By Jason Macalpine
The second round of the Rockstar Energy MX Nationals kick off this past weekend in our nations capital for the second year in a row and lived up to the hype generated by the awesome racing of 2009.
Last year saw Kevin Williams re-introduce the old school Mr. Motocross format that saw the riders do battle over 4x 15 plus 1 lap moto’s with only 5 minutes rest in between. In 2009 the formats were a huge success and produced some of the best racing in recent memory as well the series a huge level of momentum.
For 2010 the MX Nationals were back bigger and better at Canberra with the back-to-back format a factor in each of the classes. The weekend was full of hype with both Billy Mackenzie and PJ Larsen carrying the red plate into round two with the Australian riders looking to regain control of “their” national series. When it was all said and done though, Aussie riders would lead all three classes.
Canberra is a rider favorite for it’s undulating layout and technical jumps. On track walk this year it was evident that the club have employed the “if it aint broke, don’t fix it” philosophy with only a small change to the tracks whoop section. This means that they guys who did race the track in 2009 were going to have no trouble getting accustomed to the circuit, while those who haven’t would have one session to get the track dialed in.
At the first round Josh Cachia laid waste to the Under 19’s field and showed that he was going to be the man to beat. But wait, he laid waste to the field at round one in 2009 and then struggled to get another win as the series went on. This was the talk between the U19’s pack and many believed that Cachia was going to remain a “first round wonder” and miss the top step of the podium this weekend.
In the Lites class it was a class of “Us vs. Him” and the entire contingent of Australian riders spent the three-week break with one rider on their mind. PJ Larsen showed speed at the first round that may have just taken the pack by surprise and gave them all a reality check on how fast they were going to have to go to win this championship.
Another import that claimed an Australian red plate after his win at the first round was Billy Mackenzie. B-Mac came, saw and concurred; but he was not as dominate as PJ in the Lites. Billy showed that he was a smart rider whose focus was not on outright speed, but winning a championship at Coolum.
In the opening moto for the under 19’s rookie Shaun Redhead raced out to a massive holeshot and set out to show off his raw speed as he looked to check out over the field. Redhead’s lead was shot lived though as he cart-wheeled on the downhill jump at the bottom of the track, resulting in three broken ribs!
This gave the lead to Kiwi rider Cameron Dillon who was under the wing of Kiwi super star Ben Townley for the weekend. Luke Arbon worked his way into second place, just in front of series leader Josh Cachia and that is how the running ordered stayed as the checkered flag flew.
With only a short break in between moto’s, the second of the four races were under way before too long. Dillon again jumped out of the gate well but this time Josh Cahia snuck up on the inside as the pack drag raced down the second straightaway. Cachia remained unchallenged in the lead but the battle fro 2nd was a good one and Keiran Leigh and Luke Arbon chased down Dillon. Ross Beaton suffered from a bad start but came through the pack to work his way into the battle for second. When the flag flew though it was Cachia who would lead from flag to flag, with Dillon, Beaton and Arbon in tow.
Josh Cachia held onto the red plate going into the third round...
The third race was filled with controversy as Josh Cachia cut the track mid-moto resulting in a 5 second penalty that say him moved from second behind Keiran Leigh back to fifth. Behind the startline there was a bunch of commotion as Cachia and the officials went head to head and the other racers questioned the seriousness of a 5 second penalty.
Race 4 got underway with the two Kiwi’s of Keiran Leigh and Cameron Dillon getting great starts once again. But this time it was another Kiwi boy in Hamish Doybbn who stuck past fellow countrymen and started to gap the entire field instantly. Luke Arbon looked to have put the Horsham disaster behind him and moved into second but had a fired-up Cachia on his tail.
When the flag flew though Arbon was able to hold off Cachia for second and Hamish Doybbn won is style.
This gave the overall to Cameron Dillon over Luke Arbon and Josh Cachia, while the red plate remained with Cachia.
When the gate dropped on the first of four moto’s it was SERCO’s Kirk Gibbs that raced away to the holeshot with all the major players in two. That was all bar Ford Dale, Addison and Stykes. Gibbs showed unreal speed in practise and started to pull away from the field but a small tip over handed the lead over Lawson Bopping who was being chased down by Luke George.
Bopping got his first taste of the front this year and lead it all the way, although it was close after Gibbs fought his way right back onto his rear wheel. Luke George finished in third just in front of Marmont while Lewis Stewart put in a solid ride for 5th. PJ Larsen had problems and was able to come through to 9th while Ford Dale recovered from his first turn crash and a massive carth-wheel to finish 15th.
SERCO Team riders Kirk Gibbs and Ford Dale were this close all day...
With only 5 minutes in between moto’s the SERCO team were working tirelessly on Ford’s bike and only just got it to him as the 30 second board went sideways. When the gate dropped though it was Luke Geroge who got a huge holeshot on his Kawasaki. His lead was short lived though as Larsen blasted by with clear intentions of winning this moto by a large margin. The question on everyone’s lips was who, if anyone, would be able to run with Larsen when he was out front. The answer came from arguably one of Australia’s fastest riders, Ford Dale. Dale worked his was past Gibbs and George and then pulled in PJ who had put the hammer down. The pair ran out front the whole moto and finished a close 1-2 with Gibbs again getting a great result in third.
Head Mechanic for the SERCO team Michael Marty walked past just before the start of the third moto and provided the following call after looking into his crystal ball, “You filming this, it’s going to be a SERCO 1-2”. Marty was as right as you could get and both the Yamaha’s rocked out to the front of the pack. Larsen got another good start and the stage was set for another great moto.
Larsen however was quick to pull away leaving both Ford Dale and Kirk Gibbs to fight it out for second. Gibbs has been so far the most consistent rider of the day and is in the position for the overall after the three races. Luke Styke started up the front for the first time in this moto and rode to a solid top 5 behind Bopping in 4th.
The final moto of the day would decide the overall and a spanner was thrown into the works as a massive pile up caused a number of guys to go down. PJ Larsen and Luke George were among the casualties while the pair of Gibbs a Ford Dale were fighting it out once again, gapping Matt Ryan in third on his Husky.
PJ had to fight his way back to the front while George was forced to pull out. By moto’s end Larsen was able to get into 8th but it was not going to be enough for the overall as Gibbs passed Ford for the lead and the overall win. Lawson Bopping was solid all day and ended up in second overall on a tie with Larsen. Ford Dale was 4th overall and Ryan Marmont finished his day in 5th.
Gibbs now has an 8 point lead in the championship heading into Barrabool and will run the red plate for the first time in his career. PJ Larsen hold’s down second over Marmont, Mackie and Bopping.
As a raging pack of 450’s headed into the tight right hander for moto 1 Hart and Huntington rider Daniel “DMC” McCoy grabbed the holeshot over Billy Mac, Simmonds, McFarlane and Cooper.
Billy Mac quickly found his way into the lead in a bid to continue his winning ways but he had company from Tye Simmonds mounted on his Factory KTM 350. Simmonds looked to have the speed of the Scottish rider but was never able to mount a serious charge for the lead.
Behind them Ferris, Cooper, McFarlane, Marmont and Waters were all battling to get onto the podium. Waters, Suffering from a poor start had to fight his way thought the pack and by moto’s end would work his way into third, wanting to shake off his unwanted tag of “One-Round-Wonder” that had been circulating through the pits. Billy Mac and Ferris went 1-2 but Todd knew he could run the pace by setting the moto’s fastest lap time in traffic.
When moto 2 got under way, Billy Mac once again stamped his authority on the series with the Holeshot but then went MIA as he threw it down somewhere at the back of the circuit. Ferris, Simmonds, McFarlane, Waters, Cooper and Marmont all charged past the finish on lap one while Billy Coasted past and into the pits minutes later.
Ferris and Marmont took the third race down to the wire...
Waters was the man on the move as he scrubbed past McFarlane and then set his sights on good friend Tye Simmonds. While Waters was on the move, so was Ferris as he put distance on himself and Simmonds. Waters was not going to stop in third either as he passed Simmonds, then looked ahead at the number 1 position. Both Waters and Ferris have formed a strong rivalry in pre-season racing and neither wanted anything but the win. The pressure of Waters was to much for Ferris as he dropped into second and Water charged to the win while Jay Marmont came from nowhere to third after an inspiring charge to the front of the field.
With so much action already it was anyone’s guess as to who would find their way to the front when the gates dropped on moto number three. The question of fatigue, both physical and mental, was also on people minds. Ferris, on his privateer Honda, though was not fatigued as he raced out to the front of the pack. For the first time all day, Marmont had got himself a start and was hounding Ferris all moto. Waters once again had to work through the pack into third but when he got there he could only watch on and Ferris and Marmont battle for the win. For the second year in a row the third open race came down to a drag race on the final straight of the track with only 0.004 separating Ferris and Marmont. The winner… Jay Marmont.
Billy Mac pulled out of the third moto again and just like that Todd Waters was the new championship leader, with one race left to extend his tally over Billy Mac.
With one moto to go Tye Simmonds was once again awesome off the start on his 350 machine. After so-so starts at Horsham the talk between the 450 riders was that the 350 was not competitive against the bigger bikes. Simmonds proved them all wrong this weekend with his awesome starts in each moto.
While Tye may have got the start, CDR Yamaha’s Cheyne Boyd was sick of eating roost and headed to the front. Waters sat in third however and had other ideas as he moved past the pair and rode away to the win and the overall, giving him the red plate heading into round 3. Ferris struggled to an 8th place finish while Marmont finished second behind Tye Simmonds. This gave Simmonds his first podium outdoors on an Open bike in third while Marmont finished second behind Waters.