Young 17 year-old privateer Caleb Ward has continued his mid-season run of form by taking overall honours at round seven of the 2014 Monster Energy MX Nationals at Conondale, Queensland.
Ward, who won the fifth round at Wanneroo in Western Australia, claimed wins in the first two races of the Motul MX2 class, which together with a 10th place finish in the final moto was enough to land him first outright.
"I got really good starts in the first two races and that really helped," Ward explained. "I then just road my own race, really relaxed and rode like I do at my home track and just focused on what I need to, had fun with the track and flowed with it.
"I got a bad start in the last one, the concrete goes about a metre past the gate, I spun on that a little bit , the bike then hooked up and wheelied a little bit and I had to pull the clutch in and everyone was gone by then so that was sort of disappointing.
"I copped a bit of roost in that last one coming through the field and ate a bit of dust but it was still a pretty good ride.
Fellow privateer Errol Willis improved throughout the day to register a sixth, fourth and second form his three races to finish second for the round, with Serco Yamaha pilot and series leader Luke Clout rounding out the podium (fourth, eighth and fourth).
"I am absolutely stoked to be back on the podium," Willis beamed, "I work my ass off during the week, not only to get here to the races but to also earn a living. I have been going backwards all year paying to be out here.
"My brother puts in ridiculous hours, my mum and dad are behind me 100% and the rest of my sponsors, AXIS motorsports, Yamaha, Pirelli, everyone who is there, we have put together a good team effort and to have something like this to pay off finally is really rewarding."
Josh Cachia (Penrite Honda Racing) and Hamish Harwood (CMR KTM Redbull Motorex) finished fourth and fifth respectively.
The opening MX2 moto for the day saw Ward claim the holeshot and move into a commanding lead.
He was followed by Berry Sweet Husqvarna's Daniel McCoy, Husqvarna Red Bull WIL Sport NZ Racing's Kayne Lamont, Harwood and SD3 Husqvarna's Luke Arbon.
There was chaos in the early part of the first lap when Clout was pushed off the track heading up one of the huge hills.
Unable to re-enter the same part of the track, Clout skipped a corner and approximately 20 metres of track, re-entering in 15th place thanks to an incurred 10-second penalty.
Ward quietly went about putting a big break on his rivals, with McCoy a fair way behind and another huge gap to their next rival.
By lap four, title contenders Lamont and Arbon were both out of the race ‰ÛÒ each of them breaking a wheel on the Suzuki leap.
Privateer Kale Makeham (Tunetech Racing KTM) who was fifth in the outright standings coming into the round, came to blows with fellow KTM rider Riley Graham ‰ÛÒ the pair both coming off just before the finish line on lap five.
With rivals falling by the wayside, Clout put in a wonderful performance to finish fourth in the moto, earning important points in his quest to become MX2 Australian Champion.
Ahead of him were Ward, Harwood and Brenden Harrison (Instant Security KTM), while McCoy was relegated back to fifth on the second last lap of the race.
In the second race of the day, Cachia had the honour of taking the holeshot and was battling hard on the opening lap to keep the lead from Ward.
It didn't last too long however, and when the plucky Honda rider went down soon after, Ward shot into a lead that never looked like being reeled in.
Cachia was never too far away in his battle for a podium place, with Lamont and Arbon ahead of him and Willis and Harrison in arrear.
While he never looked like catching Ward, Lamont rode a clever race ‰ÛÒ digging in and holding out for second.
A mishap on the final lap saw Arbon drop back from third into sixth, paving the way for Cachia to climb onto the podium ahead of Willis in fourth and Makeham in fifth.
Clout battled hard but could only manage eighth place when the chequered flag was waved.
For all the drama in the opening two motos, the third was far more straight-forward, with Arbon, Cachia and Willis settling into the top three positions early on.
It was the usual suspects among the front as Clout, Harwood, Lamont, Harrison and Makeham all battled it out in an effort to gain the extra points that could be crucial in the title battle.
Not much changed from the order they went out in, with Arbon claiming the win from Willis, Lamont, Clout and Harwood.
In the outright championship standings Clout has extended his lead at the top to 16 points, with Harwood in second and Arbon a further 27 points behind in third.
"To come out of the day with a podium and extend my lead it is pretty good." Clout stated. "I am looking forward to heading to Raymond Tce and getting a good consistent day."
The series now heads to Raymond Terrace in New South Wales for round eight, which takes place on 3 August.
For a full list of results, visit www.mxnationals.com.au.
1) Caleb Ward 91 (35, 35, 21)
2) Errol Willis 85 (25, 28, 32)
3) Luke Clout 79 (28, 23, 28)
4) Josh Cachia 78 (23, 30, 25)
5) Hamish Harwood 77 (32, 19, 26)
6) Jay Wilson 72 (24, 24, 24)
7) Brenden Harrison 65 (30, 12, 23)
8) Dylan Long 64 (22, 22, 20)
9) Kale Makeham 63 (15, 26, 22)?
10) Kayne Lamont 62 (DNF, 32, 30)
1) Luke Clout 463
2) Hamish Harwood 447
3) Luke Arbon 420
4) Caleb Ward 404
5) Brenden Harrison 399
6) Kale Makeham 397
7) Kayne Lamont 395
8) Jay Wilson 392
9) Errol Willis 325
10) Josh Cachia 235