KTM Motocross Racing Team rider Kirk Gibbs has defended his Champion’s title in no uncertain terms at the prestigious Manjimup 15,000 International Motocross, dominating the event ahead of teammate Luke Styke and Mandurah City KTM rider Dean Porter.
Gibbs won every single race in the day’s All-Star Championship and All-Star Eliminator feature at the tough Cosy Creek circuit three hours south of Perth.
The famous event again exemplified the brilliance of big-time one-off motocross events that combine a unique location with passionate local crowds.
Deep, energy-sapping sand whoops, famous WA pea-gravel over hard pack, and high-quality local riders give the event plenty of depth and added sparkle to outstanding performances.
While Gibbs was in a class of his own, Styke was a level above everyone else, with four second places across the major championship and a comfortable runner-up finish in the eliminator.
It was a special result for Western Australian challenger Dean Porter, who added another Manjimup podium finish to his career tally with 6, 3, 3, 3, finishes on the day, two years after breaking his back at the same event.
Super-fast teenager Jayden Rykers and Louis Calvin did their best to do to boost local stocks, but both suffered technical troubles.
Husqvarna Factory Support rider Connor Tierney and special guest rider Jay Marmont may have had completely different perspectives, but both made the most of their visit to the hallowed sands of Cosy Creek.
Sixteen-year-old MX Development series hotshot Tierney was participating in his first senior Manjimup, and having traded his regular Husqvarna TC 250 for an FC 350, was rubbing elbows with the sport’s biggest names for the first time in his career.
An observer could be forgiven for not realising that however, with the young Western Australian recovering from early difficulties to lodge fourth and sixth place finishers in the final two motos on his way to an impressive seventh overall.
Jay Marmont has won the coveted Manjimup title three times in his professional career, and the attraction of the iconic event was such that it lured him out of retirement to take part, with virtually no preparation.
Marmont was pretty sure he was going to run out of fuel, figuratively speaking, but started with the taps wide open, nonetheless, finishing third in the opening moto and fifth in the second on his box-stock Husqvarna FC 450 before fatigue and arm pump forced him further down the order.
The respected veteran still impressed however, taking fifth place overall and expressing an interest in further visits to Manjimup and other selected one-off events.
Kirk Gibbs KTM – “I won the four motos, and ended up winning all five of the one lap dashes that we had for the Elimination race. The track got really rough as expected. It’s a little bit slippery in the hard-packed area, like around rock ‘n’ roll Hill, so you had to be really patient through there, and obviously it got really rough through the sand sections down the back. There was definitely a tough and technical track and you had to be smart, and I felt like I was today. We’ll go home now get back into a routine, that’s a really positive thing to do and it’s working for me. I had a week off before Manjimup and I was feeling refreshed, and maybe we’ll try to fit in a couple of local races as well.”
Luke Styke KTM – “I rode okay you know, early on in the piece it took a little bit to get used to the track, but after found some form thespeed was not too bad. I struggled a bit towards the end of the day, I had a sore knee and I struggled to stand up around the whoopier sections. But I did what I had to do – Gibbs was a fair bit quicker than me today. B My first Manjimup was 100% worth the trip. I’d come back every year if I got the opportunity, it’s just a well-run event, everyone here is super nice, there are so many entries, so many fans and spectators, it’s just like the old days. Everyone camps out, there’s parties, big fires happening and little kids riding their pushbikes around, it’s just super cool.”
Dean Porter KTM – “Third was probably all I could have hoped for behind Gibbsy and Styke, since they are running one-two in the nationals at the moment. So I was pumped to be able to run them for a couple of laps and give KTM the sweep. After breaking my back at Manjimup in 2013 in the shootouts I was a bit nervous going in there, but I just rode smooth and smart and I think that probably was the key to getting the best from that track. Otherwise you could have a big crash really quick.”
Jayden Rykers KTM – “I felt good, but luck didn’t go my way mechanically. I’m all in one piece though so that’s the main thing. It was a good experience; I got good starts all day that put me up into the top three behind Gibbsy and Styke and think I had enough speed to hang on to Styke for a while, so in that regard it was good, but I’m hoping for better results next time.”
Connor Tierney – Husqvarna FC 350 “I never got off to the greatest start. I went down in the first turn of the first moto and was dead last of 38 people, but I came back to 10th which I was pretty pumped with. Second moto was a bit crappy for me, I got a bad start and started riding other people’s pace and got 12th. Third moto I was probably eighth off the start and near the front boys. I went past Marmont, Hill and Groombridge and got up into fourth which I was pretty pumped about. And then in the last moto I ended up with sixth, which wasn’t so bad. In the shootout I had a good start but I went down with Jayden Rykers and that was kind of the end of it. I was sixth on the day, which I was pumped with. The experience was good, though I’ve got a lot of work to do to catch up to Gibbsy and Styke, they’re on a different level.”
Jay Marmont – Husqvarna FC 450 “It was good, I’ve only been riding a couple of times in the last couple of months so naturally it was hard. First moto I got seventh or eighth off the gate and came through to third finish there. My arms pumped up pretty hard, and the turnarounds are fairly short, so second moto I was in third and drifted back to fifth. By the last couple of motos I was starting to get fairly fatigued. We had a little bit of a shock drama in the third moto, I think I drifted from second back to eighth, then the last Moto I drifted back anyway – nothing to do with the bike, it was all me. But I’m fairly happy with the result. I did what I could do and full credit to the Husqvarna – to be able to pull it out of the crate and run top three at the Manjimup 15,000 is great, especially considering I haven’t been on a Husqvarna or a KTM for a number of years now. Touple of laps, I was really excited about. To come back and do Manjimup was fairly special to me, and motivates me to work to do a little bit more riding and mix it with the guys up front, not on the national scene, but in a few more of these kinds of races.”
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