Features 2 Mar 2023

Input: 2023 ProMX predictions

Expert opinions on the MX1 and MX2 title favourites ahead of round one.

With the opening round of the 2023 Penrite ProMX Championship at Wonthaggi upon us, the excitement levels are ramping up. There’s some serious depth among both the MX1 and MX2 classes and this season is shaping up to be a special one. In this latest Input feature, MotoOnline tracked down a range of industry experts this week to get their predictions of who will stand on top of the series podiums once we get to Coolum.

Image: Foremost Media.

Jay Marmont (three-time MX1 champion):
MX1 – 1. Luke Clout 2. Dean Ferris 3. Aaron Tanti
MX2 – 1. Wilson Todd 2. Nathan Crawford 3. Rhys Budd

I just think Yamaha are going to dominate MX1 this year, they’ve got a really good new bike. The CDR boys might take a little bit to get going, but I can just see with those two being there pushing each other hard, and with that team infrastructure, they’ll be hard to beat. I think Dean will be there all year, he’s a three-time champion and knows how to get it done, but I think Luke will come into his own with all the hard-pack tracks. In MX2 I’m sticking with Wilson to get it done again, he’s proven himself time and time again. Nato is coming in with an un-injured pre-season, so I look for him to be competitive for sure. Rhys Budd has moved to Serco Yamaha, so I reckon he’ll be up there with these boys and fighting for race wins, I think he’s ready to take that next step and get race wins and overalls under his belt.

Daniel Sanders (GasGas Factory Racing):
MX1 – 1. Luke Clout 2. Kyle Webster 3. Dean Ferris
MX2 – 1. Wilson Todd 2. Noah Ferguson 3. Nathan Crawford

Last year we lost some heavy hitters early and it changed things up a lot, but this year I’m taking Clouty for the win, he’s got the experience, the team and the new bike which seems to be awesome. He may start the year slow coming from back from his injuries, but I think he’ll be hungry to win and he’ll get it rolling. Webster will be fast and will win rounds, but I don’t know if he’s consistent enough across all terrains. Ferris is back, good thing about him for this year is he is running his own program and can make the decisions on everything. With a strong finish last year I reckon he’ll come out swinging. I’m missing out on Tanti, not taking anything away from him but we saw a lot of guys get hurt last year and he was racing the veterans of the class. In MX2 I’m taking Wilson, he dominated last year and I can’t see that changing. I reckon Ferguson makes the leap this year, he’s back on the GasGas, it’s the same bike as last year so I reckon he’ll have that thing dialled and he will battle Wilson as a bit of an underdog. Third is a tight one, it’s going to be close, but I reckon Nato is a safe pick. He ended last years motocross really strong after the big injury, so I’m putting him in my top-three.

Matt Moss (multiple MX1 and MX2 champion):
MX1 – 1. Luke Clout 2. Aaron Tanti 3. Kyle Webster
MX2 – 1. Nathan Crawford 2. Wilson Todd 3. Rhys Budd

I’m taking Clouty for MX1, he’s won the championship before, he’s got a great team and I reckon he has a chip on his shoulder and something to prove after last year. Someone like that with a chip on their shoulder can be dangerous. It’s hard to go past Tanti, he won last year and he’s carrying that momentum but I think with a few more un-injured guys they’ll make it tougher this year. I’ve put Webster in third, I think he’ll be the fastest at most rounds and he might win a fair few motos, but I think inconsistencies and bad races might cost him. In MX2 I think Crawford gets it done this year, it’s do or die for him. It’s his year to win I think. Obviously Wilson won last year, I’ve put him second though, I think a strong Nathan Crawford is a little better speed-wise. Budd, has made the switch to Serco Yamaha, I think that change after his solid two years in MX2 see him take that next step, and by next step I don’t mean championship, but I do think we see him get more race wins and overalls.

Image: Foremost Media.

Duncan Hale (Fly Racing Australia brand manager):
MX1 – 1. Kyle Webster 2. Dean Ferris 3. Luke Clout
MX2 – 1. Nathan Crawford 2. Wilson Todd 3. Rhys Budd

I’m going with Kyle Webster to win both the championship and the first round in MX1. Last year he started really strong before getting hurt, so think for sure he’s a contender this year. Second place, Dean Ferris. He’s a veteran, he’s back on a Yamaha where he’s super comfortable. We’ve seen him race some pre-season stuff and he seems to be really strong, so I think he’ll be in the hunt for sure. Third in MX1 I’ve got Luke Clout, he’s a previous champion. Obviously he’s had that injury so he might have a slow start, but I think he’ll pick up momentum as the series goes on and end up on the overall podium. I think we’ll see Nathan Crawford win the MX2 championship, I’ve also got him winning the opener. Second I’ve got Wilson Todd, he was so dominant last year, but this year he’s coming off a little injury at the moment, so I think he might take a few round to get going but it might be too little too late. I think Rhys Budd ends up third on the Serco Yamaha, he was super strong and really consistent last year, so I think that consistency will get him there in the end.

Dylan Wills (MotoOnline):
MX1 – 1. Luke Clout 2. Dean Ferris 3. Kyle Webster
MX2 – 1. Nathan Crawford 2. Wilson Todd 3. Noah Ferguson

Clouty is my pick for MX1, obviously those injuries last year set him back a little but I really believe there was a lot to learn from those crashes. With a bunch of hard pack tracks in the middle of the season, I think we see him string lots of race and round wins together through that period, he’s just that fast on the hard pack tracks. Obviously it’s always hard to go past Ferris, the guy just gets the job done and is versatile, he can win on both sand and hard pack so he’s my pick for second. Third place I’m giving to Webster, he’s fast, aggressive and fit as. While I’ve got him winning at Wonthaggi, I think he lacks the experience in MX1 to win the championship. In MX2 I’m taking Nato, I think now is the time for him and with a solid pre-season under his belt he’ll be hard to beat, he entered the series late last year coming off a broken femur and was instantly competitive. Wilson Todd is back to defend his MX2 title, he’s a three-time champ in the class so it’s definitely hard to pick Nato over him, I just think 2023 is 199’s year. I’m keen to see those two battle it out at all eight rounds. For third, he’s probably not a dark horse, but to me he is somewhat. Noah Ferguson will win races this year and if he doesn’t I’ll be blown away. I think he lacks the full, round one-through-eight championship experience, but his speed is next level and I’m sure we’ll see that translate to race wins and podiums this year. I have to give Rhys Budd a shoutout too, he’s grown as a racer over the last two seasons and will be extremely solid, so he’s definitely a notable mention for me.

Alex Gobert (Foremost Media):
MX1 – 1. Aaron Tanti 2. Jed Beaton 3. Luke Clout
MX2 – 1. Wilson Todd 2. Nathan Crawford 3. Alex Larwood

I’ve said it before and probably will again, that I’m a firm believer in the defending champions entering the new season as favourites. In my opinion, until somebody does step up and prove themselves as better choices, the number one plates are there for a reason. In saying that though, Tanti will have to quickly get up to speed with the new generation YZ450F, as will teammate Clout, and you just know that Honda signing Beaton and teammate Webster – a favourite for the opener – are going to factor in this over the course of the season. How about Ferris then, considering his pre-season form? He’s back and will no doubt be in the mix while targeting a fourth MX1 crown, but in all honesty, it’s hard to put a specific prediction on any of these guys because are capable of proving each of us wrong so quickly – let’s see how things pan out! It’s tough to look past Todd in MX2 and Crawford is just as experienced, so should be the primary challenger, although personally I would rather see both of them on 450s already. Third, I like Larwood as a rider, he has huge potential and it appears like it’s only a matter of time until that comes to the surface. Whatever happens, this season might just be my most anticipated yet.