Dissecting the 2023 season after six rounds of the championship.
In what has been a crazy year of up and down racing, the 2023 Penrite ProMX Championship is approaching the final two rounds of the season and things are heating up, including the three-way race for the MX1 title. In this edition of Q&A, MotoOnline answers some of the key questions six rounds into the current season.
Q: Who is in the hunt for the MX1 title?
A: Right now it’s a three-way battle. Dean Ferris (Brisbane Motorcycles Yamaha) holds a seven-point lead over Boost Mobile Honda Racing’s Jed Beaton, with CDR Yamaha Monster Energy Team’s Aaron Tanti a further 13 points back. So, with two rounds remaining and only 20 points separating the top three, who knows what could happen? Ferris is the one that’s been on a roll for much of the year, but with how this season has gone, you’d be hard-pressed to pick a winner with 100 points still up for grabs.
Q: Does Aaron Tanti have a realistic chance at defending his MX1 crown?
A: Definitely. As above, he’s 20 points back from series leader Ferris with four motos remaining. Tanti has been strong in his title defence, but a few mishaps during the season has lead to this deficit. He did DNF the opening moto at Wodonga, but Ferris also scored zero points in that same outing. A few unforced errors that come to mind include a crash while leading the opening moto at Maitland, handing the win to Ferris and going on to finish third. Moto two at Maitland saw him lose out in a battle for second to teammate Luke Clout, before crashing with three minutes remaining in moto three to finish third again. Adding to that, a crash on the final lap of moto one at Toowoomba while running in second saw Tanti fall to fifth place. But, we know the defending champion is more than capable of ticking off race wins, so our opinion is that it all comes down to what Tanti makes of round seven at Queensland Moto Park this weekend. It’s make or break.
Q: How important is it for former champions Todd Waters and Kirk Gibbs to end their season strong?
A: For Waters (Raceline Husqvarna Berry Sweet Racing), it’s a little bit of a different story. As the Raceline team owner/manager, it almost feels as though he can determine his own fate. It’s been a tough season for the number 47, he hasn’t quite been able to find his feet in his return from that shoulder injury at the end of last year, only managing one podium so far in 2023, which came in the mud at Wodonga where he finished second. In the case of Gibbs (KTM Racing Team), he’s actually had a really strong season. He’s managed to be inside the top-five at every round this year, including joining Waters on the podium at Wodonga with a third. The 2015 MX1 champion currently sits P4 in the premier class standings, 10 points back from Tanti in third. Gibbs recently made his intentions of racing on into 2024 clear and with it being a contract year for him, look for the number five to rise to the occasion.
Q: Can Wilson Todd wrap up the MX2 title with a round to spare again?
A: Three-time MX2 champion Todd (Terrafirma Honda Racing) holds a 35-point advantage over KTM Racing Team’s Nathan Crawford heading into the final two rounds. It’s unlikely that he manages to wrap it up early this season, because despite the 35-point deficit, Crawford has arguably been the stronger rider of the two. The 199 has scored zero points in two motos this season, and in those two outings Todd managed to finish first and third, racking up 45 points. In saying that, Todd has been battling sickness through the majority of the season, leading to a slightly less dominant version of him than we’ve seen in the past. You never know in the sport of motocross, but with the season being mostly dominated by these two, we can’t see Todd managing to clinch early this year unless something drastic happens. However, there’s a good chance he does make it title number four come Coolum.
Q: Have there been any standout privateer performances?
A: Wodonga provided its fair share of outstanding rides from privateers, and first up was New Zealander Hamish Harwood (Davey Motorsports KTM). On a day of utter madness in terms of inconsistent results, Harwood managed to finish the day with 5-3 in the motos, missing the MX1 podium by a single point. Also featuring inside the premier class top 10 overall were Dylan Wood (Honda) and Liam Jackson (GasGas) who finished ninth and 10th respectively. In MX2, Liam Andrews (Honda) has been a revelation of sorts in 2023. In terms of standout performances, he’s had a few, and it’s really been his season as a whole. Andrews currently sits seventh in the MX2 standings on 140 points, 10 behind KTM Racing Team’s Kaden Minear in sixth and 13 behind fifth-placed Noah Ferguson (GasGas Racing Team).
Q: Will Jed Beaton’s international experience pay off heading into the final two rounds?
A: It should. Beaton recently made the trip over to the US for suspension testing and, in a last-minute decision, decided to contest the Washougal round of Pro Motocross. It’s fair to say that Washougal and QMP share some similarities with the hard-packed dirt and undulation, but there’s a good chance that in the sand at Coolum is where we’ll see Beaton really come into his own. Having spent the majority of his time in Europe living in Belgium and riding at the infamous Lommel sand track, that experience should pay dividends come the final round.