to KTM’s take-over) and he clinched that crown on debut. That led to a significant deal with the Farioli-run factory KTM team, where he won the E3 World Championship the following season during 2014.

Come 2015, Phillips was again all class on the world stage and finished runner-up in the standings, however in a landmark move, he jumped ship to Sherco for 2016. What many didn’t realise at the time was, operating the factory-supported Sherco squad was his former CH Racing team, so it was an obvious fit.

Source: Supplied.

And Phillips has seemingly found his home with the CH/Sherco combination, going on to deliver the first-ever overall EnduroGP World Championship victory, as well as the E2 class championship in the process. It’s proven a heck of a combination and, really, exactly what Sherco needs as the French manufacturer continues to establish itself among the main players – especially in Australia.

When I was first starting out with MotoOnline I remember Phillips as one of the young guys in motocross, making a name for himself, but – like Price – eventually heading down the off-road route when better opportunities were presented. He went to enduro full-time in 2011, immediately made an impact and the rest is history.

So to see Phillips team up with the supremely talented Jarryd English (joined by AME Management counterparts Lachlan Russell and Aidan Rice) to create Between Trees is absolutely mega and it provides an entirely new take on one of the sport’s great personalities. Available on-demand via Vimeo, do yourself a favour and check it out because you won’t be disappointed! That’s it from me for this week, here’s Spence…

I seem to kick off my portion of this feature every week saying the exact same thing, but it’s true – every week here at MotoOnline.com.au is a big one! We’ve been chatting away with as many riders and industry personnel as we can to ensure we’ve got everything covered for our viewers ahead of the upcoming Australian racing season.

It was nice to briefly chat with Jed Beaton this week as he settles into his new surroundings in Europe. Speaking with Beaton, he’s only had some brief track time in some gnarly sand conditions (see his Instagram account @jedbeaton12 for video evidence) as of yet, but ensures the move is going smoothly to date.

And for those wondering, yes, Beaton was riding a 450 in that video, but it was because that deep and wet sand was giving the 250 a really hard time. Obviously it’s just a practice day, so there’s no need to wear out the 250 when they had a 450 on hand ready to go. So that’s the story behind that one, as I know a lot of people will be confused as to what exactly is happening there!

Speaking of Beaton, the 2016 Motul MX Nationals MX2 champion was a huge supporter of young Jay Jennings as he battled cancer during 2016 and it’s great to see the seven-year-old now healthy and back doing what he loves. We posted a film featuring the Tasmanian, which you can click here to view, and it goes in-depth as to what exactly happened and how they overcame the disease.

Source: Supplied.

It’s always tough seeing anyone go through something like that, and it’s especially hard to see when it’s someone so young with years of life still ahead of them. So if you’ve got a spare 15 minutes and you’re looking for something to inspire you and put a smile on your face, go check out the video and see the little guy healthy and back out shredding the track!

We also put together a Q&A feature this week, which you can click here to view, outlining key points in the battle between Ryan Dungey and Eli Tomac for the 2017 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship. I’m not going to go into too much detail here as you can just read the feature itself, but this battle is surely going to get interesting as the rounds go on. This weekend’s Daytona event will be key for Tomac to continue chipping away at Dungey’s lead!

We’ll also see a selection of Australia’s best motocross racers return to New Zealand this weekend for round three of the 2017 New Zealand Motocross Championship. It’s always good to see where our top Aussies are at with their pre-season preparation and we all know that they have their hands full with Cody Cooper on home soil too. Can anyone top the quick Kiwi this weekend? It’ll be interesting to see when the results filter through over the coming days, stay tuned on that!

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