Notes from trackside in Queensland at the opening round of the season.
– With rain pouring as teams arrived at the venue on race-day, there was a certain sense of relief that this year’s opening round in Queensland was held indoors, even if the track was the tightest we’ll witness throughout the five rounds. The rain eventually cleared, thankfully in time for the pit party, and it turned out to be a good day out for the fans who made their way to the opener.
– On the subject of the pit party, the ‘pit-lane’ vibe really emphasises the crowd’s involvement as the riders sign autographs and meet the fans. It’s that atmosphere that makes supercross a favourite for many and it was also a real plus that the likes of Motorex, M2R, Fly Racing and co. were on-hand with activations through the afternoon.
– There was an obvious lack of spectators considering Troy Bayliss Events took supercross back indoors in Brisbane, leaving some influential identities in the sport scratching their heads last night. From what we understand, the venue holds around 8000 in supercross configuration and just under 5000 people – give or take – were at the event, which triggered relevant concerns. The stands were definitely patchy and that’s unfortunate, because it wasn’t for a lack of trying from organisers.
– With AUS-X Open being staged at the end of the year in Sydney since 2015, a recent tradition in AUS Supercross has seen the season begin with outdoor events and conclude in the tight confines of Qudos Bank Arena. This year, with Queensland being an indoor and AUS-X Open moving to the massive Marvel Stadium, it makes for a different dynamic and genuinely plays into the hands of Americans preparing for Anaheim 1 in January.
– Penrite Honda Racing rolled out its brand new B-double ‘Honda Transporter’ at round one, another way to host its sponsors and welcome everybody involved in the program at events. You’ve gotta hand it to the defending SX1 champion team owned by Yarrive Konsky, they’ve been super-impressive and always competitive in the current era of supercross. He headed straight back to Bathurst for his Supercars commercial commitments with Brad Jones Racing for today.
– Take a close look at the Penrite Honda Racing bikes and you will see all of them aside from Justin Brayton’s CRF450R have black frames, plus the number one has an assortment of his own components including a Yoshimura exhaust and Dunlop tyres that differ to the squad’s regular suppliers. Of course, now a Team Honda HRC rider at home, the triple Australian champion is largely equipped with a full-factory bike here and he’s relying on the series to prepare and test leading into A1. Going to a round this season? Do yourself a favour and check out the trick bits on his bike! Longtime mechanic Brent Duffe is also back for 2019.
– It’s been almost 12 months since Dan Reardon lined up behind the gates, making his runner-up result event more impressive at round one. He’s now part of CDR Yamaha Monster Energy, albeit with his own personal deals in place – how odd is Fasthouse and Bell being worn by a CDR rider! Anything can happen indoors, especially if you’re rusty, so it was a solid start for the 122 and confidence goes a long way in this game.
– ‘Where can we watch live?’ That’s a question we’re constantly receiving on socials, but as we’re all now aware, you couldn’t. Put simply, the promoters are relying on ticket sales to make these rounds happen and have opted not to live-stream because of that. It’s a double-edged sword because they’d obviously get a large amount of viewers if it was streamed, which adds to the commercial value of the championship and could encourage viewers to actually go when the series is in their state. In saying that, I don’t blame TBE whatsoever, because a crowd is critical, but don’t expect live coverage until the S-X Open swing of the series.
– We here at MotoOnline managed to put out a bunch of content direct from the stadium yesterday including a Pre-Race interview film, a set-up Gallery, results as they happened, a near-instant qualifying report, efficient SX2 and SX1 race reports, plus a heap of trackside stories on Instagram and also pushed through to Facebook. Our team puts in a massive effort to deliver at events, so hopefully it’s a reliable and quality avenue for fans to follow the sport.
– The anticipated SX1 debut of Jackson Richardson was a disaster of sorts after unveiling his own team with Rockstar Energy-backing on Hondas earlier this week. The fan favourite crashed heavily in qualifying and then had a dose of bad luck from there including stalling off the line in his heat race, unable to make the mains in the end because of that. No doubt the dual SX2 champion will be back to make his mark though!
– An interesting aspect of supercross is that most teams are rolling out 2020 models for the first time and, with that, updated liveries are shown off as we press reset following the nationals. You can’t fault the sheer presentation and professionalism of teams currently competing in the sport, even despite the unfortunate trend of declining budgets and support for a lot of the organisations on-track.
– There was a far wider gap from Coolum’s MX Nationals finals to the supercross opener, with round one almost a full month later this year. A couple of positives out of that scheduling include the fact that the local contingent gets to better prepare for the more technical discipline, plus the championship will be held in a more compact manner, meaning minimal weeks off and more opportunity for it to gather momentum. We like it.
– The DPH Motorsport Husqvarna team had an incredibly successful year outdoors by winning the MX1 and MX2 championships, but both Todd Waters and Wilson Todd were still recovering from pre-season injuries when the gates dropped last night. With Todd going to GPs next year, he seemed somewhat subdued, but made the final through the B-main and should gain strength in coming rounds.