Features 15 May 2018

Profiled: Connor Tierney

Western Australian talent on his transition to the premier class.

In the cut-throat industry that is professional motocross racing, riders can often be put in positions to make pivotal decisions that could ultimately make or break their careers.

Graduating to the premier 450 class is the goal for any aspiring racer, and rightfully so – it’s the pinnacle of the discipline in any championship across the globe. There isn’t a blueprint to making it to the category, although traditionally a championship or strong results in the 250 class leads to an opportunity with the ‘big boys’.

There have been a number of cases over the years where riders have had no choice but to step up to the class, which in most cases comes as a premature promotion in their careers. It’s proven to work wonders for some, while others have diminished from the sport after not coming terms with the larger capacity machines and intense racing nature of the division.

With more injuries than most at 20 years of age, Western Australian talent Connor Tierney was one of those riders who had to make a critical decision for the future of his racing career. A knee reconstruction at the end of the 2016 left the youthful contender on the back-foot for his entire 2017 campaign, which essentially meant he played catch up all year long and was unable to showcase his potential.

Image: Marc Jones (Foremost Media).

Left without a ride for the 2018 season while recovering from another surgery, this time on his shoulder, the stocky boy from Kalgoolie decided it was only plausible to contend the national scene in the premier 450 category.

“It’s been pretty tough and frustrating,” Tierney expressed to MotoOnline.com.au. “I worked it out the other day that since my second knee reconstruction, I’ve been on the bike riding for around six months over two years. I’m really concentrating on remaining healthy this year and moving forward.

“At the start I wasn’t too sure about it. I didn’t pick up a ride for this year, so we decided to form a little team with a small group of people and decided to ride the 450. Being a privateer, trying to get a 250 to perform and being one of the heavier guys would make it a lot tougher.

“The 450 makes it much easier, you don’t really have to do anything to them – the things are that angry, especially the Yamahas. It’s ended up suiting me a lot better.”

Image: Marc Jones (Foremost Media).

It’s tight-knit group of people who form Tierney’s support team, and Yamaha has come on board to provide additional support alongside a host of brands and companies, and so far, it’s proven to be strong combination.

Despite just a month under his belt to learn the characteristics of the 450 prior to the opening round, Tierney has already recorded a host of impressive outings in the first two rounds of the Pirelli MX Nationals, which sees him positioned 10th in the championship standings after a pair ninth place overall results, making just the second privateer amongst a list of factory contenders.

“I’m pretty happy with the first couple of rounds,” he continues. “It’s been about seeing how my fitness is and how the shoulder is holding up. I’m in a building stage and getting my body sorted. I’ve been working really hard, so if I keep that going, then I’ll just get better and better as the year goes on.

Image: Marc Jones (Foremost Media).

“It’s different racing in the premier class, in the 250 class everyone is just wild. In the 450 class, everyone is very calculated and you can kind of trust them almost – you can have a good race with someone, and I think everyone in the top 10 are very respectable riders.”

“The goal has been a top 10, but I’ve done that, so now it’s just working on getting closer and closer to that next pack in front of me. A top five by the end of the season would be awesome, but I’ve obviously got a lot of work to do.”

Tierney will be out on-track this weekend for rounds three and four of the MX Nationals at Wonthaggi in Victoria, marking the first double-header weekend of the prestigious series.