Racer comments from Conondale's third round of the season.
A selection of riders detail round three of the 2017 Motul MX Nationals in Queensland. Team and privateer competitors can submit comments to [email protected] prior to the Wednesday after events for inclusion in the post-event Quotebook feature.
Nathan Crawford (MEGA Bulk Fuels Monster Energy Kawasaki) – Fourth overall:
We’re just making steps in the right direction and that’s our goal as a team, to better ourselves every time we hit the track. I felt great in qualifying, but caught some bunting in my rear wheel then tipped over and bent my clutch lever. In the first race I was pushing a group of riders in front of me, but had another little crash. Between races I regrouped, then really put my head down for the second moto. I got a good start and rode most of the race in second before I got rounded up towards the end of the race. I wasn’t too phased by that – it was my best result so far this year and I’m only a rookie, so hopefully we can keep getting better from here.
Aleksandr Tonkov (MEGA Bulk Fuels Monster Energy Kawasaki) – 11th overall:
There were some positives early in the day, but this is not what I wanted. Making Super Pole and leading the opening race early showed I can ride fast, but I want to lead every lap of every moto, not what I’m doing now. I’m a bit lost at the moment and I don’t know what the answer is. It’s definitely not the bike, it’s not fitness, it’s not the team because they’re working so hard to make everything perfect. It’s something mentally, maybe, but I need to find the answer as quickly as possible. We’ll go home, reflect on today and figure out what I need to change.
Kyle Peters (Wilson Coolair Motul Suzuki) – Ninth overall:
From Wednesday to the weekend I barely ate anything, I couldn’t keep anything down and to be honest I really didn’t know if it was going to be possible for me to ride round three at all. I did my two laps in practice and a couple in qualifying just to see what I could do, and then headed out in race one. I didn’t get too bad of a start but I went down in the second turn and after that it was pretty much just survival for points. After the first race I didn’t know if I was going to go out at all in the second moto, but I ended up lining up and I was just going to see how long I could last. I managed to get through the 30 minutes and salvage some points, but it was a weekend we didn’t want. For me the championship isn’t looking too good at the moment, but it’s not over until its over and anything can happen. For now, I’ll focus on making sure I’m healthy for Horsham and maximising on every race to get as many points as we can every weekend.
Dean Ferris (CDR Yamaha) – First overall:
It was pretty much the perfect day from me, I love riding this track and I reckon I raced with a smile on my face all day long. Tracks like this suit the way I ride and I enjoy the flowing turns, the hills and the jumps here – it’s just a really cool track to ride. Conondale is also special to me as it was the place I won my first ever national moto back in 2007 when I raced the MXD class, so to win here again 10 years later and again be on a Yamaha is pretty cool and something I was thinking about when I was riding. We are only three rounds into a 10-round championship and a lot of laps are still to be raced. I will continue to give 100 percent in my training and preparation because that’s what it takes to keep achieving these results. There are plenty of good riders in the MX1 class so there is no chance of my taking it easy. Thanks to my mechanic Aiden [Meltzer] for all his hard work as well as everyone on the CDR Yamaha team as the continue to give me everything I need to ride well.
Kirk Gibbs (KTM Motocross Racing Team) – Second overall:
Bittersweet for me here. I started the day qualifying fastest, but then in Super Pole I jumped the big extension and got a kick that shot me to the right and I landed so hard I blew out eight spokes in my front wheel and did something to my front brake caliper. I had no front brake and was just trying to nurse that front wheel home but still got third fastest time! I came from fifth to second in that first moto, but fought the bike a lot, then regrouped, made some changes and started up the inside for the second moto. Me and Dean [Ferris] came together at the start and I got the raw end of it, got pushed really wide and came out 10th or 12th – so a bit of damage control after that to get back to second. I feel like my pace is really good at the moment, I just need to get out front with Dean so I can battle for those wins.
Luke Styke (KTM Motocross Racing Team) – Sixth overall:
Conondale was good and the KTM 450 SX-F was great, I just made it hard for myself because I wasn’t riding like my normal self. I struggled a bit in the first one, it took three or four laps to find my feet, but then I started coming strong 10 minutes into the moto. It’s just a shame it probably took me 60-70 minutes of riding over the weekend to find my best form, we need to get that feeling right from practice. We’ll keep chipping away and stay positive – and it’ll eventually come around. We’re chipping away, but they’re just little chips – I want a big chunk!
Brett Metcalfe (SD3 Husqvarna) – 17th overall:
I was looking forward to a bit more of a natural track. We were a little disappointed not to make it onto Super Pole – we were literally 0.1s of a second off of fifth and 0.2s off fourth. I last raced there when I was 16 so I was kind of re-learning it a bit. We really improved the setup a lot between practice and moto one with stability and turning so hats off to the guys on the team who were able to make me faster. I had a good start but in the second corner I was involved in a crash that dropped me back to 16th. I worked through and had another small crash but was still able to charge up to fifth and I felt I had the speed to be up front, just not the track position. I went into the second moto with the same package and was in fifth or sixth spot when unfortunately we had a mechanical failure. We don’t know what happened but it was a huge disappointment after what were definitely some positives for us.
Zak Small (Husqvarna) – 12th overall:
I got 12th and 11th for 12th overall, and that’s my best finish for the year, I’m stoked with it. I felt like I picked up my intensity heaps and it showed – I was a lot closer to the front guys. I had some awesome battles, the highlight was the second moto battle between me, Kieron Hall and Kyle Peters. It was a three-way battle the entire moto until Keiron went in to make the pass and in the next corner Peters just absolutely pumped him over the back of the berm, but until then it was sick racing.
Kade Mosig (DPH Motorsport Yamaha) – Fifth overall:
I really felt like I had good pace both leading into this round and even in the first race where I was positioned well to take advantage of any mistake of the guys around me. But through the second moto I really started to tighten up with arm-pump in particular hampering my ability to move forward. So even though I’m third in the championship and only 15 points off second, I’ll be using the next two weeks before Horsham to keep improving.
Jesse Dobbson (Penrite Honda) – Seventh overall:
I am happy with my riding and fitness but overall I would have liked to have been further up the field. The pace was there to be battling for podium finishes and I was only a few points off third, but my starts let me down and I had to work hard to come through in both races. Daniel [Kersnovske] did an amazing job in dialling in the production suspension, my motor had some minor updates and I ran a Yoshimura system. Overall it was close to production as they don’t need much, the engine is strong standard on the aggressive map. I really appreciate everyone working hard to get me on the track on the weekend, it was a massive effort to pull it together as we are only contracted to supercross and Hattah, so thank you to all of our great sponsors, the CRF Honda Racing Team, my Dad and team personnel.
Egan Mastin (Davey Motorsports KTM) – Fourth overall:
An unhappy day, my KTM 250 SX was working great but I just struggled with the track – I haven’t ever had a really good finish here. I got a bad start in the first moto and it was hard to pass and I got stuck behind a fair few people. To come away with third in the second moto was much better. I wasn’t very happy with my day, but it was still good to finish off with fourth overall. That’s pretty good for a bad day I guess.
Jayden Rykers (Raceline Pirelli KTM) – Sixth overall:
Life’s been a bit up and down with the transition to moving interstate and moving houses, so I’ve been feeling a bit rusty the last two rounds and Conondale wasn’t too great for me. But now this is all out the way, and I’ll be able to put some solid hours in. I think I enjoyed the track a lot more here in the second when I put my head down and attacked it. It was quite slick, but it’s still a good track and a nice place to visit too, with the views and all that coming down into the place. I got to a slow start in moto one, and I fought from around mid-pack back to eighth but I just didn’t find that intensity. In moto two I felt a lot better, I got a good start and was sitting in fifth for a while before I had another rider crash in front of me, which put me back a bit. I started to ride a little more like I know how and and made things happen on the weekend. We have changed things a bit over the last week and I’m looking forward to putting them in place going forward. I’m not here to be getting fifth to 10th.
Mitch Evans (Serco Yamaha) – First overall:
Wow, what an awesome day. I’m not sure how far back I was in that first race but I just kept focusing on passing the rider in front of me. The pit board was hard to see so I really didn’t know where I was until I got towards the top three. But it was the most amazing feeling to win that race from where I was and after winning both races from near the front at Appin, it was awesome that I was able to prove that I could come from behind and get a race win. The second moto was just good fun and like Jatz [Jackson Richardson] and I were riding back at home. I don’t like slamming my own cousin but we are all good and to have us both up on the podium in a 1-2 finish shows that the team and the riders are doing the work.
Jackson Richardson (Serco Yamaha) – Second overall:
On paper my results at the opening two rounds were ok but I thought I could do better so I made a couple of changes to things at home while the team and I did some more testing with the bike during this week. The bike definitely felt better this week and my riding was also improved and therefore the result was better. Congrats to Mitch [Evans] as he rode amazing and deserved his win today and thanks to Serco Yamaha for all their efforts the past couple of weeks – it was a great weekend for the entire team.
Wilson Todd (DPH Motorsport Yamaha) – Third overall:
Race one, I put myself in a good position at the front of the pack and worked my way into the lead. A lot of the riders around me had small moments, especially in the first half of the race and I wasn’t any different, dropping the bike, allowing several guys past and really losing the forward momentum I had. Race two and I didn’t get the start I wanted leaving me in the main pack getting bumped around rather than focussing on pushing forward, once I started making ground I dropped the bike again putting me back down the list and wrecking any chance I had of challenging for the win. I think I’ll spend the short break working on not dropping my bike!.
Dylan Wills (Synep Racing Husqvarna) – Ninth overall:
I took a little bit to get the track down pat, once I came to qualifying I just struggled a little bit but I got my lap-time down pretty quick and that was a big confidence booster. In race one they held the gates for a while and I got a really bad start, I was making passes and riding really well, and I went to make a pass on Jayden Rykers and just laid it over. I only lost five seconds but got a bit caught up and could only finish where I started. So that was a bit disappointing, I was looking for better than that. Moto two I got away well, put some decent laps in but just struggled to keep with those guys. There’s no excuse, the bike’s really good, I feel like I’m riding good and my fitness is good, I’ve just got a bit of time to make up on the track and that’s it. But we’ll end up there soon.
Kyle Webster (Penrite CRF Honda Racing) – Fifth overall:
Moto one in the second turn I ran wide and dropped a few places, but I just put my head down and caught back up and moved into third, and then had the chance to get to second when another rider went down – but as I went past I went off the track and bumped neutral and dropped it, which put me back a few places again. I rode hard and caught back up to the leading riders, but just ran out of time and finished in fifth-place. But the second moto was tough, I struggled to make all the turns flow nicely, which is so important at Conondale with so many sweeping corners, and I battled to get all the lines right. But even so, I was running in fourth all the way to the second-last lap, when I was passed and that pushed me back to fifth again at the finish. Overall it was a hard day, but I am happy with how I rode. We’re so close to the front runners, so I will just keep working hard between rounds to get right up there with the leaders.