Features 15 Dec 2020

Rated: Australia’s MXGP contingent

Recalling our own rider performances in the 2020 world championship.

Words: Simon Makker

2020 heralded the most Australian riders we’ve ever had line up behind the gates of the MXGP World Championship, as five Australians put their skills against the world’s best racers. Some thrived while others struggled and in this edition of Rated, we pull the microscope out and take a closer look at how each of them fared.

Image: Supplied.

Rider: Mitch Evans
Rating: B
Rundown: As the sole Australian flying the flag in the premier class from the outset and with eventual 2020 MXGP champion Tim Gajser as his teammate, Team HRC’s MXGP rookie Mitch Evans didn’t let the pressure get to him. At the opening round he set the scene with an eyebrow-raising third in the first race, but a crash at Valkeswaard saw him injure his shoulder. He spent the COVID break recovering back home from an operation, then slowly found his form again as the season swung back into action. An eighth overall, then fifth overall came in quick succession at Mantova, before he crashed in the opening race at the MXGP of Spain, breaking his wrist. It was a cruel way to finish the year, as he stated he was finally feeling ready to fight for podiums and wins. Still, his future with the Honda factory team is secured for at least next year, and he’ll be ready to move further up the rankings.

Rider: Jed Beaton
Rating: A-
Rundown: Jed Beaton had the most successful 2020 of all our GP racers, finishing fourth in the MX2 World Championship. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna pilot was remarkably consistent all season and didn’t finish below 10th overall at any round. After a breakout day at Faenza where he stood on the podium for the first time in two years, Beaton found form on the Italian tracks as the season progressed at a blistering pace. Surprisingly, he struggled in the sand at his home round at Lommel, Belgium, but capped the season off on a high note with 4-3-4 round overalls at Trentino and tore to runner-up in the final race of the season. There’s no official word as to whether Beaton will remain with Husky in 2021, but it’d be no surprise if he stays put next year.

Rider: Bailey Malkiewicz
Rating: B
Rundown: The 18-year-old Victorian has to be a contender for the ‘battler of the year’ award after contesting the entire MX2 World Championship with a torn ACL that he suffered at a pre-season race. The Team Honda 114 Motorsports racer ticked the boxes set by the team to finish 14th overall and got stronger as the championship progressed. As the championship resumed at Latvia after the COVID-forced break, Malkiewicz struggled to adjust to the speed and fitness required to be competitive, but managed to turn that around. A career-best seventh race result at Mantova boosted his confidence, which was followed by a great showing at the penultimate round at Trentino where he circulated inside the top three for almost half the race before he crashed and slipped to 12th. He’s eligible to race MX2 for up to four more years and is in talks with a new team for 2021.

Image: Supplied.

Rider: Nathan Crawford
Rating: B-
Rundown: 2020 proved to be a hit and miss year for Nathan Crawford in his rookie year in the MX2 World Championship. Riding for the Team Honda 114 Motorsports team, he displayed top 10 form on occasion, but was struck with a series of misfortunes and bad luck throughout his season. His best result came at the GP of Emilia Romagna (Faenza) before he injured his knee at the opening race at Mantova and pulled out with swelling. That moment ultimately spelt the end of his championship and he missed the remaining eight rounds of the championship, finishing 23rd in the standings. He’s returning home to Serco Yamaha for 2021.

Rider: Wilson Todd
Rating: B-
Rundown: Wilson Todd only contested four rounds of this year’s MX2 World Championship – the first and last two – for the Dixon Kawasaki Racing Team. He struggled in the mud at the opening round at Matterley Basin, then crushed his fingers, broke his fibula and tore his ACL in a first-turn crash the next weekend at Valkenswaard. Todd then spent the lion’s share of the season recovering from his injuries back home, but returned for the two final rounds at Trentino to get some saddle time before another crack with the Dixon team in 2021. At those final two outings he met his goal of scoring points, with 20th and 19th overall for the two rounds. Finishing on a high note, he achieved a season-best 13th pace in the final moto of the year.