It finally arrived, the weekend so many of us have been waiting for , with the 2012 edition of the Monster Energy MX Nationals getting underway at Conondale in Qld.
The weekend started with a press day on Friday which seen riders lining up in the dark to do a little riding for the local news crews that were on hand. Something that was great for the sport but maybe a little more suited to bike with headlights!
Walking around in the pits on Saturday, it became pretty evident that there were a lot of teams scrambling to get everything finalised and ready to go racing on Sunday. Bikes were still being built, wheels were being put together and graphics were being laid on both bikes and trucks! At once stage I thought to myself that a wheel builder could have made some good coin at the track Saturday arvo!
Craig Anderson Racing only just got their truck organised in time for the opening round with the new logo that was freshly placed on the side looking the goods. Credit Garry Morrow
Craig Anderson's race team was one of the teams finalising his pit area on Saturday afternoon, with two weeks to the first round the team was still without a transporters. The old Coastal KTM truck became available a couple of weeks ago and Ando snatched it up and was able to get it wrapped in the new team colours with the switch to Yamaha and have it ready just in time for round one.
A rider who was not in a rush and belonging to a team that was ready to go was Scottish rider Billy Mackenzie. Mackenzie done something near unheard of in racing in the modern era and changed up his race number in the off season! We spoke to Mackenzie on the eve of the race and asked him about the change and how it feels having the spotlight off of him with Jay Marmont now on the team.
"Coming into this season has been good, Said Mackenzie, Jay has taken all of the spotlight off of me. He is the main guy now so it is great. He was the one who had to go down to launches, the tests and all the photo shoots. It has been good for me, I have been able to sit back and concentrate on my riding and my training."
I just got bored of 211" said Mackenzie on the switch of number. " I just see everyone keeping the same numbers and it is just getting boring. I used to enjoy it when I was a kid and all the riders came out at the start of the new year with fresh gear and new numbers giving them a whole new look"
"Plus I rode with number 18 back in 2001 and had a good year with it , it has got a good energy about it."
The Good the Bad and the Unfortunate
Some of the biggest highlights of the weekend started early, Lawson Bopping decided he would launch the new massive step up on the Conondale track, it was a crowd pleaser for sure and made Bopping an instant crowd favourite. Ben Townley also launched into orbit over the jump later in the day during racing, Videos of both jumps are below.
Lawson Bopping leap
Ben Townley Flys
Side Note: Townley's speed was unbelievable , there is no doubt he is ready for the AMA opener in just over a month's time.
The Conondale track looked unreal, it was my first trip to the venue and it really looked like the type of venue you would see on the world stage, with big jumps combined with natural hills all based on a grass track layout.
The depth of talent in all classes, while there were some clear winners out front in most classes, the talent behind is still first class with a lot of riders showing some great speed.
The pits are full of more team trucks than ever before, along with the big transporters from the factory supported teams, there was a plethora of small trucks with nearly every privateer team running a truck that would have seen factory teams envious off a few years back.
The new format to the race day worked well, with the back to back races early in the day followed by the long 30mintue type moto in the afternoon. The races are still based on laps with the total laps being based of how long it will take to do that many laps.
Jake Moss made a very solid return to racing in motocross in Australia, not much has been mentioned of his first round 4th place performance. He raced and fast and in control all day and will continue to get better as the season rolls on. A real quiet championship threat in my eyes (Az) - Image: Garry Morrow
The long final moto's were good and displayed some great racing with riders having the time to work their way back from bad starts or to show their superior fitness at the end of moto's. Trust me there were a lot of tired riders by the end of the MX2 and MX1 races.
The pre race advertising was more noticeable this year, a lot of people seen the commercial that was being shown on TV's major local regional stations. Though how the guy who finished second to last in the 30-39 vets class got his head on TV will never be known, sure he was a Serco Yamaha rider for the day but still the guys is nothing more than weekend hack when it comes to riding!
Injuries and heartbreak are always part of the sport, as reported this morning Shaun Redhead has had a terrible start to the season sustaining injuries that look to have him out of round two and pretty much dashed his chances of securing the MXD championship, though with a lot of races still to run and a lot of depth in the class, he may still be able to come back.
Ben George had a day he would rather forget, with bike problems in qualifying , he was unable to do a flying lap and with over 60 riders in the MXD class he was forced to watch the racing from the sidelines.
In the final race with riders missing due to injury, George lined up on the gate and raced to a 4th place position, though his points will not count and he was disqualified from the race. The race did show he will be a contender this season.
New Zealand MX2 championship runner up, Scott Columb had a much better day than his results show, he was battling up front in the third and final moto of the day when his rear tyre went flat forcing him out of the race.
The feedback we received via Twitter and Facebook showed the race fans at home were not happy with the reduced coverage of live race information coming from the track. An all new timing system is in place for 2012 and will provide some of the most in-depth lap by lap race information to be seen in Australian Motorsport racing. However being the first time the system had been used in Australian MX racing, there were a few little issues that were being ironed out.
Hopefully going into round two and beyond the fans at home will be able to view the results live as they happen on the new Tag Heuer timing system. We did see firsthand what it was capable off and it was more than impressive.
Kade Mosig's race day did not go to plan, after qualifying 5th fastest he was relegated back to having the last gate pick for race one due to his bike not getting to the staging area on time.
Danny Anderson (Left) returned to racing on the weekend, while Johnny McLean (Right) Managing Director & CEO of Lusty Industries provided countless Go Pro Cameras to capture all the action from round one, keep an eye on the Go Pro web site for some of the best Videos from round one. - Image: Garry Morrow
There seemed to be less Promo Girls than Normal and no 30 second board girl that I could see!
With plenty of coverage on the Nationals already up on the site and plenty more to come over the coming days, we will leave the nationals with one of the strangest incidents of the day. At the end of the first MX1 race riders were slowly making their way off the track which was to the left after the finish line jump.
Jay Marmont and Daniel Reardon were about to turn off the track when Darryll King fighting for 11th place launched over the finish line, with not enough room to pull up , King slammed into the back of the two riders putting all three of them down in a heap.
King come out of the incident the worst and was not able to continue riding for the day, While Marmont and Reardon where a little beaten up by were able to line up for the race that immediately followed.
As strange as the race end was in the MX1 class was, I do not think it tops Justin Barcia's effort after the conclusion to the Lites Supercross race at the Monster Energy AMA race on the weekend.
After leading the whole race Barcia came together with a lapped rider Lance Vincent on the final lap taking him down and relegating the Geiko Honda rider to second place. Still angered after he crossed the line, Barcia has reportedly ridden back around to the fallen rider who was being attended by Medics and Roosted everyone! The AMA was not impressed and issued Barcia with a $5000 fine.
Video of Barcia's and Vincent's last lap crash
As reported on the weekend Villopoto Wrapped up his second straight AMA Supercross championship over the weekend. It was also noted that Villopoto has won exactly 50% of his Supercross races since moving up to the big boy class with that percentage sure to grow over the final four rounds.
Injuries continue to mount in the AMA and just looking at the results sheet in the Supercross class shows how many top level riders are currently out of the series.
There are a lot of riders who were struggling to qualify for the main event at round one who are now deep inside the top ten. James Stewart returned from injury on the weekend but was quickly back out of the main even with another massive crash, while Kevin Windham didn't make it through his heat race after going down hard, both crashes can be viewed below.
Kdub's heat race crash
James Main Event Crash
While on the topic of the AMA, Australia's most successful AMA racers tweeted some good news earlier today, Chad Reed has ditched his crutches as he continues to re cooperate from his nasty injuries.
Michael Byrne is set to return to the track this week, with him tweeting that he has the all clear to ride, I doubt we will see the Suzuki mounted rider at the final races of the Supercross season but hopefully he will be ready to go come round one of the Outdoors.
Another international Australian rider returning to the track this week is Dean Ferris, he posted a picture earlier this week of his heavily bruised elbow, and he is ready to ride again, though he is still not planning to ride at round one of the World MX Championships starting this coming weekend.
Fullnoise.com.au will once again keep a close eye on the world stage and keep you updated all season on how the European based world championship is progressing.
The Speedway world championship also kicked off over the weekend in New Zealand with the two Aussie riders not having their best nights, Jason Crump finished in a very respectable 6th place while Chris Holder finished in 14th with just four points.
It really was and actioned packed weekend on dirt, with Rounds 3 and 4 of the Australian Off Road series also being ran in Wonthaggi Victoria. Toby Price continued on his winning ways and now holds a handy little point's lead. With a bit of break in the series Price has headed over to America , we are not sure of his plane over there at the moment but we will see what we can find out.
Keep an eye on the site over the course of the week as we continue to cover the Australian off road Racing championship.
Finally a big congratulation has to be sent out to World renowned Freestyle rider, Cameron Sinclair, with information coming out over the weekend that he and his wife Brooke are expecting their first child later this year.
That is all for a long edition of Tuesday Track Talk !
Main photo: National level Motocross racing returned to Conondale over the weekend at the opening round of the 2012 Monster Energy MX Nationals. Credit: Garry Morrow:
The Choice Motorsports KTM team bourght along their own beer for the weekend, it looks like it was some good beer; or as our good Kiwi friend Ricey would say "that's some Choice Beer Bro" - Image: Garry Morrow