Yamaha Motor Australia press release:
“You can’t win the championship in the first round, but you sure can lose it,” is a statement CDR Yamaha Monster Energy team boss, Craig Dack, repeated to his team and riders over and over during the weekend at the first round of the 2019 MX Nationals.
In conditions not seen at a national event in years as rain continued to fall over night and again during the day, Dack’s fears were anything can happen in mud and the worst case scenario was his riders leaving the Appin circuit in a huge points hole and behind the eight ball from rouind one. But his fears were laid to rest after a tough day at the track, and although Kirk Gibbs and Luke Clout didn’t win the round, they made a consistent start to the series and are ready to take on the coming nine rounds.
Kirk Gibbs led the way for the team on the weekend with a third place finish in the premier MX1 division on his YZ450F. Gibbs had a steady and consistent race, slotting into the top five in the early going before moving forward in the later stages of the race to grab the final podium position and get his season under way on the right foot.
Gibbs finished some 20 seconds behind the leaders but was more than content to settle into third given the conditions and the start of a 20 race championship.
“Today wasn’t about winning or loosing for me but ensuring that I’m well placed and in contention after the first round, regardless of the conditions,” said the experienced Gibbs. “Then when you combine the weather, with the nature of the track and just how easy it was to go down or have a bike related DNF, getting good points and staying healthy was the priority and we managed to do that today.
“I know it’s a conservative approach to have and if the race was there to win, we go for the win but race management was important in situations like this and we live to fight another day.
“It was my first race with the CDR Yamaha Monster Energy team and it was awesome to work with such a professional group of people. They had to work hard with the mud and the rain to get the bikes turned around as well as pulling down of the truck at the end of the day, so a huge thanks to them for their efforts over the weekend,” Gibbs ends.
It was also the first outing for Luke Clout in CDR Yamaha colours at the MX Nationals and although on his home deck, the Appin circuit on the weekend was a far cry from the track Clout has raced on many times before. Clout got away to a good start and was well placed in the early stages of the opening lap before going down on the back section of the track, losing valuable time and positions.
He remounted mid field and began to work his way back through the pack, dodging roost and flying mud from his rivals. He clawed his way back into 10th and with one lap to go was able to make two more passes before crossing the finish line in eighth place.
“Eighth on paper doesn’t look good and not what I wanted to achieve this weekend, but the conditions were extreme and looking back, it could have been a lot worse. The first half a lap was just wild and then I just went into the wrong rut, got sideways and went down. Getting the bike out of the mud was a mission in itself.
“Fortunately, I was able to get up and get moving and while I had mud everywhere, I didn’t need to come in and change gloves and goggles, so I kept moving and picked off the riders in front of me.
“I usually don’t mind the mud and I was riding fine today, just a fall cost me but I will get things back on track at Wonthaggi, which is a track I really like racing on.”