Yamaha Motor Australia press release:
CDR Yamaha Monster Energy Team rider, Luke Clout, has charged his way to the championship lead at the half way stage of the 2019 MX Nationals after a successful weekends’ racing at rounds four and five of the championship, at Murray Bridge.
It was a mixed weekend for the team as while Clout took home the red plate, team mate Kirk Gibbs fell heavily in the final moto on Saturday afternoon and wasn’t able to compete on Sunday. He is now undergoing further tests to determine the extend of his shoulder injury.
The fast and flowing Murray Bridge circuit in South Australia has been a happy hunting ground for Clout in recent years with plenty of success coming at the venue, highlighted with his first ever MX Nationals round win back in 2013 while in the MX2 division.
And with a double header of racing that saw a full day of racing on Saturday and Sunday, Clout was confident he could close the points gap on the championship leader and go into the mid-season break with plenty of momentum.
He did more than that and now holds a four point lead in the series after taking a second place finish on both days, showing the speed and consistency required to make a serious championship tilt.
His weekend started off in perfect fashion, taking the fastest lap time in qualifying. Saturday saw the two traditional 30 minute motos but just less than 30 seconds into race one, Clout was behind the eight ball after a fall on the opening lap that saw his bike twisted and bent. He remounted quickly but was classified in 34th place at the end of lap one.
He began the long climb back to the front and 17 laps later, he crossed the finish-line in fifth place in an incredible ride.
Race two was far smoother, he slotted into second place behind current champ, Dean Ferris and shadowed him the entire race. He finished second and his 5-2 results were good enough to claim second for the day.
Round five on Sunday saw the MX1 division face the sprint format of two nine lap back to back motos and then a 30 minute race to round of the day. Clout was in no mood for messing around and claimed the race win in both sprint legs. He backed that up with a second place finish in race three for the day and again finished second overall for the round.
“It was a tough weekend with five motos on a track that always produces close racing,” Clout begins. “I love riding here and knew that I had to make the most of double header weekend, so it was good to put together five good motos and leave here with the championship lead.
“It wasn’t without its challenges or issues, but the team and I worked hard and managed to make the most of each situation. The only real blemish over the weekend was the crash in race one on Saturday but we were able to salvage what we could and the team were able to get the bike sorted out and back in perfect shape for race two.
“It feels good to have the championship lead and it’s a bit of reward for everyone at CDR but we still have five rounds to go and a lot of racing laps so the work must continue. I have to keep getting on the podium every round and pick up the race and round wins when they present themselves. So far, we are on track and I’m pleased with how the first half of the championship has gone,” Clout ends.
As mentioned, the weekend wasn’t as successful for local hero, Kirk Gibbs. The Mt Gambier rider finished second in the first race on Saturday and then fell heavily in race two and was unable to compete for the rest of the weekend.
Gibbs was clearly disappointed with the turn of events as he was desperate to put on a strong showing in front of the South Australian crowd.
“I fell early in race two just past the mechanics area and it took me a little to get up and going again,” Gibbs recalls. “I got going and began working my way through the field and passing guys as quickly as I could, but I then come up on two guys battling for position. Both of them fell directly in front of me in a high speed section of the track and I had no choice but to hit their downed bikes.
“I flew over the handlebars and landed heavily on my shoulder. I tried to ride but the pain was getting too much so I pulled off the track and went to RACESAFE. On their suggestions, I then went to hospital for some tests. At this stage, I will see a shoulder specialist this week and get further scans and tests to know exactly where I stand.
“I’m gutted to have this happen. I wanted to do well here in South Australia, was confident I could make up points in the championship and now with a missed round, my championship is all but over. Now, all I can do is wait the results of the injury then work out a course of action from there,” said a dejected Gibbs.
The MX Nationals now takes a six week break to give riders and teams a chance to reset and recharge. Round six is set down for June 23 in Gympie, Queensland.