Mellross and Brayton the victors as Aussie Supercross gets underway at Jimboomba
Words and Images by Marc Jones
The Australian Supercross Championship returned to Jimboomba for the third consecutive year to kick off the 2017 series. An injection of international blood ensured Australia’s best riders had to lay it all on the line if they were to come away with the win.
SX2 – 250
The 250 class saw former two-time champion Gavin Faith return once again after a disappointing series in 2016, in which he struggled to find his groove in the stacked class. He had no problem however back aboard his Penrite Honda, taking an early heat race win over Jay Wilson and Aaron Tanti. Tanti was impressive early, pulling the holeshot and keeping Faith at bay, but was unable to withhold the pressure from the young American.
Hayden Mellross returned home from the USA after falling short of claiming the championship last year. With the demons behind him, Mellross stormed to the lead early in his heat race and pulled away from teammate Wilson Todd to run away with the win. Defending champion Jackson Richardson was left picking up his bike in the second corner, fighting his way through the pack to finish in fifth.
All indications were pointing to a Faith-Mellross-Richardson battle as the gates dropped in the main event. Faith managed to hold the inside line and come away with the holeshot. He looked composed out front, but there was the overbearing pressure of Mellross breathing down his neck.
At the halfway point of the race, Mellross slipped by into the lead and never looked back. Once out front, Mellross rode a solid race, navigating his way past lappers without any troubles to light the candles and get off to a perfect start to the season. Faith fell over 10 seconds behind but held onto second in front of a fast finishing Mitch Evans.
Jay Wilson marked his return to the class with an impressive fourth-place finish. Unfortunately for Jackson Richardson, mistakes would cost him positions early and he had to settle for a sixth on the night.
Hayden Mellross – P1
“I’m really happy to start the season off like this! I felt really good all day on track, and I knew that I would be able to maintain some consistent, strong laps come the final. I got off the gate well, but I still came through in 4th so used my speed in the whoops to make passes each lap, before working my way towards Gavin Faith. Once I made the pass, I was able to stick to my plan and to come away with a 10 second winning margin.”
Gavin Faith – P2
“The final was going well; I got the holeshot and felt comfortable. I pushed hard in the opening laps and exhausted myself. It’s been 5 months since I last raced and I didn’t compose myself and it most certainly affected my overall result. That said, I am happy to walk away with a second place and take the weekends lessons into round 2.”
“I didn’t finish off the motocross season as well as I would have liked so I was pretty determined to get things rolling in the right direction here. We made a few changes to the bike throughout the day and my goal here was really to get out of Jimboomba safely as the last two times I have been here, I have crashed out. So, I’m stoked to get on the podium and the fact that I was able to close in on Gavin at the end of the race gives me some confidence going into the rest of the championship. Thank you to Serco Yamaha and my family for the huge effort getting ready for supercross and I look forward to some good racing at the coming rounds.”
Jay Wilson – P4
“I’m really happy with how the first round went. Finishing one position shy of the SX2 podium is a solid way to start the season, and means that we have good points going in to Melbourne. I had a good lead up to the weekend, and it was sort of nice having everyone except those in my corner count me out – it meant I could just focus on doing my job without any added pressure and it paid off. I got second in my heat race, and fourth in the main which is nice and consistent and exactly what we wanted to achieve. Obviously a podium would have been the perfect scenario but you need to be smart in Supercross, particularly at the first round. The KTM 250 SX-F was flawless last night. We made a couple of small changes throughout the day, and by the time we got to the main we had one of the strongest bikes out there. I’m excited to see where we can go from here.”
Wilson Todd – P5
“After feeling pretty strong through the day, I knew I had the speed to be able to run at the front come the final, but I didn’t get out of the gate and had my work cut out for me from the start” said Wilson after the race. “once I did get going I got into a good rhythm and made some passes to work my way to 5th by the time I crossed the line”.
Jackson Richardson – P6
“Sixth on paper doesn’t look great but I think there is a lot to work with and still plenty of improvements that can and will be made.As much as you can keep up the off-bike training through injury, you can beat pure bike time especially in race conditions, and with a bit of a break until the next round, I will be in much better shape in Melbourne. So, it back to Cairns and to keep working hard and be 100 per cent for round two.”
Jayden Rykers – P20
“The whole day started off relatively good, especially when you could say in some sense that this is my first Supercross. We found a good base with the team – then I qualified fastest in my group in the afternoon which put me in 13th, and then my heat race went well. I got up the inside and worked my way in to fourth which I was happy with. I was really happy up until the main event. I didn’t get a good start and I lost traction on one of the doubles about seven laps in and I had a bit of a crash – I found it hard to get the bike going after that and I dropped back. All in all, the day was good up until the main event but I’m happy to walk out of here healthy. We have a good break now to work on our weaknesses so we’ll keep building.”
SX2 – 250 Main Event
Hayden MELLROSS – Best Lap 49.919 (Fastest Lap)
Gavin FAITH – Best Lap 50.069
Mitchell EVANS – Best Lap 50.551
Jay WILSON – Best Lap 50.627
Wilson TODD – Best Lap 50.400
Jackson RICHARDSON – Best Lap 50.533
Dylan WILLS – Best Lap 50.842
Aaron TANTI – Best Lap 51.175
Geran STAPLETON – Best Lap 51.540
Callum NORTON – Best Lap 51.924
Kyle WEBSTER – Best Lap 51.315
Cooper POZNIAK – Best Lap 51.951
Taylor POTTER – Best Lap 52.249
Dylan WOOD – Best Lap 53.566
Connor TIERNEY – Best Lap 52.351
Nick SUTHERLAND – Best Lap 53.539
Jesse MADDEN 1 – Best Lap 52.788
Lochie LATIMER – Best Lap 53.987
Jye DICKSON – Best Lap 54.690
Jayden RYKERS – Best Lap 52.645
SX1 – 450
The premier class was staked with a star-studded lineup including the return of defending champion, Justin Brayton, as well as 2015 champion Dan Reardon who has spent the past few months solely preparing for the series with the Mega Fuels Kawasaki team.
Two fellow American riders joined Brayton in the series, Nick Schmidt and Daniel Herrlein, who both have a respectable resume back in their homeland.
Dan Reardon started his 2017 campaign in perfect style, going wire to wire in the opening heat to take the win. Kade Mosig kept Reardon honest in second, keeping him within eyesight for the short eight-lap race. Todd Waters rounded out the third spot, some distance behind Mosig.
The crowd erupted as they got their first look at Justin Brayton, and he gave the crowd what they paid to see. Brayton looked like he was riding effortlessly out front, racing away with the win, while behind him Luke Clout and Dylan Long fought for the minor positions. Dean Ferris didn’t have the greatest start to his series, going down early and finding it hard to make up positions.
As the gates dropped for the final time for the night, all eyes were peeled on the first corner to see who could take the all-important holeshot. Dylan Long rounded the corner first and held the spot before losing the front end in a corner and handing the lead over to Brayton.
Reardon charged in the second spot but found himself under some pressure of his own in the form of Dean Ferris. Ferris would make the pass just past the halfway point and set his sights on Brayton. However, the American rode an almost perfect race and held off a fast-finishing Ferris to notch up another win for his tally.
There were many positives to take from the race for Ferris, after making up for a poor heat race, and pulling back Brayton in the main event, even though he was unable to get close enough to make a pass.
Crankt Protein Honda teammates Luke Clout and Todd Waters finished behind Reardon, having their own battle for the fourth spot. After leading early, Dylan Long recovered to finish in seventh, making some solid moves to get through the pack.
The series now moves down south to Victoria where Bacchus Marsh will play host to the second round of the series. Riders now get a three-week break to go back to the drawing board and dial in their bikes before once again getting behind the gates.
Justin Brayton – P1
“My Honda 450 was amazing, everything was working well and I felt settled all day. The team worked well together which is a credit to our Team Manager Jay Foreman as the team is made up of people from all over Australia and the world.”
Dean Ferris – P2
“I didn’t feel great on the track all afternoon but I was able to get focussed before final and turn things around which was pleasing. It was our first race on the new bike and both Dylan and I were right there at the start and it works unbeliveably well on the track. Dan and I had a great race and it was a shame we just let Justin get away in those early laps. It’s the same podium as we had here last year and the three of us had some awesome races in 2016 so hopefully it’s the same this year as I enjoy racing with both these guys. I have the Motocross of Nations this weekend so once that is done I can focus solely on Supercross and start to make some big improvements.”
Luke Clout – P4
“I’m a little bit disappointed to go down, but to come back to fourth and ride the way I did, I’m pretty happy. I know I have to go home and do some work, but I know I’m right there. I know my speed is around the podium, so I’m just going to go home, work hard and get on the box. The plan is to just keep riding well and see how we go.”
“We got a good start in the heat race earlier and ended up getting third there. I haven’t ridden supercross for a long time, so I’m just dipping my feet and I think the season will be good. Luke went down in the first turn and I was caught up in that, so I went from last to fifth at the end of the final. That’s racing though and that’s how it goes. I’ve got two weeks and I’ve been working on all of my motos and stuff now, so it’s now time to bring some intensity in,” he explained. “Apart from that everything is good, we’ve got the bike in a happy place, so we’ll just keep working.”
Dylan Long – P7
“While the result wasn’t great, I felt like I rode pretty well and the new 2018 YZ450F was awesome. Apart from the one fall at the start of the main event, my laps were good and fitness has been the best it’s been all year. Next round the aim is to improve on tonight and if I get another start like that, capitalise on it and get myself onto the podium in a mistake free race. Thank you to the CDR Yamaha team and the promoters for a great night in front of a big crowd.”
Kade Mosig – P10
“I felt good all day today, and I’m happy to carry my strong starts towards the end of the motocross season into supercross, but it was tough to go from battling for the lead to almost last, but that’s racing. I had nowhere to go when Dylan (Long) went down, so I just concentrated on turning out consistent laps and moving through the field as fast as I could tonight” said Mosig after the race.
Nick Schmidt – P13
“My speed was there this weekend. I qualified well and the times were good. I was sort of just getting used to racing Down Under, it’s a little different to what we race back home. I like the challenge of being here, last night we just needed to get those first race jitters out of the way. I rode a little tight and I just needed to focus on doing what I do and getting the results. I had some bad luck in the heat race and tipped it over a couple of times, and made some little mistakes. In the main event I got a good jump and I was in fourth for a while but I made a mistake and it cost me. I was down a couple of laps after that so I just used the rest of the race to see where my speed was at. I know what I need to work on now, we have a little break, and I’m just looking forward to getting to round two, seeing what we can do and putting the Suzuki on the podium where it belongs.”
Luke Wilson – P14
“This weekend was a round to forget. I guess Jimboomba is usually a good one for me, but after taking the year off and coming back I thought things were going to go better. Nothing happened for me tonight. Coming back to my first race and just having every one else around me, it just didn’t seem to work so we have some things to work on. I need to spend the next couple of weeks figuring some things out, and come to round two fresh and ready to go.”
Justin BRAYTON – Best Lap 49.035 (Fastest Lap)
Dean FERRIS – Best Lap 49.741
Daniel REARDON – Best Lap 49.738
Luke CLOUT – Best Lap 49.602
Todd WATERS – Best Lap 50.647
Nathan CRAWFORD – Best Lap 51.002
Dylan LONG – Best Lap 50.464
Cheyne BOYD – Best Lap 50.588
Joel WIGHTMAN – Best Lap 51.014
Kade MOSIG – Best Lap 50.798
Daniel HERRLEIN – Best Lap 51.711
Jesse DOBSON – Best Lap 51.098
Luke WILSON – Best Lap 53.994
Nick SCHMIDT – Best Lap 50.778
DNF Matt HAWORTH – Best Lap 54.736
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