Words Scott Bishop
Just two months ago, Australia’s Motocross of Nations team picked itself. Reed, Waters and Ferris were all shoo-ins for the gig — and rightly so, as they had the runs on the board and were the right riders to choose.
But Reed’s form and health as well as Waters’ injuries and health have changed things a little. It’s a huge call not to select Chad Reed. He is our GOAT, but things aren’t working for him at the moment and his results and well below what he’s capable of. There are questions marks over his health and he’s stated several times he’s dealing with illness and the same with his Honda. But who’s brave enough to leave Reed out?
Waters has had a horror two-month run of crashes and injury which surely must be taking their toll. His crashes at local races in Queensland have rung his bell and left him trying to pick up the pieces. Todd needs time — it’s the only thing that heals head hits and, at his age, there will be a heap more opportunities for him to represent his country. Ferris is the obvious choice for MX2 as he has the results and the support to get a good result.
So, if it were me picking this team right here, right now I would go for Brett Metcalfe, MX1, as long as he can get the support from his Canadian-based team. Matt Moss, MX1: he’s riding well and longs to be fully fit and confident on the bike. In MX2, Dean Ferris with Luke Styke as reserve, as he can ride either 250 or 450.
I’d also have Chad accompany the team and develop him as a team manager of the future. Gary Benn has done a great job over a long period of time but he can’t do it forever. Reed, with his race team ownership and managerial skills, not to mention connections, would be the perfect replacement for Gary when he’s ready to hang up his clipboard.
New models are starting to roll in, riders are doing some moving and shaking and the topic of 2014 is already being discussed in the pits. We’re barely halfway through 2013 and many are ready to move on.
New bikes are always exciting and with most manufacturers having their new bikes before the end of the racing season it will be interesting to see who pulls out the 14 models before the year is out. Changing to a new bike isn’t always easy as there are many things to consider, especially if the bike is radically changed from the previous model. I would imagine most teams that have access to new bikes will be on them at some point during the ASX, if for nothing else than to gain some racing knowledge of the bike and get a head start on next year.
As for the riders, I’m sure there will be a bit of movement before round one of the MX Nats rolls around in 2014. Some of the older guys are probably due to move on, younger guys to step up and a few riders changing classes in the hope of improved results. This year, the MX1 class has been super-competitive while the MX2 class hasn’t had the depth we’ve often seen in previous years.
Although Honda has already got Cachia and Dale locked away for 2014, it’s rare for professional teams in Australia to sign up riders before the end of the MX Nationals, at least. Most teams don’t have budgets set and are still to-ing and fro-ing with a range of riders. And, going by last year’s silly season, expect most of the deals to be done late as the ASX doesn’t finish until November 16.
After a solid start in 2012, the Australian Supercross Championship returns for 2014 for a six-round championship. It kicks off with a double-header in Darwin, then Mt Gambier, another double-header at Phillip Island and the final round in Toowoomba.
Every Australian rider and team wants a successful and sustainable national supercross championship and the 2012 championship looked to provide that, with rounds in central locations and good crowd support at most venues.
Despite travel assistance to Darwin for all competitors, I still struggle to see lot of competitors making the trip up and the cost to teams is still big. The fact that it’s only two weeks after the final MX National round at Coolum means there’s enormous pressure for riders to make the switch to supercross and teams to build supercross bikes.
I have no issue with the other rounds. Phillip Island is expensive during GP time, but that’s a trade-off worth the risk with the coverage and profile gained. Push the start of the championship back another two weeks, make the opening round in a dirtbike mecca like the Hunter Valley and the championship would become a lot more viable for the riders and teams.