Features 12 Sep 2023

Profiled: Byron Dennis

GasGas-mounted MX3 champion on his 2023 ProMX season.

There’s no doubt that Byron Dennis has been one of the top young prospects coming through the sport domestically over the past few years, but few would’ve expected the young New South Welshman to put together the 2023 Penrite ProMX Championship that he did. After wrapping up the 2023 MX3 title, the 16-year-old features in our latest Profiled interview.

GasGas-mounted Dennis finished last year’s ProMX season fourth in the MX3 standings, managing two overall round podiums for the year, including P3 in both the opening round at Wonthaggi and the penultimate round at Queensland Moto Park (QMP).

Entering 2023, Dennis decided to make a change to his training program, opting to join Beaton’s Pro Formula, led by Ross Beaton, located in the South East of Victoria. The group consits of MX1 runner-up Jed Beaton, his Boost Mobile Honda Racing teammate Kyle Webster and a bunch more.

“The mindset was definitely a lot different coming in this year,” Dennis told MotoOnline. “Last year I was training at home by myself for the majority of the time, so it was tough to work out what was a good day or a bad day on the bike, I was riding by myself, so I didn’t have anyone to gauge my speed off.

“So, for 2023 we thought we’d switch it up and move down to Victoria and train alongside Ross Beaton with his Beaton’s Pro Formula riders that he has down there. It was a good change for me, riding with guys like Kyle Webster, Jed Beaton and the rest of the boys, I definitely started to notice the difference between good and bad days, and having Ross watch over us and give us feedback and things to work on just elevated my riding pretty quickly.”

Image: Foremost Media.

The door was open for a new MX3 champion in 2023, as last season’s winner Kayden Minear stepped up to the KTM Racing Team to contest the MX2 category. With the Wonthaggi motos being cancelled, round two of the championship at Appin would effectively act as round one for the development class.

Straightaway, the racing was tight and one of the most exciting classes to watch at the nationals. Dennis remained calm throughout the intense Appin motos, finishing the day with a 2-5 scorecard to tie on points for second place with Liam Owens (Raceline Berry Sweet Husqvarna), but finish third on a countback.

But it was the third round of the series at Wodonga that would open the door for Dennis, battling through the mud-soaked conditions to notch his first-career race win in the second moto of the day.

“When I got my first race win at Wodonga it really opened my eyes,” he said. “That winning feeling just made me hungry for more, even to the point where it just made me go back to the practice track and really want to continue to learn. Wodonga was a good round for me, just to see the hard work, and even the sacrifices that my family had made for me to move to Victoria, really start to pay off.”

Following Wodonga, Dennis went on to finish P2 overall in the next two rounds at Maitland and Gillman, including a dominant win in the opening moto at Gillman that saw him finish 17.200s ahead of Yamaha Junior Racing’s Jake Cannon.

Dennis left the Gillman and headed into the four-week break with a 22-point lead over Raceline Berry Sweet Husqvarna Racing’s Jack Mather, who’s consistency was keeping him in the fight, notably taking the overall win in the mud at Wodonga. The final three rounds of the ProMX championship were all in Queensland, with the first of the remaining three taking place in Toowoomba.

Image: Foremost Media.

Round six would prove to be an important one for Dennis, as many expected that his competition might have the upper-hand heading into this round as Dennis had never ridden at the Echo Valley track, but a solid 2-2 outing from the GasGas rider and a mistake in moto two from Mather, saw Dennis leave the round by added an extra three points to his series lead.

“I remember being on my way up to Toowoomba and everyone was talking about how important track knowledge was and how good the Queenslanders were going to be there,” the teenager continued. “There were a few Queensland state events on at Toowoomba early in the year and a lot of guys from New South Wales and Victoria went up to get track time. We really wanted to go, but we just couldn’t make it happen.

“They had a slightly different schedule to what they normally have at that round too. They ran two separate sessions for practice and qualifying, so that definitely worked in my favour and gave me more time to learn the track – to be able to leave there with a 2-2 and end up with the win, was huge for me. I felt like I was going to the backyard of a few of the boys I was battling with, so it was an awesome feeling to leave there with the win.”

The story was the same as the series headed to QMP for the penultimate round, Dennis had a solid 25 points lead in the standings, but many expected the Queenslanders to prevail. The Queensland Moto Park facility is widely used by a number of the Queensland-based training groups, including the 00 Elite Rider Training group that Mather is part of.

The round was won by Yamaha’s Cannon as Dennis fought his way from the back in both motos. In moto one, Dennis made his way back to P3, 21.536s behind moto winner Cannon. But, it was moto two where Dennis would show his true colours.

Another mediocre start saw him fighting on the fringe of the top-10 as he crossed the line on lap one. Dennis picked off riders and eventually made his way up to the top-five where he satyed for a number of laps.

With two laps to go in the moto, Dennis picked off Travis Olander (Husqvarna), Kobe Drew (Yamaha) and Mather to finish the race in second and tie on points with his closest rival Mather for the day. The 3-2 scorecard giving him second overall for the round and a 25-point lead heading into the series finale at Coolum.

Image: Foremost Media.

“I felt like even when I had my back up against the wall, like the QMP races where I had bad starts, I just knew that I’d put the work in throughout the weeks of training and that I was fit enough to fight until the very end of the motos,” he added. “I was able to make some pretty crucial passes and get to where I needed to get to.”

With a comfortable lead in the point-standings, Dennis headed into the last round at Coolum with a world of confidence and it showed as he took his second round win of the season in dominant fashion with a 17.699s moto two victory to wrap up the title.

“Being from New South Wales, there’s not much sand around, but I just went into the final round at Coolum wanting to just leave it all out there,” commented Dennis. “I really wanted to go out there and dominate it, I feel like people will appreciate and remember that a lot more than if I just went there and cruised to a fifth or something so I could wrap up the title.

“I still wanted to finish the season on a high and try to finish it off with a dominant performance and I felt like that’s what I did, I just rode my best and came out with the win. It made the championship feel so much more real.”

Dennis finished the 2023 ProMX Championship with 319 points, consistency being the key as he featured on the podium at every round, including the two round wins at Toowoomba and Coolum. Second in the series was Mather on 292 points, followed Cannon in third on 226 points.

“Being consistent at every round was the goal, as it always is,” he reflected. “But to land on the podium at every round, I felt like that was just a nod to the work that we’d put in during the season, going through the good and bad days, working it out and just being ready for whatever was thrown at me on race day.”