Features 21 Nov 2023

Top 10: Topics to follow in AUSX

Key points to be aware of at the closing point of the 2023 season.

The opening two rounds of the 2023 Fox Australian Supercross Championship (AUSX) have shaped the tone ahead of the finals this Friday in Melbourne, with the event running alongside the World Supercross Championship (WSX) delivering added intrigue. Ahead of the rapidly-approaching Marvel Stadium climax, MotoOnline takes a closer look at the Top 10 topics to follow this weekend.

Image: Foremost Media.

1. Wilson on the cusp of being crowned Australian champion:
2023 AUSX so far has been the season of Dean Wilson (Froth Honda Racing) in SX1, taking a maximum of 100 points from the four main events contested. Wilson executed inside the short, sharp confines of the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, and throughout the all-important Triple Crown at McDonald Jones Stadium. He just needs one point to clinch this year’s SX1 title, but also has the opportunity to make it a perfect season at Marvel Stadium with five from five race wins. It will be interesting to see how the number 15 plays out the night, especially on a more US-style track layout that he is accustomed to. Additionally, he will compete in the final round of WSX on Saturday, where he is currently third in the standings.

2. Two titles in two days a real possibility for Anstie:
Defending SX2 champion Max Anstie (Boost Mobile Honda Racing) has been unstoppable to date in AUSX this year, not dropping a heat race or main event in the rounds contested so far. Like Wilson, he holds a 24-point lead ahead of Marvel Stadium’s remaining final, however, he also has a healthy 32-point advantage in the 250 class ahead of the remaining WSX races of the season on Saturday night. A key difference between AUSX and WSX this weekend is that AUSX will revert to its standard format of just a single main event, while the world championship will have three point-scoring finals per category. If all goes to plan for Anstie, he will walk out of Melbourne as a two-time Australian champion, in addition to adding a SX2 World Supercross Championship win to his resume. He certainly is in the box seat to achieve both.

3. No chance for Brayton to make it six in a row:
There’s no question that five-time Australian SX1 champion Justin Brayton (Boost Mobile Honda Racing) entered the season as key favourite for the title, however, it wasn’t to be in season 2023 and he is mathematically out of the running for a sixth-consecutive championship. It’s a prime example of the no-room-for-error nature that the short span of the season creates, with Brayton finishing second in every encounter so far except race three in Newcastle. A first turn incident brought him down in that bout, and he was unable to complete the race due to bike damage. He is still third in the championship standings, however, after travelling to Paris last weekend he didn’t compete at the event after he appeared to hurt his shoulder. As a result, it brings into question his condition and entry into AUSX and WSX this weekend.

4. Fight for podium places still tight:
While both SX1 and SX2 have runaway red plate-holders, the fight for the remaining spots inside the top three in each class remains tight. CDR Yamaha Monster Energy’s Josh Hill is second in SX1, currently five points in front of Brayton with teammate Luke Clout fourth and just one more point back. In SX2, KTM Racing Team’s Nathan Crawford holds a manageable 11-point buffer ahead of American Robbie Wageman (WBR Yamaha). Wageman has no room to breathe, however, as he is tied with Canadian Cole Thompson (Serco Yamaha) on 65, with Terrafirma Honda Racing’s Wilson Todd just five points back in P5.

5. Budd to juggle 250 and 450 commitments for the first time:
Serco Yamaha SX2 regular Rhys Budd will juggle 250F and 450 commitments for the first time as he fills-in for the injured Matt Moss with the ClubMX team in WSX. It marks Budd’s first competitive outing in the 450 class and second WSX championship appearance, after wildcarding in Melbourne last year in the 250 category. Looking at Budd’s AUSX campaign this year, he showed blistering pace to qualify fastest in Adelaide, but unfortunately just missed the final and was P11 on the night. Things didn’t play out in his favour at McDonald Jones Stadium and he concluded the round ninth overall. Nonetheless, Budd is a proven talent and SX2 main event winner, and despite the closure of his current team, Serco Yamaha, at the end of the AUSX season, has outlined he has a deal in place for 2024.

Image: Foremost Media.

6. Double duties for Australian wildcards:
A trio of Australian wildcards have been named to compete in Saturday’s WSX finals, with Crawford and Kaleb Barham (Yamalube Yamaha Racing) taking to the gate in SX2, while Boom Racing Fox Husqvarna’s Dylan Wills will line up in the 450 division. Crawford and Barham enjoyed strong outings in the recent AUSX round at McDonald Jones Stadium, finishing second and third in SX2, respectively. Wills made his racing return in Newcastle, finishing a solid P4 on the night after missing Adelaide’s opening round due to injury. Each of the three will compete in AUSX Friday night, and the world championship just 24 hours later. In addition to those already mentioned, other Australians competing on both nights include Webster splitting his time between Boost Mobile Honda Racing and Honda Nils, Clout (CDR Yamaha Monster Energy) and Todd (Boost Mobile Froth Honda) – all in SX2 on Saturday.

7. Privateers chance to rise in SX1:
With a selection of SX1 contenders out with injury, including the likes of Moss, Aaron Tanti (CDR Yamaha Monster Energy) and Bailey Malkiewicz (WBR Yamaha), plus Regan Duffy (GasGas Racing Team) and KTM-mounted Brett Metcalfe and Hayden Mellross before the season began, the doors have opened for certain privateers to really boost their series ranking. Yamaha-equipped Joel Wightman is currently fifth in the standings, just two points clear of Luke Zielinski (Yamaha) in P6 and a shootout must also go the direction of the experienced Robbie Marshall, who was a real standout during the Newcastle event.

8. Return of Bopping with Empire Kawasaki:
With Moss out with injury, former national motocross and supercross contender Lawson Bopping will make his racing return as a fill-in at Empire Kawasaki for the final AUSX round of 2023. Bopping hasn’t made a high-profile racing appearance since the Australian Supercross Championship in 2019, but throughout his career has demonstrated the ability to mix it among the best, also gaining international experience previously competing at the Motocross of Nations (MXoN) and in 450SX with a stint in the US. His comeback will certainly be a point of interest – and a welcome one – come Friday night.

9. Ross looking to make it three from three in SX3:
American Parker Ross (Polyflor Honda Racing) has been a force to be reckoned with in the SX3 ranks this year, winning both in Adelaide and the category’s sole final at McDonald Jones Stadium. Thanks to both his speed and consistency, he holds a 12-point advantage entering Marvel Stadium, where he will have the opportunity to complete a perfect season and make it three from three wins in the class for 2023. Behind Ross in the standings, Husqvarna rider Jyle Campbell is P2, ahead Yamaha contenders Kayd Kingsford and Kobe Drew. Just three points separate Campbell in second and Drew in fourth, while last year’s champion Jack Mather (Raceline Husqvarna Berry Sweet Racing) missed Newcastle after a practice crash.

10. All to play for in CR22 85 Cup:
The CR22 85 Cup has been a welcome addition to the AUSX championship in 2023, with the title-fight in the category shaping up to be thrilling in Melbourne. Newcastle winner and red plate-holder Cooper Ford (KTM Junior Racing Team) leads GasGas-racer and Adelaide victor Jack Nunn by just three points, with KTM 85SX-mounted Lachlan Allen third and a further two points back. Interestingly, no one in the class was able to score a podium in both of the two rounds contested so far, shaping things up for an intriguing and perhaps somewhat unpredictable outing on the biggest stage of all at Marvel Stadium.