Features 24 Aug 2023

Rated: Standouts of ProMX

Analysing a mixture of the top performances from season 2023.

The 2023 Penrite ProMX Championship was a season of action-packed, up-and-down racing and it was hard to pick a favourite, with the MX1 and MX2 title fights going down to the final round at Coolum. In this latest Rated feature, MotoOnline takes a closer look at some of the top performers throughout this year’s series.

Image: Foremost Media.

Rider: Dean Ferris
Rating: A
Rundown: At the conclusion of ProMX last year, Ferris – who had just announced his retirement – was certainly not in the conversation of champion elect for 2023. That all changed when he surfaced onboard a Yamaha, months later, with his comeback made official in January when a partnership was officially announced with Brisbane Motorcycles. With the first MX1 gate-drop of the season taking place at Appin, Ferris showed a worrying pace to his competitors when he dominated the opening outing and claimed a 33-second victory, before a fall during the two-part moto two ultimately cost him the overall. He still emerged equal on points for the red plate at Appin, and despite a mechanical DNF in the Wodonga mud and a challenging outing at Gillman, the triple one delivered immense pace plus composure when needed to ultimately wrap up the title. An additional moto win in Albury, plus the overall victories at Maitland, Toowoomba and Queensland Moto Park were nothing short of impressive as Ferris underlined he still has the ability to run at the absolute pinnacle of Australian motocross. His MX1 fourth championship, which was secured with a 2-2 scorecard at Coolum, ‘was the sweetest one yet’ and it marked his first since he sustained a spinal surgery in 2020.

Rider: Aaron Tanti
Rating: B+
Rundown: It was a tough end to the season for CDR Yamaha Monster Energy’s Aaron Tanti. The defending champion’s title hopes officially came to an end when he collided with a lapped rider while leading the final moto at Queensland Moto Park, leaving him with a DNF after the contact punched a hole in his radiator. Tanti started the season strong, firing out to the overall win at Appin and cementing himself as a true contender to back up his 2022 title. But, it was the very next round at Wodonga that would leave Tanti on the back foot, where a DNF and P7 would see him relinquish his points lead to Beaton and leave him 28 points behind. From there, it felt like Tanti was trying everything he could to claw back points, and the raw speed was evident. He was extremely fast at the next round at Maitland, but mistakes in all three motos would see the number one Yamaha lose valuable championship points while gaining points on series leader Beaton – he was able to beat the Honda rider on the weekend, but realistically, Tanti should’ve been second overall at Maitland, but small crashes and mistakes relegated him to third for the round. The Yamaha rider obviously showed he has what it takes to win races, and that his 2022 championship wasn’t a fluke, but the early points deficit definitely hurt Tanti in the long run.

Rider: Jed Beaton
Rating: A-
Rundown: To the surprise of few, the domestic homecoming season of Jed Beaton saw the former MXGP World Championship rider as a key figure in the hunt for the MX1 title until the very end. Beaton led the top 10 shootout at Wonthaggi in what was a promising sign of form with Boost Mobile Honda Racing, before landing on the podium at Appin to take third overall. Mastering the tricky conditions at Wodonga, Beaton excelled while a number of rivals lost valuable points, going 1-2 to take the overall victory, and the red plate. Unable to match the three Yamaha riders out front at Maitland, Beaton was fourth overall before scoring round podiums at Gillman, Toowoomba and QMP to limit the points lost to Ferris. He entered the final round with an outside shot at the title, 15 points from the red plate, however, it wasn’t to be and he concluded the series with a 3-6 to wrap up second in the standings. Beaton was arguably one of the more consistent riders in the series, however, he wasn’t able to find consistent comfort onboard the CRF450R and match the outright pace of Ferris at stages throughout the season.

Rider: Wilson Todd
Rating: A-
Rundown: If you are looking for an example of how to manage a championship and deliver when needed, Todd’s 2023 campaign is certainly one. The now four-time MX2 champion battled stomach issues throughout the year, and entered the season battered and bruised after he competed in Anaheim 1 and San Diego 250SX West rounds. That collision with Crawford at Wonthaggi didn’t help his physical condition, but Todd was able to emerge from there with the red plate and ultimately hold it through to the end of the series. The Terrafirma Honda Racing rider picked his moments to push and remained consistent otherwise, limiting the damage from any small mistake. That said, he wrapped up the title in the best way possible with a 1-1 at Coolum, and also delivered a perfect scorecard at Gillman giving his points advantage a healthy boost at round five. Many now wait eagerly to see if Todd will go for for MX2 title number five next year, or make the step to the premier class.

Image: Foremost Media.

Rider: Nathan Crawford
Rating: A-
Rundown: What a year for Crawford! We’ve always known what he’s capable of, but in truth, we’ve never actually seen him put a full season together. Obviously, the non-scoring races really hurt Crawford’s title hopes in the end, but 2023 was quite clearly the best version we’ve ever seen of the 199. He took overall round wins at Appin, Toowoomba and Queensland Moto Park and landed on the podium with a P3 at Maitland, P2 at Gillman and P2 at the season finale in Coolum. It was well documented about Crawford’s disqualification at the opening round at Wonthaggi, as well as his DNF in the opening moto at round three in Wodonga, essentially losing 45 points to his title rival Wilson Todd, who went 1-3 in those motos. Crawford managed to close the gap to 27 points heading into the last round but was unable to make any further progress after a crash in qualifying limited him in his ability to perform for the weekend and he had to settle for 2-3 in the Coolum motos for second overall, while Todd went on to the 1-1 victory. It was a tough way to end the season for Crawford, as it felt like he was constantly digging himself out of a hole all year. Nonetheless, he was nothing short of amazing to watch throughout the course of the year.

Rider: Noah Ferguson
Rating: B
Rundown: There’s no doubt that Ferguson is going to be a contender in MX2 next season. It was definitely a surprise that we didn’t see him win a race in the 2023 Penrite ProMX Championship, because the speed he showed throughout parts of the season was outrageous. After darting out to a quick lead, Ferguson looked like he was on track to take a career-first moto victory at the final round in Coolum, but a few small crashes limited him in the end. The number 29 landed on the overall podium four times and was quite clearly building throughout the year. This season feels like a bit of a, ‘what if?’ for Ferguson. What if he didn’t get hurt prior to Appin? How does his year play out, without that pretty major setback? Regardless, we know Ferguson would’ve learned a lot, so we’re excited to what the future has in store for him.

Rider: Kyle Webster
Rating: B+
Rundown: A P5 championship position does not reflect the pace of Webster this season, as the Boost Mobile Honda Racing rider won more races and rounds than everyone other than title-winner Ferris. Webster dominated in the Coolum sand with a 1-1 and was also dominant in Gillman with a perfect scorecard, but misfortunes throughout the year ultimately proved costly. He was one of many contenders to suffer a DNF at Wodonga, and he was absent from the third moto at Maitland after he suffered a sizeable gouge to his arm after being hit by a rock – resulting in surgery. An eventful and misfortunate outing at Appin also didn’t help his championship cause, but there is no question that Webster will be a threat for the MX1 title in the years to come with his outright speed.

Rider: Kirk Gibbs
Rating: B
Rundown: Arguably the quiet achiever of season 2023, KTM Racing Team’s Gibbs was a solid third overall in the final MX1 standings. While there might have not been a particular breakout moto from the former national champion, the 450 SX-F rider once again was no stranger to the top three and scored results both on merit and being there to pick up the pieces. With his future beyond the 2023 season not yet confirmed, P3 in the premier class of Australian motocross certainly does no harm in his bid to secure the best possible option for next year.

Rider: Brodie Connolly
Rating: B+
Rundown: A revelation of the 2023 season, Connolly delivered with the prized opportunity he was given to compete onboard the championship-winning Honda Racing CRF250R. The number 88 showed early promise and grabbed the MX2 overall win at Wodonga after landing third overall at Appin, but he then battled the ill effects of tonsillitis from the build-up to Maitland. That said, he was able to finish the year strong with second overall at QMP and a third-place finish in moto one at Coolum. In what was his first full season in the category, Connolly can hold his head high with a P3 championship ranking, as he now looks to apply what he has learned to supercross.