HALF TIME AT THE MX NATIONALS

Words Scott Bishop

Sure, you have probably heard about the racing, seen the results and all the usual stuff at the 2013 Monster Energy MX Nationals. Well, here is none of that stuff.

Crash of the Season

I have called it already. It’s not a massive wipe-out that had women and children running for their lives, it’s not a huge case-out on the massive ‘drunks’ jump at Conondale, nor is it a first turn pile up that caused carnage to 39 riders out of a 40-rider field.

DMC, come on down. The five-second board swings sideways, some ridiculously cold girl ‑ wearing clothes way too small for her ‑ runs with her spike heels sticking in the dirt, for the comfort of a warm coat, while the revs of 40 motorcycles hit the limit. Moments later, the power explodes and 39 guys launch successfully from behind the starting gate. One rider literally launches, although unsuccessful in racing terms.

Yeap, a professional racer on a factory bike looped out his machine in a race start! The Larry Loopout is the most embarrassing crashes of all time, and Daniel McCoy even had the indignity of it being caught on camera. Within 10 metres of the start, McCoy’s Honda was upside down, DMC on foot chasing after it as the rear guard snaps under the weight of the way-past-vertical motorcycle.

The last time I saw a professional racer flip a bike in a start was Glen Bell in the late ‘90s. Belly was on Micky Cook’s practice bike for a local race and did the exact same thing. Belly blamed the clutch, the tyre, the track, the spark plug (he always blamed the spark plug) but, the bottom line was, Belly, you looped that sucker out. However, you now have a club ‑ DMC is a bonafide member of the Larry Loopout Club. I, for one, hope this club grows, as you can’t get enough of a fender-snapping loop put on the start line at a professional race.

Noise Testing

A new FIM noise limit was introduced at the start of 2013, with teams and riders given until July 1st to comply, which was a sensible gesture from MA. To assist riders, and for better understanding of the new testing procedure, some noise testing was conducted at round one of the championship. A lot of teams had worked tirelessly to get exhaust noise down to the new 112db limit, measured via the two-metre max test.

Teams took their bikes over for testing, with systems they believed would pass, and there was also plenty of exhaust-manufacture reps from various companies present to ensure they were on the right track. All credibility stopped there as the readings made no sense whatsoever. A system that the manufacturer claimed to be 112db, was often barely making the 100db mark, and the loudest, most abusive system that wouldn’t have passed five years ago, was scaping in at the 112 level.

Despite being told that these results weren’t accurate and that no way could this be seen as relevant, our tester claimed to be doing it by the book, and that all readings were correct and would stand. Pretty much everything passed. Now, the issue will be when a rider turns up after the July 1st date with the same system that was 105 at round one but will suddenly be 118db when the testing is done correctly. The industry wants quiet bikes and the reps from four major exhaust distributors were all there to provide as much knowledge and info as possible. Shame it wasn’t utilised.

No Tear-offs

Like some rural-based clubs that have farm animals on their property when not racing, the Conondale Circuit introduced a rule that no tear-offs were allowed and riders must use roll-offs. Roll-offs work well in really wet, sloppy conditions, or on sand; where you need a lot of vision during the race. The worst case scenario for roll-offs is thick, sticky mud as, when it hits the lens, it sticks the slide film to the lens and the system doesn’t work. Guess what track conditions there were at Conondale? Yeap, it was glue on the ground for the entire 2.30min lap and, after the opening few corners, the roll-offs were being tossed around like a midget at a gym party. And if the goggles weren’t flying, it was the unravelling film streaming from the dysfunctional goggles of a bunch of visionless riders.

The cows didn’t have any concern for chewing on tear-offs, the 32 pull roll–offs would have been more than enough. On top of that, there were 39 riders furious about roll-offs at the end of each race. The guy in front thought they worked well.

Roll-offs are great, just in the right conditions.

Tid-bits

# One rider won $100 from his team manager for attending riders’ briefing. That’s good cash if you can get it, as most riders often get fined at riders’ briefing.

# One young punk MXD walked up to an older, well-respected rider with some direct advice after a disappointing round, “Are you going to take your skirt off and stop wasting your teams’ fuel today?!”

# A group of patch-wearing bikers wandered through the pits at Wonthaggi, where they found that the hospitality section of the Serco Yamaha team was vacant. They decided to sit down and grab an Iced VoVo and some coffee. The MX2 guys were on the track, but no one was going to tell these bikers that they can’t be in there. I was too scared to make eye contact as they just kicked back and enjoyed the Serco hospitality, without Serco actually knowing as the group had left by the time the race was over.