Todd Jarratt reflects on the MX Nationals season opener at Horsham last weekend
Sitting down to write my third article for MCNews.com.au, I’m still trying to fathom up an understanding of what I witnessed at Horsham over the weekend. The fastest MX1 qualifier nailed his starts but barely held on to finish within the top 10 during each of his motos. Then there was the fastest MXD qualifier who holeshotted the first moto to have a reasonable gap over second, only to then make a small mistake and be carted off to hospital only one lap into his MX Nationals debut. There were track cutting controversies, heated rider discussions, inflamed egos, in-race penalties and more surprising season opening results than when Josh Grant won Anaheim 1 in ‘09. To say the very least – Horsham was as good as a grandma’s home cooked meal.
In the MX1 class, the only two riders to enter every GoPro super pole event in 2014 were nowhere to be seen when the five fastest 450 qualifiers lined up at the mechanics area post session. Matt Moss missed out on a spot by half a second in sixth and Jake Moss was out of contention from the word go, as he is still recovering from the leg injury he sustained whilst training in America at the beginning of January. Instead, the five riders making the super pole event were Ford Dale, Kirk Gibbs, Lawson Bopping, Kade Mosig, and Dan Reardon – who finished their fastest laps in that exact order. This unexpected list was enough to get the whole pits talking, that is, until the race results came in…
KTM Racing Team’s Kirk Gibbs took two dominant race wins, and was on another level Sunday. The South Australian born, but now Queensland based, rider was quick to attack and move to the lead, he had great sprint speed in the beginning and was able to turn over smooth, consistent laps upon passing for the lead. Kirk made a big statement Sunday, and if he can maintain that kind of performance throughout the year, irrespective of what his competitors do, I think he will be a very hard man to beat. “I had a solid off season, got a lot racing under my belt in New Zealand and feel so comfortable with the bike”. When I asked Gibbs about his thoughts on the two 30 minute plus one lap moto formats this year he responded with, “I’ve always had good fitness and history has shown that I’ve done well in the longer races, so I’m happy with the two 30’s and will keep working hard in the lead up to round two”.
Finishing in second and third overall for the opening round were CDR Yamaha’s new recruit Kade Mosig and Gibbs’ young teammate Luke Styke thanks to 3-2 and 2-5 moto scores respectively. Lawson Bopping and Cody Cooper, on their returns to the MX Nationals series, finished in fourth and fifth overall ahead of Adam Monea and rookie privateer Dylan Long. In saying, that Adam Monea’s speed showed that he could’ve finished further up in the points if he just managed to keep his Kawasaki on two wheels throughout the day. In moto one he came together with Dan Reardon and in the second race of the day he ended up on the ground in turn one, leaving him to battle through the field for the entire 30 minutes.
One name you didn’t see up front was that of two-time and defending champion Matt Moss. Moss, who had a huge crash in the first lap of moto one, went down again in moto two while trying to remain at the front of the field. It was obvious from the start of the day Moss was not quite right as he battled with back issues, illnesses, and a badly twisted Suzuki throughout the day to finish a distant 13th overall. Another rider down in the overall points chase is Daniel Reardon. As mentioned previously Reardon was hit from behind by Adam Monea early in moto one causing him to stall the engine of his CDR Yamaha and fall to the rear of the field and fight back to fifth by the end of the 30 minutes. Unfortunately though, he carded a DNF in moto two due to an intermittent misfire, which has left him sitting 47 markers behind series leader Kirk Gibbs after round 1.
In MX2 it was a Serco Yamaha 1-2 overall finish, with debut rider Jed Beaton collecting the round win ahead of defending champion and teammate Luke Clout. The 17 year old. Victorian based rider carded 3-1 moto finishes, to Clout’s 1-4 (after an in race time penalty dropped him from second to fourth officially in race two). I decided to do some close post race comparison of lap times and in doing so found that throughout both moto one and moto two, these two riders were a few steps ahead of their competition. The pair’s raw speed was unmatched once they got clear track ahead of them and I wouldn’t be surprised if both remain healthy that it becomes a Serco Yamaha battle for the title, much to the delight of team manager Gavin Eales and head technician Ben Griffith.
Beaton had this to say about the round win in speaking to him post race – “I can’t thank the Serco Yamaha guys enough, they’ve put in all the hard yards for me and I’ve put in the hard yards for them so it’s great to see it all pay off. Ben’s moved over to the team this year and today has shown that he is one of the best guys out there to work on a bike, so hats off to him”.
In speaking to Clout, it was more of a focus toward his race results and the championship – “It was a good way to start the year off taking a win, and unfortunate that we had the time penalty but I’m going to come out in Appin and bounce back to reclaim that red plate because I don’t like looking at my bike with black backgrounds”.
Finishing in third overall for the day was Japanese rider Takeshi Katsuya who thanks to 2-3 moto results was able to edge out a rejuvenated and hungry Jay Wilson for the final spot on the podium by two points.
MX2 fifth place overall was taken up by Nathan Crawford, who edged out Wade Hunter and Dylan Wills for the final spot in the top five. Caleb Ward, Luke Arbon, Hamish Harwood and Jack Simpson all had individual issues throughout the opening round and finished further back than the industry expected them to leading into Horsham. While Ward and Arbon both suffered from mechanical issues, it seemed as though Harwood and Simpson simply couldn’t keep find themselves anywhere near the front after coming into contact the ground numerous times.
In MXD, Mitchell Evans was the rider to beat after logging blistering qualifying times ahead of his title favourite teammate Wilson Todd. Unfortunately though, after grabbing the holeshot and early lead in moto one, Evans made a small error and went down in a big way, relinquishing the lead and any chance of continuing as he was carted off to hospital with an injured left arm. After speaking to a disheartened Evans at the end of the day he is looking to get the injury sorted as soon as possible to minimise the damage in championship points “I’ve got appointments already scheduled for Monday and they will determine if I’m back to fight for the championship at round two or if I need to spend more time healing before coming back to racing”.
With Evans’ quick departure it left a void in the field, and in only his first senior national Jordan Hill was quick to make amends of it, logging the second fastest lap of the race on route to his debut win. Dylan (Dee) Wilson charged from a mid pack start to come through the field and finish second behind Hill, logging unmatched times from the mid way point in the moto all the way through to the checkered flag – what was a promising result for a rider who had only been on the bike for two weeks prior to the round. The final spot on the podium went to third place Jayden Rykers, ahead of Wilson Todd and Wayde Carter. Todd held the lead early during the moto but went down while exiting the infamous Horsham uphill whoops, and fell back to a distant fourth.
Unfortunately, these moto one scores became the overall round results as a critical incident involving our hard charging second place finisher in moto one, Dee Wilson brought about the cancellation of racing for both the MXD and Yamaha Rising Star Rookies for their second moto’s. We are all wishing Dee, and the whole Wilson family well as we hope to see the likeable larrikin back on his feet soon.
In the Yamaha Rising Star Rookies, our support class for the weekend, Queenslander Hunter Lawrence was a level above his competition taking a convincing round win ahead of Michael Driscoll, Cooper Pozniak, Angus Gelly, Callum Norton, Wade Kirkland, Hugh McKay and Mason Semmens. Lawrence has already begun the first part of his two year deal with Yamaha where although still in juniors, he works with Scott Bishop and Mike Ward throughout the year in development to prepare him for the MXD class next year where he will fill a spot in the GYTR Yamaha camp. The Yamaha Rising Star Rookies will return at round two of the MX Nationals series in two weeks time at Appin, NSW.
So all in all, Round 1 of the 2015 MX Nationals has left us all hanging for more. To me that is an awesome sign of the action to come at round two – Appin, NSW on the 12th of April.
Until next time guys – stay safe and have a wide open Easter!
Dylan Wilson condition update
Whilst Dylan remains in an induced coma, all reports at this stage are looking very positive. Dylan will undergo another CT scan this afternoon, where the family will receive further updates on his condition.
At the moment, the outlook for Dylan is looking better than first anticipated.
Peter and the Wilson family would like to thank the Racesafe Medical Team for their unbelievable work in stabilizing and preparing Dylan for his transport to Melbourne from Horsham on Sunday.
Racesafe’s work at the track has been a major factor in Dylan’s ever improving condition – and the continued support that Racesafe is providing to the family, is very much appreciated.
The family would also like to thank the fantastic medical team currently caring for Dylan in hospital.
Peter and the Wilson family are very grateful to the entire motocross community, for their continued support and kind thoughts at this difficult time.
Further update will be provided on Dylan’s condition as soon as information becomes available.
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