The 2016 Motul MX Nationals Heavy Hitters
With five days until the gates drop at the Motul MX Nationals for the first time in 2016, there is no denying that this year’s Thor MX1 class is one of the most competitive, talent packed fields of riders we have seen in years.
With Dean Ferris and Todd Waters both returning from racing the MXGPs in Europe, the highly experienced and successful 31-year-old Brett Metcalfe locked in for four rounds, then you throw a defending MX champion, a 2015 Supercross champion, two Kawasaki team mates in, and a new Honda team, and you already have one stacked MX1 class.
Today, we look at the fundamental details, and the driving forces behind each rider, to give you an idea of what may or may not play out in 2016.
Todd Waters (Wilson’s Cool Air Motul Suzuki)
Suzuki Australia actually pulled the pin on it’s factory Motocross and Supercross racing commitments at the end of 2015, but when the manufacturer heard that Todd Waters wanted to return to Australia, everything turned around.
With the help of Neale Wilson and his team at Wilson MX, as well as Kevvy Cool Air (you will remember him from his involvement with the Kawasaki Factory Team a number of years ago) the Suzuki factory team has been put together with the heavy influence of Waters.
Waters, who spent two years racing the MXGP in Europe on one of the best supported factory teams on the circuit (Red Bull Ice One Husqvarna) managed to finish in ninth in the overall MXGP MX1 Championship last year, and threw in a podium and some top five results in as well.
So why come home? The laid back Queenslander has admitted he struggled to adjust to the lifestyle in Europe – travelling non stop, language barriers, and poor weather would do that to anyone. But this year now that he has returned home, his mindset is super positive and he’s going to be a strong threat to the 2016 Thor MX1 Championship.
A happy rider is a fast rider, and Waters is quite possibly the only guy in the pits who has had the opportunity to hand pick the team he’s got around him. Plus, he has a former MotoGP mechanic working on his bikes, as well as Jay Foreman performing his magic in the background, and Waters has raced the Suzuki before. No matter which way you look at it, this guy is going to be fast at round one.
Dean Ferris (CDR Yamaha)
Last year, the top three guys who finished on the overall MX1 podium at round one, all did their pre-season in New Zealand, so if that’s anything to go by, we’re already expecting big things from Dean Ferris.
We all saw what Josh Coppins did with Jay Wilson in 2015, and what he’s doing now with Courtney Duncan in Europe, and Ferris has been lucky enough to have the opportunity to race the NZ Nationals with the support of Coppins and JCR Yamaha throughout the MX Nationals pre season. Despite narrowly missing out on the NZ Championship because of one poor result at round three, Ferris was arguably the fastest man on the track in New Zealand, and he’s returned to Australia to do the exact same thing.
Craig Dack head hunted Ferris last year, and at the 2015 MXoN in France, the team announced that the Aussie would return home to race for CDR Yamaha for the 2016 race season.
It’s been a few years now since CDR Yamaha has won a championship – the team has finished on the box but hasn’t seen that top step for quite some time, so Ferris is here with a job to do – win a 2016 MX1 Championship, it’s as simple as that.
Ferris, who knows exactly what it takes to win championships, has plenty of experience from racing the MXGP in Europe under his belt, and is racing for one of the most professionally run race teams in the pits. He’s quite possibly the man to beat. We’re tipping if he can use his head, know when to ride at 90-95 per cent, and can stay on two wheels, he could run away with the 2016 Thor MX 1 Championship early.
Brett Metcalfe (SD3 Husqvarna)
Well, this guy really needs no introduction. Brett Metcalfe is one of Australia’s greatest exports, and from memory the last time he raced a motocross in Australia it would have been in the early 2000’s at the Grand Prix at Broadford as a junior – from there, he then left and began his highly successful international career.
Metcalfe is well decorated with achievements – an AMA Motocross National round win, he’s finished second in an AMA Motocross Championship, he’s won a Canadian MX Championship, and he also impressed when he raced at the Supercross in Adelaide at the end of last year.
So, why the MX Nationals? Well Metty actually got the call up to race for SD3 Husqvarna when the team controversially dropped Jacob Wright prior to the season even kicking off – he has a good relationship with SD3, and is locked in for four MX Nationals rounds so far. The biggest threat for the series regulars, is the valuable points that Metcalfe could snatch up.
Hypothetically, if Metcalfe podiums and put’s himself in a healthy position in the MX1 Championship, when he walks away to return overseas after Murray Bridge, it’s going to seriously shake up the overall championship standings, and honestly we can’t wait!
Matt Moss (NPE Monster Energy Kawasaki)
Frankly, Mossy needs this year to be better than 2015. Last year was arguably the hardest and most disappointing in his career to date. Not only did Mossy have a shocker of a motocross season, but when Supercross rolled around it was a similar story.
After Suzuki announced they were closing down it’s racing team effort at the end of last year, (now not the case) Mossy began his search for a 2016 ride, and managed to sign with NPE Monster Energy Kawasaki for 2016. With a brother (Jake), and Kade Mosig as his team mates, Mossy has a serious point to prove – the former champ is going to be fighting to turn things around this year.
Plus, with a baby on the way, this really is the time for Mossy to get back to his winning ways. We all know he can win, we all know he is fast, but can he take out another championship? Only time will tell.
Kade Mosig (NPE Monster Energy Kawasaki)
Unfortunately for Mosig, it seems that no mater what he does, he just can’t bag an MX1 Championship. Much like what Kirk Gibbs experienced when he was fighting Mossy for a championship in 2014, Mosig has been plagued by the ‘bridesmaid’ effect, and has a number of second and third places to his name.
Despite finishing in an outstanding second in the MX1 championship in 2015, the former Victorian was dropped from CDR Yamaha, when the team made the difficult decision to re-sign 2015 Supercross Champ Dan Reardon. However, it has appeared to have played out for Mosig in the best way possible.
Mosig, who moved to Queensland at the end of 2015, has signed with Gold Coast based and Troy Carroll managed NPE Monster Energy Kawasaki for the 2016 race season, and is now preparing for his full assault on the MX Nationals.
Determined to finally win an MX1 championship, Mosig is going to be more focussed than ever to make this year happen for him, and we’re already tipping that his green machine could be the dark horse of 2016.
Kirk Gibbs (KTM Motocross Racing Team)
Last year, Kirk Gibbs turned heads when he won the 2015 MX1 Championship relatively unchallenged. No one could get close to the diesel engine of Gibbs and after some close calls, and a number of second and thirds in 2014, the championship was the perfect reward for his hard work.
Unfortunately for Gibbs, the KTM rider suffered a nasty crash whilst training for Supercross at the end of last year, breaking his pelvis and forcing him in to months of rehab.
But now, Gibbsy has recovered and is back on the bike – the quiet achiever is putting the finishing touches on his pre season program, and appears ready to defend his 2015 title.
Jay Marmont once famously said that it’s much harder to defend a championship that win your first one, but if there’s one guy in the pits who can do it, it’s Gibbsy.
Dan Reardon (CDR Yamaha)
30-year-old, and former retiree (can we still keep saying that?) won a 2015 Supercross Championship the last time he raced, and despite a shoulder injury at the final round in Melbourne, CDR Yamaha’s Dan Reardon looks prepped and ready for the 2016 MX Nationals season.
Last year, Reardon put a lot of his performance at the MX Nationals down to a lack of pre season training, and to his credit he jumped on the Yamaha at the very last minute before round one last year, and all in all did a pretty outstanding job given his lack of time to prepare.
This year though, it’s a completely different story. Reardon has had a solid pre season, and he has already proven to the world, that age is no limit for the man who came back from retirement.
The big question mark for Reardon is, ‘Is Reardon just a Supercross guy, or can he blow these youngsters out of the water in Motocross too?’. Wouldn’t it be a fairy tale ending for Reardon if he could come out and show that he’s still got it in the Outdoors too! He took race wins and round wins in 2015, and if he can carry his Supercross momentum into 2016, he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with at round one.
Jay Wilson & Dylan Long (Crankt Protein Honda Racing)
These two youngsters are pretty much the babies of the MX1 class, and no one is really sure what either of them are capable of, or what they’re going to bring to the table in 2016.
Their mix of energy, being a brand new team, as well as having the experience and knowledge of well known Pip Harrison in their corner, makes this pair of riders the ones to watch, and are both in with a legitimate chance to take podiums this year.
For both riders the pressure is off, the team is investing in their youth and have a long term goal in mind, which means the Honda riders are simply both happy and excited to go racing.
To top it off, these guys are former team mates, who have both performed on the world stage together, so there’s a solid chance that at some point this year, these guys are going to be on the MX1 podium… maybe even together.
The first round of the Motul MX Nationals will be held in Horsham, Victorian on April 3, 2016.