Features 24 Nov 2022

Top 10: Topics to follow in AUSX

Key points to be aware of at the halfway point of the 2022 season.

We’re already halfway through the 2022 Fox Australian Supercross Championship and there are a selection of interesting storylines unfolding. As the series heads towards the remaining two rounds of the season, here are the Top 10 topics to follow.

Image: Foremost Media.

1. Tanti vs Brayton SX1 title fight:
Easily the biggest storyline we’re following this year is the title fight between CDR Yamaha Monster Energy’s Aaron Tanti and Honda Genuine Polyflor Honda Racing’s defending Australian Supercross champion Justin Brayton. At both Melbourne and Adelaide the two distanced themselves from the rest of the SX1 field, but they’ve split honours, with Brayton gaining the upper hand at round one, and Tanti bouncing back to take the round two victory. Following his break-out ProMX championship victory earlier this year, Tanti is proving to be the complete package, but Brayton has decades of experience racing at the highest level. It’s too tough to call who will win this year’s title, but it’ll almost certainly go down to the wire.

2. Winning streak of Anstie:
Max Anstie has certainly paid his dues on both motocross and supercross tracks over the years, but the likeable Englishman seems to have found a new lease of life since signing with Yarrive Konsky’s Honda Racing midway through the year. He backed up a convincing SX2 victory at Marvel Stadium by wearing down his team-mate Wilson Todd in Adelaide, making a pass for the lead with five laps left in the final. Riding high on confidence, Anstie has won every heat and final he’s lined up for so far in this year’s four-round championship and enters Newcastle with a target squarely on his back.

3. Live coverage question-marks:
After the opening round of the 2022 championship was broadcast live into people’s homes across Australasia with a high-quality production, the absence of any coverage from Adelaide’s second round was a jarring jolt back to reality for AUSX fans. Series commercial rights-holder AME Group has yet to secure an ongoing broadcast deal, although there are conversations taking place behind the scenes after the broadcast success of the Melbourne AUSX and WSX weekend. AME is promoting the third round in Newcastle, with the final round at Wagga Wagga belonging to MAP Event Group (formerly Troy Bayliss Events). From what we understand, it’s possible that Newcastle will be aired, while Wagga Wagga will be a post-produced show… After being treated to live coverage of the Penrite ProMX Championship and Australian Superbike Championship this year, it’s disappointing that there are still big question-marks hanging over the broadcasting of AUSX.

4. Supercross experience:
Courtesy of a two-year pandemic-induced hiatus, there are no shortage of ‘rookies’ who are cutting their teeth in supercross for the first time. Tanti, Kyle Webster (Honda Racing) and Dylan Wills (Husqvarna Racing Team) are all newcomers in the SX1 class, while Nathan Crawford (KTM Racing Team), Noah Ferguson (GasGas Racing Team), Yamalube Yamaha Racing duo Rhys Budd and Jayce Cosford are among the fresh faces competing in SX2 for the first time. Tanti and Crawford are the standouts so far, with two podium performances from two outings, but an ecstatic Ferguson found himself on the SX2 final box at Adelaide. As they all spend more time on the supercross track, expect the pace and intensity of the rookies to ramp up for the final two rounds.

5. Matt Moss resurgence:
After a disappointing ProMX campaign that was hampered by injuries, it’s been great to see a revitalised Matt Moss pushing hard in supercross again. It’s the first time we’ve seen Moss race supercross since 2015 and despite his extended lay-off, the BBR 102 Motorsports racer is showing plenty of form. After a P5 result in his comeback ride at Melbourne, Moss improved to finish fourth at Adelaide and is now sitting third overall in the SX1 points chase. Despite his solid performances s far, he’s made no bones about the fact he’s expecting more from himself and won’t be satisfied until he’s standing on a round podium.

Image: Supplied.

6. WBR Yamaha’s new-look squad:
Despite the AUSX only being two rounds deep, the WBR Bulk Nutrients Yamaha team has already had a torrid time on the injury front. Regular SX2 riders Connor Tierney (dislocated hip at Melbourne) and Jy Roberts (broken arm at Adelaide) have both been sidelined for the remainder of the championship, leaving the team re-evaluating their options. They’ve brought in NSW privateer Jaxon Hadlow, who impressed many with his lap times and early pace on his way to eighth in Adelaide after finishing 11th in Melbourne, and will provide support to 15-year-old SX3 front-runner Cole Davies.

7. Serco Yamaha fill-ins:
With Serco Yamaha’s regular roster of Bailey Malkiewicz and Jesse Dobson both benched with injuries, the Brisbane-based team has brought in Canadian Cole Thompson and promising young Australian talent Brad West to fill the vacant seats. Thompson started strongly with a P2 result at Melbourne, but crashed early in the Adelaide final and crossed the line in seventh. West, who’d only had limited time on the Serco machine before Adelaide, crashed early in the final while trying to come through the pack and finished 12th. Coming into the final two rounds of the season, both riders will be eager to put the disappointing Adelaide round behind them and finish strongly. From a championship perspective, West is out of contention, but Thompson is sitting third, 14 points back from Anstie.

8. Mellross and Richardson to make moves:
GasGas Racing Team’s Hayden Mellross and new Empire Kawasaki recruit Jackson Richardson both have solid reputations for their supercross-riding prowess and have Monster Energy AMA Supercross experience under their belts. Mellross particularly was expected to be a real podium contender this year, while Richardson – returning to racing after three years away – was more of an unknown entity. Both riders have shown promise over the first two rounds, but as we head into the back half of the season, they’ll need to take step things up a notch in the finals. After P4 and P7 results, Mellross is fourth in the points, and just 15 points off the lead, while a pair of eighth-place results sees Richardson positioned in seventh, just four points outside the top five.

9. Returning riders:
The opening two rounds of the season have given a hammer-blow to the field, with multiple riders out injured. However, after this four-week break, it’ll be interesting to see who returns to the fray. CDR Yamaha Monster Energy team’s Luke Clout (thumb) won’t be back, so Josh Hill – who logged a solid P3 in the Adelaide SX1 final – will see out the series for the team. KTM Racing Team’s Brett Metcalfe could also resume battle at Newcastle after fracturing his collarbone at Melbourne’s opening round, but we’re not certain either way at this point.

10. Track variations:
One of the most interesting aspects of having different promoters looking after different AUSX rounds is the variations in the track quality between rounds. Marvel Stadium hosted a world-class track as the weekend doubled as the second round of the World Supercross Championship. In contrast, the track that greeted riders at Adelaide Showground was a very straightforward affair with few options to challenge the riders or separate the pack. AME is promoting Newcastle’s round at McDonald Jones Stadium, so riders can expect to face a quality track there, while MAP also has experience with supercross events and should produce a good circuit for Wagga Wagga’s final round.