450 Words: Outside Influence

450 Words Outside Influence

January 15, 2014 8:00pm

The beginning of a new racing season brings about revitalized expectations for every rider. Everyone is looking to one-up their game from the previous season, and high expectations remove any chance of a pecking pecking order. No rider rightfully belongs to any certain position.

It’s truly wide open at this stage. So far we’ve seen Ken Roczen secure a win at the opening round in his first full 450SX season and Justin Brayton show his front wheel to the three-time reigning champ in the next. Since racing is largely a mental game, starting strong on a clean slate can have a lasting effect. One rider, however, is looking to take a strong start from the beginning of this series only to apply it to championship hopes in a different series altogether. Anyone who watched the Phoenix SX noticed a three-digit rider take the 450SX main event holeshot—the first time we’ve see a three-digit bike that far up front since Mike Alessi took the #800 to the front last year in Houston. That rider, #102, is Australian Matt Moss, and he’s using the first six rounds of Monster Energy Supercross to stay sharp during Australia’s off-season. Moss’s main focus is carry the momentum from his recent Australian supercross championship into the Australian motocross nationals.

undefinedMatt Moss is essentially using the Monster Energy Supercross series as off-season training.
Simon Cudby photo

“It’s a pretty long break; it’s close to five or six months, and it’s summer back home. It’s Christmas time, it’s New Years, you’ve got all your mates back home and it’s hot. Everyone likes to go down to the pub and get on the beers, and I’m just trying to stay away from me mates,” he says with a laugh. “I just wanted to keep riding. I’ve had a great year and I want to keep building. My coach, my dad, my trainer and Dan Reardon—they thought it was a great idea [to go race in America]. I know it’s going to be a long year without a break, but I’m excited to see what the future holds.”

The talent pool in Australia isn’t as deep as it is here, so any decent finishes Moss has here should amplify his level of riding back home. And that’s exactly what he’s had after the first two rounds, having gone 13-11 amongst the deepest pack of riders in the world. Moss’s 11th in Phoenix may not seem superb after grabbing the main event holeshot, but you have to consider who he was battling with. Once things calmed down by the fifth lap, Moss settled into eighth place for six laps over the likes of Broc Tickle, Chad Reed and Ivan Tedesco.

“I was holding in there for a little bit. I made a couple mistakes, and being over here, there are so many good guys, so one little mistake is so crucial. I’m not quite used to that. In Australia, you can make a mistake and you might not get passed. Here, if you make one mistake, three guys will get past you,” Moss said following the race. “Getting the holeshot for someone who’s not quite up there yet, it’s probably the worst thing you can do. I rode really tight and tense. I was definitely holding my breath and wasn’t riding to my true potential, but it’s a learning curve and I’m getting better.”

But using the first six rounds of the Monster Energy Supercross series to get better comes with a price tag. Moss is here on his own dime, and coming here to race isn’t cheap. When asked what he was going to do with his holeshot money, he replied, “I’m going to spend it!” That $1,500 won’t be going towards a new set of truck rims, though. Instead, it will go right back into Moss’s American racing efforts. He’s receiving some help from Yoshimura Suzuki and Australian-based Campbell Mining, but maybe not as much as you’d think for someone who just won the Australian supercross championship and is pitting just outside of James Stewart’s setup.

undefinedMoss's time in the U.S. isn't a money-making venture,
but he's hoping it will help his odds in the Australian motocross nationals.
Simon Cudby photo

“Yoshimura gave me a motor. It’s not a factory motor by any means. I think it’s close to what Weston Peick rides, but it’s one that pretty much anyone can buy. I’m happy with it. Suzuki gave me the bike and Yoshimura gave me the parts. But I’ve paid for my own entries, paid for my own license, I have to pay for a mechanic to be there on the weekends, I have to pay for a trainer—pretty much everything I have to pay for. I wasn’t allowed to have factory suspension, so I went out and bought year-old Showa suspension, so hopefully that makes a difference on these American tracks. It’s not necessarily something we really need in Australia, but over here I think it’s a big advantage. So far it’s cost me about $15,000 and we’ve only done two rounds.”

Erin Normoyle and her boyfriend, Ryan, let Moss reside at their place in Southern California to help contain costs during his brief stint in the U.S., but even with their help he doesn’t foresee himself breaking even. Is Moss spending money out of pocket to try to get a ride Stateside? Is this an attempt to reel in sponsorships through the additional exposure?

“The reason I’m doing this is for myself, not for anyone else,” he says. “It’s just one of those things I want to do to prove myself and see where I’m at. Then I can go home, focus what I need to work on and start marking things off. The sponsors are getting exposure, which is a win-win for both of us, but this is mostly for me.”

Moss’s dedication to his personal goals is commendable, even if it doesn’t initially pay off financially. After the San Diego SX, he will head back to Australia to begin testing for the motocross nationals for four weeks. He’ll certainly be in contention for the championship if his results through the first couple rounds of supercross are any indication. And who knows, maybe his results will improve to the point where he starts turning some heads here.