Features 7 Sep 2023

Rewind: AUSX one year ago

Looking back at 2022 Australian Supercross Championship.

With the Fox Australian Supercross Championship (AUSX) taking a hiatus in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, the series made a welcome return in 2022 with a four-round season. In this Rewind feature, MotoOnline goes back to overview last year’s rounds that took place across Melbourne, Adelaide, Newcastle and Wagga Wagga.

Dropping the gates inside Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium, round one of the AUSX championship was combined with the final round of the World Supercross Championship (WSX) with a two-day event that saw multiple Australian riders and even international riders competing in both series.

Image: Foremost Media.

Friday night saw the AUSX championship take off, with the addition of WSX practice sessions throughout the night’s racing schedule. Things got a little bit tricky here, with multiple riders racing both the AUSX and WSX championships, some even on different brands and capacity machinery. Riders that were competing in both series were not allowed to go out for the Friday night WSX practice sessions, understood to sure balanced track time.

It was a huge night of racing to open the series that saw the Honda Racing squad triumphant in both the SX1 and SX2 classes, with Justin Brayton and Max Anstie taking the opening round wins. In SX1, Brayton didn’t have it all his own way, CDR Yamaha Monster Energy’s Aaron Tanti gave it everything he had, keeping the already four-time champion Brayton honest throughout the SX1 main event, but it wasn’t enough to take down the experienced American, as Brayton went onto win ahead of the impressive Tanti, while Dean Wilson (Honda Racing) took the final spot on the podium.

The SX2 class was dominated by Anstie, the British rider who took the lead early and never looked back. There was carnage behind him, though it was Serco Yamaha’s Cole Thompson and KTM Racing Team’s Nathan Crawford who rounded out the opening round overall podium.

The following weekend saw round two take place at Adelaide Showgrounds, a venue that is no stranger to holding Australian Supercross events. Notably, the track was somewhat of a smaller-scale layout than what we saw at the Marvel Stadium season-opener. As usual, we saw the typical South Australian red soil brought in for this round, which has always made Adelaide a popular place to come to for supercross racing.

The smaller-scale layout was definitely a talking point, with some of the more experienced riders not really liking the look of the easier track, while some of the less experienced riders sided with it. Regardless, it was also one of the rounds where we saw the closest racing take place, there’s no denying that. Straight from the get-go, practice and qualifying times were close and there were names above others in the timesheets that some might not expect.

Coming off the back of an inspiring round-one performance, CDR Yamaha’s Tanti jumped out to the early lead in the SX1 main event, keeping Brayton at bay for the entirety of the race to take his first-career SX1 main event win. Second place was Brayton, while American fan-favourite Josh Hill (CDR Yamaha Monster Energy Team) rounded out the podium in third.

The SX2 final was crazy. If you watched the race without any live timing on hand, it was actually hard to keep up with who was where. But it was once again Anstie taking the win, followed by long-time race leader and teammate Wilson Todd in second and GasGas Racing Team’s Noah Ferguson in third, an exceptional result for the Queenslander in only his second supercross outing.

Image: Foremost Media.

Moving onto Newcastle, there was a lot of excitement surrounding heading back here. Newcastle has always been somewhat of a mecca for motocross riders over the years with the sport being so popular in the region.

Round three was likely the most popular round of the series, with the McDonald Jones Stadium, located just outside of the Newcastle city centre, drawing a huge crowd thanks to the appearance of local legend Chad Reed and his accompanying family on this occasion.

With a full-scale track built, the stage was set for a huge night of Triple Crown racing, meaning that both the SX1 and SX2 classes would race three shortened main events with an Olympic-style scoring system in place.

The mixture of hard-packed dirt and a technical track layout made for some tough racing. The tricky circuit taking down previous round winner and joint red plate-holder Tanti in a hard crash in SX1 main event number two and seeing him out for the remainder of the night with a concussion.

The night was won by multi-time Australian champion Matt Moss (BBR 102 Motorsports Yamaha), who went toe-to-toe with Brayton in the opening two races, before disaster struck Brayton in main event three, in which he nursed his bike home for seventh place. Moss’ 1-2-1 scores saw him back on the top step ahead of Husqvarna Racing Team’s Dylan Wills and Brayton, who salvaged third place overall despite the bike issues.

SX2 was once again won by Anstie, but he didn’t have it all his own way. Rhys Budd (Yamalube Yamaha Racing) snuck in to win the final main event of the night after Anstie won mains one and two. As a result, the overall podium was Anstie ahead of Todd and Budd.

Wagga Wagga played host to the final round of the series and it was somewhat of a controversial one. Ran as a day racing schedule instead of the usual night schedule, riders battled both dusty conditions as well as the afternoon sun in their eyes, creating what were widely deemed to be unsafe racing conditions.

The track layout was the biggest we’d seen in the series and it was popular among most of the riders. If it wasn’t for the high 30-degree temperatures, this track was one of the best we’ve seen, it was just hard to look past the extremely dusty conditions and the time slot.

The final round saw a double main event format take place. In SX1 it was Moss who took his second-consecutive round win, ahead of Tanti and Hill. Meanwhile, SX2 saw first-time winner Thompson take out the final round win ahead of Crawford and Anstie.

Last year’s SX1 title again went to Brayton for the fifth time, finishing only a single point ahead of Moss in second and Tanti back in third, while Anstie wrapped up the SX2 championship comfortably, with final-round winner Thompson finishing second and Crawford in third.

Image: Foremost Media.

It’s fair to say that the championship was a relative success, and riders and fans were more than happy to see it back on the racing schedule. For 2023, organisers have taken the same approach with the Melbourne round, deciding to run it in conjunction with the WSX championship again, in what we assume will be a similar format to last season split across both nights. This time though, Marvel Stadium will play host to the final round, instead being the opener.

AUSX will also head back to McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle. As we said earlier, this round was a hit last year, so it’s positive to see them returning to the venue for another season. With a stacked line-up of domestic and international riders in both the SX1 and SX2 categories, we’re assuming that this round is once again going to be a strong one.

The series opener will take place in a month’s time at Adelaide on 7 October, this time inside the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, instead of the Showgrounds. It’s going to be interesting to see how this event plays out, because the last time the series raced indoors was in 2019 at Brisbane Entertainment Centre, and it’s no secret that the venues are on the verge of being just too tight.

With the championship scaling back to only three rounds this year, it’s important that AUSX is successful in its execution, with the future plan of growing back to a five or six-round series back on the cards. Rights-holder AME Group saw the departure of events general manager Ben Williams at the close of last season, who had been in charge of the series until that point and a new management team is in place, inclusive of managing director Kelly Bailey and industry veteran Mick Sinclair.

On-track, there’s a host of international riders coming to Australia to contest the championship this season yet again, including defending AUSX king Brayton, full-time series newcomer Dean Wilson, Josh Hill, SX2 number one Anstie, Thompson and WBR signing Robbie Wageman all confirmed to be contesting the 2023 Fox Australian Supercross Championship among what will be a stacked roster of motivated locals. Plus, our development paths have been bolstered, led by SX3 alongside the newly-formed 85cc ‘CR22 Cup’ in association with Reed.