What's new for the Australian Motocross Championship in 2021.
Over the past few weeks, Motorcycling Australia (MA), the promoter of the new-look 2021 Penrite ProMX Championship, has unleashed a swathe of announcements and updates as they look to overhaul the Australian Motocross Championship. This Q&A feature helps make sense of it all before the gates drop on the series next month.
Q: Will we see new race formats this year?
A: Race formats across all classes have been tweaked so that they’re time-driven rather than by the number of laps, but the MX1 sees the biggest changes. At rounds one, three, five and seven the racers will race two shortened 25-minute plus one-lap races. At rounds two, four, six and eight they’ll race one 25-minute plus one-lap moto, then a pair of shortened back-to-back motos (13 minutes plus one lap). These rounds will use the Olympic scoring method for each race, like we saw at the Monster Energy Supercross Triple Crowns, where race placings are combined to give a combined score and determine championship points. These sprint races are polarising, since they make for entertaining racing and will have the fast-starters rubbing their hands, but it tends to put a lot of emphasis on getting the holeshot and makes it tough to work through the pack if you get an average jump off the start. All other fields will run standardised formats – MX2 racers will complete two 25-minute plus one-lap motos and MX3 (formerly MXD) two 20-minute plus one lap.
Q: What is the points structure going to look like?
A: MA has decided to do away with former promoter Williams Event Management’s (WEM) model that awarded points down to 30th place and reverted to the more conventional points tabulation. That means each moto winner will receive 25 points, second will receive 22, third 20, fourth 18 and fifth 16. Points from sixth through to 20th will descend by one point per position. While there are benefits to standardising the points structure to other championships around the world, it means hard-working privateers could find themselves coming away from events with nothing to show for their efforts. Unique formats that set the Australian championship apart have been scrapped, such as the Super Pole, which awarded points to the five fastest qualifiers toward the championship. On the upside, the fastest qualifier in a new ‘shootout’ will receive $500, though (more on that in a minute).
Q: Is it true that we’re finally getting live TV in Australian Motocross?
A: Yes, MA has come through with the goods in this department and fulfilled their early promises. Each round will be brought into lounges across the country on live TV, while international audiences will also have access to livestreaming and a share of TV. SBS has jumped onboard as the official free-to-air TV partner, while Fox Sports will cover each round on pay TV in Australia and Asia. At the same time, each round will be streamed online. Some familiar faces will front the cameras, with former pros Lee Hogan and Danny Ham joining host Riana Crehan, who has years of motorsport television experience.
Q: How will and how much prize money will be distributed?
A: The biggest change here is that MA will pay out prize money per round, rather than for the championship, and has a bigger pool of total cash to award. Sounds good, right? In theory, yes, but it’s worth mentioning that only those who place in the top 10 at each round will see any money. Under WEM’s watch, championship prize money was paid to the top 15 racers overall in each class. The top privateers in both MX1 and MX2 will also find their bonuses have been scrapped. Despite this, the spread of prize money is more balanced across all categories and is generally higher. We mentioned last week that the amount on offer has risen dramatically from $48,400 to $65,750 between 2020 and 2021, however, the last time WEM ran a full series in 2019, the prize money pool was $61,700. A full breakdown of the prize money for each class is available in the series supp regs.
Q: What does it cost to enter a round of the championship?
A: MA has shaved some dollars off most of the classes… just. MX1 will cost $290 per round to enter (reduced by $5), MX2 will set you back $275 ($10 cheaper) and MX3 $245 ($30 cheaper). Curiously, the MXW entry fee has been increased $25 to $245 per round. These fees include a levy for Racesafe, but don’t cover transponder hire if required. In exchange, racers in the MX1 and MX2 classes will receive four event passes (one for the rider and three for supporting crew) and all other classes receive three passes. Until this year each entrant was only provided two passes.
Q: Penrite has obviously come on-board as the naming rights’ sponsor. Who are the other main supporters?
A: AMX Superstores has come on board as a major sponsor, expanding the official title of the championship to – and take a deep breath – ‘Penrite ProMX Championship presented by AMX Superstores’. Meanwhile, Thor and Pirelli have both returned as the naming-rights sponsors for the MX1 and MX2 classes respectively, while Maxxis has signed on as the official sponsor of the MX3 class. All in all, it’s really positive that the industry is getting behind motocross and that, as a result, MA has been able to piece together a truly promising series.