Moto News Weekly Wrap
June 30, 2020
Round Seven – Millfield, Ohio
The 2020 Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series presented by Specialized, an AMA National Championship, continued with day two of racing at the 31st Annual Wiseco John Penton GNCC on Sunday, June 28, 2020. Sunday Creek Raceway in Millfield, Ohio plays host to The John Penton GNCC each year, which continues to be the longest running event on the circuit.
As racing got underway it was FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Kailub Russell jumping off the line first to earn the $250 All Balls Racing XC1 Open Pro Holeshot Award. During the opening lap Russell would have company from his teammate Ben Kelley, who moved into the lead as they came around to timing and scoring. Russell would make the pass for the lead on the second lap, and never look back. Russell would lead the way for the remainder of the race, pushing his gap to 58 seconds by the time the checkered flag flew after three hours of intense racing. Russell earned his 66th career overall win, and continues to hold the points lead after seven rounds of racing.
Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki’s Josh Strang was off to a top three start, and would move into second overall on the third lap of racing. Strang would push for the duration of the race, reaching almost complete exhaustion by the time the checkered flag came out. Strang continues to hold second overall in the National Championship points standings, with just 33-points separating him and Russell.
After a top five start to the day, FactoryONE Sherco’s Grant Baylor was on a mission to land on a podium finishing position for the second time this season. Baylor would put his head down and push through the dusty, hot conditions to move into third overall by lap three of racing. Baylor would continue to push, and on the last lap would come through timing and scoring just 4 seconds behind Strang. After seven rounds of racing Baylor sits fourth overall in the XC1 Open Pro standings.
FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Benjamin Kelley came through leading the opening lap of racing in Ohio, but would soon be faced with multiple battles at what would be his second race back after recovering from his shoulder injury. Kelley continued to battle with Strang and Baylor for the first half the race, eventually settling into the fourth place position for the last couple of laps.
Finishing fifth in XC1 and sixth overall on the day was Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki’s Jordan Ashburn. Ashburn would start the day out coming through fourth overall on lap one. He would continue to hold his position, battling with fellow XC1 competitors for the first half the race. Ashburn fell into the fifth place position on lap three of six, and would hold that position until he was met with the checkered flag.
Coming through eighth on lap one was FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Joshua Toth. Toth would put his head down and push, making the necessary passes to finish out the day sixth in the XC1 Open Pro class. Continuing his stay on the East Coast was FMF/Maxxis/RPM KTM/KLIM/SIDI’s Dante Oliveira. Oliveira would come through to earn seventh in the XC1 class after a hot and humid three-hour race.
In the XC2 250 Pro class it was Rockstar Energy/Factory Husqvarna Racing/Kari Resources’ Craig DeLong coming through to take the class win, as well as finishing fifth overall on the day. DeLong would finish over two minutes ahead of his fellow XC2 competitors. This was DeLong’s third win of the season, which also moved him into the points lead in his class.
Factory Beta USA’s Cody Barnes earned his first podium finish of the season in the XC2 class with a second place finish. Barnes had a great jump off the line and would set himself up in the third place position to start off the day. On the third lap of racing, Barnes made the move into second and would continue to push for the remaining laps of the race.
Trail Jesters KTM’s Jonathan Girroir had work his way up to a podium finish after starting off the race back in fifth place. Girroir steadily made his way through the pack of riders, making the necessary passes he needed to earn a spot in the top three. After the seventh round of racing, Girroir sits third in the XC2 points standings.
The Anzac invasion of the women’s category continued but it was Ohio’s hometown hero Becca Sheets that came out on top ahead of New Zealand’s Rachael Archer and Australia’s Tayla Jones. Sheets had her work cut out for her after coming through fourth on the opening lap. However, she would put her head down and push, moving into the lead by the second lap of racing. Sheets remains the points leader in the class with just one more round before summer break.
AmPro Yamaha’s Rachael Archer made her way into second place after starting her day out in third. Archer continued to push throughout the morning race, but was unable to catch Sheets in the lead and remains third in the WXC points standings.
Rockstar Energy/Lan Mills XC’s Tayla Jones held the early in Ohio, but would soon be faced with battles as she fell back to fourth in the class on the second lap of racing. Jones picked up the pace, making the move past Factory Beta USA’s Rachel Gutish to overtake third place in the WXC class once again. Jones held onto third for the final spot on the podium.
Round Seven Overall
- Kailub Russell – XC1 – KTM
- Josh Strang – XC1 – Kawasaki
- Grant Baylor – XC1 – Sherco
- Ben Kelley – XC1 – KTM
- Craig Delong – XC2 – Husqvarna
- Jordan Ashburn – XC1 – Kawasaki
- Joshua Toth – XC1 – KTM
- Cody Barnes – XC2 – Honda
- Jonathan Girroir – XC2 – KTM
- Michael Witkowski – XC2 – Yamaha
Overall GNCC Championship Standings
- Kailub Russell (205)
- Josh Strang (172)
- Jordan Ashburn (111)
- Craig DeLong (108)
- Michael Witkowski (98)
- Jonathan Girroir (92)
- Grant Baylor (85)
- Cody Barnes (74)
- Liam Draper (61)
- Ricky Russell (59)
XC2 250 Pro Series Standings
- Craig DeLong (178)
- Michael Witkowski (179)
- Jonathan Girroir (164)
- Cody Barnes (125)
- Liam Draper (108)
- Thorn Devlin (89)
- Ryder Lafferty (75)
- Jonathan Johnson (73)
- Simon Johnson (69)
- Ryder LeBlond (64)
Women Round Seven
- Becca Sheets – Yamaha
- Rachael Archer – Yamaha
- Tayla Jones – Husqvarna
- Rachel Gutish – Beta
- Korie Steede – TM
- Mackenzie Tricker – KTM
- Brooke Cosner – Sherco
- Shelby Rolen – KTM
- Taylor Johnston – KTM
- Alli Phillips – Husqvarna
Tomac and Cianciarulo Return to Monster Energy Kawasaki in 2021
Kawasaki has announced that Eli Tomac and Adam Cianciarulo will return to the Monster Energy Kawasaki racing team for the 2021 season. The Monster Energy Kawasaki riders aboard KX450 motorcycles will feature the newly-crowned 2020 Monster Energy Supercross Champion and three-time defending AMA Pro Motocross Champion, Tomac, and reigning 250 Pro Motocross Champion, Cianciarulo, after a successful rookie season of supercross winning the 2019 Monster Energy Cup and capturing two podium finishes during the 2020 Monster Energy Supercross season.
“We have a very strong 2021 team roster,” said Kawasaki Racing Senior Manager, Dan Fahie. “We are prepared to continue our championship journey with both Eli and Adam. We had an unusual, yet successful 2020 supercross season and look to continue that into the motocross season as well. We have learned a lot about our KX450 and are in a good place heading into outdoors and 2021 with the development of the motorcycle.”
2021 will mark Tomac’s sixth year with Monster Energy Kawasaki, as he relentlessly remains a top contender in the premier class. Tomac captured the coveted 2020 Monster Energy Supercross Championship title after earning seven wins and 12 podiums of the 17 rounds. Tomac currently sits sixth on the all-time 450SX race wins list with 34 wins, and also sits fourth on the all-time 450MX race wins list with 22 overall wins and 44 podium finishes. Tomac cemented his legacy as an elite champion, becoming only the fifth rider in history to win titles in both the 450SX and 250SX classes as well as AMA Pro Motocross Championships in both classes.
“I’m at home with Monster Energy Kawasaki,” said Tomac. “I feel we have an outstanding team in place, an excellent KX450 motorcycle and a common goal of winning races and championships. I couldn’t be happier with how the supercross season ended as we clinched our first 450SX championship. Now our focus will be on winning our fourth consecutive Pro Motocross Championship and continuing to let the good times roll.”
Meanwhile, Cianciarulo kicked off his 450SX rookie campaign by taking the crown at the Monster Energy Cup and he backed that up by showing his speed on the bike by qualifying fastest at seven of the eight races he competed in and earning two podiums before his season was cut short due to injury. As the reigning AMA Pro Motocross 250 Champion, Cianciarulo looks to be a top championship competitor in the premier class this motocross season.
“Monster Energy Kawasaki is the team I have loved for so long,” said Cianciarulo. “What a journey it’s been to get to this point. Most people know it’s always been a dream of mine to be a part of this team at the top-level of the sport and I’m looking forward to putting in the work and continuing to improve and grow. I’m honored to be on what I believe to be the best team in the sport and to have been part of the Kawasaki Team Green program for all of these years. We’re halfway through my rookie year and the team has been so supportive. I truly believe we’re on our way to reaching our ultimate goal of winning races and championships.”
The 2020 AMA Pro Motocross Championship drops the gate on Saturday, July 18th at Ironman MX in Crawfordsville, Indiana.
Royal Enfield racing American Flat Track
August will mark the return to racing for American Flat Track (AFT) and Royal Enfield. Royal Enfield will debut its FT racer at AFT Rounds 5 & 6 on August 28-29 , when Moto Anatomy’s Johnny Lewis takes the track for the first time in the AFT Production Twins class.
Lewis planned to unveil the concept FT at the Daytona AFT round in March, but due to COVID-19, the races were rescheduled. Despite the AFT season being temporarily postponed, Lewis is logging hours at his Center Hill, Florida training facility on the Royal Enfield FT concept. With the help of Royal Enfield, Harris Performance and S&S Cycle, the development of the FT has continued. Lewis will officially present the Royal Enfield FT at Volusia County Speedway on July 17.
“The Royal Enfield FT concept has already shown promise so far.” said rider and team owner Johnny Lewis. “We’re already seeing great results from the motorcycle. The team at Harris Performance and Royal Enfield have done a great job with the chassis, and we’ve already begun working through small adjustments based on my feedback. With the way the schedule is shaping out with small tracks, we could surprise many people.”
Lewis will be joined at select AFT rounds with the all-female Build Train Race participants starting with the Atlanta Short Track at Dixie Speedway October 2-3 and will return for the AFT season finale in Daytona Beach October 15-16. During these rounds, the women will conduct a special exhibition aboard their custom INT650 flat track motorcycles as part of the AFT event schedule.
Additionally, Lewis will host a Royal Enfield Slide School at select rounds. During the Slide School sessions, participants will receive coaching from Lewis and learn the basics of flat track aboard track prepped FT411 Himalayan motorcycles.
American Flat Track will kick off its 2020 season with the first-ever Volusia Half-Mile presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys doubleheader event at Volusia Speedway Park on Friday, July 17 and Saturday, July 18.
AORC South Australia Round 5 & 6 Cancelled
Due to South Australia and Queensland Government restrictions on travel and border closures, Motorcycling Australia has made the tough decision to cancel Rounds 5 and 6 of the Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship, presented by MXstore, on August 1 and 2 at Murray Bridge, South Australia.
This decision was not taken lightly, but with border closures, self-quarantine restrictions for Queenslanders re-entering their home state, it became impossible for AORC to proceed. AORC’s return to racing will now be August 29-30 in Nowra, NSW.
“We are bitterly disappointed that we are unable to proceed with the Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship, presented by MXstore, as we know riders and fans were excited to see racing get back under way,” said Motorcycling Australia Off-Road Events Manager, Matthew Falvo.
“Like all major sporting codes, AORC and MA had developed a comprehensive COVID-Safe Championship Plan to ensure the safety of riders, teams, officials and staff.
“We had received strong support from Murray Bridge Council and the Velocette Motorcycle Club had done a significant amount of work to ensure the round could go ahead.
“However, with South Australia and Queensland government restrictions on travel and border closures, it made it impossible for interstate riders to make the Murray Bridge round.”
Mr Falvo said the AORC will now recommence on August 29-30, at Nowra, NSW, however we will monitor closely government restrictions.
“We have a world class field of riders from our junior riders, right through to our senior men’s and women’s classes, who we know are eager to get back on track and continue the 2020 Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship presented, by MXstore,” Mr Falvo said.
“Our Yamaha AORC, presented by MXstore, has produced world class racing this year and we know riders and teams have been training hard in recent months and will be ready to race in Nowra next month.
“We are keen to get racing again and Nowra always provides plenty of action and close racing.”
Despite the cancellation of AORC at Murray Bridge, the State component of the round will still go ahead, and we encourage South Australian riders to support the Velocette Motorcycle Club event.
2020 Yamaha AORC Presented by MXstore Calendar
Round 5 & 6 August 1-2 Murray Bridge, SA CANCELLED
- Round 7 & 8 August 29-30 Nowra, NSW (rescheduled event, new date)
- Round 9 & 10 September 19-20 Omeo, VIC
- Round 11 & 12 October 17-18 Wynyard, TAS
Round 11 & 12 October 17-18 Wynyard, TAS
Tony Cairoli and KTM renew contract
Nine-times FIM Motocross World Champion Tony Cairoli will push for yet another title in Red Bull KTM Factory Racing colors in 2021 for what will be his eighteenth season in Grand Prix and the twelfth on a works KTM SX-F.
The 34-year old Sicilian and his crew, helmed by Claudio De Carli, united with the KTM Motorsport Department in 2010 and instantly delivered the factory’s first title in the premier class with the innovative KTM 350 SX-F. Cairoli remained undefeated until 2014 and then used the latest generation of the KTM 450 SX-F to secure his ninth crown in 2017. In total the KTM/Cairoli package has given the manufacturer six championships in the last decade.
In terms of achievements, popularity, professionalism, longevity and enduring passion for motocross, Cairoli is the reference in MXGP and is still fiercely competitive at a time when the category has vast depth of talent and speed.
Cairoli will again form part of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s MXGP ‘Dream Team’ on KTM 450 SX-Fs alongside Jorge Prado and Jeffrey Herlings; boasting a combined number of fifteen championships.
Tony Cairoli: “I’m really motivated for another good season next year so I’m really happy with the renewal of my riding contract. We’ll see what 2020 has in store but my goal is to aim for the championship and again in 2021. I’m very proud to have been so long with this factory team and I still want to write some pages in the history of KTM motocross.”
Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsports Director: “It says a lot for Tony as a rider and a person and an athlete that he is still so competitive when MXGP is at a top level. He could have walked into other teams when it was clear he wanted to continue in 2021 but it was important for us to extend his story with KTM and that couldn’t make us any happier. We have no doubt that he has the desire to go for a tenth title either in the season we will eventually have in 2020 or in 2021. It makes us all very proud to have a team with the caliber of Tony, Jeffrey and Jorge. I believe we can be the ones to beat again in MXGP with this strong trio and combined with the whole team and technical crew with Claudio, Davide, Dirk and everybody who makes the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team tick.”
Claudio de Carli, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager: “Tony expressed his willingness to ride for at least another year and this obviously makes us happy and confirms his truly unique character and attitude for the sport. His final choice to remain with KTM gives us great satisfaction because it also confirms the good job we have been doing responding to his technical requests and the strong bond we have established over many years. Next season Tony will be in his twelfth year with KTM, and with my crew for the eighteenth. I think this says it all! We’re really proud of him and would like to give thanks to KTM for making this next chapter possible.”
Motorcycling Australia to run 2020 MX Nationals
WEM steps down a year earlier than planned
Williams Event Management held a press conference on Friday morning confirming their withdrawal from their role as promoter of the MX Nationals effective immediately.
Kevin Williams first got involved with the running of the Australian Motocross Championships in 1995 at Traralgon, and has effectively had stewardship of the MX Nationals since 1997.
Today does not mark the complete end of Kevin’s 25-year-old involvement with Australian Motocross but it does end the role of WEM as the promoter of the Australian Motocross Championship, which under WEM stewardship was rebranded as MX Nationals.
Kevin understandably got quite emotional when it got to the point where he officially confirmed that he is stepping away from his role as a promoter due to not being able to effectively deliver a viable championship this year due to the ongoing restrictions put in place by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We believe that it is highly like that in this instance Motorcycling Australia will step in to fill the void and ensure that the season does go ahead in some form, and that form of course will see WEM still involved in some way and assisting in affecting an orderly transition.
We see it as unfortunate that Kevin and his crew will not be able to have a lap of honour, so to speak, and go out on a high as originally planned at the culmination of a successful 2020 season.
On a personal note, I have always appreciated Kevin being forthright and honest with me at every juncture throughout the 21 years I have been running MCNews.com.au.
The brand ‘MX Nationals’ belongs to WEM and we believe discussions are being held between Kevin Williams and Motorcycling Australia about the ownership of that brand. However, it seems likely that M.A. will likely revert to referring to the series as the Australian Motocross Championship, or some anagram that represents motocross, but follows the established M.A. naming regimen of breaking that down to an acronym like they have with AORC and ASBK.
Open Letter from Kevin Williams
“The purpose of this letter however, is to thank everyone who has been involved in the MX Nationals series in our twenty three year run.
“Motocross has been a part of my entire life and essentially my life’s work since I began working with the Australian Motocross Championships before it became the MX Nationals. The time I have spent growing the series with my wife Christine and our three children Jake, Aiden and Brodie by my side is something I will forever cherish.
“Although as a part of racing, I may not have seen eye to eye with many of you throughout the years, the racing family at the core of this industry has been a fantastic part of my life and something I will truly miss. My love for the sport, preserving its integrity and growth has been a driving factor and provided the continual motivation needed to allow me to strive for progress in Motocross within Australia and putting our riders on the map globally as a Motocross powerhouse.
“During our time together we have had many high’s that include bringing MXGP to the iconic Broadford Circuit, seeing many great Champions leave Australia to successfully take on the world with Chad Reed, Craig Anderson, Michael Byrne, Brett Metcalfe, this list goes on. To see the next generation of Jed Beaton, Mitch Evans, Luke Clout and the Lawrence Brothers having international success in the present day makes me extremely proud to see where the talent is at in Australian Motocross. We have also lost great Champions such as Andrew Mcfarlane and Jono Porter, their time with the series and the impact they made on everyone’s lives will never be forgotten.
“I want to take this final opportunity to thank everyone who has been a part of the MX Nationals family during our time together. From the numerous staff at WEM, the riders and teams, to all of our sponsors and stakeholders, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything we have achieved to grow the sport together.
“Yours in the sport
— ENDS —
Motorcycling Australia Statement
Motorcycling Australia (MA) wishes to thank Williams Event Management (WEM), Kevin Williams and his family for more than two decades of dedication to the MX Nationals.
After 23 years Williams today made the tough decision to step away from the sport and the promotion and management of the MX Nationals effective immediately.
In an emotional press conference this morning, Kevin Williams thanked fans, riders, industry and sponsors.
“It’s been a long journey and a major part of my life, but we didn’t expect COVID, and we didn’t expect not to go racing this year, but we are proud of what we achieved over 23 years,” Kevin said.
“I’ve always made decisions from a position of passion for the sport, and I want to thank everyone for being a part of the journey.
“I encourage all riders and members of the sport and industry to support their local clubs and hopefully we can see some opportunity for national racing when borders open up properly.
“Thank you everybody for your great support.”
MA CEO Peter Doyle said: “Kevin Williams and his team have poured their heart and soul into running the MX Nationals and we thank them for more than 20 years of tireless work”.
“The MX Nationals have faced plenty of challenges in those 20 years and Kevin, his team and partners, have boasted many success stories, with a myriad of riders using the championship as a stepping stone in their careers to race in America and Europe.
“The MX Nationals are a critical component of a healthy motocross scene in Australia and to create opportunities for riders to progress into world championship series.”
MA is now in the process of reviewing the 2020 championship operations, format and dates to see how the series will proceed for the remainder of 2020 in the COVID-19 period.
Further announcements will be made available in due course.
— ENDS. —
The latest update to the calendar is included below, but one would imagine that is all up in the air right now.
2020 MX Store MX Nationals Calendar
|R1||Conondale QLD||Aug 9th|
|R2||Maitland NSW||Aug 15th /16th|
|R3||Newry Vic||Sept 6th|
|R4||Horsham Vic||Sept 12th/13th|
|R5||Gympie QLD||Oct 4th|
|R6||Coolum QLD||Oct 10th/11th|