MIDWEEK MOTO 2019 Week 12 – Down Came the Rain

Author: Aaryn Minerds


DOWN CAME THE RAIN Well the 2019 Pirelli MX Nationals will undoubtedly go down as one of the most talked about opening rounds of the Australian Motocross Championship for quite some time as riders tried to tackle one of the muddiest, toughest tracks I have ever seen.

When we arrived at Appin on Saturday afternoon, there was a little drizzle about, there had been rain earlier in the day, but the track looked unreal. It was certainly wet and had a few soft spots, but if racing took place around 3 pm on Saturday, it would have formed up to be one of the best tracks going around.

About 7 pm on Saturday it starting raining, it had not stopped when we awoke at 7 am. We got a light reprieve then as the bikes started to line up for practice down it came again, and the rest is now a muddy history.

The MX2 class played the role of Guinea pigs, pumping out what turned out to be an 8 lap race, in terrible conditions that had both riders and bikes at their limits just to make it around.

The decision was made to let both the MXD class and MX1 class race one very shortened race each before the call was made to pull the pin on the rest of the day's racing.

The one thing we did learn, Todd Waters is very freaking quick in the mud!
Not much, for the most part, it really is hard to take to much away from the results from Sunday, apart from knowing who to put your money on if the heavens open again on race day this year.

In the MX1 class, DPH Husqvarna's eventual race winner, Todd Waters was outstanding in the mud. With the rain and the mud around the track, most of us photo hounds out there did not stray far from the start/finish area at Appin. I am not sure what was the biggest shock of the first lap was. The fact Waters was one of the last to roll through the first turn trying to wipe his goggles, why he was that far back already but still very clean, but the biggest shock was when the field came past at the end of the first lap and somehow he had already passed over 80% of the field!

Mellross who somehow is the only rider we know of who got penalised for riding outside of the marked track was also in outstanding form in the mud and after working his way past Justin Rodbell (A rider who might just surprise this year) rode away from everyone in the field bar Waters.

As we know, Kirk Gibbs rounded out the podium, behind him Brett Metcalfe who I can't remember laying eyes on once during the race snuck through for 4th, I don't have a single shot of Metcalfe on track, well I don't I have, it is hard to tell.

Jesse Dobson was a considerable standout coming through for 5th, one spot ahead of Rodbell in 6th, with the two having a quiet chat as Rodbell rode past after the race, then their two mechanics had a more lively discussion with a bit of finger pointing, but it all quietened down pretty quickly.

Tomas Ravenhorst would have to be happy to leave the opening round with a 7th place finish, while Joben Baldwin who I can't say I have heard of before would have to be just as pumped with a 9th place result, a fine result indeed.
Jesse Dobson is one of many riders who would be very happy to leave Appin with a bag full of championship points
Even the likes of Cody Dyce in 10th, Charlie Creech, Zak Small and Levi McManus, who all finished inside the top 14 on privateer machinery would be happy with what for most would be career-best results.

On the other hand, Luke Clout was probably looking for a better result than 8th at the opening round, though considering how bad things could have gone, 8th is not too bad and leaves him well in contention for a championship run.

While most of the pre-season favourites and riders expected to run near the front all season long walked away from Appin with a solid points haul; it was not the case for the likes of Richie Evans who finished down in 15th. Caleb Ward seemed to have a knack for finding the deepest muddiest lines on the track, which probably came from making sure he kept well inside the markers at all times, on at least two occasions I looked up to see him bogged, throttle wide open, slowly creeping uphill, the resulting 19th position was certainly not what he was chasing.

Worse off again was Dylan Long, The Empire Motorsports Kawasaki riders race was all but over in the first turn after becoming the meat in a John Prutti and Daniel Milner sandwich.

LIke Long, KTM Australia's Off-Road star Milner who is not a full-time rider in this championship, headed over to the race safe tent.

The MX2 riders took to the track first, there was only one clean rider by the time they exited the first turn!
Now it is fair to say the MX2 class had it tougher than the five-lap MXD race or 6 lap MX1 race.

The 250 class had the honour of the first gate drop of the 2019 season and set the tone for big holeshots followed by first turn carnage.

The MX2 eventual race winner, Jy Roberts completed 8 laps in just under 24 minutes, which included a stealth-like catch and pass on Jay Wilson who lead from the first corner until the last lap where Roberts past him and went on to win by just over 15 seconds, something the finishers and 90% of people at the venue did not realise as it was happening!

The track was already a slosh pit when the MX2 class hit the track, and it certainly took its toll on the smaller bikes. Their race was not only two laps longer, those extra two laps, resulting in a final race time that was close to six minutes and 40 seconds longer than the MX1 race.

Much like the MX1 class the majority of the riders who came into the season as pre-season championship considerations left the opening round with a decent haul of points.

Roberts who showed great promise last year has to be considered one the championship contenders in 2019 and along with Wilson, and Wilson Todd would be delighted to walk away with a podium in those conditions.

The likes of Nathan Crawford Cooper Pozniak and Dylan Wills, would not be too unhappy to escape with finishing 6th-8th respectively, while Aaron Tanti who was a stand out at round one last year, was able to salvage a 10th this year.

Kyle Webster is certainly not done and dusted for the season after a 15th place finish, but will need to peg some points back quickly, while last years MXD Champion Bailey Malkiewicz who finished up in 27th will have his work cut out to get back into contention.

Issac Ferguson and Riley Dukes made the most of the muddy conditions finishing in 4th and 5th and will be worth keeping an eye on in what is hopefully much better conditions at round two at Wonthaggi along with Whyatt Chase who finished 9th.

Who will take the title home in the MXD class this year? like all classes we will have to wait to round to for a clearer picture
Every year the biggest unknown class heading into round one is the MXD class. Chock full of talented up and coming riders, there is always a good battle between second-year racers and the newcomers who are fresh out of the junior ranks.

Unfortunately, with the conditions, we saw at Appin; we really don't have any answers to the question of who will be the next standout rider in this class.

While it will be hard to look past Appin race with Maximus Purvis, who was a consistent front runner and from memory even lead the MXD class championship at one point in time in 2018, round two will hopefully give us a much clearer picture of which riders have the outright raw speed, or the consistent front running speed to go on to content for this years MXD title.

The 65 Decision
While the Yamaha YZ65 cup riders didn't hit the track, they spent plenty of time racing a virtual track!
While the big boys took to the track, the wise decision was made to leave the YZ 65 Cup riders bikes tucked away in the pits for the day. While it certainly would have been disappointing for the kids, there was no way the majority of the young riders would have made it much further than the first turn.

There is no doubt some of the older, faster and experienced riders could have possibly made a lap or two, but it would have been tough.

Scroll down a little further for our experience at the event.

THREE HORSE RACE - After spending Sunday sloshing through the mud we finally made it back to a motel and tuned in to the 11th round of the 17 round Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship.
Cooper Webb is starting to look good as the man to take the 2019 Monster Energy supercross Championship
In my mind, this was a bit of a pivotal round for the championship and chances for any of the three pre-season favourite championship contenders to reel in the handy points lead Red Bull KTM's Cooper Webb has built himself.

After watching this round, it really looks like the only rider who may catch Webb is his team-mate Marvin Musquin.

Marv pulled back 5 points on Webb to move to within 14 points with six rounds remaining, very do-able and he looked as though he has Webb's pace.

For both Kawasaki's Eli Tomac and Honda's Ken Roczen, unless something changes very quickly, neither rider looks like they have what is needed to beat Webb consistently enough to reel in the points gap. Tomac, as expected, was super fast the week prior at Daytona, but unlike years past, he just does not look to poses that extra gear he seems to find when needed; at 21 points he certainly is not out of it, but watching Webb catch and pass him (Though that was a little questionable, though not an intentional track cut) but then gap him quickly, Tomac might have to rely on a Webb issue to bring back that points gap.

Ken for some reason does not look himself; his starts have not been on point the past few rounds, well most of this season and round 11 he started 8th and finished 8th, there was just no movement forward. He is 27 points behind Webb, which is more than a full winning points haul of 26 points.

It is getting down to the business end of the season, and it is looking like it will be a three horse race between Webb, Musquin and Tomac, but that could quickly turn into a two horse race if Tomac can't turn the table on the KTM duo this weekend.

Josh Strang - Stange went one better at round two of the 2019 AMSOIL GNCC finishing with a 5th place finish in Washington, Georgia after leading the field into the first turn.

b>Mackenzie Tricker - Tricker turned the tables on Jones to be the leading Aussie in the Women's class at the weekend GNCC race, but had to settle for second finishing behind American Becca Sheets.

Tayla Jones - Jones for the first time this year did not stand on the top step of the podium, while she did lead the GNCC race early, had to settle for the final step of the podium by race end.

Chad Reed - What could have been for Chad Reed. After a back of the field start for the Suzuki racer, Reed found himself in dead last after an early race crash. He then charged through the field and continued to make passes all the way to the final lap to finish with a great 11th place finish, he never quits!

Locky Kennedy - once again edged closer to his first night show in the East Coast 250 Supercross championship. After missing by 1.5 seconds last round, he was only .5 of a second off making it to the start gates this weekend, qualifying in 42nd position.

Dean Ferris - While not racing overseas just yet, as we all know Dean Ferris will line up for his first of three races for the Factory Yamaha team in the World Motocross Championship this weekend at Matterly Basin in the U.K. It's just another reason to subscribe to to cheer him on, along with Mitch Evans and Jed Beaton in the MX2 class, who knows, maybe a triple Aussie podium coming up early Monday morning!

There is no longer any reason to clean or re-oil your airfilters thanks to Unifilter Australia

We all want to feel like a pro rider some times, and while it's very very unlikely the majority of us will ever know what it feels like to run 'PRO SPEED' thanks to Unifilter Australia, we can get a little of that pro rider treatment in probably the best way possible!

Now, what is the one thing that sucks more than most about riding a dirt bike? Yep cleaning and then re-oiling your air filter. It's funny, it is a pretty simple job in a lot of ways, but for some reason, it is one of the most dreaded jobs we face as dirt bike riders.

The team at Unifilter understand this and have a range of filter packs, that go further than just sending your pre-oiled filters to run in your beloved bike, once you have spent the day riding, and dirtied the filter up you can send it back to Unifilter Australia and they will clean it, re-oil it and send it back to your doorstep! It does not get much better than that.

For close on 12 months, we have been running the O2 Rush Unifilters in our 2018 Yamaha YZ450F and have now moved them over to our 2019 YZ250F. Not only could we not be happier with the filters themselves, but the service from Unifilter has been A class.

While we did not do anywhere near the amount of riding we would have liked last year, after getting seven of the ten o2 Rush filters in our Pro Pack dirty, we sent them back in the pre-paid postbag. Sending them from Adelaide to New South Wales, I was expecting a bit of delay, but in just on seven days, the filters were back in my hands and ready to go again, along with the three clean filters we still had from the original pack.

For $389.95, not only do you have a continuous supply of clean, ready to go air-filters, at the end of the 12 months when the pack expires, you keep the ten air-filters!

It is one of those things that is a great time-saving investment, or a great present for that special moto someone in your life.

If you ride a little less, but still want the pleasure of never hafting to clean or oil an air-filter again, Club packs of five air-filters are also available and like the pro-pack and be sent back to Unifilter Australia as often as you like to have your filters serviced.

And best you, all Unifilters are Australian owned and made.

For more information on Unifilter air filter packs head to head to their website by CLICKING HERE

While not the news everyone was hoping for, the correct decision to cancel the racing for the YZ65 Cup was made.
It is fair to say the weekend we had planned did not go quite the way we had hoped, though that does not mean it was not a fun-filled weekend, though it did prove to be somewhat taxing!

The plan, in theory, was simple, leave my day job by 4.30pm on Friday afternoon load up Jayden's YZ65 along with fellow South Aussie Wil Carpenters bike, drive 400km to Mildura, sleep for 4-5 hours then travel the another 1000km to Appin to be at the track in time for the YZ65 Cup track walk.

Amazingly the thing I thought would be the toughest, getting out of work on time, proved to be the easiest part of the weekend and we even managed to shut the gates at 4 pm and get a bit of a headstart. Driving all day Saturday things were looking promising, we heard there was some rain at Appin, but as we approached 200km to go on Saturday, there was not a cloud in the sky, surely it could not be to bad right!

Arriving at the track on Saturday, it was clear the track had already taken on a lot of rain, and while the track certainly had a few soft spots, it looked in great shape, sure it would be tough for some of the smaller 65 riders, if it did not rain again things were looking great. The track walk with CDR Yamaha's Kirk Gibbs leading the way along with Luke Clout and the Serco Yamaha pairing of Nathan Crawford and Aaron Tanti was a huge hit with both the kids and the mini dads alike and we were then joined by the Yamalube Yamaha racing team and the WBR Yamaha team for a casual BBQ to finish off the day.

At 7 pm on Saturday, we were a few km down the road eating dinner at Campbelltown when the rain started; it did not stop all night. Arriving at the track in the morning I knew it would be unlikely that Jayden would be getting out on the track, that was confirmed more so when qualifying started, and the big bikes struggled to get around the track.

WEM and the organisers of the YZ65 Cup made the wise decision to postpone the first ride until after lunch, but just minutes later the rain started up again, and we knew then and there the day was done, for riding at least and that was soon confirmed with organisers making the smart decision to not put the 65s on track.

I think every young rider and their parents completely understood the decision, both WEM and the team from Yamaha were terrific with the way they handled the situation and the kids still had an absolute blast hanging out with each other all day and still managed to find their competitive spirit with some hotly contested racing going on the big screen as they took it in turns racing Supercross on a PlayStation. It was actually very cool to see that many kids of varying ages getting along, fully geared up in their riding gear, sitting around one TV screen playing Monster Energy Supercross 2.

Cheering each other on, or paying each other out if things were going wrong on the virtual track, it showed the passion all these kids have for the sport and even at such a young age they all have the moto lingo down pact, with plenty of bike noises being made and a competition to see who could through the biggest scrub mid-race!

I think every single one of the 30 odd YZ65 cup riders was hanging off the fence watching the first turn of each of the three moto's, they all spent time watching their fellow factory Yamaha counterparts they were pitted in the middle of for the duration of the weekend.

Yep despite the worst racing conditions I have witnessed in my time watching and racing over the past 17 or so years as an adult, despite being told they would not be able to ride, this group of 8-12 year old kids took it all in their stride and enjoyed a fantastic weekend thanks to the team at Yamaha Australia.

With the weekend over we loaded the bikes on to the back of the ute in the pouring rain and started the trek home, Jayden didn't ride, I did not have the big bank of photos from round one I could fall back on during the year when I need a stock shot of each rider, my wife / Jayden's mum who came along for the ride jumped back in the car with us and after another two days on the road we made it home, not with the weekend we had planned behind us, but still a weekend full of great memories that will talk about for years to come.

Now to decide which road trip we take, do we head to the Maitland round of the YZ65 Cup, or the big trip to Coolum!

A WEEK IN MOTION - A collection of video's and films from the past week

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