Notes from trackside in New South Wales at the opening round of the season.
We’re at round one of the 2019 Pirelli MX Nationals, held at Appin in New South Wales. Express is a compilation of our pit notes from across the weekend so far.
– New South Wales, and the Appin region specifically, has had its fair share of rain this week. While the rain held off for most of this afternoon, the track is still quite soft in spots. There’s no questioning that riders will be in for some challenging conditions, however it may turn out to be much better than initially anticipated.
– With the likeliness of muddy conditions for the opening sessions at least, teams and riders are already taking precautions and preparing for what’s ahead. Mechanics were busy in the pits today applying foam to front and rear fenders, blocking out key areas where mud can clog up, plus some riders have opted to utilise hand guards. That’s not to mention a complete change in tyre selections!
– As we reported earlier this week, Brett Metcalfe is coming back from a back injury six weeks ago. The Penrite Honda Racing rider has seen a number of changes introduced to his program this year, including a level of support from Honda Racing Corporation. You’ll see host of neat goodies fitted to his CRF450R, plus the team is now using Bridgestone tyres and FMF exhaust systems.
– A few notable absences in the pits this year are KTM Motocross Racing Team and Complete Parts Kawasaki Racing, which have essentially been replaced by Raceline KTM and Empire Kawasaki in terms of being official teams. Also in the mix amongst manufacturer-supported teams is the SB Motorsports Suzuki Ecstar Race Team, fielding riders Cody Dyce and Josh Brewster. KSF Suzuki is also still in the series.
– With Dean Ferris now abroad and MXD champion Bailey Malkiewicz stepping up to MX2 with DPH Motorsport Husqvarna, Wilson Todd is the only 2018 champion who’ll endeavour to defend his crown this season. Moving to the DPH squad alongside Malkiewicz, Todd seemed to somewhat downplay his title defence today and it will be interesting to see how the pressures of running the number one plate affect him this season – whether that be in his favour or not.
– A real unknown this weekend is the return of Todd Waters after a relatively quiet campaign in the MXGP World Championship last year. The DPH Motorsport Husqvarna standout has always been title contender domestically, however he’s just been unable to get it done. After a big pre-reason, we’re excited and interested to see a reinvigorated Waters fares.
– Hayden Mellross is set to embark on his first full-time campaign in MX Nationals since 2014, spearheading KTM’s factory efforts with the Raceline operation. The New South Welshman has always excelled in supercross and with his return to motocross also comes a promotion to the premier MX1 class. After a quick chat, Mellross appears to have a good feeling about the weekend and is quietly confident the track conditions will be supreme.
– Boasting a mega presence in the pits with predominately KTM machinery, Davey Motorsports is back with lengthy line-up of riders. Within that squad are two strong contenders who could very well serve up some surprises – those contenders being Dylan Wills (MX2) and Caleb Ward (MX1). And, if you get a chance, take a close-up look at their bikes this weekend!
– Never a class to lack talent, the MXD category is overloaded with capable riders this season. Bulk Nutrients WBR Yamaha will field Jack Kukas and New Zealander Maximus Purvis this year, while long-time KTM pilot and multi-time Australian junior champion Regan Duffy graduates to the division with Raceline KTM. Also in the mix is Penrite Pirelli CRF Honda Racing’s Rhys Budd, who after solid maiden season in 2018 is bound to be challenging for the title. There will always be more who rise to the challenge as well.