Motocross

No titles but still a strong year for Monster Energy Kawasaki

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As the dust settled at the MX Pines Motocross track in Coolum, QLD on Sunday 31 July, Monster Energy Kawasaki walked away from the 2011 Rockstar MX Nationals with a podium in both the Pro Open and Pro Lites classes.

Billy Mackenzie rode to a 2nd place finish for the round to take 3rd in the Championship in the Opens class and Phil Nicoletti continued his late series charge to take 4th for the round and 3rd in the Lites Championship. After holding the series leading Red Plate for the majority of the series, Opens rider Dean Ferris was forced to retire early from a round for the second week in a row resulting in a 4th place finish at series end.

With his 3rd place finish at the Australian MX Championship this year, Billy Mackenzie adds more silverware to an already highly decorated career that includes World GP victories however he is the first to concede that the Championship didn't go entirely as he had planned. His renowned and demoralising speed throughout the series resulted in multiple race and round wins however it was to be the injury hampered rounds that cost the Scotsman the Championship. Mackenzie rode strong at Coolum to take 2nd place for the round, securing himself a podium finish to the series.

"This series for me wasn't the best. I really wanted to win the Championship after finishing 2nd last year," Mackenzie said. "The competition was strong this year and we made too many mistakes. I picked up three injuries this year and had three bad rounds so it's been tough but we came away with 3rd in the Championship and made the best of a bad situation. I had a blast though, it's been a fun year."
Dean Ferris was a serious contender until injury halted his progress with a round to go. Photo: Shayne Rice
Away from family and on board a new motorcycle, it wasn't all roses for Lites rider Phil Nicoletti during his sojourn to Australia to compete with Monster Energy Kawasaki throughout the 2011 MX series. The New York native should hold his head high though with a 3rd place finish to the Championship in the Lites class. Although it took a few rounds to "get into the swing of things", once Nicoletti hit his strides, he was near unstoppable earning numerous race and round wins all the while doing it with speed and style. Nicoletti did what he had to do at Coolum to secure himself a podium finish to the series finishing the final round in 4th.

"I struggled at the beginning of the season, I think after Murray Bridge, I was 11th in points and then we went on a real tear there, I won a lot of motos and got an overall," Nicoletti reflected. "I worked my way up to 3rd in the Championship and I'm happy with it. You know I wasn't really brought down here for 3rd place but you know it is what it is and I'll deal with it."

"I'd like to come back here next year and ride a 450. I'll have to see with teams and that, I'd like to ride Supercross too this year. I like it down here, I like the people and it's a good suit for me," he concluded.

Dean Ferris, who was the Red Plate holder for the majority of the series, had to settle for 4th in the Championship after DNFs at the final two rounds robbed him of the Pro Open Australian Championship. After missing out on many points due to injury in the final two motos at Moree, Ferris came out firing with a heavily strapped thumb to qualify in pole at Coolum. A crash in the third race at Coolum resulting in a second trip to hospital in as many weeks put an end to his MX season and Ferris is now focussing on the upcoming Monster Energy SuperX series.

Upon his return from hospital following the Coolum round, Dean Ferris said, "I went down in the start of race three, I went down in the first turn with Josh Coppins and that ended our day. We both got carted off to hospital, Josh with maybe a dislocated shoulder and I had some internal injuries that had to get checked out. There are no severe injuries. I just coughed up a bit of blood and peed a bit of blood but they cleared me from hospital and said I'm fine to go."

"If I stay in Australia next year, I'll win the Championship for Monster Energy Kawasaki!"

Monster Energy Kawasaki Team Manager Troy Carroll added, "We struggled with Phil Nicoletti a bit at the start of the year but he came good and won a lot of races. I believe if he comes back next year he'd do a lot better again. It was an up and down year with him but at the end of the day, we still got 3rd so that still means a lot to us. Dean Ferris was unlucky, very unlucky at the last two rounds. Dean had a lot of speed and was getting stronger towards the end of the season but Moree was the breakdown for us. We're hoping he can recover from this and do some damage at Supercross."

"I think Billy could've done a lot better than he did. Billy's a strong rider and I've got a lot of faith in that guy and his outright speed is amazing. I think things just didn't click properly for him this year. Definitely next year we'll come back and give it another go if he wants to be here. Bring on SuperX."

The Monster Energy Kawasaki riders head off in different directions over the coming weeks. Billy Mackenzie heads home to the UK to see family and to compete in selected races including the British GP. Dean Ferris takes a little time off to rest after going under the knife on Monday night to reattach the ligaments in his thumb. Ferris plans on heading over to Europe to watch some European GPs and with his contract coming to an end, Phil Nicoletti says goodbye to Australia‰Û_for now, returning home to New York this Wednesday. Monster Energy Kawasaki wishes him nothing but greatness and thanks him for the success he brought the team.

Billy Mackenzie and Dean Ferris are looking forward to racing (in the Opens and Lites classes respectively) at the 1st round of the 2011 Monster Energy SuperX Championship in Melbourne on 22 October.

Main Photo: Billy Mackenzie on the gas at Coolum
Photo: Shayne Rice - Rice Photography
After a slow start Phil Nicoletti picked up pace but the championship leaders where already gone by then. Photo: Shayne Rice

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