The CRF Honda Racing team is in a celebratory mood, after enjoying a stunning double-header finale to the 2016 Australian Supercross Championship, staged at the AUS-X Open event held at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena at Homebush over the weekend.
The rip roaring AUS-X Open event, which featured a cavalcade of global supercross stars, headlined by Aussie legend Chad Reed and American hero Ryan Villopoto, played out before a capacity crowd on Saturday night, and another huge turn-out on Sunday afternoon.
In the hotly contested SX2 division, CRF Honda riders Joel Wightman and Kyle Webster lined up at the indoor venue aboard their finely tuned Honda CRF250R race bikes intent on making their marks before the largest crowds of the year and a huge live TV audience.
Come the end of what can only be described as a massive weekend of supercross action, it was smiles all round in the CRF Honda Racing enclave, with Webster wrapping up his season with a brilliant third place finish in Sunday’s SX2 Final behind American Gavin Faith (Honda) and series champion Jackson Richardson (Yamaha), while Wightman continued his climb up the standings to finish an inspiring fourth overall in the championship.
“The AUS-X Open was an unreal event,” enthused Wightman, “as the crowds poured in and the track was so much fun.
“On Saturday night I felt good, but just didn’t get the start in the Final, which is everything on an indoor race track, so I just rode consistent to finish seventh for the night.
“Then on Sunday I started out with an awesome Heat race and lead a few laps ahead of Gavin Faith, before he made a move on me for the lead. But from there I just tucked in behind him and rode strong and finished second, which put me straight through to the Final.
“In the Final I managed a mid-pack start, which is not ideal, and with the track changing a fair bit since the Heat race and really drying out, it actually caught me out a little. I just didn’t feel unreal but rode okay and managed to finish sixth in the race, which gave me enough points for fourth overall in the Championship.
“My goal for the series,” Wightman continued, “was to improve on my Championship placing from last year, which was sixth, so I’m pumped I managed to do that and get fourth overall, especially when you consider the three riders in front of me in the standings – Faith, Richardson and Hayden Mellross – all have AMA Supercross experience.”
Meantime Webster fought back from the disappointment of missing a place in Saturday night’s SX2 Final, to deliver an impressive come-from-behind ride in Sunday’s Final to finish on the podium in third place behind Faith and Richardson.
Amazingly Webster’s start in Sunday’s Final was near last as the field barreled into turn one, but the WA speedster put the bit between his teeth and never gave up as he kept moving forward.
“It was just such a huge weekend at the AUS-X Open,” Webster enthused afterwards.
“And to wrap it all up with a third place finish in the Final on Sunday, after being near last off the start, well, wow – what great way to finish the weekend!
“This whole year has been really good, and I just want to say thanks to everyone who has helped to make it possible, from everyone in the CRF Honda Racing team and all the sponsors and supporters, through my family, friends and my mechanic Mick – I just can’t wait to see what the next stage brings.”
With the AUS-X Open event bringing down the curtain on the 2016 race season, CRF Honda Racing team owner/manager Mark Luksich is justifiably pleased with the team’s performance.
In only its second year of existence, the CRF Honda Racing outfit has cemented its position where it is snapping at the heels of the much bigger budget factory-backed operations in the SX2 division.
“I’m just so rapt that we wound out the season with some great performances at Homebush,” said Luksich.
“I’m so proud of both Joel and Kyle and their families, the team mechanics Wighty and Mick, and all the fabulous sponsors who support our team, especially Honda, which is a brand that I have enjoyed such a long and successful relationship with.
“Joel improved his ranking in supercross this year, while Kyle, in his learning year with the team, took a podium at the final round of supercross, and also won an MX Nationals moto during the year – it’s clear that he has so much potential.
“I’m really proud of the team right now, as we are a modest outfit that is working hard on developing our riders, and to be honest I can’t wait for our third season in 2017.”
As the CRF Honda Racing team gets set to enjoy a well deserved break through the off-season, rest assured work behind the scenes will be continuing apace as the team plans for 2017 … and beyond.