Moss twins planning to contest 2021 Australian Motocross Championship
Matt Moss is one of the most successful riders ever to contest Australian Motocross and Supercross Championships. Title after title went his way, nine in total, before a shocking accident while racing a MX Nationals event at Shepparton in 2015 saw him side-lined with extensive injuries.
Things then went from bad to worse for Matt and his twin brother Jake, when blood tests taken at the Murray Bridge MX Nationals event the following year tested positive for Ostarine, a prohibited substance due to its steroid effects.
While Jake had high levels Ostarine found in his blood, many times that found in Matt’s sample, the acceptable level under anti-doping codes is zero. Matt’s explanation was that he might have taken a sip of Jake’s drink at some point, as they were not only twin brothers but also team-mates at the time, and was at a loss as to otherwise come up with any way the substance could have entered his body.
Jake was trying to recover from a shoulder injury and Ostarine works in much the same way as anabolic steroids, and is used medicinally overseas to combat muscle wasting and osteoporosis, but is not available for any legal purpose in Australia.
The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority eventually confirmed a decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to sanction Moss with a four year ban, which was backdated to 15 July 2016, to account for time served under a provisional suspension.
That suspension expired on 15 July 2020 and Matt Moss was planning to race the 2020 MX Nationals that season, but that, of course, was a season that never happened for anyone due to COVID-19. Thus Moss went back to work and the racing plan got shelved.
Moss only started training again a few weeks ago, New Years Eve in fact. Where he put in a solid week of training on the bike, only to then hit some hurdles with regaining his licence that he thought would prevent him from making the start gates at the recent Coffs Harbour Stadium Motocross event. But, after jumping through some medical clearance hoops, Moss had his licence reinstated on the Friday evening on the eve of the eve. It was game on to get ready to race.
On a largely stock bike, apart from modified suspension, and with a lack of race fitness, Moss rode a YZ450F to second overall on the night in Pro Open against a quality field of A-grade competitors.
Moss finished ahead of riders such as Honda’s Kirk Gibbs, Serco Yamaha’s Jesse Dobson, Aaron Tanti, Rhys Budd, Nathan Crawford and young gun Cody Dyce. Only CDR Yamaha’s Luke Clout beat Moss to outright honours and even that was a fairly close run affair.
We spoke to the now 32-year-old about the recent event at Coffs and what might be in store for 2021 as Matt, along with brother Jake, both prepare to make a competitive return to national level racing this season.
You’ve had nearly five years out, that’s a long time…I hear you ran Clouty pretty close?
“Yeah not too far, he definitely rode a bit better than me on the weekend. But I’d expect that after he raced in America last year and the experience and wins he has behind him now.”
How prepped was your bike compared to the other guys? Most of which were on factory backed machines.
“I have got a YZ450F that has a stock engine and just a muffler, but the suspension has been modified for racing.”
And very little time on the bike before last weekend?
“I was planning from sort of Boxing Day onwards to train to get ready for Coffs, but I had a little tip-over, and then I couldn’t get back on the bike until pretty much New Years. Actually, New Years Eve was my first hit out. I’d done a solid week of riding with a young up and coming kid, Byron Dennis, and his family. That helped a lot, having the young fella very enthusiastic and driven. I couldn’t train off the bike because then I couldn’t ride the bike because I was too sore. So all I pretty much did was riding, seven or eight days straight.
“And then I had to talk to lawyers about getting my licence back. Documents were pretty hard to get off the doctor at that stage, so obviously I was under the impression I wasn’t racing Coffs Harbour, so I didn’t ride that whole week in the lead up to it, I just decided the plan was all week for my son to have his first race, so I was very excited about that.
“Then I spoke to the doctor, for a good couple of hours, and he ended up extending his recommendation to Motorcycling Australia. I received my licence at 5:15 pm on Friday night. So then I got told I could race. I pretty much then got to work, tried to get myself prepared ready to race.
“I was that excited, that probably didn’t help my riding. My riding wasn’t the best, compared to the week prior, were I felt really good on the bike, that all went out the window first race. People kept saying, you must be nervous, I wasn’t nervous at all, I was more excited… I was just warming up, jumping on my bike taking it out the back checking the brakes….”
The doctor thing, was that more of a mental fitness, than physical or what?
“Yes a mental state clearance, after problems that arose from hitting the bobcat. I understand their position, I don’t understand why it’s on me, when they don’t ask anyone else for anything, you can be as mental as you want but they don’t ask for any of that when you ask for a licence. It was a bit of a stand-off for a while, at the end of the day I got told some things…
“But I’m racing now, I’m happy and I’m just going to do everything to build this sport up and bring the young kids through, under my dad’s Moss Institute – I’ll always run under my dad. I’ll make my own brand in that and try and build these kids up and give them the guidance, and make sure all the mistakes I made, make sure they don’t make the same ones. From someone who made every bad decision you can make.”
It must have taken you back to jumping on 65 or something when you were an excited kid.
“It was, it is so hard to explain, people, their opinion of me as a person, they only see one side of it, the racer, but at the end of the day I just love racing motorbikes, it is my life, I love it. Nothing can take it away from me.
“The bobcat incident, that kind of stuff can sort of end someone’s career really easy, but I have this passion for the sport, passion to race.
“That whole weekend at Coffs was the best thing ever, running around, helping kids out of the mud, not expecting anything in return, but just jumping in and lending a hand. I love the sport, love helping people out..
“There is that other side of course when it comes to getting seriously competitive, obviously you’ve got to be a bit of an animal when you’re racing, so that’s what people are attuned to.
“The last two laps though at Coffs brought out the emotion, I was behind on those last two laps, I had a shot at winning. I could probably have pushed a little bit harder and maybe won, but it was just a little outside my reach, and how much I had with everything going on that week.
“The reasons I’ve won championships is I’ve made smart decisions rather than taking too many risks. I had a comfortable lead from third and knew I was going to get second on the night, the emotions hit me and I was crying.
“My brother was there supporting me, like he always has. We ring each other every day and always chat. I feel like to just have him, we’ve gone through so much together, just our whole lives together, just done everything together, been there for the highs and lows. It was probably one of my proudest moments and seeing my son standing on the fence…
“It was probably one of the best races I’ve ever had, as in from a mental point of view, I feel like Clouty wasn’t that far ahead of me, after all that has gone and no preparation whatsoever really.
“I feel like everything kind of hit me, this year’s going to be a good year for me. I believe I can win championships, no worries at all.”
Obviously you’re going to need the bike underneath you, and the team around you to do that.
What’s in the wings to try and give you that opportunity?
“There is a brand that I’m hoping I can buy a bike through, I still haven’t been offered anything per se from anyone, I’ve got a great couple of personal sponsors, my family, my wife, and my dad supporting me. That’s pretty much it. We were gonna go racing last year, we probably wouldn’t have had the best machine under us, but we were gonna give it a crack but due to COVID it didn’t end up happening.
“Last year was going to be a great year, everything was heading in the right direction and then COVID just blew our plans out of the water and I had to go back to work.
“At this point, I don’t really have anything now, there’s some guys who might want to personally sponsor me, and I’ve got some great friends that I’ve met in the last couple of months, just riding. That are helping me out with big things, like a work place for nothing in return.
“I love it and I hope something comes out of it. I’ve got my house, got my wife, got the kids, we could always just take a mortgage out and go racing, but I’d prefer not too, as I don’t want to hinder my family with money decisions.
“Obviously I’d love to be a factory rider again… Honestly I rang every manufacturer and offered to race for them for free – every manufacturer that is, for free. I just asked for a bike and contingency program.
“I understand, I’ve had four years seven months off, I get it, it’s a big risk, people maybe not wanting to associate their brands with me, but at the end of the day I have fans, I have great fans. I have great people around me. On the other side I love the sport. I’ll do anything for the sport to grow, help kids, boost them up.
“My son, I always tried to give everything I can, but now I’m racing he just wants to race. I’m just here for the sport to grow, I’d love to quote something someone from M.A. told me just before that race, along the lines of ‘You’ve had four and a half years off there’s no way you’ll win.’ I’m not going to mention names but that’s coming from someone meant to build this sport up. You get what I mean… It’s really put a bee in my bonnet, not to so much to prove them wrong, but to try and fix this sport. Try and make it better. I’m going to try and turn it into a better sport.
“Having those years off has perhaps been the best thing for me, I’ve been rejuvenated.
“We risk our lives every time we throw our leg over the bike, for not much in return really. If you win, you can make a bit of a living out of it, at the end of the day I’m proof of that. We all have to learn though that it’s not just a sport that just gives you everything and you can live the life. You still have to go to work. None of these kids know that, they just don’t understand it. And people running the show, just don’t understand it.
“I think we should look at America as an example and try and use that tip to try and build the sport. Use it to try and drive the sport in better ways.
“I love the sport but I hate the politics of it. Some people don’t get rides because someone who works at that team doesn’t like you. It should be the brand first, the way business works, you put your personal opinions aside, and build the sport. The problem with our sport is that people would rather see someone fail than succeed.”
You’re still only 32 now aren’t you?
“I’m still 32 but act like an 18 year old and muck around like a 10 year old. I actually think my career will benefit from the years off to tell you the truth. From a lot of aspects, family, my body healing, and understanding which people actually are there to help you and want the best for you.
“My family has been there, my wife’s helped the last four years, she’s still here. She’s the best thing ever. Maybe if the bobcat hadn’t happened, I’d probably be quitting now, instead of feeling like I want to take on the world right now.
“I feel like I’ve got a good four years of longevity in me. But saying that, if I win this year I might hang up the boots, who knows, but I’m not going to quit until I win.”
The ProMX Australian Motocross Championship is scheduled to get underway at Wonthaggi (VIC) on April 11 before heading to Canberra for round two on May 2. The series then travels to South Australia (Gilman – May 30), New South Wales (Maitland – June 27), then down to the VIC/NSW border town of Wodonga for round five on July 25. The series then heads north to Queensland for round six at QMP on August 8 before a double-header finale at Coolum on August 14-15.
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