Penrite Honda Factory Racing emerged Victorious at the conclusion of what was the biggest Supercross event held on Australian soil at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night.
The annual SX-Open Supercross moved from its original home in Sydney down to Melbourne for 2019. Over 35,000 spectators made the trek from around the country to witness the final round of the 2019 Australian Supercross Championship.
In what turned out to be a night to be remembered for more than just the on-track racing. The large crowd soaked up the atmosphere and watched the changing of the guard as long-time Australian SX hero Chad Reed announced that this would be his last race as a professional on home soil, while on the same night, upcoming talent Jett Lawrence made his professional SX debut. The youngster dsiplayed the talent to run with some of the best in the world at just 16 years of age.
The gates to Marvel Stadium opened early for VIP ticket holders, who had the opportunity to watch the entire event, starting with the afternoon qualifying session. With only a single point separating the series leaders coming into the round. Australia’s Monster Energy CDR Yamaha’s Luke Clout, and American Penrite Honda’s Justin Brayton the main title contenders.
One big-name rider had already been ruled out of the nights’ action before qualifying even got underway after newly signed JGR Suzuki racer Joey Savatgy suffered a big crash in the practice session. The highly respected American injuring his ankle after coming up short on a big rhythm section after hitting neutral off the face of a jump.
When the qualifying session got underway; Clout, sporting the red plate to signify his championship leader status, got straight down to business. The 25-year-old topped the qualifying session as the only rider to break the 44-second lap barrier on his way to out-qualify championship rival Brayton by less than two-tenths of a second.
2018 American Supercross champion, Jason Anderson was just over four-tenths of a second further back with the third-fastest time aboard his Rockstar Husqvarna, with Monster Energy CDR Yamaha duo Daniel Reardon and Josh Hill rounding out the top five.
Chad Reed, who was still dealing with damaged ribs sustained in a crash three weeks prior in Paris, had to settle for the 11th fasted time aboard his Penrite Honda backed Honda CRF450R.
With the Pit Party over and the 35,000 plus supercross fans inside Marvel Stadium, the lights dimmed as the top riders were introduced ahead of the action that lay ahead.
While many were on hand to watch some tremendous international talent, the star of the show was once again Australia’s Chad Reed. CR22 was introduced with an emotion filled highlights package of his career, followed by an announcement from Reed himself that this event would be the last time he raced in Australia as a full-time supercross athlete, announcing his plans to hang up the boots from full time racing in 2020.
With the crowd on a high and wanting nothing more than to see Reed in action, the stadium once again lit up as riders hit the start gates for the first time in a full-sized indoor AFL stadium.
SX1 HEAT 1
In the opening SX1 heat race it was Penrite Honda Factory Racing’s Brett Metcalfe who stole the early race limelight, claiming the holeshot and leading the opening lap from team-mate Brayton.
While things were going well for the Honda duo up front, Yamaha’s Reardon ran into trouble early in the race with a crash leaving his bike bent up. Though able to continue in the race, the early season championship contender was forced to head to the last chance qualifier for his shot at making it into the main event.
Up front, Brayton took control of the race on lap two and was never headed, cruising to victory ahead of Metcalfe and Rockstar Honda’s Jackson Richardson.
Empire Motorsport Kawasaki’s Lawson Bopping finished fourth, earning a direct spot in the nights three final format, along with KSF Racing’s Gradie Featherstone, Honda privateer Joel Wightman, SB Motorsports ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jayden Rykers and veteran racer Justin Carafa.
SX1 HEAT 2
In the second heat, Anderson kicked his intensity up a gear, grabbing the Knobby Holeshot and leading the field through the first lap.
Much to the crowd’s pleasure, Reed sat in second position followed by Yamaha Yamalube’s Richie Evans, with a fast charging Clout hot on his heels.
By lap two Clout had moved his way into third, then quickly reeled in Reed and moved into second position before setting his sights on race leader Anderson.
Despite his efforts, Clout had to settle for second, with Anderson finishing just two-seconds ahead of the New South Welshman. Reed held on to fourth just ahead of a fast-finishing Josh Hill.
Joining the four lead riders with a direct path to the nights final was Evans who held on for 5th ahead of Empire Motorsports Kawasaki’s Dylan Long, Husqvarna backed Todd Waters and SB Motorsports Suzuki Ecstar racer Cody Dyce with his 8th place finish.
With little time between the heats and the LCQ, Reardon and his team went to work to straighten out his YZ450F. To no one’s surprise Reardon then dominated the LCQ to take his spot in the nights final and keep his bid for a final championship podium result alive.
Oil Piping systems backed Jesse Madden finished second ahead of Dylan Wood, while Jono Krusic was gifted the final transfer spot into the night’s big show after Chirs Camilleri crashed in the second to last straight while in position to qualify.
SX1 MAIN ONE
With all the festivities over, including Jayo Archer claiming the nights big trick gold medal with a massive double backflip, and the KTM Junior 50 racers back in the stands after taking their shot of replicating their hero’s on a full-size supercross track, the nights entertainment kicked into overdrive as the SX1 field lined up for their three back to back to back main event races.
Like the SX-Open event in Auckland, the riders would also have to contend with the Joker land, which they could use just once in one of the three main event racers, meaning a little strategy would once again be in play. However, unlike the Auckland short cut lane that gave riders close to a ten-second advantage, the short cut lane in Melbourne was worth one to two-seconds at the very most.
When the gates dropped in the first final, it was Anderson who raced to the holeshot and subsequent race lead with all in the stadium expecting him to run away for an easy race win, but that was not to be the case.
Brayton followed Anderson through the first two corners in second place but was quickly relegated to third position after Reed snuck up the inside of him after the triple.
At the end of the next straight Clout also tried to make a move up the inside of Brayton, but instead of gaining a position, tucked the front wheel, crashing into the turn and relegating himself to near last, and in the process putting a big dent in his championship aspirations.
If the first lap was not exciting enough the roof was lifted off the stadium early in the second lap as the crowd roared into life when Reed put a block pass on Anderson for the lead in a move that not only left Anderson on the ground, but also caught Clout out once again as he crashed for a second time trying to manoeuvre between other downed riders.
Reed, with a clear track ahead of him, tried to distance himself from the field further, opting to use the Joker lane when it first opened at the start of lap two.
At the end of lap four Brayton all but cruised past Reed for the race lead as Reed swung wide, with Brayton running on to win the opening race comfortably.
Reed held on to finish second less than half-a-second ahead of Hill, with Metcalfe in 4th and Reardon in 5th.
Anderson was able to recover to finish 7th while Clout had to settle for a 10th place finish.
SX1 MAIN TWO
In another exciting start, Anderson grabbed the holeshot and early race lead ahead of Brayton; however, it was Clout who was on the charge, passing both riders in quick succession to take control of the race lead by the end of lap one.
The lead was short-lived, as Anderson blasted down the whoop section at the start of lap two to reclaim the lead. On the following lap, Brayton took full advantage of the Repco Short Cut Lane to rocket himself from third position all the way into the lead, further enhancing his position to take his fourth straight title.
On lap six, Anderson who had been stalking Brayton for four laps made his move for the lead, making the pass stick on the slick track then going on to take the race win.
Brayton held on for second, ahead of the trio of CDR Yamaha’s with Clout in third, Hill fourth and Reardon 5th.
SX1 MAIN THREE
In a chaotic first turn, it looked as though leading privateer Joel Wightman was going to grab the knobby holeshot until he was pushed wide and went down, while a handful of riders burst straight through the blocks at the tight first corner.
Emerging first after everything had settled down was Brett Metcalfe leading the way head of Anderson, Brayton, Evans and Hill, while Clout was left deep down in the pack.
Hill used the Repco short cut lane to his advantage to move into third position ahead of Brayton, while at the same time, Anderson blitzed through the whoops to pass Metcalfe for the lead.
Both Hill and Brayton then made their move around Metcalfe to sit in second and third spots.
Out front Anderson was unstoppable, taking his second straight win for the night. Hill held on to second position. Still, all attention was on the man behind him with Brayton crossing the line in third position, which was enough to see him win his first SX-Open event and more importantly his fourth straight Australian Supercross Championship.
“I’m stoked I got the win – the last few weeks have been so tough, so to get this championship means a lot. I love this country, thank you so much for welcoming me, and I hope that I’ve done your country proud coming over here and winning four straight.”
Anderson’s 1-1-7 result was enough to finish second overall for the night and also clinch the 2019 Australasian Supercross Championship which was contested over the course of the two SX-Open events held in Auckland and Melbourne.
“This title is sweet; it’s rad I was able to get it done. The track was slick, racing was tight, but my Rockstar Husky was locked in. Thanks to all the AME boys for putting this on. I love coming down under, and really plan on doing it for some time to come.”
Hill on the back of his second-place finish in the final race rounded out the nights SX1 podium, with Metcalfe and Reed tied for 4th position on 14 points each.
In the final points standings, Clout despite finishing 7th on the night, held on to second position ahead of team-mate Daniel Reardon, with Metcalfe in 4th and Dylan Long holding on to 5th on the championship charts.
Richie Evans held on to finish 6th in his first year in the SX1 class, while Joel Wightman’s 10th place finish at the final round was enough to see him finish the season as the leading privateer with a fantastic 7th place championship result.
In SX2 qualifying it was championship points leader Joshua Osby who kicked off his day in perfect fashion, topping the timesheets aboard his Raceline KTM machine, ahead of his nearest championship rival in Penrite Factory Honda Racing Team’s Chris Blose and Yamaha Yamalube’s Jay Wilson.
Australia’s best chance at the SX2 title, Serco Yamaha’s Aaron Tanti, put down the 4th best lap time ahead of another championship contender Mitchell Oldenburg.
For young Australian gun, Jett Lawrence in his first-ever professional Supercross event after recently turning 16-years-old, it was an impressive start to his step up into the big time, posting the 6th fastest lap.
SX2 HEAT 1
Blose was going to have his work cut out for himself to win the SX2 title after coming into the round four-points adrift of Osby got his night off to a great start, leading the opening heat race, but he did not have things all his own way.
After sitting on Blose’s back wheel for the opening five laps, teenage sensation Jett Lawrence had the entire stadium on their feet as he momentarily captured the race lead, however Blose quickly responded, re-taking the front spot before going on to win, with Lawrence in second and another young Australian star in Regan Duffy crossing the line in third.
Championship hopeful Tanti who came into the round 7 points behind Osby had to settle for 6th place finish in the heat, which was enough to see him advance to the nights three final, main events.
SX2 HEAT 2
It looked as though Osby’s excellent start to the event was going to continue when the gates dropped on the second heat, with the American quickly gaining the race lead. However, his night soon started to come unravelled, after he was clipped ever so slightly by Kyle Webster going into the final turn on the opening lap.
The contact mid-air was enough to cause Osby to crash as he landed, luckily he was able to remount his bike, finished the race in 8th position and sneak directly into the main event.
Out front, Webster held on to the lead and was followed by KTM privateer Tomas Ravenhorst for the majority of the race.
With two laps remaining, Oldenburg who was involved in a first turn pile-up moved his way into second position, then bought the crowd to life again with a final corner pass on Webster to take the heat race win.
Webster held on for second ahead of Ravenhorst with Jay Wilson in 4th.
Empire Kawasaki’s Bradley Taft made light work of the LCQ to easily qualify for the nights SX2 main event, along with Honda privateer Jaxon Hadlow, Davey Motorsports KTM’s Morgan Fogarty and WBR Yamaha’s Hugh McKay.
SX2 MAIN ONE
If the stadium was not loud enough, things lifted a notch again when Lawrence led out of the first turn in the opening SX2 main event.
The lead was short-lived as both Blose, and Oldenburg quickly made their way around the young Australian in their quest for the championship win. Osby was left with a trio of Honda riders in front of him early on lap two, Tierney sitting just behind him in 5th.
Osby’s night took another turn for the worse shortly after, with a small crash allowing Tanti to sneak through along with Wilson and Taft, relegating Osby back to 8th position.
Out front, Oldenburg was not doing his team-mate many favours and with an outside chance of the championship win himself, took the lead and subsequent race win ahead of Blose.
Wilson third after a last-lap pass on Lawrence while Osby was able to recover to 5th and keep his championship hopes alive.
SX2 MAIN TWO
Lawrence once again led the early stages of the second final but was again quickly under pressure from Blose after the American used the Repco Short Cut Lane to his advantage, while championship rival Osby sat back in 5th position.
Just after the halfway mark of the race, Lawrence relinquished the race lead to Blose, who took full advantage going on to win the race, ahead of Wilson who again made a last-lap pass on Lawrence who held on for third. Osby holding onto his championship hopes in 4th ahead of Oldenburg in 5th.
However, Osby was then given a penalty for jumping under Yellow, pushing him back to 7th position in the race and left desperately needing a win in the final race to have any shot at the title.
The race also saw the end to Aaron Tanti’s championship hopes with the Serco Yamaha racer suffering a nasty crash through a long rhythm section that left him in the hands of the medics.
SX2 MAIN THREE
With everything on the line, Osby done precisely what he needed to do at the start of the final race of the year in the SX2 class, leading the opening lap.
Blose had other ideas, however. After charging through the whoops he put a move up the inside of Osby in the following turn, making contact with the KTM racer which looked to have also knocked something loose on Osby’s bike that started smoking instantly.
With fluid leaking onto his brakes, Osby struggled to pull up for the corners on the slick track, leading to another two small tip-overs and an end to his championship hopes.
Seeing Osby slip through the field, Blose looked to play it safe, relinquishing the race lead to Lawrence midway through the race, before also being passed by Oldenburg and Wilson.
Oldenburg then put on a charge to hunt down Lawrence making a final lap pass on the Australian to take the race win, Lawrence crossed the line in second, this time holding of Jay Wilson in third and Blose in 4th with Rhys Budd putting in a fantastic ride to cross the line in 5th position, a great way to end his first year in the senior ranks.
The final race win for Oldenburg was enough to give him the round win by one single point over Blose, in what was an incredible finish to the night in the SX2 class, with Wilson finishing 3rd just one point behind Blose and Lawrence missing the podium on debut by a single point with the top four riders separated by just three points!
The man of the moment, however, was Blose, turning a four-point deficient coming into the final round to a four-point championship victory and in doing so giving the Penrite Honda Factory Racing team both the SX1 and SX2 titles for 2019.
“Oh man; I can’t explain this. I’m so pumped, the Penrite Honda team worked so hard for this, I did too, and we walk out of here with a number one plate. Thanks to everyone involved, it’s a dream come true to be crowned champion.”
Osby was able to hold onto second position in the standings despite finishing the night down in 7th position, with Oldenburg rounding out the championship podium just two-points behind Osby.
“ Tonight was one of the hardest nights of my career. I put myself in good positions like I have all season, but unfortunately, it just didn’t work out. It seemed like nothing went my way from the beginning of the heat race on, and although we tried, it wasn’t meant to be this time around. I want to thank the entire team, we came so close, and they gave me everything I needed to get the job done. But that’s racing, and hopefully, I’ll be back for redemption next year.”
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