Features 1 Jun 2017

Top 10: Moments of MXN at halfway

A selection of the telling factors following five rounds in 2017.

The 2017 Motul MX Nationals series has been filled with action during the opening five rounds in every category that hits the track. There’s been a huge list of talking points this year and plenty happening both on and off the track as the series makes it way throughout multiple states. Now five rounds into the 10-round series and with the regular mid-season break upon us, MotoOnline.com.au takes a look back at 10 telling factors following the opening five rounds.

Image: MXN.

1. Dean Ferris’ domination:
There’s no denying that the CDR Yamaha rider has found a new level for 2017 as he defends his first-ever Motul MX Nationals MX1 title. Ferris has claimed every overall to date, five in total, and although Kirk Gibbs has topped him in two motos so far, it’s clear that Ferris is the supreme contender currently. Can Ferris put together a perfect season in the overall category? He’s made it happen for the first-half of the series, so it’s definitely a possibility, which would be an amazing feat.

2. Gibbs’ deficit:
Due to Ferris’ impressive five-round winning streak, we now see 2015 champion Kirk Gibbs placed in a challenging situation as the series takes its mid-season break. The KTM Motocross Racing Team rider now sits 48 points behind Ferris and has a lot of work to do if he wants to reclaim that number one plate that he handed over to the CDR Yamaha rider at Coolum last year. There’s still a lot of racing remaining this year, but it’s definitely going to be tough for Gibbs to overcome this points gap.

3. Evans’ starts:
MX2 rookie Mitch Evans has shown impressive form this season aboard his Serco Yamaha YZ250F, but that form has been mostly during the motos, not at the beginning. Starts have always seemed to hinder Evans and he is forced to push through the pack on a regular basis, which is probably why he is one of the best at doing so. When Evans starts up front, he has a tendency to win, and to be honest he has won from behind also, but those starts are crucial and need to be fine-tuned if he wants to take out this title.

4. Peters’ flash of brilliance:
Moto one at Wonthaggi saw Kyle Peters lead for almost the entire 30 minutes in the MX1 class ahead of Dean Ferris – the American was looking great aboard his Wilson Coolair Motul Suzuki. But we then saw him suffer a mechanical issue and from that point on he hasn’t been the same rider it seems. Battling bad luck and health issues, Peters has failed to return to his true form and it’s visibly frustrating for him each weekend. He’s back home in America currently, so let’s see if that helps him figure things out for the second-half.

5. Mastin’s struggles:
Egan Mastin has showed great speed this season, but it has definitely been a rollercoaster for the Davey Motorsport KTM rider. Mastin came out in the opening moto of the season and crashed his brains out before winning the second moto in impressive fashion. Horsham saw Mastin qualify first before being docked three positions for jumping on the opening lap of qualifying. He then went on to have his bike malfunction during moto one and was forced to race moto two on a borrowed KTM 250 SX that he had never ridden and hadn’t even set the levers to his liking! Most recently in Murray Bridge he claimed victory in moto one before being penalised five-seconds for a start infringement following the race putting him back to third-place.

Image: MXN.

6. Roll-offs:
Roll-offs certainly have played part this season and we even saw some strategy come into play at Murray Bridge due to goggle issues. Ferris saw that Brett Metcalfe had to toss his goggles early in moto two and pushed the issue so Metcalfe would be right on the rear of Gibbs. Metcalfe clearly couldn’t take the roost from Gibbs and Ferris made his way past before he too was forced to toss his goggles late in the race after using up all of his film. Stay tuned on this one, we have a feeling the whole roll-off ordeal is about to ramp up once again.

7. Challenging conditions:
We’ve seen some seriously tough conditions this season and it’s definitely pushing the riders to their limits. For example, Appin featured huge ruts as usual before rain later in the day during MX1 moto two made it even more challenging. Then we had Horsham, what an absolute struggle it was during moto one! Just 13 MX2 riders even finished moto one and we saw one rider being transported back to the pits with both himself and his bike in the bucket of track machinery – Horsham was just crazy.

8. Clout’s rookie entrance:
Luke Clout returned from America and took an offer from the Crankt Protein Honda Racing squad to make the move into the MX1 category alongside Todd Waters. It was a premature move for the 2014 MX2 champion, but so far he has been quite strong in his rookie season and a great addition to the premier class field. With a runner-up performance behind Ferris at Horsham during moto one the highlight of his season to date, Clout will be searching for more during the second-half of the year.

9. Metcalfe’s mid-season switch:
Nobody wants to make a team switch mid-season, especially Brett Metcalfe. Sometimes things don’t work out and changes need to be made as we saw with the former AMA supercross and motocross contender as he lined up at Murray Bridge aboard a privateer KTM 450 SX-F. Metcalfe put in his best performance of the season at his home round on debut with his new KTM deal and looks refreshed and a lot happier in his current situation.

10. Todd matures:
Following a tough rookie season in the MX2 class during 2016, Wilson Todd has turned things around for 2017 and definitely has himself in a strong position to claim this year’s title. Now part of the DPH Motorsport Yamaha team, Todd made big changes during the off-season and it looks to have been of great benefit. Now leading the series by six points over Evans as we head into the break, it will be a test for Todd to see if he truly has what it takes to maintain a championship and lock it in at Coolum.