Future confirmed as Australian team transitions into premier class for 2021.
Justin Brayton will lead an expanded Penrite Honda Racing effort in Monster Energy Supercross for 2021, the team in which he’s won four Australian championships with set to transition into 450SX.
Following a single season back at Team Honda HRC, Brayton has aligned with the team that he’s won the past four Australian SX1 championships with.
It will be a significant step for 36-year-old Brayton and the Yarrive Konsky-owned Penrite Honda team as the pair looks to carry its success from down under into the US-based world championship in the premier division. Konsky fielded Luke Clout and Mitchell Oldenburg in a 250SX West program this season.
Brayton will continue on his longstanding professional career and will be on-board the anticipated new CRF450R when the new season opens in Houston, Texas, on 16 January. His deal will extend into the Australian championship once again, where he will target a fifth-straight crown in 2021.
“I’m super-excited, working closely with Yarrive and his whole team down in Australia for the past four years, I really got to know the team well, knowing what they’re all about,” Brayton told MotoOnline.com. “When he made a push to come here to America in 2020, I thought it was really cool and his passion for the sport speaks volumes.
“Yarrive thinks big, he thinks like me in a sense, which you just don’t feel like there’s any limits – that’s why he and I get along so well. Obviously, being with American Honda this year in Supercross, riding for the factory team, I was still close with Yarrive and the Penrite guys.
“We’ve always talked about doing something in America. We never knew for sure if we’d get the right support or if it could ever happen, but if there was ever a way to make it happen, we were going to do it. We’ve been working on it a long time and yeah, we’re going racing here in America and in Australia. We’ve got an awesome program put together and it works well for me, having some continuity with the same team. I’m excited about it.”
Longtime Brayton mechanic Brent Duffe will be part of the program in both the US and Australia after working together at HRC this season and that combined experience will be essential in Penrite Honda Racing becoming a success at the highest levels of Supercross.
Konsky is a renowned commercial director and has broad credentials both in motocross and the Australian-based Supercars series, working day and night – often alongside Brayton – in order to raise the necessary funding to enter the 17-round 450SX season and in a bid to be competitive at an international scale. It isn’t known if Australian oil giant Penrite will remain the team’s US title sponsor moving forward.
“Yarrive is a genius when it comes to the marketing side and sponsorship side, so I just open some of those doors and get him introduced to the right people,” Brayton added. “Racing for as long as I have, I know a lot of people in the sport and the right people to talk to at each company.
“That’s been really fun for me, to be super-involved and we talk pretty much daily to try and put all this together, get all the pieces of the puzzle to connect where it makes sense for me and also for him as well. I feel like we work well together and that I know what it takes over here to truly make something work, because he’s obviously got the Australian thing mastered.
“But it’s also very similar once you know the right people, get the right pieces and parts for the motorcycle and understand the landscape of it all such as travel and things like that. The older I get, the more I enjoy to help programs get to the best level and essentially be kind of a team manager and rider, you know? It’s been quite fun.”
It’s not clear what the final specification of Brayton’s Penrite Honda CRF450R will be, however, with close ties to American Honda and immense experience in working with Konsky Motorsport Group in Australia, it’s expected that his race bike will be to the highest of standards.
“My relationship with American Honda’s really good, obviously riding for the team this year, I know a lot of guys there,” he added. “The 2021 model is quite different, so I haven’t actually ridden one yet, but we’re hoping to get them here in the next couple of weeks. If I need any assistance, if we have any questions, we can go right to them and get those questions answered.
“As far as pieces and parts to the motorcycle, we’re just going to have to wait and see. If I get on and feel that we need specific parts that will make it better, I don’t know what exactly that looks like. We’ll have good support from everybody that we need to get support from and my bike will be as good as any other bike out there.”
Brayton finished ninth in this year’s 450SX standings with best results of sixth both in Glendale and Salt Lake City 6, recording 12 top 10 finishes over the course of the season. Plans to return to Australia in the later stages of this year were halted when that national championship was cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
It was always expected that Brayton’s time at Team Honda HRC would be for the single season in an interim arrangement, since two-time 250SX East champion Chase Sexton had signed for the works team late last year to ride alongside the already-contracted Ken Roczen full-time in 2021.
Penrite Honda, despite only committing to a US program at the 11th hour, also had its share of encouraging results, with Oldenburg eighth and Clout – understood to be remaining for next year – ninth in the final 250SX West standings. The team’s best finish came courtesy of Clout when he finished fifth at Oakland.