With the debut of the Australian ProMX national series just around the corner, the first round of the Queensland Sunshine State series was the perfect opportunity for the Pros to dip their toes in the water and get a sense of where things are at.
With no real racing happening in Queensland since late last year the white sand of Hervey Bay was the setting for the prequel of what we may see later this year.
Now reading this headline you may be expecting an article telling you how good Todd is and how he is just ‘flying’ and on another level. Yes that will come in time, however, the guy at the centre of the talk of the track and gathering, let’s call it ‘hype,’ was the #9 the Factory GasGas rider Aaron Tanti.
The fastest qualifier by over a second, the fastest rider in the first moto, multi moto lap leader, and if I am being completely honest – the eye test had him as the fastest guy out there.
For all that, the results and the story of Tanti’s day, unfortunately, tended to fall to the unfortunate side. Multiple crashes ultimately ending his day, crashing hard in the second moto, resulting in a DNF, ending the weekend 15th overall. Early word is a sore wrist, nothing too major that will hinder training for the upcoming season.
While we are talking about red bikes and newly acquired rides, #5 Kirk Gibbs looks right at home aboard the Honda Racing Australia machine. Posting solid finishes of 2-DNF-2 for sixth overall, obviously the DNF is what instantly catches your eye. However getting caught up with another rider and ripping out a majority of the spokes holding your front wheel together where the culprit on that occasion.
What was truly impressive from the veteran was his late race pace both motos. In the dying stages of the race Kirk would cut the gap and start to challenge Waters all the way to the chequered flag. It’s fairly safe to assume that we will see the continued rivalry between the #5 and #47 continue into the 2021 season.
Jai Walker continues to impress, running 3-2-3 for second overall. The 18-year-old has been the talk of the Queensland pits and continues to add to the hype that is building around him. Solid performances in all motos potentially didn’t have the all out speed or flashiness of Waters or Tanti, however he was quick and could be a thorn in the side of many more fancied runners this season.
Privateer Joel Evans may have had one of the quieter days but still managed to pull a 5-3-5 for third overall. Another solid weekend for Joel and his program. I managed to talk to #81 after the race and he said he was not “super stoked with how he rode” and that he felt that third was a little lucky with Kirk getting the DNF in the second moto.
Regardless I believe that this sort of confidence is what’s needed for #81 to continue to build on these results and contend for positions in the MX1 class.
Now you may be reading this going, ‘where is the part where Todd smokes everybody?’ That’s coming just let me touch on the MX2 guys who Waters also beat on a two-stroke, yeah… that happened.
Nathan Crawford was once again one of those guys that just ticked every box for the eye speed test. Confident, aggressive, calm, composed. The only rider all weekend to beat Todd. In the last moto Crawford went down and did not finish the race, leaving him with 2-1-DNF results for fifth overall.
Now remove Todd from the equation and simply look at the field of who Nathan will be racing this year in the Australian ProMX series, it’s hard not put money on him to be the favourite to win and that also leads me to my next rider.
24-year-old Jesse Dobson. If ever there was a recipe for a rivalry to be cooked up under one team tent this is it. Jesse signed to the Serco team in 2020 and really has not had the opportunity to show what he is about. To put it simply the #14 looked good!
Super fast, super aggressive and looking comfortable with a new gear deal with 7, plus a solid team behind him. Life is good for Dobson and if he had minimised some of the mistakes and kept it on two wheels, he probably would have been second overall. The 3-6-3 for fourth overall wasn’t a bad weekend for #14 however.
Jay Wilson finished the weekend second overall with 5-4-2 moto scores. After the first race, I am not going to lie I was a little worried about #6. In comparison to the other guys he was racing, he was a little lacklustre to put it simply. As the day went on and the track fell away his results lifted, times got better and eventually he topped the weekend out on the podium.
The results speak for themselves, you don’t have to have the rawest speed to have a good weekend, this was one of the tracks where Jay used intelligence and the ability to adapt to the track to come out with a good result.
One of feel good stories of the weekend was #754 Jayce Cosford, running 4-3-4 and who finished third overall, tied on points with Jay. The privateer kid went to battle with the factory guys and did not for one second look out of place.
Super aggressive, making passes, completely confident in his ability to navigate a torn up track and he has only just returned from a broken femur. If there is a dark horse of this class and someone who is going to make some noise in the series it’s #754. Keep your eye on this kid.
Okay finally, let’s talk about #47 or #1, depending on which class and the sort of bike Todd wants to ride. Waters raced not only the 450 class but also the 250 class.
Now before you ask, ‘Why is a 450 champion racing against the kids in the 250 class?’ Todd raced them on a 250 two-stroke and smoked everybody except for Crawford in the second moto where he was buried off the start and battled to second.
I should interject now is the perfect time to start the age old two-stroke vs four-stroke debate, which consumes discussions anytime something like this happens. Now if you are a Factory 250 team and Waters is out there beating your guys by over 15 seconds on a two-stroke is that something you are screaming about come Monday? Or do you simply just put it down to that Todd is a bad dude on a motorcycle.
Full transparency it was pretty cool to hear that two-stroke screaming around the track beating some of the best guys in our sport.
As for the MX1 class, what a clinically perfect 1-1-1 moto score. The track fell away, Todd adapted. Gibbsy put a charge on him and applied pressure, he adapted. It may be early days but if I was a Vegas bookmaker, I’d say the #1 is going to be hard to beat this season.
Riders that I feel like may not have had the best weekend but are going to be players in the upcoming national series include the #31 of Jake Moss. There is absolutely no denying that the speed is there, as he made his return to racing, and fitness is starting to come around. He qualified seventh but struggled with bike issues all weekend, ultimately ending his racing early.
Jy Roberts made the trip up north and rode well in the 450 class aboard his 250 KTM Newcastle machine finishing fourth overall. The #100’s day in the MX2 class was a different story – crashes and bike problems plagued him and ultimately led to 11th overall in the 250 class. Truly not a real representation of what Jy is capable of.
Yamaha’s newest signing Rhys Budd had a similar weekend to Jy, from the eye test he looked comfortable fast and overall, very spicy, unfortunately he just couldn’t put it together and ended the weekend eighth overall.
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