News 26 Jun 2020

WEM’s MX Nationals reign ending effective immediately

Uncertainty surrounds 2020 Australian Motocross Championship season.

Image: Foremost Media.

Longstanding Australian Motocross Championship promoter Williams Event Management (WEM) has ended its two-decade MX Nationals reign effective immediately, in a decision that will rock the sport locally.

It was confirmed in May that WEM would be exiting its role at the conclusion of the 2020 season, however, that departure has now been moved forward.

In an extraordinary twist as Motorcycling Australia (MA) works to navigate out of the coronavirus pandemic, the governing body is currently assessing options to save this year’s championship. It is understood there could be as few as three rounds in a bid to rebuild toward 2021, if a championship does in fact go ahead at all.

WEM has fallen victim to the uncertainty of COVID-19, unable to commit to a national championship under current restrictions in place and with financial pressures mounting. Hosting rounds without spectators isn’t a viable option and local council support is non-existent without associated economic benefits.

Led by WEM director Kevin Williams at the forefront of Australian motocross for 23 years, the 2020 series – if it goes ahead – will mark the first time since 1997 that WEM hasn’t been at the helm of the MX Nationals. It is uncertain whether or not that brand will be maintained.

“It is a tough day for myself, as I started my journey at the helm of the MX Nationals in 1997, but it goes back as far as 1995 was the first time I was involved in running an Australian championship down at Traralgon,” Williams stated in a virtual press conference this morning. “It’s been a long journey and a major, major part of my life.

“It’s no secret that at the end of this year we were handing the championship back to Motorcycling Australia and times have changed, things are certainly a lot different. However, we didn’t expect COVID and we didn’t expect not to go racing this year. We wanted to spend the 2020 season going out to be proud with what we’ve achieved over those 23-24 years.

“In early June I was quite optimistic that we would see a road forward, but certainly, over the last 10 days has seemed more and more impossible. I feel I have been consistent from day one when we postponed the series, giving everyone the best opportunity to move forward and there’s certainly been times where that looked like it was going to be very favourable.

“But, the model doesn’t work without a crowd. Unfortunately, unlike the football, V8s or other disciplines, we don’t have the big TV program or a heap of money behind us. I’ve been quoted in a number of interviews that we would review in June and we’ve done that. Most of the council funding is based on economic impact, bringing money to the region and, hence, a crowd. Right now, we’re clearly in a position where we can’t confirm that.

“Our inability to deliver a crowd to the industry, to partners, an inability to meet KPIs from the councils, it became very evident that the financial slide was going one way and we weren’t going to be able to deliver. I stand very proud that in 23 years, I believe that every time I’ve said I would do something, I’ve done it.

“They haven’t always been liked, the decisions that Kevin Williams has made and I’ll wear that, but I’ve always made them from a position of passion for the sport and a belief in the sport. It’s been a great part of my life, but unfortunately, as of today, we’re not in a position continue.”

The Victorian-based business had most recently released an updated calendar due to be contested with nine rounds in six events, scheduled to commence at Conondale, Queensland, on 9 August and spanning just two months prior to concluding with the traditional Coolum finals on 10-11 October.

MA recently sought expressions of interest for the Australian Motocross Championship in an effort to secure individual round or entire series promoters, but it’s understood that the latter option is appearing to be increasingly unlikely.

Instead, many expect MA to take motocross operations in-house as it has also done with the Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC) and Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) with success during the past decade. Both series have stabilised with the direct input of the governing body.

WEM has also been instrumental in the race management of the Australian Supercross Championship and AUS-X Open during recent years, collaborating with series commercial rights-holders AUS SX Holdings and multiple round promoter Troy Bayliss Events.

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