2021 Australian Off-Road Championship – Rounds 1 & 2
Tommy Watts wins 2021 NZ Cross-Country Championship
2021 Dunlop Tyres Tiger Run GNCC
GrassRoots Hard Enduro Kozi Killer
GNCC’s Kailub Russell joins KTM Factory Racing ‘s Pro MX line-up
Tim Gajser & Mitch Evans eager for MXGP kick-off in June
2021 FIM Hard Enduro fields increase as interest grows
AMA Supercross Atlanta 3 – 450SX Wrap
AMA Supercross Atlanta 3 – 250SX Wrap
2021 Racing Calendars
2021 Provisional MXGP
2021 Yamaha AORC presented by MXStore
2021 Australian Penrite ProMX
2021 Speedway GP
2021 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship
2021 FIM Cross-Country Rallies
2021 AMA Supercross
2021 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross
2021 Progressive American Flat Track
2021 New Zealand Enduro
2021 Australian Supercross (provisional)
2021 Australian Off-Road Championship – Rounds 1 & 2
Two spectacular days of competition saw the first two rounds of the 2021 Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship, presented by MXStore, explode with sensational racing at Golden Beach, Victoria.
Golden Beach provided riders with challenging sandy conditions in the first AORC in over 13 months. Saturday would be a Cross Country for Juniors only. With conditions drying out Seniors would change to a Super Sprint. On Sunday, the Cross Country loop was split into three tracks for sprints.
Round 1 saw Daniel Milner claim the overall victory, well clear of Todd Waters, with Joshua Green third. Mason Semens and Michael Driscoll completed the top five.
Round 2 saw a similar result, with Milner once again taking the overall, with Waters second. Semmens came home in third, with Green and Driscoll completing the top five.
When the Golden Beach round came to a close it was Milner in the E3 lead on 50-points going two for two, Waters took out the E2, also with a perfect 50 championship points and a double win. Semmens claimed 50-points in the E1, while the EJ class saw Samuel Pretscherer and Blake Hollis share a win a-piece tying 47-points a-piece.
Brad Hardaker leads the 2-Stroke Cup but Harrison Teed laid claim to one of the round wins, Lee Stephens and Mark Grove shared victories in the Veterans class tying on points, and Emma Milesevic and Jessica Gardiner each took a win in the Womens, with Milesevic holding a two-point lead.
Peter Rudd took a perfect 50-points in the Masters. J1 saw Lachlan Roche take the double and 50-points, Ollie Gear 50-points in the J2 and Jett Yarnold and Levi Stephens shared the J3 wins, tying on 47-points. J4 saw Billy Hargy do the double, and Danielle McDonald topped the JG for both rounds.
Round 1 – E3
The man of the hour, Milner was undeniably on fire as he screamed across Saturday’s Super Sprint track. Nerves clearly didn’t come into the equation for the KTM mounted rider, who left an almost 5-minute lead ahead of his class competition.
The final two podium positions were clinched by Jonte Reynders (Motul Pirelli Sherco Offroad Racing Team) and Thomas McCormack. Reynders carried on from a strong 2019 and 2020 season, utilising his skills to push ahead of McCormack who has made a long-awaited comeback to AORC with over a minute lead.
Ready to face his first Cross Country, Waters seemed totally unfazed even under the changing formats to Super Sprints. Comfortable with the high intensity that comes with Sprints, as experienced in his Motocross races, Waters clocked in an impressive total time of 50:04.516, making his the second fastest time on the day overall.
Rounding out the E2 podium was Joshua Green (Shop Yamaha) and Michael Driscoll (bLU cRU Off Road Team), clocking in at 50:18.079 and 51:09.007 respectively.
“Today was really interesting! We did the Sprints and it was something really different. We do 30-minute races in Motocross so for me, the word “sprint” gets me sprinting, so I had to hold myself back and keep my energy. Hats off to the boys! Daniel smoked us! To get a win in my class is awesome but I want that win so I’m keen to work on fighting Daniel for that fastest overall time.”
True to form, Semmens was a demon behind the handlebars as he flew into first place with a total time of 50:26.410. Second place was nabbed by Kyron Bacon, who wasted no time in pushing his Yamaha to the limits in search of that top podium spot. Coming in third was reigning E1 Champion, Luke Styke who tackled through the gluggy, sandy conditions to a total time of 51:29.631.
“The first lap I had a few crashes but I put that down to being the first race back for the year, but I still ended up first in my class which really helps my focus moving into Round 2 tomorrow. My confidence is up after today but the tracks are brutal, so I need to stay focused and pick my best line to keep up.”
Over in EJ, Hollis held a steady lead ahead of his 16-U18 competition, clocking in a total time of 53:20.535 to win first place. The final two podium positions were clinched by Samuel Pretscherer (Gol Gol Hotel) and Kodi Stephens (True Painting), with total times of 54:08.078 and 54:47.929 respectively.
Peter Rudd came into Golden Beach today and left his competition in the dust [sandy dust] for Round 1. The Super Sprints pushed each bike to its limits and the excitement was high as Brandon Kienhuis (SIMFORD Racing) and Jason Salopayers battled it out for the remaining podium positions.
With just over 12 seconds separating them, Kienhuis finished on top for second place, leaving Salopayers to slide into third.
True to form as our reigning EW Champion, Gardiner was a sight to see as she flew through her two Super Sprint laps, into first place. With a total time of 1:00:42.311, Gardiner demonstrated her clear skill and comfort in any terrain and racing format.
Second place was won by Honda mounted Emma Milesevic (Honda Australia), with a total time today of 1:01:16.302. The third and final podium position was won by Emelie Karlsson (Yamaha Motor Australia), who finished today with a total time of 1:03:23.968.
“Today was really good! I didn’t know what to expect and I felt pretty nervous, but I think we were all nervous after so long off. It’s always a good thing to win the first round as it puts you in the right mindset. Tomorrow will be hard but we’ll use this afternoon to recover and prepare!”
Over two hard fought laps, Grove took out first place at Round 1 here in Golden Beach. With a total time of 58:20.283, Grove finished just ahead of Lee Stephens (True Painting). Stephens rode comfortable into second place with a total time of 58:34.326, leaving third place to be won by Richard Chibnall (Jabiru Rural Fencing, Bolton Motorcycles).
All the action was ready and waiting for you in the 2 Stroke Cup, as Teed and Nathan Dalbosco battled it out for first place. With just over six seconds between them, it was Teed who scored that coveted top spot.
Dalbosco conceded for second place, clocking in with a total time of 58:08.899. Third place was won by Thomas Livesay, with a total time of 1:04:08.720.
It was a tense battle in J1 as Harley Hutton (Yamaha Motor Australia) and Roche battled it out for the top podium position. In the end though, it was Roche who came out victorious with over a minute lead over Hutton with a total time of 2:07:08.529.
Rounding out the podium was Lewis Arrowsmith, enjoying a comfortable lead ahead of the competition from Nate Munro, clocking in at 2:21:58.227.
Without a shadow of a doubt, Gear held a strong and impressive lead all throughout today’s Cross Country format. Pushing through the sandy conditions and kicking off as if the past 12-month gap in racing hadn’t happened, Gear finished his six laps with a total time of 2:12:13.319.
Second and third place was won by Max Stevenson and Tate Young.
Picking up right where he left off in 2020, Stephens continued his winning streak in J3, clocking in with a total time of 2:08:58.748. Rounding out his podium was Jett Yarnold (Pacific Blue Metal) and Kyle Sandstrom (Triple R), each finishing Round 1 with a time of 2:12:06.648 and 2:18:24.970 respectively.
Golden Beach could do nothing to stop Hargy as he continued his Championship campaign that was cut short back in 2020. Finishing Saturday’s racing with a total time of 1:59:13.347, Hargy was well ahead of the pack, which helped with visibility over the 2-hour race.
“Today was a good day! I found the conditions fine but being at the front of the pack helped me in terms of visibility. It’s been great to get back to racing and pit myself against the competition in my class. The field is strong and it was great to come away today with the class win.”
Rounding out the J4 Round 1 podium was Travis Olander and William Dennett (Yamaha Motor Australia) in second and third place.
Over in JG, McDonald smoked her competition, carrying over her winning streak and clear confidence from earlier rounds in 2020. Pinned into the ruts and tackling the thick, sandy conditions, McDonald finished Round 1 with a total time of 2:16:46.825.
Second and third were claimed by Taylor Thompson (Excite Motorsports) and Ariana Collins (Jeff Collins Plumbing), clocking in after five laps with total times of 1:58:22.549 and 1:58:31.537 respectively.
“There is no stopping him” seems an apt quote to serve in light of Milner’s massive efforts on Sunday. Clocking in a total time of 42:10.205 over five laps of the WR405F track, Golden Beach’s tough conditions clearly didn’t faze the AORC Champion.
Sherco mounted Jonte Reynders claimed second place, finishing Round 2 with a total time of 44:33.014. The third and final podium position was clinched by Thomas McCormack with a total time of 46:22.758.
“I picked up where I left off in Round 1! I rode as smooth as I could but unfortunately came unstuck in the second lap. But I kept going and walked away pretty well unscathed. I just worked on riding a smooth line and at the end of the day, I’m happy with the result. It’s just good to be back racing. It’s a little bit more nerve-wracking to be honest coming back into it.”
“The suspension changes we made the 300 SE Factory definitely helped on Sunday. I was a lot faster and getting used to the terrain – which is a lot different to what I am used to in Tasmania. It was an event where you really had to be right on the edge to get the best out of the machine, so it was tough for all the competitors. The stitches in my thumb loosened up a bit, but on Sunday I didn’t remove my glove the whole time – I just left the damage ‘assessment’ until the end!”
Waters had his eyes on the prize, pinning his Husqvarna hard as he pushed for fastest overall time. Clocking in with a total time of 42:40.099, Waters scored the second fastest time today, behind Milner.
Joshua Green (Shop Yamaha) slid comfortably into second place ahead of Michael Driscoll (bLU cRU Off Road Team), each finishing Round 2 with a time of 43:10.988 and 43:45.429 respectively.
Ringing in the 2021 AORC season in style, Semmens used his speed to his advantage. Clocking in a total time of 43:00.227, Semmens was nearly one minute ahead of his class.
In second and third respectively was Kyron Bacon (bLU cRU Off Road Team) and Luke Styke (Shop Yamaha), who brought plenty of the action across all five laps. Pushing onwards out of a tumble halfway through the day, Bacon beat Styke for second by just shy of one second.
“Today was a much better day. I felt like my riding was a lot neater and better overall, so I’m really happy with my results. The conditions out here in Golden Beach were rough and a tester. The sand was hard on the bike and the body but I’m so happy with how we finished up.”
Coming away with lessons learnt in Round 1, Pretscherer could not be beat in EJ today. Claiming the Round 2 win with a total time of 44:59.625, Pretscherer pushed consistently ahead of Round 1 winner, Blake Hollis who had to settle for second place.
The third and final podium position was won by Kodi Stephens, who finished just over 30 seconds behind Hollis with a total time of 46:15.268.
“The track was really good but super tough, so I’m really happy with today’s results.”
If you were wondering what happened to Stephens after his second place finish on Saturday, then let his results for Round 2 put your mind to rest. With a total time of 48:18.309, Stephens claimed a hard-fought first place win ahead of Mark Grove (Factory Honda Racing), who was just under 40 seconds behind.
The third and final podium position was won by Rowan Pumpa (Kessner Motorcycles), who finished five laps with a total time of 50:32.754.
Red goes faster, right? Well, that was definitely the case in EW (Women) as Milesevic claimed her first round win for 2021. With a total time of 54:18.937, Milesevic finished just ahead of the field as she pushed across the Ballards MXstore track. Yamaha mounted Karlsson was nipping at her heels, finishing five laps with a total time of 54:36.424.
Reigning Champion, Gardiner rounded out Round 2’s EW podium, just behind Karlsson with a total time of 55:10.532.
Rudd was well ahead of the Masters pack on Sunday at the Ballards MXstore track, finishing six laps with a total time of 57:12.033. Pushing right to the end ahead of Jason Salopayers, Rudd seemed totally at home in Golden Beach’s thick and sandy conditions.
Salopayers rode into second place today ahea of Shane Cook, with a total time of 1:00:38.151.
Screaming across the WR450F track over five laps, it was Dalbosco who claimed Round 2 victory. With a total time of 49:12.030, Dalbosco appeared settled and comfortable after beating the Round 1 nerves.
Harry Teed (Dust Hustle) settled for second at Round 2 in Golden Beach. With a blown clutch that saw him race four laps overall and a total time of 39:50.002.
Roche scored himself a well deserved consecutive class win, taking the lead across six laps of the Mitas track by over three minutes. Clocking in with a total time of 1:05:47.179, Roche was followed by Harley Hutton (Yamaha Motor Australia) in second place.
Behind Hutton with a total time of 1:10:15.405 was Luke Hamilton, who clinched the third and final podium position.
Similar to Roche in J1, Gear had a perfect weekend here in Golden Beach with back-to-back class wins! With a total time of 59:19.116, Gear held a strong lead throughout the day’s Sprints.
The final podium positions for Round 2 were won by Tate Young and Ryan Jordan (North West Motorcycling), each clocking in with a total time of 59:47.914 and 1:01:22.706 respectively.
Losing any nerves he may have felt yesterday for Round 1, Yarnold was a demon behind the handlebars across all six laps of Sprints today. With a total time of 54:51.474, Yarnold comfortably won first place, ahead of yesterday’s J3 winner, Levi Stephens who settled for second this time around.
The third and final podium position was awarded to Glen Brotherton, who finished today with a total time of 1:01:32.023.
True to form and following his strong win yesterday, Hargy was a powerhouse on the Mitas track. Across six laps, Hargy clocked up a time of 51:32.270 to score first place in J4.
Behind Hargy and settling into second was William Dennett (Yamaha Motor Australia) with a total time of 52:09.857. Nipping at Dennett’s heels though and keen for that second place spot was Travis Olander. With a total of 52:28.627, Olander had to settle for the third and final podium position.
“Today a lot tougher than yesterday. I had a few crashes and the conditions were rough. I managed to get back up front and create a strong lead ahead of my competition. The boys were really on me today which really ramped up the pressure, so I’m really happy to have come away with the win!”
McDonald couldn’t fault her back-to-back class wins this weekend in JG! With a total time of 59:36.090, McDonald had an early tango with Taylor Thompson (Excite Motorsports) however as she gained a proper footing and found her path, McDonald pushed well ahead.
Thompson rode into second place with a total time of 59:47.672. The final podium position for Round 2 was won by Madi Simpson (T-DUB/BSMX Racing Team), who finished six laps with a total time of 1:02:57.764.
The AORC riders now move north to Kyogle, NSW for Rounds 3 and 4 on July 17-18.
Tommy Watts wins 2021 NZ Cross-Country Championship
With Andy McGechan
It was celebration time for Hawke’s Bay’s Tommy Watts at the weekend, with back-to-back wins in the South Island earning him his first national motorcycling cross-country title.
The 19-year-old Napier-based former Wairoa man had a share of the lead in the Yamaha-sponsored competition after the first two four rounds for the series, with just two days of high-speed motorcycle racing in the South Island, near Balclutha on Saturday and then near Mosgiel on Sunday, to wrap it all up.
The championship went down to the wire with Watts’ main rival, Palmerston North’s 2015 New Zealand Cross-country Champion Paul Whibley, who was level on points with Watts after the two earlier North Island rounds (near Marton and Dannevirke respectively), featuring as a constant threat.
But, with only three rounds to be counted and riders to discard their one worst score, it meant nothing was certain until the end of racing on Sunday.
When Watts (Yamaha) won the day at Balclutha, finishing just seven seconds ahead of Whibley in the three-hour senior race, and then repeated the dose at Mosgiel the following day, this time beating Whibley (Yamaha) to the chequered flag by 44 seconds, the mission was complete and Watts could enjoy celebrating his first national title win.
Manawatu’s Whibley, a two-time former cross country champion in the United States, had to settle for overall runner-up, while Raglan’s Brandon Given (Honda), Glen Murray’s Sam “Charlie” Brown (KTM) and Whanganui’s Seth Reardon (Yamaha) rounded out the top five seniors for 2021.
Meanwhile, Taupo’s Wil Yeoman (Yamaha) dominated the 90-minute junior grade races on both days at the weekend and the 15-year-old therefore easily wrapped up the junior crown for 2021.
Runner-up junior rider for the series was Eketahuna’s Luke Brown (KTM), with Cambridge’s Bailey Morgan (KTM), Rotorua’s Daniel Bates (KTM) and Katikati’s Ryan Morrissey (KTM) rounding out the top five.
Masterton’s Max Williams (KTM) was best of the 85cc bike riders this season, impressive in finishing eighth overall in the junior grade.
Chris Smyth – Motorcycling New Zealand Cross-Country Commissioner
“It was quite tight and technical terrain on Saturday, but a faster, more free-flowing course on Sunday. There was forestry, bush, open farmland paddocks… a bit of everything really. Everyone seemed to enjoy both tracks and days in the South Island. The double-header format seemed popular with the riders too and we may look at doing more of that next season.”
The COVID-19 pandemic meant the championships were not run last year and the senior champion in 2019, Raglan’s Jason Dickey (KTM), did not return to defend his title this year.
2021 NZ Cross-Country Championship Overall
Tiger Run GNCC 2021
Warm and dusty conditions greeted the final day of racing at the Dunlop Tiger Run, Round 5 of the Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series. As the checkered flag flew after three-hours of intense racing it was AmPro Yamaha’s Steward Baylor earning his third consecutive win of the season.
As the green flag waved, it was Rockstar Energy/Factory Husqvarna Racing’s Thad Duvall getting the jump off the line to earn the $250 All Balls Racing XC1 Open Pro holeshot award. However, after a freak incident where a stick had wedged in his bike and ripped the fuel line off Duvall would lose a significant amount of time on the rest of the field.
Up front it would be Coastal GASGAS Factory Racing’s Ricky Russell and AmPro Yamaha’s Steward Baylor coming through timing and scoring with just six seconds separating them. Baylor would make the pass on Russell during the second lap of racing and would begin to place a gap over the rest of the field. After six laps of racing Baylor would cross the finish line to earn his third-straight win, catapulting himself into third place in the points standings.
Russell would continue to battle throughout the day, trying to shorten the gap between himself and Baylor. However, Russell would fall short of the number one spot but would still make great strides as he earned second overall. This is Russell’s first podium since his injury last season. Russell currently sits sixth in the championship standings but will be aiming for more top finishes.
Remaining a consistent force in the hunt for the National Championship is the FMF/KTM Factory Racing-backed rider of Benjamin Kelley. As row one took off and the XC1 Open Pro competitors took off into the woods Kelley would find himself close to the front of the pack. Kelley would continue to push through the dusty conditions, but he would ultimately ride his own race in the third place position.
KLM Milwaukee GASGAS’ Grant Baylor found himself running back in sixth for the first half of the way. Baylor, who earned the round one win at the same property, would find himself making passes as the two-lap board came out. As he came around on the last lap of racing Baylor would cross the finish line fourth overall.
Putting together a solid finish was AmPro Yamaha’s Layne Michael. Michael started out the race in fourth overall, battling with the front of the pack. As the race wore on Michael continued to hold onto fourth, but he would soon battle with Baylor and loose the position with just two laps remaining. Michael would still earn his best finish of the season with a fifth overall and in his class.
Magna1 Motorsports/Husqvarna’s Jordan Ashburn would cross the finish line sixth overall on the day. After running fifth for the majority of the day, Baylor would also make a pass on him to overtake fifth before setting his sights on Michael. Ashburn continues to push throughout the series and sits fourth in the points.
Continuing to work his way back up towards the front after injuries that left him sidelined was the Rockstar Energy/Factory Husqvarna Racing-backed rider Trevor Bollinger. As the season continues on, Bollinger continues to improve his overall finishing positions and standings in the series.
FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Josh Toth made the move up to eighth on the day after starting off back in 10th place on the opening lap. Toth said he struggled through the dust early on in the race, but that he had loosened up later on in the race.
Earning ninth in the XC1 Open Pro class was Factory Beta/FXR/Nine2/Cyclesmart’s Cory Buttrick, while RedBull/MCS Racing Sherco’s Benjamin Herrera battled back to round out the top 10 in class.
Unfortunately for Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki Team Green’s Josh Strang it was an 11th place finish on the day after a crash sent him to his pits for a tire change. As for Duvall, he would complete four laps of racing and finish 12th in the class.
XC2 250 Pro
In the XC2 250 Pro class it was Coastal GASGAS Factory Racing’s Jonathan Girroir making his way to the number one spot for the fourth-straight time. Girroir did not have the greatest start to the day as he came through fifth in class on the opening lap of racing. However, Girroir would put his head down and push through making his way to fourth on the second lap and third with three laps to go. While out on lap five Girroir would make the pass for the lead and continue to hold that position for the last two laps of racing in South Carolina.
Rockstar Energy/Factory Husqvarna Racing’s Craig DeLong would start the day out fourth in XC2, eventually making the necessary passes to move up to second place in the class. However, later on in the race stomach issues would prevent him from battling for the win.
Coming through to earn his first XC2 250 Pro class podium finish was Factory Beta USA’s Thorn Devlin. As the race got started Devlin found himself towards the front of the pack, running fifth at the halfway point. With two laps remaining Devlin was running fourth and made the move up to third just miles from the finish line.
Leading the way early on in the class was AmPro Yamaha’s Michael Witkowski. Unfortunately for Witkowski he would come through to finish seventh.
FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am
In the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am class it was once again Magna1 Motorsports/Husqvarna’s Jonathan Johnson earning his fifth-straight win of the season. Johnson continues his winning ways after getting a good jump off the line and moving into the lead position on lap one. Johnson would lead until the checkered flag flew, virtually unchallenged.
After grabbing the $100 Lojak Cycle Sales XC3 holeshot award it was Lojak Yamaha Cycle Sales’ Chase Colville who went on to battle for second in the class. Rounding out the podium was Coastal GASGAS Factory Racing’s Ben Parsons, who came through to finish third at the fifth round of racing.
Bubz Tasha earned the Top Amateur honors at Tiger Run with a win in the 250 A class and 17th overall finish. Coming through in second was Joseph Cunningham with an 18th place finish and second in 250 A. Third top amateur went to Tristan Landrum who finished 21st overall and third in the 250 A class.
In the WXC class it was Enduro Engineering/MEPMX/Fly Racing/XC Gear’s Mackenzie Tricker jumping out to grab the $100 Trail Jesters WXC holeshot award. However, it would be the BABS Racing Yamaha/Fly/Maxxis/Pro Circuit’s Becca Sheets battling early on with AmPro Yamaha’s Rachael Archer. Sheets would make the pass stick over Archer and continue to push so she could place a gap over the rest of the WXC racers.
Archer would continue to hold onto second, but on the last lap of the race she would experience a crash allowing Kawasaki Team Green’s Korie Steede and Magna1 Motorsports/Husqvarna/Rockstar Energy’s Tayla Jones to make their way around her and into the final two podium finishes. Archer would finish out the day fourth.
8 a.m. Youth Race
In the 8 a.m. youth race it was YXC1 Super Mini Sr. competitor Cole Forbes coming through to take his third overall win of the season. Caleb Lane battled back to finish second with Chase Landers rounding out the top three youth overall and YXC1 class finishers. Landers continues to hold the points lead with Lane just one point behind.
Andrew Segars brought home the YXC2 Super Mini Jr. class win in his home state, while Peyton Feather and Drew Hoffman rounded out the top three in YXC2. Mason Raynor finished 15th overall and first in the 85cc (7-11) class. In the Girls class it was Ellie Winland taking the win.
The Tiger Run AMSOIL Moto Hero was awarded to Michael Warren. Hailing from Chepachet, Rhode Island, Warren is 46 years old and is currently racing in the Warrior Bike class. He sits 4th in the points standings, but also is an intricate part of the Pit Crew for his son who races in the afternoon bike race. Warren joined the Military in 1993 and is currently serving in the United States Air Force as a Senior Master Sergeant (E-8).
He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2014 and will be deployed to an undisclosed location in January 22. Warren went home with a $250 AMSOIL Shopping Spree, Kanati Truck Tires from GBC, a Commemorative American Flag from Columbia Flag & Sign Co. plus a gift certificate for their online store. He also earned a pair of 100% military appreciation goggles and an ARMA Black Edition Box full of supplements and gear.
Round 6, Hoosier GNCC, of the series will take place on May 1-2, 2021 in Crawfordsville, Indiana at Ironman Raceway.
Grassroots Enduro ran the second round of the Australian Hard Enduro Championship, ‘Kozi Killer’, just outside of Corryong Victoria over the weekend.
Set on an amazing locally owned property it had been transformed to host an arduous prologue course featuring a vertical wall, logs on many angles and many tyres to navigate proving very tricky for some.
The prologue course on Saturday then continued over the grassy hills up into some rocky and tricky terrain where all classes of riders fought for a good time to decide in which order they’d leave in the following race day.
210 riders lined up to battle the course and challenge themselves.
The junior class consisted of 16 entrants with Kogan Lock, no stranger to hard enduro, taking out first place in the junior race held Saturday after prologue.
Riders then had an afternoon to rest and get their machines ready for Sunday’s four-hour format where whoever does the most laps wins over a much longer course. This took the gold class an average of two hours per lap yet after having to ride prologue obstacles at the start of each lap.
Kozi Killer will be held again in April 2022 be sure to get there to see all the action and support the town of Corryong as it recovers from bushfire devastation.
2021 Hard Enduro Championship calendar
Rd1: March 6-7, Tenterfield Terror, Tenterfield NSW
Rd2: April 17-18, Kosciuszko Killer, Towong Upper, Vic
Rd3: June 5-6, Insane Ride, Poatina, Tas
Rd4: July 3-4, Capricorn Extreme, Mount Morgan, Qld
Rd5: August 28-29, Murrumbidgee Rumble, Hillston, NSW
Rd6: November 7 Wildwood Rock Extreme, Wildwood, Vic
GNCC’s Kailub Russell joins KTM Factory Racing ‘s Pro MX line-up
Kailub Russell will join the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team’s lineup for the AMA Pro Motocross Championship in 2021, despite recently crashing in practice, breaking his jaw and three ribs, delaying his return to racing. Russell was originally slated to compete in the full 250MX Championship alongside team-mate Max Vohland and just began preparations with the team last week in Southern California.
“I was really looking forward to having the opportunity to race the entire Pro Motocross Championship this summer but unfortunately I had a mishap while testing this week and we’re going to have to delay that plan a little bit. It’s been a dream of mine to race motocross since I was a kid and with my offroad career being so great, it kind of opened up the opportunity for me to live out a dream. I’m 100% ready to focus on my recovery so I can get back out there and continue having fun racing my dirtbike.”
Russell announced his retirement from professional GNCC Racing at the end of 2020 and now the multi-time offroad champion has set his sights on pursuing other goals in racing. At 31-years-old, Russell holds GNCC’s all-time bike wins record with 67 overall wins and eight consecutive titles in the series, in addition to countless accolades in the offroad discipline.
He did make one appearance on the AMA Pro Motocross Championship roster in 2018 when he filled in for an injured rider in the 450MX class, scoring an impressive sixth-place moto finish at Unadilla MX. Although his 250MX debut has been delayed, Russell plans to make the most of his opportunity with the highly-acclaimed motocross team later this summer.
Ian Harrison – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager
“The entire Red Bull KTM team were excited to have been alongside Kailub as he was preparing to race the nationals and literally live out his childhood dream. Motorcycle riders are a special breed and nothing stands in their way when it comes to racing – whether on or off the track. So, we’re confident that when he is all healed up and has the doctor’s okay, that he will be lining up on the gate of the Pro Motocross Championship and we’re looking forward to it.”
The 2021 AMA Pro Motocross Championship kicks off on Saturday, May 29 at Fox Raceway in Pala, California.
Tim Gajser & Mitch Evans eager for MXGP kick-off in June
Four-time world champion Tim Gajser will be aiming to make it five titles in the last seven years, when the 2021 MXGP season kicks off in June this year.
The Team HRC rider has won the last two MXGP championships in a row and he’s confident that the Honda CRF450RW is once again the machine to propel him to glory, after signing a multi-year extension at the end of last year.
“I can’t wait until we can go racing again and start the 2021 season. Even though we finished in November last year, we have still had a long break and I feel fit, healthy and ready for the first gate drop. I’ve had a good off-season, managed to recharge my batteries and I’m raring to go. After the big change with the new Honda CRF450RW last year, this year we have refined a few things and I’m excited to go even better, and show-off the work that everyone has put in behind the scenes. It will be hard to improve upon the last couple of seasons when I became world champion, but I always try to get better and turn my weaknesses into strengths. Before Russia, I will gradually step up my training so that I am ready for that race, but I am also aware that it will be a long season and I don’t want to peak too early. Really though, I just want to go racing and see all my fans again and thank them in person for all the support I have received. I miss all the signing-sessions and the selfies and I really hope that they will be able to cheer me on, along the fence this season.”
Alongside Tim is Australian rider Mitch Evans, who made the step-up to MXGP in 2020 and proved he belongs there after a number of good performances in his rookie campaign.
“After re-signing with Team HRC last year, I am really hoping I can showcase my abilities in 2021. I’ve had a difficult recovery from the wrist injury but I know what I can achieve and I think I showed glimpses of that in 2020, so now I am just trying to get myself into a position where I can do it consistently in the MXGP class in 2021. Of course, it won’t be easy as the class is filled with great riders, but I know what I am capable of and I know what it takes to achieve a title as I’m alongside the current world champ under the Team HRC awning. Russia is a couple of months away and I’ll be utilising that time as effectively as possible to come out swinging in round one.”
Currently the season is scheduled to begin at the hilly Orlyonok track in Russia on June 12-13, giving the riders just under two months to get themselves back into race shape after what has been an elongated off-season. Like last year, there is a one-day format for the MXGP class, with all the action taking place on the Sunday, something which both riders took time to adapt to, however once they got into their rhythm, Tim especially was able to qualify with first gate pick eight times in 2020.
Following the successful launch of the new Honda CRF450RW last year, this season is all about improving and tweaking things for what is scheduled to be a tough year of racing. After the weekend off after Russia, there is a scheduled six races in six weekends on a multitude of terrains so Tim, Mitch and the bike have to be fully prepared to tackle whatever obstacles they face.
Fortunately, Team HRC are well prepared after a stop-start 2020 season, proving they could come out on top and so 2021 should hold no fear in what they hope could be another record-breaking campaign.
2021 FIM Hard Enduro fields increase as interest grows
With registration for the 2021 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship open and in full swing, a growing list of manufacturers, teams and world-class riders are committing to the inaugural season of racing.
In what’s set to become a bumper series with eight rounds being held at world-class Hard Enduro venues, competitors, both amateur and professional, are making sure they’re signed up for the action.
As interest continues to grow, competitors from 13 different nations have already signed up to compete in the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship, while manufacturer participation comes from Sherco, KTM, Husqvarna, Beta, GASGAS, and Yamaha, among others.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing look to the top step of the podium with 2019 WESS Champion Manuel Lettenbichler at the helm. A star of the 2019 series and Red Bull Romaniacs race winner in 2020, Lettenbichler unquestionably starts 2021 as the rider to beat.
Sherco Factory Racing field a duo of title contenders in Mario Roman and Wade Young. The French manufacturer will be hoping Roman can repeat his Extreme XL Lagares winning form of 2019 when the season begins in less than four weeks.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s trio of Billy Bolt, Graham Jarvis and Alfredo Gomez are also looking tough to beat. Bolt is the 2018 WESS champion with Gomez runner-up in 2019, while Jarvis is simply a Hard Enduro legend.
Of course, anticipation builds as Jonny Walker is set to make is debut with Beta Motorcycles. Following his 10-year career with KTM, it will be exciting to see him compete in new colours.
GASGAS Factory Racing also look strong with a mix of experience and youth within their team. Taddy Blazusiak is always hungry for success, while Michael Walkner is a young Austrian rider to watch out for. Yamaha weigh into the Hard Enduro mix for the first time with the supremely talented Pol Tarres.
Changing colours for 2021, TTR Squadra Corse field a three-rider team of Travis Teasdale, Kevin Gallas and Azzalini Alessandro on GASGAS machinery and will be a privateer force to be reckoned with among the factory outfits.
Jarvis Husqvarna Racing – managed by Graham Jarvis – are also a new team to watch for in 2021. The team’s five riders include Bulgaria’s Teodor Kabakchiev and Britain’s Will Hoare, Jonathan Richardson, Sam Winterburn and Grant Churchward. Featuring a real mix of raw, young talent under the guidance of Graham, expect fireworks!
Add in a wealth of youngsters like Israel’s Suff Sella, Russia’s David Leonov, Germany’s Tim Apolle and Leon Hentschel plus South Africa’s Matt Green who have all signed up, and the countdown is firmly on to round one in Portugal.
For those wishing to be counted in the official championship standings, competitors – both professional and amateur, registration for the 2021 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship is open.
Quick and easy, registration takes just three minutes to do. An FIM International Enduro licence is required to register. Riders can obtain these from their national federations. A list of 2021 FIM affiliated federations can be found here. Championship registration does NOT automatically enter riders for each round of the series. Contact event organisers directly for entry.
The eight-round FIM Hard Enduro World Championship begins with Extreme XL Lagares in Portugal on May 7-9.
Aaron Plessinger scored the holeshot from Ken Roczen and Dylan Ferrandis as Jason Anderson and Cooper Webb gave chase. Webb made short work of Anderson and Ferrandis and soon after he passed that duo they collided and both went down, promoting Martin Davalos up in to fourth position followed by Justin Barcia and Eli Tomac.
Ken Roczen then squeezed past Plessinger two-minutes into the race to put the #7 Yamaha between himself and Webb.
It took Webb more than five-minutes to get ahead of Plessinger and by that time Rozen had amassed a five-second lead. Roczen extended that lead from Webb to over ten-seconds at the halfway point of the moto. A couple of minutes later it was 12-seconds.
Only a few minutes later though Roczen made his first mistake with a tip-over at the end of the whoops section that saw his lead trimmed to six-seconds.
With four-minutes remaining Eli Tomac took third place from Aaron Plessinger. Tomac was only 1.5-seconds behind Webb who in-turn was now only four-seconds behind Roczen.
Then with less than 30-seconds left on the shot clock Webb caught and passed Roczen. The Honda man chased Webb’s KTM home but could not get back on terms with the series leader. Webb had built two-seconds over Roczen and despite a mistake on the final lap he still took victory by a full-second over Roczen.
Eli Tomac rounded out the podium a further three-seconds behind Roczen while Aaron Plessinger bagged 19-points for fourth ahead of Justin Barcia and Malcolm Stewart.
That win extends Webb’s championship lead to 16-points over Roczen with two rounds remaining. Eli Tomac is a further 24-points behind in third with a 35-point buffer over fourth placed Barcia.
Cooper Webb – P1
“I have to give it up to my team, they gave me a competitive bike tonight – we went back and figured some things out. Honestly, I made so many mistakes and I really didn’t ride well at all but I dug deep. I saw Kenny out front and he was riding awesome. I was trying to do everything I can and when he made that mistake, I saw blood in the water and I went for it. I just wanted to win.”
Ken Roczen – P2
“Atlanta three was pretty good to us. The track was really, really tough, with the whoops being super long, big and cupped out. In the main event we did exactly what we needed to do–grabbed a good start and made the pass for the lead happen pretty quick. I put a 12-second gap between me and second, just to throw it away in the whoops when I got kicked sideways and then it bucked me. Afterwards my handlebar or my triple clamps were just a little bit tweaked, and it kind of took the wind out of my sails a bit and [Cooper] Webb made the pass happen with a couple of laps to go. I ended up second and lost three points, but the team and I did a great job and almost won. I want to hang onto the positive, meaning I rode really well, and am going to come in strong in Salt Lake City.”
Eli Tomac – P3
“I feel like I was riding a lot better in the main event than I was during the heat race or practice. This track layout had the longest whoops sections we’ve seen all year and it took me a while to get them dialed. Before the main event, I had the team make a last-minute change to the suspension and that slight change made a world of difference that showed in the main. I was cornering faster, skimming the whoops and able to make up time on the riders ahead. I’m satisfied with the podium today, but we’ll look to improve on this come next weekend.”
Justin Cooper scored the holeshot ahead of Hunter Lawrence in the first start but it was not long before the red flag came out. McAdoo was one of the unlucky ones again but coming off worst was Chris Blose who required medical attention on track.
Riders turned around for a complete re-start and were away again after a delay and it was Justin Cooper in the lead. This time around though he had Nate Thraser and Jalek Swoll for company.
Hunter Lawrence was sixth on lap one but clipped the back of McAdoo on the down-ramp of a jump which took the Aussie’s front wheel and sent him off track and down. McAdoo had changed lines while in the air over a jump after making a mistake through the whoops and Lawrence had nowhere to go. Lawrence rejoined the race way back in 18th place.
Meanwhile up front Justin Cooper had made a mistake which allowed Thrasher through to the lead.
Cameron McAdoo then caused another incident, where again he was the one that came out best. While running fifth he went up the back of Hammaker, Brown then had nowhere to go and cartwheeled over McAdoo and then Schock also got caught up in the melee.
Those two were still stuck while McAdoo again rejoined the race but this time around he had lost around six positions. In McAdoo’s defence a bobble in the whoops by Hammaker initially set off the chain reaction that time around.
Only a couple of laps later McAdoo was involved in yet another incident! This one though was not his fault, he was effectively centre-punched by Garrett Marchbanks, presumably as payback for some earlier slight as it was way too ambitious to be a genuine attempt to pass. The bikes were locked up together and the pair lost a heap of positions while trying to disentangle themselves.
With 11-minutes left on the clock Hunter Lawrence was still down in 14th place but two-minutes later he was up to eighth place. At the front Thrasher led Cooper by three-seconds and Hammaker was a further six-seconds behind in third.
Five-minutes remaining and Hunter Lawrence was up to sixth. It took him some time to pass and then dispense with Kyle Peters and then in the dying seconds chased down and passed Jalek Swoll to claim fourth and that is where he finished.
Nate Thrasher ended the winner over Justin Cooper while Seth Hammaker rounded out the podium.
Cooper’s second place extended his lead over Hunter Lawrence to 20-points. Cameron McAdoo is still not completely out of the picture and is only two-points shy of Lawrence but for either of those men to win the 2021 250 West Championship Justin Cooper will have to finish lower than 18th place in the series finale.
While there are 17 rounds in this Monster Energy Supercross Championship, the 250 category is split into two separate championships, 250 East and 250 West. This was the eighth round of what will be a nine-round 250 West Championship. Next week the 250 East series will swing back into action ahead of the final East-West showdown.
Nate Thrasher – P1
“It was amazing! The LCQ wasn’t part of the plan, but I went down after the start of the heat race and just kept chugging away to get back into 11th to get me a good gate pick for the LCQ. I grabbed the holeshot and just tried to stay calm and cool because the LCQ is a little nerve-racking. I put some solid laps in and tried to keep myself from getting super tired because I knew I had a long Main Event coming up next. We had a red flag, but I ended up getting a great start both times. Then Justin made a little mistake, and I capitalized on it and tried to put in solid laps and ended up with the win. It feels so great. We have got to keep it going.”
Justin Cooper – P2
“The last one here in Atlanta went pretty good. The track was pretty tricky, especially the whoops. It challenged us all day, and it was hard to find my flow, so second place is awesome. I’m glad to get out of this one safe and that I was able to get two good starts tonight with that red flag to put myself in a good spot. I made that mistake early, so I was just riding behind Nate and didn’t really feel the need to push tonight. He was riding awesome, so hats off to him. It was a great night for us points-wise! We get a weekend off before the East-West Shootout. I’m excited for that and am looking to go to Salt Lake City in two weeks to try and wrap this thing up.”
Seth Hammaker – P3
““Man, it was absolute chaos out there tonight! I had a crash in practice that had me feeling a little banged up going into the main event. The track presented us with many challenges, but I’m glad I was able to end this three-race run in Atlanta on a high note and get myself another podium finish. We have a weekend off this next round, which will help me rest up and battle for a strong end to the season during the last round in Salt Lake City. I want to give a quick thank you to my entire team for always sticking by me and being a huge help.”
Hunter Lawrence – P4
“My weekend was bittersweet. I was looking very promising with P1 in both qualifying sessions and a heat-race win–looking really good for the main. On the first start I put myself in a great position and moved into second right behind [Justin] Cooper and was feeling really good, but then unfortunately we got red-flagged. After the restart, I came through the pack in fifth and then Cameron [McAdoo] nearly fell off his bike going into the sand section. I don’t think he was where he needed to be, mentally or physically. He swerved right in front of me, and my only options were to either land on him or try to scrub off the track and miss him, and that’s what I did and ended up landing in the Tuff Block. I’m pretty frustrated about that; with that crash, to finish two seconds behind third place, I think I could’ve won, considering how good I was in the whoops and how good I was feeling. I’m pretty bummed with how the night ended, but stoked with how the team and I operated during the day and how my riding is going, so I can’t wait for Salt Lake City.”
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