Features 25 Mar 2017

Deadline

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

One week from now we will be at Wonthaggi for the opening round of the 2017 Motul MX Nationals and it’s all becoming very real at this point. I’m most certainly excited for the gates to drop on the new season, especially after heading down there for the series launch in February.

I’ve always been a fan of Wonthaggi, which is right near the iconic Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit down there in Victoria, and to open the Australian Motocross season down there definitely makes sense.

Before then however, we will see Dean Ferris aim to deliver Josh Coppins Racing (JCR) a first MX1 crown in New Zealand, which would be his sole focus for now, even though we are so close to the Australian series. In speaking to Ferris at the MX launch, winning the title for JCR is at the peak of his priorities during the pre-season and he’s supremely serious about it.

From there, it will be all targets set upon Wonthaggi to open the 10-round championship. Next week we will post our usual pre-season predictions, which is always a bit of fun to put on the line, but also as usual, it’s tough to truly say who will be on top come Coolum in August, whether it’s MX1, MX2 or MXD.

Source: Supplied.

On Friday we saw Kawasaki Motors Australia name MEGA Bulk Fuels as its new naming-rights partner alongside Monster Energy, replacing the outgoing National Pump and Energy. Attracting that type of sponsor is great for the sport and many will be familiar with MEGA from their current association with Prodrive Racing Australia and driver Jason Bright in Supercars.

In fact, the Troy Carroll-managed factory Kawasaki team has a number of related associations with Prodrive Racing Australia, which fields the MEGA entry for Bright, as well as a Monster Energy car with Cameron Waters. Both also have ties with Team Navy, so it’s a fascinating opportunity for crossover that they enjoy.

The big question that can’t be ignored is, who is partnering Nathan Crawford on the official KX450F? Russian Aleksandr Tonkov is still the prime candidate, as he revealed in January, but he’s still not in Australia and it’s raising a lot of questions, considering the visa issues that disrupted his MXGP season last year.

Carroll is remaining tight-lipped on the subject for now, but with the opener next weekend, they’re coming under increased pressure to lay their cards on the table and it’s then that we will know whether or not Tonkov is actually coming. And we will also find out more about the injury that Crawford sustained over in Indonesia while preparing for his GP wildcard (which they’re also opting not to speak about).

Before I hand this over for the week, I wanted to extend our well-wishes to the Australian contingent getting their EnduroGP campaigns underway in Finland this weekend, led by world champion Matthew Phillips and Australian champion Daniel Sanders. Here’s Spence…

What a week it has been! I’ve been largely absent from MotoOnline.com.au this week due to my role as production manager at Foremost Media, where we’ve been hard at work putting together films for the 2017 KTM motocross and off-road squads, along with the 2017 Husqvarna off-road outfit.

The weather in Sydney has been unbelievable over the past few weeks, so we were forced to put in the kilometres to ensure we could dodge the rain and get the shots we needed. It’s always a super-exciting time of the year seeing the new team liveries revealed and I’m sure you will see the three teams’ films and images released shortly!

Image: Alex Gobert (Foremost Media).

It was great to see Kirk Gibbs and Luke Styke back in action and looking comfortable ahead of the 2017 season. Both of these riders have battled their way back from injury and it’s really good to see them both doing well. These guys looked great during the week and it’s definitely going to be really good seeing them hit the track next weekend in Wonthaggi for the Motul MX Nationals opener.

I also happened to see both Luke Clout and Jayden Rykers during the week at a secret location putting in laps. It was the first time I had seen Rykers in person aboard his new Raceline Pirelli KTM machine, which was interesting in itself, that’s for sure.

The highly-capable Western Australian, who made the move over to the east coast, will be one to keep an eye on this season in MX2 because he’s hungry to become ‘the guy’ in that class and he’s definitely putting in the pre-season work to do so.

But anyway, that’s all from me this week, time to enjoy my weekend off before we head full-steam into the 2017 motocross season. If you’re in the Sydney region, grab your mates, head to your local sand track and have some fun!

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