Arrangements for 2019 in motion for CDR Yamaha Monster Energy Team.
The all-conquering CDR Yamaha Monster Energy Team of Craig Dack faces a steep challenge in replacing Dean Ferris for the 2019 season, in a deal that he’s suggested could be completed as soon as this week.
Ferris broke the news via MotoOnline.com.au on the Friday afternoon of the Coolum national that he would be departing CDR at the close of this year, opening up one of the most prized positions in the sport.
For Dack, the decision of Ferris to go and follow his dreams internationally is respected, effectively fast-tracking plans to move ahead on negotiations for next season and sparking all kinds of speculation during the final Pirelli MX Nationals round of the year.
“Dean didn’t really want to get involved in talking about what he was going to do until he won the championship this year, so once he won it in Gladstone, we went to lunch on Friday,” Dack told MotoOnline.com.au. “On the way, I said ‘okay, what are we doing?’ and he just said ‘I’m going’, so I said ‘cool, we are going to just have lunch then, not to have a chat [laughs]!’, so that made it easy. We wish him all the best.”
CDR’s priority is to cement its lead rider position sooner, rather than later, with wide-spread rumours linking outdoor specialist and 2015 MX1 champion Kirk Gibbs to the factory YZ450F for the MX Nationals. With KTM Australia understood to be restructuring its racing program, a return to the fold of Yamaha Motor Australia could make sense.
Gibbs finished second overall to Ferris in both 2016 and 2017, but only claimed 11th this year following an injury-riddled back half of the season. Earlier in the year he impressed with a first-career New Zealand championship victory in the MX1 ranks, further establishing himself as one of the finest motocross racers in the region.
“As far as CDR goes, we have a couple of options,” stated Dack. “There are a few ways to skin the cat, but it is becoming a bit more difficult than what it’s been in the past because I think supercross is back on track now. We really built our team around motocross for several years because supercross was quite dysfunctional, so our focus had been on motocross.
“Clearly now, we have to look at supercross when you look at what AME Management and Motorcycling Australia are doing – there are a couple of great rounds, including a round in Geelong, which is my hometown and a great footy stadium. I feel that supercross is back on track, so we have to consider that option. I have a few irons in the fire and the ball is rolling, but it’d be premature for me to speak about who that is.
“It’s funny how it works, because I haven’t heard from many people at all. What I tend to do is get on the front foot before people realise that it’s happening. Particularly for our lead rider, I would like to have something done by the middle of the week.”
The most direct step is to field the same line-up between motocross and supercross, although Dack hasn’t ruled out the need to import a top-level American to lead CDR’s assault in the Australian Supercross Championship. Such a move would match up with the rumours that current KTM motocross-only rider Gibbs will spearhead the team outdoors next season.
“That’s the smoothest path [to have the same MX/SX riders], but it may not be the case,” declared Dack. “Look at Honda, bringing [Justin] Brayton over and I’ve heard a few people not really happy about it, but I don’t really care about that. Look at it positively and it can lift our guys, make us work harder to try and beat them.
“I may have to bring an American guy in to compete with Brayton and all of those options are there, but certainly I want the second guy to be Australian so they can chase the Americans around and lift our standards. Moving forward, we need to go through a strong supercross phase.”
Despite the speculation placing Gibbs at Yamaha, Dack is adamant that supercross is now of increased importance and will be closely monitoring the country’s top domestic talent during the 2018 series. A standout performance could see a full-time CDR ride being the reward, considering current number two rider Dylan Long is off contract at the end of his second season with the organisation.
“I’ve got a clear picture of what I want to achieve with our number one rider, but the second rider goes back to supercross,” Dack continued. “I never wanted to make a decision on the second rider until the second round of supercross at least, because we don’t really know what’s out there.
“We’ve seen the extraordinary performance of [Mitch] Evans this year, which has been quite incredible for such a young guy, but lets see what he’s got for supercross, what Dylan’s got for supercross and whoever else, like [Caleb] Ward, for example.
“There are a bunch of young kids around that are clearly quick, but the problem that we’ve got at the moment is we’re going through a generation of motocross guys. Now, we’ve had such a strong motocross series that we really haven’t been developing supercross guys, so I want to see what we’ve got for supercross and the problem is I don’t think we’ve got a lot – that needs to be focused upon.”
Contacted on Monday afternoon, South Australian standout Gibbs indicated to MotoOnline.com.au that he is yet to complete any deal for 2019 at this moment and will be assessing multiple options to determine his future over the coming weeks.
In the meantime, the CDR Yamaha Monster Energy Team will go on and field the combination of Ferris and Long when the 2018 AUS Supercross season opens at Jimboomba on 15 September. It’s believed that tentative discussions to expand to three riders and include 2015 title-winner Dan Reardon were collectively decided against in recent weeks.