National Pump Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Matt Moss returned to his winning ways on track at Horsham, in Victoria, yesterday, taking the Motul MX Nationals Thor MX1 class win, and putting any doubts to rest once and for all.
The sole Kiwi in the competition, just-crowned New Zealand MX2 champion Hamish Harwood, from Takaka, at the top of the South Island, finished 13th and 6th in his two MX2 class races, good enough for him to settle at ninth overall after this opening round.
After a 15-minute practice session it was straight into qualifying for the MX1 class riders, and with five positions in Superpole up for grabs, the 450 machines fought hard to put down their quickest lap times.
And fight they did – 2015 defending MX1 champ Kirk Gibbs (KTM) shot to the top of the times with a 1:50.459 lap time, followed by National Pump Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Kade Mosig in second with a 1:50.591. Wilson’s Coolair Motul Factory Suzuki star Todd Waters was third fastest on track in the morning, followed by CDR Yamaha’s Dean Ferris and Crankt Protein Honda’s Jay Wilson who recorded the fourth and fifth fastest times respectively.
With the top five determined, it was straight into the first GoPro Superpole for 2016. CDR Yamaha’s Ferris shocked crowds when he was absent when bikes took off, and after four riders had put down their hot laps, it was Mosig who snatched up the fastest time with a 1:50.340. Waters was second fastest, followed by Gibbs and Wilson.
When the Thor MX1 riders entered the Rockwell launch area ahead of moto one, the anticipation grew as thousands of spectators watched on, wondering who out of the talented pack would take the race win. When gates dropped, it was CDR Yamaha’s Dan Reardon who snatched up the first holeshot for 2016, followed by Mosig and Ferris who slotted in to second and third behind him.
After only one lap in the books, Ferris moved past his team mate Reardon, and demanded control of the race – Mosig after one lap was a notable absentee from the front, dropping back to 12th position.
The battle that had fan’s eyes locked on the track though, was the fight for third position between Gibbs, Waters and Moss – the trio banging bars for a podium position, leaving no stone unturned.
After lap four, the running order changed dramatically, with Reardon sliding all the way back to fourth position, allowing KTM mounted Gibbs and Suzuki mounted Waters to fly past and snatch up second and third places behind Ferris.
When the Thor MX1 class reached the half way point in moto one, Ferris’ speed was unmatchable, leading from Gibbs and Waters in second and third. Following closely behind in fourth was Moss who had made his way around Reardon in fifth.
As racing progressed there was an exciting battle for the race lead, with KTM’s Gibbs showing that his offseason injury was clearly no longer an issue – putting the pressure on CDR Yamaha’s Ferris and proving that race one was not yet over.
However, no one was able to catch the lightening fast CDR machine of Ferris, who eventually took the race one win ahead of Gibbs (KTM) in second, and Moss who put on an outstanding performance to finish in third.
CDR Yamaha’s Reardon wrapped up his first race for 2016 in fourth, while Metcalfe managed to hold on to fifth position despite an in race penalty. In what was a shock finish outside the top five, Waters suffered a flat tyre which meant he eventually crossed the line in ninth, behind Mosig in sixth, and the Crankt Protein Honda Racing Team duo Dylan Long and Wilson who concluded race one in seventh and eighth places respectively.
When race two kicked off for the Thor MX1 class, National Pump Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Mosig was out for redemption, and managed to snatch up the second hole shot of the day, ahead of Gibbs and Moss who slotted in to second and third.
After one lap, spectators were hanging over the fence cheering, with the top four of Mosig, Moss, Ferris, and Gibbs were all within a bike-length of each other, treating the thousands of fans to an epic final Thor MX1 battle.
After only three laps there was a change to the lead, with Moss managing to get by his team-mate Mosig – relegating Mosig to second position, ahead of Ferris and Waters. Closely following the lead pack was Gibbs, DPH Motorsport’s Lawson Bopping, and Husqvarna mounted Brett Metcalfe.
Unfortunately for Ferris, a small mistake in the whoop section of the track, saw the CDR Yamaha rider go down, forcing him to drop back to seventh place and on a time limit to make up valuable positions.
By the time the race had reached the half way point, riders had settled in to their respective positions, with Moss continuing to lead the way from Mosig, Waters, Gibbs, and Metcalfe who had found his way into an impressive fifth position.
By lap eight, Mosig had dropped back to third position, after Waters made his way in to second. Mosig then came under fire from a hard charging Gibbs, who also managed to make his way around Mosig and move in to third.
As the race reached it’s closing stages, fans were once again treated to an exciting battle for second position, with Gibbs putting in a charge to find the rear wheel of Waters – the pair then banged bars for half a lap, before the defending MX1 champ made the move on Waters and moved in to second position.
By the time the last lap board was shown, Moss had a commanding lead on Gibbs, and was awarded the race win accordingly when the chequered flag flew. Second in moto two was taken by Gibbs, while Waters rounded out the moto two podium in third.
With a third place in race one, and the win in race two, Moss was awarded the Thor MX1 Round one win, ahead Gibbs in second, while Ferris wrapped up round one of the Motul MX Nationals in third.
“I didn’t expect to come here and do this, I really just wanted to run my own race, but it proves that I’ve been training and working hard, and also that what we’re doing as a team is working,” Moss said afterwards.
“There’s been a lot of people who have doubted me after last year, and a lot of people really wrote me off, this is proof that they’re all wrong – I want to win another championship, and that’s what I’m here to do.
“I really can’t thank the people who have stuck by me enough. A lot of people don’t understand this sport, or don’t realise what we have to do, but to the people who have stuck by me, I’m really happy I could do this for them.
“My team manager Troy Carroll understands how I work, and he’s worked me out as a person pretty quickly. I’m really happy that I got to battle with Gibbsy (Kirk Gibbs) and that after everyone talking, that we are the two guys standing here on the podium at round one.”
The Motul MX Nationals will now begin preparations for round two of the championship, being held at Appin in New South Wales on April 17.
In the MX2 class, KTM Motocross Racing Team’s Caleb Ward showcased his undeniable talent in the Motul MX2 class, taking the Motul MX Nationals round one win at Horsham.
The Motul MX2 class were the first bikes to hit the track in Horsham for their 25-minute practice and qualifying sessions, and when the green flag waived, signalling the commencement of qualifying, the front runners for the 2016 season were quickly determined.
At the conclusion of the 15-minute qualifying session DPH Motorsport’s Jed Beaton was awarded first gate pick in the Motul MX2 class, with a quick lap time of 1:56.773, ahead of Factory KTM’s newest recruit Ward, followed by National Pump Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Jake Moss who was handed third pick of the grid.
When race one for the Motul MX2 class kicked off, SD3 Husqvarna’s Luke Arbon took the first holeshot of 2016, and after one lap it was no surprise to see Davey Motorsport’s Jayden Rykers and Ward following Arbon closely behind in second and third places.
With 30 minutes to get the job done, Arbon began to separate himself from the group, while Rykers and Ward kept the fans guessing, going head to head for second position.
However, it wasn’t long before the race lead changed, with Ward shortly snatching away the race lead from Arbon, followed by Rykers in third, and Moss who found his way in to fourth.
By the half way mark, the running order saw Ward maintaining a healthy lead, followed by Rykers, Arbon, Moss, and Husqvarna mounted Nathan Crawford who rounded out the top five. Kyle Webster (CRF Honda Racing) managed to hold down sixth position, ahead of DPH Motorsport’s Beaton in seventh, whilst Raceline Pirelli KTM’s Dylan Wills maintained eighth place.
It was on lap nine that Moss proved that he’s back in business for 2016, making the pass on Arbon and slotting in to third position, relegating Arbon to fourth.
As the first race for the Motul MX2 class reached its closing stages, the battle for fourth between Arbon and Crawford kept fans on the edge of their seats – the pair going head to head for more than five laps.
But when the chequered flag flew it was Ward who crossed the line with the first Motul MX Nationals victory for 2016, taking a comfortable win ahead of Moss who put on an outstanding comeback performance to finish in second, while Crawford managed to get around both Arbon and Rykers to take the final Motul MX2 podium position (third).
When the Motul MX2 class lined up again after lunch, thousands had streamed through the gates at the Horsham venue, setting the scene for what was an epic final race.
It was Arbon’s SD3 Husqvarna machine was once again the bike into turn one first, and after one lap, the South Australian led from fellow Husqvarna rider Crawford, followed by Aaron Tanti.
However, it took no time for Moss to make his way to the front of the pack – by lap three the Kawasaki rider had slotted in to third position, forcing Tanti to drop positions.
With the Husqvarna mounted pair of Arbon and Crawford out in front, the focus then shifted to the exciting battle emerging for third position – despite Moss making his presence known, he was forced to fight off the hard charging Wilson Todd (Serco Yamaha) whilst DPH’s Beaton was also added to the mix.
By the time race two for the Motul MX2 class reached the half way point, Arbon continued to maintain his lead from Crawford in second, while Serco’s Todd and DPH Motorsport’s Beaton had both managed to make the pass on Moss, relegating the National Pump Monster Energy Kawasaki rider to fifth.
It was Serco’s Todd however, who caught the attention of the spectators, shooting up in to second position by lap seven, and beginning to apply the pressure on race leader Arbon. And it was only a matter of laps before the youngster took control of race two, snatching the race lead from Arbon with time to spare, and looking more and more comfortable out in front.
With three minutes remaining, Todd looked more in charge than ever – leaving the likes of Arbon, Crawford and Beaton to battle for the final podium positions behind him.
When the chequered flag flew Todd showed that despite being an MX2 rookie, that the pace was no problem, taking the moto two race win ahead of Beaton in second, and Crawford in third.
Both Moss and Ward wrapped up the final race of the day in fourth and fifth places respectively.
When points were tallied however, Ward’s fifth place in the final race was all that was required for the overall win, taking the Motul MX2 Round one win ahead of Crawford in second and Moss who rounded out the round one podium in third.
“I’m actually a bit surprised to be standing on the podium after my result in the last one – I got a terrible start in the second race and that made my job hard, but I’m really stoked to be standing here on the podium at round one that’s for sure,” Ward said.
Thor MX1 round one results and championship standings:
1) Matt Moss – 65 points
2) Kirk Gibbs – 64 points
3) Dean Ferris – 60 points
4) Kade Mosig – 56 points
5) Todd Waters – 54 points
6) Brett Metcalfe – 52 points
7) Daniel Reardon – 50 points
8) Dylan Long – 48 points
9) Jesse Dobson – 44 points
10) Jay Wilson – 43 points
Motul MX2 round one results and championship standings:
1) Caleb Ward – 61 points
2) Nathan Crawford – 60 points
3) Jake Moss – 60 points
4) Wilson Todd – 58 points
5) Jed Beaton – 57 points
6) Luke Arbon – 50 points
7) Jayden Rykers – 49 points
8) Kale Makeham – 44 points
9) Hamish Harwood – 43 points
10) Kyle Webster – 41 points
Photo by Jeff Crow
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