Features 26 Apr 2024

Countdown: Early ProMX trends

What's emerging in the opening rounds of the 2024 championship.

With two rounds of the 2024 Penrite Australian ProMX Championship in the books and the third at Gillman quickly approaching, MotoOnline looks at some of the early trends that we’re closely following at this stage of the season.

Image: Foremost Media.

8. Familiar faces in battle:
There’s a pretty fascinating scrap building towards the cusp of the top 10 in the MX1 standings, as Kirk Gibbs, Brett Metcalfe and Todd Waters try and muscle their way up the leaderboard. After struggling with the bike set-up of his GasGas Racing Team MC 450F at the opening round, Gibbs proved he’s as fit as ever at Horsham, when he wrapped up the day with an impressive podium finish in the final moto when the track was at its roughest. With two eighth overalls in two rounds, GO24 Racing Kawasaki rider Brett Metcalfe has been the most consistent of the three seasoned racers, but he’s be traditionally very strong at his home round at Gillman, and will fancy his chances of another great result there. Waters sits just two points behind Metcalfe, with the Raceline Husqvarna Racing Team owner/racer managing a neck injury early this season. He’s unhappy with his results so far and Gillman presents an opportunity to begin his season in earnest.

7. Unpredictable results tighten up MX2 field:
While Brodie Connolly turns the screws on the MX2 championship, the standings behind the frontrunners has chopped and changed dramatically with each race. The result of these unpredictable results is a log-jammed leaderboard as we head to round three. Just nine points separate fifth-placed Kayden Minear (KTM Racing Team) from Haruki Yokoyama (Honda) in 10th, and five of the top 10 have landed race or round podiums so far. The MX2 class consistently throws up some of the most unpredictable and tightest racing of the championship, and 2024 is looking like it’ll continue in the same vein. So far, the main challengers to the two Honda Racing front-runners of Connolly and Noah Ferguson come in the form of Yamalube Yamaha Racing’s Ryder Kingsford, Raceline Husqvarna Racing Team’s Rhys Budd, GasGas Racing Team’s Byron Dennis, while WBR-supported privateer Yamaha rider Bailey Malkiewicz also emerged as a potential challenger with a P2 moto result at Horsham.

6. The effect of Moss’s return:
While he’s become more of a supercross specialist over the past couple of seasons, Matt Moss has won multiple titles outdoors, and has announced he’s making an unexpected return to the ProMX championship with the Elliott Bros GasGas Racing team. Sure, he’s already missed out on 100 potential championship points, but Moss could cause all sorts of headaches for those wanting to secure a healthy stash of points at each of the remaining six rounds. With a reputation as a fierce, determined fighter, Moss is using these rounds to keep match-fit for the yet to be finalised World Supercross Championship and Australian Supercross Championship.

Image: Foremost Media.

5. A re-energised Clout:
After an injury-riddled couple of years, 2024 has seen the re-emergence of a new-look, highly motivated Luke Clout. While the new Empire Kawasaki recruit is yet to capture a podium result at either a round or moto, you get the feeling it’s only a matter of time before we see the number four featured on the box. After a satisfactory P6 overall at Wonthaggi’s opening hit-out, Clout spent time at the front of the pack in both motos at Horsham, including the major share of the first MX1 race before going down late in moto one. A tweaked back saw him drop back in the second moto, but he still hung tough to finish the day fifth overall. It was a disappointing finish judging by his form early in the day, but the pace and hunger he displayed has certainly put him on people’s radars.

4. Ferris needs victories:
Having returned to his former team at CDR Yamaha Monster Energy, defending champion Dean Ferris was widely expected to challenge a record fifth MX1 title before the season began. However, things haven’t quite gone to plan just yet. While he did leave Wonthaggi third overall with a 4-3 result, he struggled to move his way forward at Horsham’s opening moto, then crashed while briefly leading the second race. Now 23 points behind his in-form teammate Jed Beaton and the series now heading to Gillman, Ferris needs to rediscover that winning formula that held him in good stead last year. If he loses more points to Beaton and Kyle Webster (Boost Mobile Honda Racing) next weekend, it’s going to make his title defence that much tougher.

3. Impressive starts for Crawford and Todd:
This year has seen MX2 arch-rivals Nathan Crawford and Wilson Todd both jump up to the MX1 class full-time, and there are certainly early signs that these two mean business. KTM Racing Team’s Crawford has already put in a breakout performance by logging his first MX1 race win at Horsham and he’s looked very at home on the bigger bike, while Todd’s year got off to a positive start at Wonthaggi in the opening moto of the year, as the Terrafirma Honda Racing rider held onto a solid third-place result behind the season’s early front-runners on his way to P4 overall. Crawford’s impressive showing at Horsham sees him placed P3 in points, while Todd is fifth in the standings.

Image: Foremost Media.

2. Connolly next in the MX2 line:
We’re guaranteed to see a new MX2 champion crowned this year and Polyflor Honda Racing’s Brodie Connolly has wasted very little time in asserting himself as the man to beat. The New Zealander has won three of the four motos so far, and already finds himself with a very handy 26-point buffer over his Honda Racing teammate, Noah Ferguson. Ferguson has proved he can match Connolly’s pace, winning the opening moto at Wonthaggi, then putting on an incredible late-race charge to finish just 0.7s behind Connolly at Horsham’s second MX2 moto. Unfortunately for Ferguson, a crash-affected opening moto at Horsham meant he’d only finish 17th and allow Connolly to stretch out an uncomfortably large points lead. Gillman is shaping up to be a crucial round, because if Connolly again finishes at the front of the pack, he’s going be incredibly hard to stop over the remaining five fixtures.

1. A brewing Beaton vs Webster rivalry:
Entering 2024, the names of CDR Yamaha Monster Energy’s Beaton and Boost Mobile Honda Racing’s Webster were often tossed around as potential champions this year, but the early season form of both of these racers has been pretty remarkable. Webster finally lived up to his billing as a Wonthaggi loam-master by opening his account with a perfect 1-1 scorecard, but he could never shake Beaton, who was P2 for the weekend. The Yamaha rider then proved his ability as an all-rounder on harder track surfaces by clinching the round win – and red plate – at the Horsham. At the same time, Webster’s fourth overall proved he’s not just a sand specialist either. Just five points separate the former teammates as we head into round three, and there will be plenty of eyes on them to see if their increasing on-track rivalry will continue for the rest of the season.