Luke Clout completely dominated the opening back-to-back motos at Matiland but was bettered in the third and final moto by CDR Yamaha team-mate Kirk Gibbs.
Brett Metcalfe scored the holeshot in the third moto but was quickly passed by American teenager Justin Rodbell as Kirk Gibbs and Luke Clout gave chase. It did not take long for Gibbs to hit the lead and from thereon the #5 ran away with proceedings, despite determined efforts from Luke Clout and Hayden Mellross who complete the top three in that final moto.
Metcalfe looked on form for another top three result in that moto but a mistake late in the race cost him dearly and left him outside the top ten. The Penrite Honda man though still claimed fifth overall for the round and is currently sixth in the championship standings.
Luke Clout took the overall for the round with a 67-point haul bettering Gibbs by two-points.
Hayden Mellross rounded out the overall podium ahead of Todd Waters who, while never really shining as brightly as we have come to expect, still brought home 53-points to better Metcalfe and Long.
Clout leads the Thor MX1 Championship chase by nine-points from Mellross, who moved into second place and is now three-points ahead of Waters.
“I didn’t have the greatest day at the last round so it was important that I bounced back strongly this weekend and get things back on track. I felt pretty good all day but my starts in the back to back races really set up my day as I was in a good position both times and able to capitalise on them to take the race wins. The last moto start wasn’t as good but I was able to put my head down and make some passes and secured the overall win. It felt pretty good coming across the finish line and feeling like I had put in my best effort and was rewarded with the round win. The team did a great job today and the bikes were awesome. It showed in the results with Kirk and I winning all three races and going 1-2 for the day that CDR Yamaha really do the work. Looking forward to the next round at Moree in a couple of weeks and want to keep this momentum rolling all the way through to the final corner at Coolum.”
“Today was good with another podium result. My start in the second back to back was really the only little mistake I made for the day but in those shorter races, good starts and track position is so important as there are 10 guys who can go fast for seven or eight laps. But still happy with how things went and making good progress since my shoulder injury so I can’t complain too much. The championship is highly unlikely since I missed a round in South Australia but the goal since then has been to win races and get on the podium as often as possible at the remaining rounds and so far things are on track.”
“I’m pretty disappointed after that to be honest. Fourth overall is a good result for a bad weekend, but I’ve made no secret of the fact that I want to win races. I was second fastest on-track in qualifying (1m47.112s) and ended up with a slightly slower lap than that in superpole for fourth gate pick. In all three races, I managed to move forward on the FC450 after each race start, so there’s positives to take away, but I’ll head back home with some things to concentrate on before Moree.”
Dylan Long was sixth overall after carding 7-5 results in the opening sprint races and a sixth in the final race of the day.
“It was a pretty good day for me. I didn’t qualify the best, but it was better than the last round. My starts were really good today – the first race I was running fourth before hitting neutral and crashing. I dropped back to 10th, but managed to finish seventh, so that wasn’t too bad. I was fifth in the second one and, in the last one, I came back from about 10th to finish sixth. I was only one point off of fifth overall, so it was a decent day for me.”
Jesse Dobson had a weekend to forget with a DNF in the second of the back-to-back motos, but a fifth place finish in the third moto helped the 21-year-old privateer to hold on to his eighth place ranking in the series.
“It was an up-and-down day today. I felt really good in qualifying, setting the third fastest time, but a few small mistakes in my Superpole lap gave me the fifth gate pick. In moto one, I felt good, coming through the pack to fifth but came together with another rider and went down hard. I managed to finish the race, but as I lined up for the second moto in the back-to-back format, it was clear that we couldn’t get the bike straight enough to race in the few minutes we had. Aiden (Porth) fixed up the FC450 as I re-grouped and rested up for the final race of the day where I was able to put a consistent race together to finish fifth. I’m happy to finish on a better note but we will continue to work hard and be ready for the last rounds. I can’t thank everyone enough for making this possible and being behind me, in particular Aiden for being on the ground with me at every race, allowing me to focus on riding while he makes sure the bike is ready to go.”
Still battling health issues, Lawson Bopping posted 9-13 finishes in the pair of sprint races, crediting him a race one ranking of 10th. Ongoing fatigue problems hindered him even more harshly in the final bout of the day where an 18th place finish was clearly not representative of the outright speed Bopping exhibits when healthy.
“Today started off good when I qualified in sixth. In the first two races I got an eighth and a 13th, but I was pretty tired in that last moto. I only got a couple of laps down and I was extremely exhausted – my body pretty much shut down. I ended up taking 18th, which is disappointing because I don’t know what’s going on with my body. I’m seeing a doctor in the next week and I’m really excited to see him because he’s an expert on diabetes and the immune system. Overall though, the weekend wasn’t too bad, all things considered.”
Nathan Crawford broke through for his first victory of the season in the opening MX2 moto from Kyle Webster. Wilson Todd was out to try and reassert his dominance of the category in the second moto and was fast out of the blocks to lead from Kyle Webster and Bailey Malkiewicz in the second and final bout. But a costly mistake early in the race saw the championship leader go down and by the time he was back on the bike he had been shuffled down to tenth place. He worked his way back up to sixth by the chequered flag.
Kyle Webster went on to capitalise on Todd’s mistake and was never headed, despite being chased hard in the closing stages by Nathan Crawford.
Bailey Malkiewicz was running second early on before eventually being overhauled by Nathan Crawford, Aaron Tanti and Jay Wilson. Wilson managed to get the better of Tanti late in the race to secure the final step on the race two podium.
The overall win for the day went to Penrite Honda’s Kyle Webster over Nathan Crawford, who clearly announced he is back with a bang after not racing last season. That pair tied on points for the day with 67 apiece while Jay Wilson rounded out the overall top three ahead of Aaron Tanti.
“I felt strong on the bike and really gelled with the track from the moment we first rolled out there. And it turned out to be one of those race days where you couldn’t ask for much more. I actually hit the gate at the start of moto one,” Webster revealed, “and then in the first few laps I had a little tip-over, but thankfully it wasn’t much and I could quickly put that all behind me and start a charge forward.”
That charge eventually saw Webster finish second, as he chased Nathan Crawford (Yamaha) all the way to chequered flag, less than five seconds splitting the pair at the close.
“In the second moto I got a great start,” Webster continued, “and when Wilson Todd went down in front of me, that gave me the lead and from there it was all up to me. I just maintained my focus and speed and I’m stoked I got the race win and that gave me the overall round win on a tie-breaker, which is awesome. It’s the best feeling to get another overall win, and the best way to thank everyone on the Penrite Pirelli CRF Honda Racing team and all the sponsors for their support. With three rounds to go, it’s going to be an exciting finish to the Championship and I’m just going to keep doing what I have been doing. I don’t want to change anything.”
“Its so good to be back and racing properly again,” Crawford said with emotion. “That first race win was so good and the I had to work hard for it and all the good riders in the race were up the front and I was able to get past them. Coming up the final straight to the finish line was such a relief to finally win a race again at this level and get a reward for the work everyone has put in. Race two was just a little too little, too late. I charged up to Kyle, but he responded and rode the last two laps really well. He deserved to win it as I gave it all that I could and wasn’t able to pass him. Thanks to so many people for standing by my while I got back to speed and now I’m so motivated to be back in the game and doing well and what I love.”
Despite his misfortunes at Maitland, Wilson Todd still added 53-points to his championship tally and will carry the red plate to the next round at Moree, however Webster is now only ten-points behind the reining champ.
“Even though I was over a second faster than everyone in qualifying, I just didn’t feel comfortable today in the races. I had a strong position in the first race, and a crash in the second while leading, so it just didn’t come together. I finished fourth and sixth, so it’s far from a disaster and I still keep the lead in the championship, but I expect to win. This gives me some motivation though to put in the work before next round.”
“A bit of a rollercoaster day really. After grabbing the holeshot and leading for six laps, I hit a soft section of the circuit and lost a lot of track position. The track changed a lot through the day, and in the second race we just struggled with set-up and I slid back a few positions to finish fifth after another solid start. I was confident going into the weekend that I could do well, and my race speed backed that up, so I just need to keep concentrating on minimizing mistakes and my overall’s will improve.”
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