This weekend it is the seventh round of 10 in this year’s Australian Motocross Championships, set for Shepparton, in country Victoria on Sunday, and it’s crunch time for title hopefuls.
With Yamaha’s Dean Ferris currently running away with the MX1 class, his rivals are going to need some extra effort this weekend to try and peg him back.
KTM rider and former MX1 national champion Kirk Gibbs is second in the class, but a massive 61 points adrift of Ferris.
Yamaha’s Wilson Todd leads the MX2 class, but by only five points from fellow Yamaha man Mitchell Evans.
What is interesting here for the Kiwi fans is that New Zealand MX2 champion Hamish Harwood is fifth in the MX2 class, but only 35 points separate the top five riders.
Takaka’s Harwood will be looking to move back into a top-three position this weekend.
Here are some of the things to look out for at Shepparton:
If there is one thing that divides a group of talented riders, it’s whether or not they have the ability to start on concrete. This weekend Shepparton will mark the only concrete start on the Motul MX Nationals calendar, and with most riders having limited access to a concrete pad to practice on, quite often starts are a roll of the dice on race day at the country Victorian venue. This weekend a jump off the gate is going to be more important than ever – combine the hard surface start with a right hand first turn and you have a challenge on your hands before the race has even begun… perfect for spectators, and a rider’s biggest obstacle.
Over the past two years, one thing that we have seen consistently at Shepparton is ruts as deep as the rider’s themselves. Blink and you could lose one of the athletes in a turn, meaning if you can’t ride ruts, you’re in for one difficult weekend of racing. With the start proving to be the most important, ruts come a close second at Shepparton. Riders will need to pick their lines carefully on Sunday, because once you’re in a rut here there’s no getting out of it.
Gelling with the track
When you get to Shepparton you want to be at your peak because if there’s one track that you don’t want to have an ‘off day’ at, it’s at Round 7. With the circuit being one of the most technically challenging on the calendar, then throw in sub zero weather conditions, and Shepparton challenges riders who 99% of the time rarely put a foot wrong. To be successful this weekend, riders will need focus, they will need to be sharp and have the ability to make decisions quick. With upwards of ten lines per turn, options at Shepparton are a plenty, but in order to finish on top it will be efficient riding and decision making that will set the winners apart from the rest on Sunday.
With only three rounds remaining after this weekend’s Shepparton outing, it’s getting to crunch time in the MX1 and MX2 championship classes.
If Ferris plays his cards right within a few rounds he could quite possibly wrap up the title early, but have an off day and things could turn around very quickly, so the CDR Yamaha rider will be hoping to bring his ‘A Game’ to Shepparton on Sunday. Meanwhile in the Motul MX2 category things are just firing up. We have already seen multiple red plate holders, and neither Todd nor Evans will want to put a foot wrong this weekend. Finally, the Pirelli MXD category only has a single round remaining after this weekend, meaning this Sunday will set them up for their decider at Port Macquarie. Currently Jy Roberts holds the red plate with 12 points up his sleeve, but with Cody Dyce nipping at his heels, he too will be praying he turns up to Shepparton fully prepared and ready to make one final dash at the Under 19’s Championship.
Finally, contracts. With the end of the season fast approaching, team mangers are looking at the time sheets closer than ever. By now, any ‘luck’ rider’s had relied on has worn off, and success is built Monday to Friday when they aren’t at the races, and one thing’s for sure, teams will notice. Round 7 is when the subject of ‘signing on’ gets well and truly thrown around – whether it’s staying put with the team they’re with, exploring options elsewhere, trying to land the first factory ride, or clutching at straws to retain a seat, this is one round where you put a foot wrong and things could change quickly, but put a foot right and the chequebook and dotted line for 2018 could quite possibly become a reality.
© Photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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Thor MX1 Championship Standings
1) Dean Ferris – 427 points – Yamaha
2) Kirk Gibbs – 366 points – KTM
3) Kade Mosig – 329 points – Yamaha
4) Luke Styke – 310 points – KTM
5) Todd Waters – 304 points – Honda
6) Luke Clout – 277 points – Honda
7) Kyle Peters – 276 points – Suzuki
8) Brett Metcalfe – 239 points – Kawasaki
9) Aleksandr Tonkov – 218 points – Kawasaki
10) Keiron Hall – 216 points – Husqvarna
Motul MX2 Championship Standings
1) Wilson Todd – 362 points – Yamaha
2) Mitchell Evans – 357 points – Yamaha
3) Egan Mastin – 344 points – KTM
4) Jackson Richardson – 343 points – Yamaha
5) Hamish Harwood – 327 points – KTM
6) Dylan Wills – 286 points – Husqvarna
7) Kyle Webster – 284 points – Honda
8) Jayden Rykers – 266 points – KTM
9) Richie Evans – 253 points – Yamaha
10) Aaron Tanti – 232 points – Yamaha