Motocross

Motul MX Nationals Red Plate Holders Speak Ahead Of Launching Into Second Half Of 2016

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With the sixth instalment of the Motul MX Nationals just around the corner, points leaders in the Thor MX1, Motul MX2, and Pirelli MXD classes will head to Nowra with the added pressure of running red plates this weekend.

KTM Motocross Racing Team‰Ûªs Kirk Gibbs (MX1) Husqvarna mounted Nathan Crawford (MX2), and Husqvarna‰Ûªs Connor Tierney (MXD), will have a target on their back when racing resumes on Sunday ‰ÛÒ all three riders looking to maintain their championship leads, and fight off tough competition.

Below each rider discusses the pressure of leading a championship, what it‰Ûªs going to take to hold on to the points lead, and who exactly poses the biggest threat.

Kirk Gibbs ‰ÛÒ Thor MX1 Red plate holder
Kirk Gibbs
You‰Ûªre well schooled in leading an MX1 championship after holding the red plate for the entire season last year, is having the points lead this time round different?

Yeah it is. Last year after round one I pretty much had a ten-point lead, and it just kept getting bigger after every round, and then by the end I obviously had a decent gap on the field. This year, I think it‰Ûªs going to be a fight the whole way to the last moto. To have the red plate is good, but I definitely feel like it‰Ûªs going to be a tough fight.

You snatched up the red plate at Murray Bridge, and narrowly held on to it at Wanneroo to carry it into the break ‰ÛÒ It must give you some added confidence knowing that you‰Ûªve been able to maintain the points lead when the MX1 class is stacked with talent this year?

It was really good to walk away from Wanneroo with the red plate. If Dean Ferris had of stayed on in the final moto it could have been a different story points wise. Wanneroo was really the round that Dean and Todd (Waters) were really going to shine and I managed to capitalise on a few mistakes from both of them. I feel like from here on out, I‰Ûªve just got to keep plugging away and see how it all plays out.

Who is your biggest threat to the championship?

I think it‰Ûªs definitely Dean and Todd, and even Matt Moss is still in a position where he can threaten the title too. Dean has probably been the most dominant rider race win wise, but Todd is right there and he‰Ûªs not going away either. All of us don‰Ûªt seem to really want to separate from each other and it‰Ûªs only a point here, and a point there that we‰Ûªre giving away.

How are you feeling ahead of round six at Nowra?

I‰Ûªm looking forward to this weekend. Obviously Nowra is a tough track to race but I believe I‰Ûªll be a lot better this year ‰ÛÒ last year I broke my shoulder blade and had two weeks off the bike ahead of Nowra, so I was a bit rusty. Hopefully this year I can get some good starts because that is 100 per cent what you need at Nowra. I believe its a pretty simple track to go fast on, but racing on it is different. Having raced there last year I know what it takes so hopefully that plays into my favour this weekend.

Nathan Crawford ‰ÛÒ Motul MX2 Red plate holder
Nato Crawford
For the first time in your career, you snatched up the MX2 red plate at Wanneroo, what did it feel like to finally take control of an MX Nationals championship?

It‰Ûªs been pretty crazy actually, it didn‰Ûªt sink in for a while until I saw it on the bike and that moment was pretty cool for me. I‰Ûªve been racing at the MX Nationals for a few years now and throughout that time I‰Ûªve learnt a lot. It was a slow start to the year for me, I had only been on the bike for a month heading in to the first round so I‰Ûªve just been building. For me to walk into the five week break with the red plate felt really good.

Do you feel any more pressure than usual now having the red plate?

I guess it‰Ûªs just an image kind of thing having that red background. Everyone is out there with the one goal, and that‰Ûªs to win a championship, and right now I‰Ûªm in the hot seat. The pressure is there a little bit but I‰Ûªm just doing the best I can to make sure it doesn‰Ûªt effect my racing or my day to day program. It‰Ûªs there, but usually I cope pretty well with pressure so we‰Ûªll see how we go.

Who is your biggest threat to the championship?

I have always found Caleb Ward to be very competitive. Myself and him for some reason we always end up very close on the track. But in saying that, as we have seen this year there are a few guys that at any stage could win a moto. The MX2 class is stacked, and with people coming back from injuries after the break it‰Ûªs going to be full again.

How are you feeling ahead of round six at Nowra?

The five-week break has been good for me; I‰Ûªve got a lot of riding in. I know a few people are not a real fan of Nowra but I actually don‰Ûªt mind the track ‰ÛÒ I like that style, real tight and technical. So I guess we will see how it‰Ûªs prepped when we arrive and it should be a good weekend.

Connor Tierney ‰ÛÒ Pirelli MXD Red plate holder
Connor Tierney
You‰Ûªre the only rider this year to have led their respective championship from round one, which has been a new experience for you - how does it feel to have maintained the red plate for that long?

It was the goal from the start of the year, to get the red plate and keep it. It‰Ûªs been a whole different ball game having the red plate this season and not chasing it like I was last year. It‰Ûªs been a big learning curve, and it definitely helps having someone like Ryan Marmont in my corner mentoring me. He‰Ûªs done this for a long time, so the has helped me a lot so far this year.

Is it harder to lead the championship or chase it down?

I have a lot more to lose than anyone else. I still want to go out there and hang it all out during my motos, but I also have to hold myself back a bit, not make any mistakes and ride smart, so I think it is harder. You‰Ûªre the man to beat when you have the red plate so there‰Ûªs a bit more pressure for sure.

Who is your biggest threat to the championship?

I think speed wise, Mitchell Evans is probably my biggest competition. But Cooper Pozniak and Wade Kirkland have both been really consistent this year and that‰Ûªs what championships are about. It‰Ûªs hard to put one name to it, because everyone has been fast this year, but Jordan Hill and Mitchell Evans have been there a lot so far this season.

How are you feeling ahead of round six at Nowra?

I feel really good. My knee and really the whole body needed a bit of a rest during the break. I had a few weeks off at home in Western Australia and got to spend some time with my family ‰ÛÒ it was nice to relax and get away from the motocross scene a little bit. When I got back on the bike I was super keen and have got in a good few weeks of riding so I‰Ûªm feeling good going in to Nowra. It‰Ûªs sort of like a home track these days so I can‰Ûªt wait.

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