Mike Brown extends Enduro-X lead with Sydney victory
Words By Russell Colvin – Images by Russell Colvin and Teams
The second stop on this year’s InsureMyRide Australian Enduro-X Nationals headed to Sydney Dragway, the sister venue to Sydney Motorsport Park.
Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team’s Mike Brown has done something that no one has done before in Australia since this unique form of motorcycle racing was introduced in 2011, a clean sweep three strong wins from three starts to claim the overall. Brown’s biggest winning margin came in race one with an 8.163sec win over Simmonds.
Brown, 42, said, “It’s great to get three wins! That’s what I’m out here for, I love winning, but I’m having fun which is the main thing.”
With Brown’s win, he is hoping that this confident will carry into next week’s American Enduro-X before returning back down under for the grand finale at Calder Park in Victoria.
Brown beat KTM’s Tye Simmonds who recorded a 2-3-4 in the finals after rebounding from a heavy heat race crash that saw him go over the bars big time, as he also did at the opening round. “I’m pretty stoked, that’s for sure,” said Simmonds. “I had an even bigger crash than the one in Brisbane, I couldn’t believe it! I was riding over a big heap of loader tyres on the first lap of the heat race and I just came in pretty quick and dropped the front end and yeah, game over, out the front I went.” Along with the little trip over the handle bars came a bit of a sore neck, but it wasn’t too serious.
Just two slender points behind the former motocross racer was Active8 Yamalube Yamaha’s Josh Green who went 5-2-3. ‘Greeny’ told MCNews.com.au that his night was pretty “tough.” The young gun however did set the early pace after he won the first heat with a time of 5min40.723 to Browns 5min43.390.
In the first final heat Green came a cropper with Honda’s Peter Boyle after running mid pack. “We got tangled up together in the rocks,” explained Green. Green, who finished second overall to Brown at the opening round. Green finished fifth in the first Sydney final heat, then polished off his night with a second and third to claim 58-points. “I can’t complain with what’s happened, will just move onto the next round now.”
2015 marks the first time Green has raced the Australian Enduro-X series as he was out injured in 2014 before the start of the AORC round. “I just wanted to have some fun in Queensland and here and of course at Calder Park in a few weeks-times. My Active8 Yamalube Yamaha team have done an unreal job which is allowing me to ride the way I want to. I’m enjoying it, I’m having fun! I’ve been having fun in the last few years, but not like this year, this year I am having a ball!”
Finishing fourth with 52-points was Simmonds’s teammate, the reigning Outright AORC champion, Toby Price. ‘Pricey’ sure did clock on the old air miles over the weekend. On Friday he was racing around the street of Adelaide in the Super Truck that debuted at Clipsal 500 along the V8 Supercars.
Price regarded his night as not one of the greatest he has had due to some poor starts he had. “With enduro cross you suffer big time if you don’t get that start so we’re just having a hard time in that area,” Price said in the official KTM press release. “Riding-wise it’s not too bad, I got a good start in the last final and ended up second, but by then it’s too late.”
Rounding out the top five was Stefan Granquist with a 4-5-5 result to finish just two points behind Price.
KTM Off-Road Racing Team’s new boy, Daniel ‘Chucky’ Sanders had a somewhat ‘strange’ night as he later admitted the track didn’t really his riding style. Sanders best finish in the finals was a third place in race one, when he finished 16.331sec behind race winner, Brown. “I tried to put that out of my mind and stay positive and get into its rhythm,” said the 2014 under 19’s AORC Champion. “That just didn’t work for me. You look at ‘Browny’, and you have got to be really consistent and putting it down every lap. But anyway, I’ll just look forward to Melbourne and hopefully stay in that top five at least.”
Two points behind Sanders in seventh was Sherco’s Mitch Harper, Sydney marked his second race back since hurting himself and claimed 7-4-11 results.
The sole CDR-Yamaha rider, Tom McCormack finished eighth with a 12-7-6. The E1 AORC champ labelled his night as a “train wreck!” and is looking for a better result come the final round later this month.
Boyle was the first Honda rider home in ninth, one point ahead of twenty-three year old Lachlan Stanford (Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team).
In the first main heat race, Stanford stormed his way through the field like a hot knife through butter to come from dead last to finish eighth, behind Harper. In the last race Stanford had a great start but there was a pile up in the second corner that saw him ending up having to fight his way back through again to end up in tenth place. “I really want to do well at this because I know it’s part of the future of the sport,” quoted Stanford. “It’s frustrating to feel like you’ve got the speed to run at the front, but you can’t get there to prove it.”
In the Women’s class it was all about Tayla Jones. While Jones didn’t kick start the evening off with a bang after riding ‘poorly’ in the practice, she soon upped the tempo in the heats and when it counted, the Yamaha rider bolted to a 4.857sec victory over Jemma Wilson. Jones posted a 1min23.236 on her second lap, 3.039sec faster that Wilson’s 1min26.275.
“To come from getting second up in Queensland, then to win here, I’m stoked,” beamed Jones. “I’ve been training a lot, so it really has paid off!”
Rounding out the podium was twenty-one year old Jess Gardiner (Ballards Motorex Off-Road Team), finishing 7.450sec behind the race winner. Gardiner told MCNews.com.au; “I had a shocking day really. I was on the ground more than I was on two wheels. I was a bit annoyed with myself, I can’t blame anyone apart from myself.”
Just before the final race, Gardiner went and sat down by herself to get some head space, it paid off. “I’m really happy to stay upright in the final race. Tayla, Jemma and I were not that far away from each other which proved to be some awesome racing!”
Gardiner has not had a lot of time to practice the Enduro-X discipline as she has been focusing on her 2015 World Championship campaign, but has declared that she will knuckle down for the grand finale.
Emelie Karlsson, who was the runner up to Gardiner in last year’s AORC championship to Gardiner, finished fourth with Kirstie Mckinnon in fifth spot.
Other class winners included Ruben Chadwick in the Expert class, beating Jesse Daley and Sam Rummery.
Anthony Solar snared the win in the Clubman beating Kirby Crick by 20.888sec. Adrian Harry won the Veterans ahead of New South Welshman Damian Smith, who said he retired from racing last year… Lindsay Bond joined them on the podium.
In the juniors, our future stars of the sport saw Fraser Higlett winning from Luke Strauch and Jack Williams which made it an all Queensland podium!
The final round of the InsureMyRide Australian Enduro-X Nationals will conclude at Calder Park Raceway on 14th March.
2015 InsureMyRide Australian Enduro-X Nationals, Round 2 overall results:
1. Mike Brown 75, 2. Tye Simmonds 60, 3. Josh Green 58, 4. Toby Price 52, 5. Stefan Granquist 50, 6. Daniel Sanders 44, 7. Mitcham Harper 42, 8. Tom McCormack 38, 9. Peter Boyle 35, 10. Lachlan Stanford 34
Enduro-X Nationals Championship points after two of three rounds:
1. Mike Brown 147, 2. Josh Green 118, 3. Toby Price 109, 4. Tye Simmonds 98, 5. Daniel Sanders 97, 6. Mitcham Harper 87, 7. Tom McCormack 85, 8. Lachlan Stanford 76, 9. Peter Boyle 73, 10. Dylan Rees 72
2015 Dates and Venues:
- Archerfield Speedway, Saturday 7th February 2015
- Sydney Dragway, Saturday 28th February 2015
- Calder Park Raceway, Saturday 14th March 2015
Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team rider Mike Brown has extended a comfortable lead in the InsureMyRide Enduro-X Nationals, after putting on a demonstration of enduro-cross excellence in last night’s second round of the championship at the Sydney Dragway venue at Eastern Creek.
The Californian enduro-cross specialist and his Husqvarna FE350 were in perfect sync with the specially constructed course of natural and man-made obstacles and his domination of the event was complete.
Brown qualified fastest by more than two seconds and went on to win all three finals to take the night ahead of Tye Simmonds and Josh Green, and add a perfect 75 points to his championship total.
The Husqvarna rider now leads the championship by 29 points over Josh Green and Toby Price.
Brown’s Husqvarna teammate Lachy Stanford finished tenth on the night despite poor starts in two finals and getting caught up in a collision in the third.
Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team Manager Glenn Kearney: “The night couldn’t have gone any better for Husqvarna with three from three in the finals. Brownie was very impressive and took out the top 10 shootout nearly 2 1/2 seconds quicker again, and then he just had three solid races in the back-to-back finals. The whole thing worked really well and the bikes were flawless.
Lachy showed some really good improvement over last round, he looked a lot more aggressive on the bike. He had some good starts in the heats, but he struggled again in the finals. It’s something we’ll just keep working away at with him. He is fast and clean when he is on his own, but he got mixed up with the back of the pack and it’s hard to get away when you are in with the bunch.
Tonight’s layout was a lot faster than Brisbane. The promoters did an amazing job of getting the track across the drag strip twice, and like a big amphitheatre with stands up both sides. It was probably not as technical as Brisbane. But that didn’t seem to faze Brownie any.”
Mike Brown (FE350): “It was a good day really, everything went smooth and I couldn’t really have gone much better. Got good starts and everything was working. I have gained a few points now so, that will make it easier for the next race. It was a good track, it was nice, but everybody did the same stuff so it was difficult to make time up on people because everybody was about the same speed. It was important to be quick on the start and as quick as you could in between and over the obstacles. I head back home this morning for the first round of the American series, but I’m looking forward to coming back for the next one to try to win the championship for myself and Husky.”
Lachy Stanford (FE350): “Tonight was up and down for me. I felt good in practice and my heats were awesome, I had a little off in one heat but still ended up seventh. So it was good and the lap times were there, but then in the mains, I came from dead last to seventh in the first one, then got another bad start in the second and got back up to eighth. In the last one I had an awesome start but there was a pile up in the second corner and I ended up having to fight my way back through again. I really want to do well at this because I know it’s part of the future of the sport. It’s frustrating to feel like you’ve got the speed to run at the front, but you can’t get there to prove it.”
KTM Off-Road Racing Team rider Tye Simmonds rebounded from a heavy heat race crash to post his best finish of the InsureMyRide Australian Enduro-X Nationals when he placed second in the penultimate round at Sydney Dragway.
The tough, KTM 350 EXC-F rider from Bourke shook off his second over-the-bars in as many rounds to place runner-up behind rampant Californian Husqvarna rider Mike Brown, and ahead of Josh Green.
The result sees the former motocross pro leap-frog four places in the Australian standings to fourth place overall, in just his third race for the KTM Off-Road Racing Team.
Toby Price’s marathon weekend of motorsport saw the Maitland ace finish fourth on the night, a little over 24 hours after a successful Super Truck racing debut at Adelaide’s Clipsal 500 yielded an impressive sixth place.
Price lamented that he was only able to get one of the ‘pointy-end’ starts that he so desired in Sydney, but his second placing in the final race of the evening was enough to ensure he maintained his third place in the national championship.
Daniel Sanders’ up-and-down evening gave him sixth place on the night, but his solid points score positions all three of the KTM team riders in the top five of the championship.
Flair Action Sports KTM rider Kristie McKinnon found the less technical course negated much of the advantage that she and her KTM Freeride 250R held in Brisbane and she slipped to second in the women’s championship with fifth place on the night, with teammate Rhianna Buchanan right behind in sixth.
Tye Simmonds – “I’m pretty stoked, that’s for sure. I had an even bigger crash than the one in Brisbane – I couldn’t believe it! I was riding over a big heap of loader tyres on the first lap of the heat race and I just came in pretty quick and dropped the front end and yeah, game over, out the front I went. Got a pretty sore neck but nothing too serious. I got good starts all night which obviously helped a lot, qualified ninth so I got into the shootout and laid down the third quickest time and went from ninth to third so that was pretty good. From that one good lap it all just sort of snowballed into a good night. And I took the $500 for the first holeshot of the night too so that will be enough to pay the fuel on the way home I reckon!”
Toby Price – “Tonight wasn’t the greatest of nights, but that’s part of racing, you can’t go good all the time. With enduro cross you suffer big time if you don’t get that start so we’re just having a hard time in that area. But riding-wise it’s not too bad, I got a good start in the last final and ended up second, but by then it’s too late. The enduro-cross is a hard type of racing, it’s really cutthroat and we need to make sure we get through it unscathed too. It’s the kind of racing where you can end up with an injury pretty quick, and you don’t want to be trying to carry that through the start of the season. It’s a bit of a fine line to walk – we don’t like losing, but we’ve got a long season ahead of us as well. A bit of an improvement with the starts will go a long way.”
Daniel ‘Chucky’ Sanders – “My night was strange. I had a good first race and then in the second I went down a couple of times and in the third I crashed again. Both times something clicked and I couldn’t get my flow back. I really don’t know. The track didn’t really suit my riding style but I tried to put that out of my mind and stay positive and get into its rhythm, but it just didn’t work for me. You look at Browny, you’ve got to be really consistent and putting it down every lap. But anyway, I’ll just look forward to Melbourne and hopefully stay in that top five at least.”
Ben Grabham – “The night was good for us, it was great to see Tye come away with second overall behind Browny. Browny was in a league of his own again tonight, but Tye did well. At the start of the night, things were a bit shaky and he went over the bars in one of his heats. So he definitely came back well. Toby had quite a similar night to Brisbane; he was a little bit off his starts in the first two finals, then nailed the holeshot in the last one and held on to second behind Browny. He can do it, it’s just a matter of piecing together a few things. Chucky (Sanders) was riding good, he was showing the most promise early in the night and lots of speed, but like the first round, a few silly mistakes here and there dropped him down the order a little bit. After Chucky wrapped up the holeshot awarded the first round, Tye wrapped it up here, so our bikes are fast. The boys are just up against a hard man in Browny who knows what to do in this form of racing.”
Kristie McKinnon – “I was disappointed with my run here in Sydney after coming out of Brisbane with such a strong start to the series, however I am keen to find some extra speed to bring to Melbourne – the Freeride definitely has the power there to do the job and keep a good pace so I’m looking forward to improving on that and finishing the last round strong.”
Rhianna Buchanan – “It was a pretty rough week leading up to this round with plenty on the Flair schedule, I had a couple of shockers (crashes) in the heat races however I managed to pull it together in the final and ride smooth. I’m hoping to be able to put some time in with Kristie and work on getting a little faster, then having a good time in Melbourne on the 250 Freeride.”
Active8 Yamaha’s Josh Green secured his second consecutive podium finish at round two of the Australian Enduro-X championship, held at Sydney Motorsport Park, on Saturday night.
Like his performance at the opening round, Green again used consistently good results in each of the three finals taking 5-2-3 results to finish third on the night behind US import Mike Brown and former pro motocross racer, Tye Simmonds.
Combined with his opening round finish of second, the third place at SMSP now sees Green hold down second in the championship with only one round remaining, at Calder Park, in Melbourne in two weeks’ time.
“It was another good round for me and it was pretty smooth sailing all day,” Green said. “The heats went well and I was able to win one and finish second in the other so I was confident going into the finals and knew that if continued to ride the way I had been, then I would be right in contention.
“The first final was a bit hectic but I managed to make it to fifth while the other two were good and both in the top three which is always the goal in events like this.
“Congratulations to Mike Brown, he is just a bit above us Australian’s at the moment and is riding really well but I have to say it would be nice to beat him at the final round and restore some Aussie pride,” Green smiles.
Green was the lone ranger for the Active8 Yamaha team this weekend at Beau Ralston recovers from a shoulder injury that occurred in the lead up to the opening round. Ralston is penciled in to return to action at the opening round of the AORC in March.
“It was a good night for Josh,” team manager, AJ Roberts. “He has really gelled well with the new WR250F and he enjoys the Enduro-X format and that’s showing in the results. He has a few points to make up on Brownie and Toby isn’t too far behind so we will continue to work hard right up until the final round to secure the best championship result we can.”
The third and final round of the 2015 Australian Enduro- X will be held at Melbourne’s Calder Park Raceway on March 14.
Green still has a shot at the championship win as he sits 29 points behind Brown. With the three race format and the ‘anything can happen’ scenario that Enduro-X often throws up, Green will be out to win the final round and hope the cards fall his way on the night.