It looks like a game of musical chairs at the top of the MX1 class in Australia with the top two riders swapping positions at the weekend.
It was a history-making round for Suzuki’s Todd Waters, who secured his first 2016 MX1 round victory at round four of the Australian MX Nationals at Murray Bridge at the weekend, although KTM’s Kirk Gibbs has now taken over the series lead in the MX1 class and Yamaha’s Dean Ferris has slipped to second, albeit just one point behind.
It’s a straight swap of positions from where they’d started the day, when Gibbs had been one point behind Ferris.
Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Michael Menchi managed 12th and 14th in the two MX1 races and is remains 11th in the overall championship standings.
Another Kiwi rider Hamish Harwood (KTM), from Takaka, finished 17th and eighth in his two MX2 class races at Murray Bridge and has moved up from 11th to 10th in the championship standings.
The Thor MX1 class was nothing short of attention grabbing from the minute the 450cc machines roared to life at Murray Bridge on Sunday morning, and with only a single point separating Ferris from Gibbs in championship standings entering the round, every race proved to be crucial.
At the end of the MX1 qualifying session, it was Gibbs, Husqvarna’s Brett Metcalfe, Kawasaki’s Matt Moss, Ferris, and Waters who were the five riders to progress through to Superpole, and when each rider had put down their fastest individual laps, it was Ferris who not only maintained his championship lead but extended it by three points by taking the Superpole victory.
When the Thor MX1 riders head out for their sighting lap ahead of race one, the wind had picked up and the weather conditions looked to have taken a turn, adding an additional factor for riders to deal with in moto one.
When the gates dropped and the MX1 bikes launched down the straight, it was Kawasaki’s Kade Mosig who snatched up the holeshot and, despite suffering a huge crash at round three, held on to the race lead and was followed closely by Gibbs, Waters and Ferris.
With only two laps in the books, Mosig continued to hold off his hard charging competitors, while Gibbs in second began to feel the pressure of points leader Ferris who had made his way past Waters to move in to third.
With only five minutes of moto one run, thousands of spectators were treated to an epic battle for the race lead, with Gibbs finding Mosig’s rear wheel – however Gibbs was unable to make a pass stick, and within a lap Gibbs, Ferris, Metcalfe, and Waters were locked in to a four-way battle for second position, leaving the crowd guessing as to who would be able to make it stick.
After five laps, the top five positions had changed, with Waters on a lightening fast charge, finding his way past Ferris and Metcalfe to move on to the tail end of Gibbs, while Gibbs too had put the foot down, and began to close the gap on race leader Mosig.
However, it was Waters whose charge to the front proved to be unstoppable – making passes on both Gibbs and Mosig to move in to the race lead and take control of moto one.
By the time the MX1 class had reached the halfway mark, the running order saw Waters out in front followed by Mosig, Gibbs, Ferris, and local Metcalfe. Yamaha’s Dan Reardon, Moss, DPH Motorsport’s Jacob Wright, Honda’s Dylan Long and KTM’s Jesse Dobson completed the top 10 standings.
As moto one reached its final stages, and despite moving in to lapped traffic, Waters looked comfortable holding the MX1 race lead, however Mosig was in no way ready to settle for second position, and with just over five minutes remaining showcased his second wind and began to apply the pressure on Waters.
However, the attention quickly shifted back to the battle for third place, with Ferris making a late charge for additional championship points, passing closest threat Gibbs, and then joining the battle for the top spot with Waters and Mosig.
And with only one lap remaining, race one for the Thor MX1 class was set up to go down to the wire, with Waters, Mosig, Ferris and Gibbs all within striking distance of each other and hanging it all out in a bid to take the race one victory.
But when the chequered flag flew it was Waters who took a narrow victory from Mosig, while Ferris held on to finish third, followed by Gibbs who wrapped up race one in fourth.
When the second race of the day got underway for the Thor MX1 class, there were battles left right and centre as the championship standings tightened up, but to fans excitement it was local star Metcalfe who got to the early race lead, followed by Ferris and Gibbs who slotted in to second and third behind him.
With two laps in the books, Metcalfe looked in no way to be easing off the gas, continuing to lead from red plate holder Ferris, and Gibbs, while Waters also joined the party in fourth.
It was heading in to lap three that Ferris began to apply the pressure on Metcalfe, taking some drastically different lines in order to close the gap, but Metcalfe was not prepared to hand it to him, holding off the Yamaha mounted rider and putting on a performance for his home crowd.
By the halfway mark in moto two, the running order saw Metcalfe continue to lead from Ferris and Gibbs, while Waters maintained fourth position ahead of Moss. Race one second place getter Mosig looked comfortable in sixth position, while Wright, Long, Dobson, and Daniel Banks completed the top ten standings.
In what was a shock to onlookers, Ferris crashed on lap seven, forcing him to drop two positions, allowing Gibbs and Waters to inherit a position each and move in to second and third.
As the MX1 class approached the final stages in moto two, fans were treated to an exciting battle for the race lead, with former South Australian local Gibbs and Metcalfe going head to head in a heated on track battle, making it anyone’s guess as to who would take the final race victory. But by lap 14, with time to spare, Gibbs got the job done – making the pass on South Australian Metcalfe and moving in to the moto two race lead.
From there Gibbs was unstoppable, leading all the way to the finish and allowing the fight for remaining positions to happen behind him.
So when the chequered flag flew for the final time, it was Gibbs who wrapped up the final Thor MX1 moto for the day with the win, followed by Metcalfe who concluded his final nationals race for the year in second, while Waters wrapped up the final MX1 race of the day in third.
However, when points were calculated it was the 1,3 race results of Waters which awarded him his first Motul MX Nationals round victory for 2016, ahead of Gibbs who wrapped up round four in second as well as securing the MX1 championship points lead, while Metcalfe finished his last MX Nationals round in third place on the overall Thor MX1 podium.
“It feels awesome to finally get a round win here at Murray Bridge – we were close at Broadford but we got it done here today so I’m stoked,” said Waters afterwards.
“With a win in moto one, I just tried to ride a smart race in the second one – I knew that I just needed to get third so I did what I needed to do and finished with the round win.
“All of the boys are riding very well so it’s nice to finally get an overall, and now I’m just looking forward to getting in to some deep sand at Wanneroo next weekend.”
Murray Bridge turned it up for thousands of spectators, with KTM rider Caleb Ward returning to fine form and going undefeated at round four of the nationals.
After a 25-minute practice and qualifying session in the morning it was Yamaha’s Wilson Todd who topped the time sheets with a 1:46.942 lap, from Kiwi Hamish Harwood and Jake Moss, while red plate holder Jed Beaton wrapped up the morning’s qualifying session in 10th place.
When the gates dropped on race one, Ward snatched up the first holeshot for the day, however it was Husqvarna mounted Nathan Crawford who moved in to the race lead ahead of Ward after only two turns. Unfortunately for Yamaha’s Wade Hunter, a first turn pile up marked an early end to race one – Hunter leaving the track on his feet in the hands of Racesafe.
With three laps in the books Crawford, Ward, red plate holder Beaton and KTM’s Jayden Rykers began to break away from the field putting on an exciting performance for the top positions.
After nine minutes on track, spectators were treated to the battle they had been waiting for, with Ward finally closing in on Crawford and beginning to apply the pressure for first position. While the pair went head to head, Beaton dropped off the pace slightly, but remained comfortable in third position.
Fourth place remained occupied by KTM mounted Rykers, while Kawasaki’s Jake Moss completed the top five positions.
By the time the MX2 class had reached the six lap mark, Ward had gained control of moto one, making the move in to the lead and relegating Crawford to second position ahead of Beaton and Rykers.
From there, sand specialist Ward thrived in the Murray Bridge track conditions, stretching out his lead on the field, and ensuring that round four would prove that the bad luck the star experienced at Broadford was behind him.
By the time moto one for the Motul MX2 class had reached the half way mark, Ward continued to lead from Crawford, Beaton, Rykers and Moss. Todd managed to hold down sixth position, while Mitch Norris, Richie Evans, KTM’s Dylan Wills and Western Australian Dean Porter rounded out the top ten.
Despite looking comfortable in second position, a small crash from Crawford in the closing stages of the moto forced him to drop a position – and despite getting to his feet and continuing to circulate, Ward became untouchable out in front, leading from Beaton while Crawford dropped back to third.
And when the chequered flag flew it was KTM Motocross Racing Team’s Ward who crossed the finish line victorious, followed by Beaton who wrapped up moto one in second, and Crawford who recovered from his earlier mistake to finish race one in third.
With the Motul MX2 championship tightening up slighting after Ward’s moto one victory, when race two kicked off, the pressure was on – but it was Kawasaki mounted Moss who rose to the occasion and moved in to the early race lead, while Crawford and Ward followed closely behind.
After only one lap, the running order saw Moss continue to lead from Crawford and Ward, while Wills held down an impressive fourth position from Porter.
By the time the MX2 class had four laps in the books, fans were treated to an exciting performance from third place holder Ward, who applied significant pressure on Crawford and his Husqvarna machine for a whole lap, before making the pass and moving in to second where he began to eye off Moss.
And there was simply no stopping Ward from there onwards – after less than one minute of making the pass on Crawford, the northern Queenslander snatched away the race lead from Moss, which he would then defend to the end.
At the half way mark in moto two, Ward had stretched out his lead on Crawford who had also gotten by Moss, while the Kawasaki rider also began to come under fire from Porter and championship leader Beaton.
But it was DPH Motorsport’s Beaton who was determined to not only make a late charge to the front, but to finish on the MX2 round podium. Beaton then executed a pass on Porter in the front section of the track to move in to fourth position and begin to chase down Moss.
By the time riders received the last lap board in race two, it was clear that Ward was in the box seat to take his second race victory for the day, the crowd providing some extra incentive, cheering him on as he screamed past his fans.
So when the chequered flag flew for the final time today, Ward had plenty of reason to celebrate, taking the race two victory and a clean sweep at Murray Bridge, while Husqvarna mounted Crawford concluded moto two in second followed by Moss who held off Beaton to narrowly take third.
When the points from both motos were tallied, it was Ward who returned to form at Murray Bridge to go undefeated and take the round four victory, while Crawford closed in on Beaton’s points lead, finishing the round in second position, followed by Beaton who wrapped up racing today in third overall, and now holds on to the MX2 class lead by a single point.
© Photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
Find BikesportNZ.com on FACEBOOK here
RESULTS & STANDINGS:
MX1 round four results
1) Todd Waters – 65 points
2) Kirk Gibbs – 63 points
3) Brett Metcalfe – 58 points
4) Dean Ferris – 58 points
5) Kade Mosig – 57 points
6) Matt Moss – 50 points
7) Dylan Long – 46 points
8) Jacob Wright – 45 points
9) Daniel Banks – 41 points
10) Jamie Law – 38 points
Thor MX1 Championship Standings
1) Kirk Gibbs – 252 points
2) Dean Ferris – 251 points
3) Todd Waters – 247 points
4) Matt Moss – 228 points
5) Brett Metcalfe – 225 points
6) Kade Mosig – 187 points
7) Dylan Long – 185 points
8) Daniel Reardon – 171 points
9) Jay Wilson – 152 points
10) Jacob Wright – 151 points
MX2 round four results
1) Caleb Ward – 70 points
2) Nathan Crawford – 62 points
3) Jed Beaton – 60 points
4) Jake Moss – 55 points
5) Wilson Todd – 50 points
6) Dean Porter – 49 points
7) Dylan Wills – 49 points
8) Jayden Rykers – 44 points
9) Joel Wightman – 42 points
10) Richie Evans – 41 points
MX2 Championship Standings
1) Jed Beaton – 232 points
2) Nathan Crawford – 231 points
3) Jake Moss – 216 points
4) Caleb Ward – 212 points
5) Wilson Todd – 198 points
6) Jayden Rykers – 188 points
7) Kyle Webster – 174 points
8) Dylan Wills – 173 points
9) Richie Evans – 162 points
10) Hamish Harwood – 161 points