Rockstar/Makita Suzuki rider Chad Reed took the fourth round of the Super X Australasian Supercross Championship series in Sydney on Saturday night, and in front of his new ‘boss’, Roger DeCoster. That was his fourth straight win, but the competition from the other Aussie riders is increasing with every round.
Held at the Parramatta football stadium, home of the ‘Eels’ rugby league team, the event attracted 15,000 very vocal fans. The three previous rounds in Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne have attracted similar crowd numbers and those gate takings, coupled with the success of the series to date on TV (live telecasts on a cable channel and delayed on free-to-air) have given Reed plenty of reasons to smile. Reed, as well as being the star of the show, is also part owner/promoter of the series, in conjunction with Mike Porra’s Global Action Sports company.
With each round, the competition has been getting a little bit closer to Reed. The first round was almost embarrassing, the World Supercross champ just ran away from the pack. But in Sydney, the track was the tightest to date and the unusual format of the races helped even the field. Race formats have been changed at each round, and this one featured four elimination finals, each of five laps, with a two minute break in between. In case that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, it went like this – two heats and a last chance qualifier to decide the top twenty, then a five lap final with the bottom five eliminated, a two minute break after the winner crossed the finish line, then a five lap final of fifteen riders, then ten, then the final race of five riders.
As it was the first time this format had been utilized, there were a few snags, such as the clock counting down two minutes before the next final, after the winner had crossed the line. This didn’t leave the last rider a whole lot of time to get back in his starting position and caused a bit of friction trackside so generally the two minutes was extended to ‘a few minutes’.
Most of the elimination finals saw different riders grabbing the holeshot and Reed was most often a come from behind winner. That sure did keep the crowd entertained, but each time Chad’s precision on the tight track earned him the checkers. GEICO Powersports Honda rider, Daniel Reardon gave the winner the most grief, leading one of the finals for four of the five laps. It was a valiant effort from Reardon, considering he dislocated his shoulder at the last round and was doubtful to even ride at one point. Reardon, a four-time Aussie MX/SX champ, still wasn’t happy with his performance – “The new format was tough and I liked it because it got the crowd so pumped. There was some close racing, but I was a little disappointed with the way I rode because I had to be soft with my shoulder. I am staying in Wollongong all this week and will be training hard ahead of next week’s meet.”
Throughout the finals, there were a few other hard chargers, giving Reed a run for his money, including Jay Marmont and Cameron Taylor. Shift Motul Suzuki mounted Taylor had also ridden hard at the preceding round and is certainly becoming a top-notch rider this season.
The Pro Lites final was decisively won by Taylor’s teammate Matt Moss, who dedicated the win to his brother Jake, a regular hard charger in the class who unfortunately suffered a season-ending injury in training during the week.
In what was the first night event for the season, the track ultimately belonged to a very relaxed Reed – “I had a lot of fun out there tonight. The track was really tight, so on each start it was really important to make sure I didn’t get stuck back in the pack. I felt good out there though and it is so good to see such an awesome crowd that got right behind the racing.”
With three rounds still to go, it would appear that Reed may go unchallenged for a victory, but with each round the rest of the Aussie pack gets closer and closer. The series is introducing supercross to a lot of people, both live and on TV. It is rewarding Reed on his foray into the promotional side of the sport, and it is developing Aussie talent by giving riders a chance to race the World Supercoss champion over a seven race series.