Features 31 Aug 2023

Top 10: Performances of the ProMX season

Breaking down a mix of standout rider moments from 2023.

The 2023 Penrite ProMX Championship delivered its share of action, excitement and challenges along the way. With this year’s series now in the books, MotoOnline looks back at the Top 10 performances from throughout the season.

Image: Foremost Media.

1. Ferris completes his victorious comeback:
For someone who’d retired from racing twice, Brisbane Motorcycles Yamaha’s Dean Ferris was at his inspired and destructive best this year, as the now four-time champion defied the odds – and a host of factory-backed rivals – to emerge as the 2023 MX1 champion. It wasn’t without its challenges either, namely a DNF late in one of the mud-soaked Wodonga motos, then a difficult day at Gillman that saw him struggle to ninth overall and lose the championship lead. Despite that, Ferris put in perfect days at Maitland, Toowoomba and QMP to build a comfortable, manageable buffer for the Coolum finale. A consistent 2-2 performance there saw him take this year’s crown with a 24-point buffer over Boost Mobile Honda Racing’s Jed Beaton.

2. Todd claims fourth MX2 title:
We’re seeing a pattern here. On the same day that Ferris clinched his fourth MX1 championship, Terrafirma Honda Racing’s Wilson Todd replicated that effort by holding his fourth MX2 trophy aloft. Todd had to succeed the hard way in 2023 – he came into the series with broken ribs and torn fingers, courtesy of some AMA Supercross experience, then broke more ribs at the opening round, in a heavy crash with KTM Racing Team’s Nathan Crawford. A bout of health-related issues followed, which meant he wasn’t fit and healthy until about halfway through the series. Despite all those difficulties, Todd never let go of the red plate, and after dominating Maitland, went into championship mode; with a handy 35-point lead, he was happy to surrender the odd placing here and there. The final round saw the Cairns-based racer at his devastating best as he charged to a double-moto victory to stamp his authority on the series and successfully defend his title.

3. Beaton takes championship fight to the final moto:
When it was announced that Jed Beaton was returning to Australia to contest the ProMX championship with Boost Mobile Honda Racing, he was immediately tagged as one of the MX1 favourites. The MXGP regular showed his experience early on with a handy win in the Wodonga mud, securing the championship lead in the process. He gave up a lot of points in a difficult weekend at Maitland, but rebounded at Gillman to again take a slender one-point into the final three Queensland rounds. Having been based at the gruelling Lommel, Belgium track for years, many people expected Beaton to really dominate at Coolum, but as it turned out, it was just the second time he failed to make the podium all year. While missing out on the championship will sting, Beaton showed plenty of guts and determination this season, and proved multiple times he can beat Australia’s best.

4. Webster takes two clean-sweeps:
It’s no secret that Boost Mobile Honda Racing’s Kyle Webster is a sand-racing specialist. Having grown in up WA and living near Wonthaggi, Webster has always had amazing speed when track conditions loosen up. This year his raw speed was on display at both Gillman and Coolum. At the fifth round, Webster led the opening race from gate-drop to chequered flag, then had to scramble his way through a downpour and some chaotic battling to take the second win. It was Coolum where he really shone, however, as he led all but one lap over the two motos, taking a comfortable six-second win in the opening race, then enjoying a 13-second buffer in the season’s final hit-out.

5. Crawford’s statement ride at Appin:
This year’s Appin round was nothing short of brutal, as riders had to negotiate an overwatered track, oppressive heat and increasingly rough, rutted circuit. KTM Racing Team’s Nathan Crawford had even more pressure on his shoulders, having been disqualified of his points at Wonthaggi’s opening round. Crawford clearly used the criticisms and setback to fan the flames, and came out firing on all cylinders at Appin, winning both races in two different circumstances. He led the opening race from start to finish, enjoying a handy 11-second lead at the finish-line, then made quick clinical passes around a seemingly one-lined track in the final moto, working his way into the lead and win by seven seconds over his main championship rival, Todd. Crawford again clinched both motos later in the season at QMP, but his Appin performance was a real statement.

Image: Foremost Media.

6. Connolly survives Wodonga to take career-first MX2 round win:
Much has been said about the third round of the series at Wodonga, but the conditions that the racers faced there would have to be among the worst we’ve seen in a long time, thanks to a deluge of rain on a deeply-ripped track. The day turned into a battle of attrition, with a staggering 31 DNFs recorded across the main three classes, and 15 of those were in the opening MX2 moto. The conditions didn’t seem to faze Honda Racing’s Brodie Connolly, though, as the Kiwi slid his way to a mammoth 54-second lead in the opening mud-soaked race. Conditions dried out somewhat for the second moto, and Connolly again led the opening laps but a mid-race mistake saw him drop to P3. However, that was more than enough to still claim his first career MX2 round win, and in really challenging conditions.

7. Ferris sweeps Maitland to retake points lead:
After a DNF in the Wodonga mud, Ferris suddenly found himself 17 points behind Beaton in the points standings. In typical Ferris fashion, though, the Coolum-based racer came out firing on all cylinders at the next round at Maitland. Despite a fairly subdued qualifying and Top 10 Pole Shootout, Ferris dominated when it counted, as he took the chequered flag in all three races. While the Yamaha rider could seem to do no wrong, the opposite was true for Beaton, who could only battle his way to fourth overall, and lost the points’ lead in the process.

8. Budd breaks through for first overall at Maitland:
There weren’t too many bright moments for Serco Yamaha in this year’s ProMX Championship, but Rhys Budd gave the team something to celebrate with his first MX2 round overall win at Maitland. In the opening hit-out, Budd managed to avoid plenty of chaos as many of the front-runners made mistakes to finish with a well-earned P3. The second moto saw some tricky conditions as the gate dropped immediately after a thunderstorm rolled through, but Budd put hooks into his then team-mate, Jesse Dobson, and the pair raced to a 1-2 result. Budd’s 3-2 result saw him take a memorable first-round win on countback from Todd (2-3).

9. Consistent Gibbs finishes strong:
Kirk Gibbs has built a long-standing reputation as one of the most consistent racers in the country, and the experienced KTM Racing Team rider again showed that in spades this year. Gibbs never finished a round outside of the top five and stood on the podium early in the year at Wodonga, then, perhaps more impressively, at the final round at Coolum. Granted, he regularly trains at Coolum as part of Ford Dale’s coaching regime, but he needed to put in a solid performance if he wanted to pip CDR Yamaha Monster Energy’s Aaron Tanti for third in the championship points. As the 2022 champion Tanti struggled to sixth overall around the chopped-up, sandy circuit, Gibbs pulled together a strong 5-3 result to fend off Tanti and clinch the final spot on the series podium.

10. Dennis takes MX3 championship:
After a season-long battle with Raceline Husqvarna Berry Sweet Racing’s Jack Mather, GasGas’ Byron Dennis proved to be the class of the MX3 field in 2023. Dennis might’ve only won three of the seven rounds this year, but he was always near the front of the pack and proved to have a knack of always getting good starts and strong results. Dennis ultimately claimed the championship by 27 points from Mather, while also seeing off challenges from fellow GasGas rider Ky Woods, Empire Kawasaki’s Cambell Williams and GYTR Yamaha Junior Racing’s Jake Cannon.