Possibly the most iconic and traditional brand in dirt bike racing – Husqvarna – is this weekend about to make its official return to Australian motocross racing, in the nation’s capital.
The brand-new Husqvarna Motocross Racing Team will debut in its entirety at this weekend’s Canberra round of the East Coast MX series, as it prepares for the opening round of the Monster Energy MX Nationals on March 30.
In line with the worldwide relaunch of the brand, the new four-rider Husqvarna team will fly the old, familiar colours across four segments of domestic racing; MX1, MX2, U19 and Junior Lites.
Four pilots will wear the famous ‘crowned H’ logo, led by Sunshine Coast concreter Brock Winston -the working class hero of the 2013 MX2 season – aboard the mighty FC 450. Last year’s MX Nats Two-Stroke Cup winner, Inverell’s Nick Sutherland and Hunter Valley rider Egan Mastin will both campaign TC 250s while Kalgoorlie’s Connor Tierney will ride both FC 250 and TC 125 Husqvarnas.
To run the high-profile squad, Husqvarna Australia has chosen an icon of Australian motocross; 13-time national champion Craig Anderson, from West Wallsend, NSW. Despite this seasoned, international competitor’s long and broad experience in the sport, Anderson exudes an almost youthful excitement at being entrusted with the Australian chapter of the story.
Craig Anderson – Husqvarna Australia Racing Team Manager
WORKING WITH HUSQVARNA AUSTRALIA – “Husqvarna is such an iconic brand, and to manage the factory supported team is just a massive opportunity for the team and myself. The bikes look awesome and it’s very exciting to pull together some good guys. We’re working very hard and I believe we’ve got the right people in the right areas to do the business.
“It’s also great to work with Jeff Leisk again. I rode for him back when I was 17 and we’ve got a lot of history and won a few championships together. It’s great to be back in the family.
THE RIDERS – “Brock is so motivated and keen. He’s a very humble and quiet guy, which is good for the young guys to be around. Nick is a young guy who hasn’t ever really had a shot in a race team. He is very consistent and very dedicated on and off the bike just like Brock, and if he can keep up the same effort year round I think his results will be strong.
“Egan is last year’s junior Lites champ and he’s stepping up to Under 19. He’s only turning 16 now so he’s quite young but he’s shown a lot of pace on the tracks we’ve gone to, so he could be really strong. Connor has ridden for me for the last three years and definitely has a lot of talent and a very good riding ability. He’s a big kid in his last year in juniors who is working really hard and I expect big things of him.
THE BIKES – “Our bikes are coming together well considering we took delivery quite late. It’s been tough not having a lot of time like all the others to get solid settings, but we got a great bike across the board and as the riders improve their feeling we’ll keep progressing to stay on top of everything and have the best setup.
“Our first race will be this weekend in Canberra, and then the big one of course will be Round One of the MX Nats at Broadford on March 30. I’m a little nervous but I’ve always believed you need to be nervous to get to your goals – it’s a good kind of nervous and I’m very excited to see how it all turns out.”
Brock Winston (FC 450 – MX1): “I know there are a lot of passionate Husky fans out there, and I’m really looking forward to the season. The bike is going to be good, and it’s so good to have Craig Anderson behind me with so much knowledge that will help on and off the track. I know the top class is going to be hard and there will be a lot of competition, but all I need is to put in 100% every time I race and then I can accept whatever happens. A lot of guys have had it handed to them their whole career and take it for granted; it’s taken me longer to get where I’m going in the sport but in the long run it makes you appreciate what you’ve got. I think having to do the same training as those guys plus get up early to go to work has made me mentally tougher than most.”
Nick Sutherland (TC 250 – MX2): “I feel very excited and privileged for the opportunity to be in such a good team and under such a well-known rider like Ando, and I can’t wait to get the season started. In 2012 in his final year of supercross racing I practised with him in Newcastle and did about 50% of my riding with him. I get along with them really well, he’s a good guy, so it’s great that an opportunity came around for me to ride for him.
“I’ve only had my bike for three weeks but I’ve had so much fun on it, I’m excited to ride every day. There’s no one thing for me it’s just the overall package, engine, handling, turning, comfort it’s an all-round good bike that I’d recommend to anyone.
“I’ve had a few seasons disrupted with injury, so without doubt my first goal is to finish every motocross and supercross round, and my target is top five finishes in both championships.”
Egan Mastin (TC 250 – MXD): “It’s going to be awesome. I can’t wait to start racing seniors. I’ve only had the bike about four weeks on it now but as soon as I hopped on it I felt good and it’s great to be back on the two strokes – I like them. I really liked power but it’s not just that, the feel of it is great and I like the turning.
“I’ve always talked to Ando at the track and I’ve done a fair bit of coaching with him recently. He’s been one of the best in Australia and is a good coach; I get along well with him.
“This year I definitely want to give it my best and hope to be mixing it at the pointy end trying to get this championship.”
Connor Tierney (FC 250 / TC 125 – Junior Lites): “The Husky team will be a great thing and I can’t wait to begin. The learning curve will be massive but I can’t wait. I’ve ridden with Ando for three years and I learn heaps from him. I’ve always looked up to him and I used to watch him on TV so to be a part of his team is just awesome. It’s made me want to train more and train harder to race well with the guys over there and test myself.”