Australia’s Next Chad Reed?
By Todd Jarratt
Chad Reed is a name easily identified within our sport globally. He has been the most successful international rider in history to compete in the AMA Supercross and alongside of that, one of the most winning international riders to compete in the AMA Motocross series. He is certain to be an AMA hall of famer, and we are proud to call him an Australian. But when speaking to most people within the motocross community over the years there has always been a huge amount of doubt around the idea that we will ever see another “Chad Reed” come out of Australia.
In the last decade or so we have seen riders like Craig Anderson, Jay and Ryan Marmont, and Matt and Jake Moss all spending extensive amounts of time racing in the US, each with their own level of success, but nothing that can compare to that of Reed’s resume. In a similar period to that of Ryan Marmont, and the Moss brothers’ international experience we had two additional riders trying to make their marks in the AMA series’ but with one big difference – their youth.
Over his career Tye Simmonds amassed a phenomenal number of junior state and national titles, with much of the Australian pit laying down odds that he would be our next successful AMA export. In 2009 when Simmonds finished second in the Junior World Motocross Championships behind current AMA Supercross star Eli Tomac his following grew and with that came more hype around him following in Reed’s footsteps. But only a few years later when Simmonds made the transition to America full time he crumbled. Things just didn’t work out for the Bourke boy and upon returning to Australia he settled for a very youthful retirement.
Another rider who many thought had the tenacity and talent to make a full time career overseas was Josh Cachia. His climb to the top of the Australian motocross scene when moving to the senior ranks was swift, so evidently when he made the move to race the AMA Supercross series (on the same team as Simmonds) a whole lot of green and gold supporters thought with youth on his side that he had what it took to be successful in America. Though, like Simmonds, Cachia struggled to put the pieces of the puzzle together, and returned home without any serious results to add to his domestic resume.
If we now shift our focus to Australia’s rising stars, I have put together a list of riders who have, or are currently hitting their marks on both a domestic and global scale, which sees them worthy of mention when discussing our potential Aussie exports.
In 2009, Wilson became Australia’s first ever Junior World Motocross Champion and is currently battling for the MX Nationals MX2 series points lead under the guidance of Josh Coppins. It is well known that with Coppins in his corner, Wilson’s focus will be pointing towards Europe in the future and like Reed will be trying to kickstart his international career in the MXGP MX2 class.
Moving on to 2012, Western Australian Caleb Grothues too put his name on top of the world by winning the 65 Junior World Motocross Championship ahead of fellow Australian Riley Dukes. In the last few years Grothues has dominated the domestic scene, finished second at the 2014 Junior Worlds where he won the first moto and looked to take home his second world championship before a fall in race two dropped him to overall runner up spot. He then also finished eighth in the super mini class at the 2014 Monster Energy Cup with only two weeks of supercross practice prior to the event. Now at just 14, he has moved overseas to live in Holland full time with his father to race the European Motocross Championship in the 125 class.
In 2011, at the Junior Worlds Lawrence finished 3rd in the 65 class and then in 2013 finished second in the 85 class – showing he has what it takes to consistently run up front with the best riders in the world. Only two weeks ago at the last round of the MX Nationals in Appin, NSW competing in the junior division (as he is still only 15 years old) Lawrence bettered the entire MXD fields lap times and matched that of the top five fastest lap times in both the MX2 and MX1 fields. If this kids work ethic, maturity and determination are anything to go by he has solidified himself as one of Australia’s greatest up and coming talents. (Click here to see this week’s rider interview with Hunter Lawrence)
Moving on to 2014, Hunter’s brother Jett Lawrence, at only 10 years of age became Australia’s youngest ever World Motocross Champion. Lawrence has already amassed four Junior Australian championships in his short career and thus far in 2015 has been untouchable on home soil. Seeing photos of Lawrence split between Ryan Villopoto and Antonio Cairoli at the World Championship Gala dinner last year, makes you wonder if this little QLD charger can continue on his winning ways and reach that level of success in the future.
Finally, we have the likes of our 2014 Australian MXD and MX2 Champions Egan Mastin and Luke Clout, our 2015 MX2 Round 1 winner Jed Beaton, our current AMA export Jackson Richardson and our 18 year old MX1 combatant Jesse Dobson, that all have results and speed worthy of mention in our rising stars section. Mastin, like Richardson has made the move over to live in the US full time in hopes of picking up a factory ride for both the AMA supercross and motocross series’. Beaton, Clout and Dobson on the other hand have remained planted in Australia, and are each working toward further domestic success before jumping ship and chasing the international dream full time.
Looking back through our list of rising stars, we can see that the future of Australian motocross is in good hands, but only time will tell if there will ever be another Chad Reed brought up from the land of vegemite and BBQ’s!