When Yamaha Australia first released the all-new YZ65 on to the Australian market, they promised they would have some very fresh and unique ways of promoting their bike that would completely change the face of junior racing, not just here in Australia but around the world.
Yamaha first delivered on that promise, with a nationwide launch of their bike in a way no other brand has launched a mini bike that I can remember, hosting ride days across the nation that allowed junior riders to test out their all-new beast for themselves. The Yamaha Demo Days proved to be a big hit, and it was not long before a healthy dose of Yamaha Blue started to appear on the start gates.
To keep the ball rolling, Yamaha Australia announced two YZ65 Cup races, two events that were ran in conjunction with the Pirelli MX Nationals, allowing Yamaha YZ65 owners/riders a money could not buy experience, riding on the same tracks as their MX idols, on the same race day, something almost unseen for a class of riders aged between 7 and 12 years of age.
The first YZ65 was held at Ranch MX and proved to be a huge success, and by the time the second event rolled around at Coolum at the final round of the 2018 MX Nationals, a full gate of 40 riders lined up to create a see of Blue bikes on the iconic Australia track.
We were lucky enough to get an invitation to the Coolum event, with our Very own YZ65 rider Jayden Minerds getting the chance to not only ride a YZ65 on the demanding Coolum layout but also an opportunity to meet some of his favourite racers, tour the Factory rigs and hang out with another 39 like minded riders who were all enjoying the same great journey.
Read below an overview of our time at the Coolum YZ65 Cup.
Not long after taking ownership of his very first 65, we were sent an invitation from Yamaha Australia to be part of the second YZ65 cup being run alongside the final round of the 2018 Pirelli MX Nationals at Coolum.
Now I have ridden the Coolum track myself at the final round of the MX Nationals in the Vets class and knew full well the track would be the hardest track Jayden would have tackled in his short riding time and maybe one of the toughest he will ever tackle. The layout is super fun but gets incredibly rough and rutted, and for someone who had only been riding a 65 for a couple of months at the most, it was sure to be a challenge.
But with the YZ65 cup offering so much more than just a chance to ride one of Australia's best-known tracks, we took the opportunity and enjoyed what turned out to be one heck of an experience, added to the fact that Jayden, along with his sister and mum already had flights booked for a family holiday up to Queensland that weekend, it only made sense for me to take a couple of days away from my day job and join them and take the opportunity to see what the YZ65 cup was all about first hand.
With only a short amount of time to get organised and no chance of being able to arrange to get our own YZ65 from South Australia to Queensland for the event, Yamaha Australia we kind enough to lend us a bike for the weekend, leaving us to just unbolt the plastics from our Fullnoise YZ65 and pack them in the gear bag for the flight across.
With our flights already pre-booked before the announcement of the YZ65 cup, we missed out on the first part of the experience on Friday afternoon, which included a track walk with none other than the Monster Energy CDR Yamaha racing team, with both Dean Ferris and Dylan Long leading the riders around the track, while answering questions and giving advice.
When we arrived at the track on Saturday morning, we were greeted by both Matthew Ferry and Nick Marshall, the two key men behind the YZ65 concept and putting the whole show together, and shown to where our bike was parked.
The set up for the junior riders was mind-blowing, Yamaha had to trucks on hand with full awnings, with all 40 YZ65s pitted under the two trucks. Alongside the YZ65 cup riders, Yamaha Australia's Junior team riders who were racing the Junior Lites races for the weekend were pitted, with a full display of the entire line up of Yamaha Off-Road bikes and a GYTR and Yamalube display on the opposite side.
Another great bonus for the young riders was the support of the Yamaha's official Off-Raod racing team, with the Active8 Yamalube team manager and mechanic on hand to help with everything from changing tyres to washing bikes, yes the great AJ Roberts would have washed over 100 bikes for the weekend and changed countless tyres at an event his team was not racing.
Before riding got underway, there was a riders brief for all YZ65 cup riders that proved to be an excellent insight for the riders on hand. If gave them the chance to listen to WEM's Kevin Wiliams who gave them an insight on to the expectations from the riders in the senior classes, which the young riders themselves would have to follow, including making sure they were at the staging area on time, heading out and picking their own gate themselves and preparing it and the knowledge that while the YZ65 cup riders were here to ride, that track would be fully prepared for the MX Nationals riders who were contesting their final round for the year, so we all knew what we were in for.
Saturday provided three Chances for the YZ65 cup riders to ride the track, with a practice session mid-morning, followed by their first two races for the weekend.
From the get-go, the track proved to be tough for the majority of the younger riders who were on hand, while some of the older riders in the class showed their future potential handling the gnarly rough conditions with style.
For Jayden it was a great learning experience, he had only just learned to change gears on a flat, smooth surface, doing it on this track was proving challenging, and like most of the 7-8-year-olds on track he had his fair share of tip-overs throughout the day, but each and every time he got up and kept going. It really was a sight to see, watching 40 riders of varying age, experience and ability riding a national level track and something I am sure each and every rider will never forget.
While the kids were enjoying the on-track action, the parents of the riders were treated to some fantastic hospitality from Yamaha, with a huge marquee set up alongside the start straight providing great viewing of the track, not just to watch our little ones ride, but to watch all the racing across the weekend, with Woodfire Pizza for lunch, and the addition of two big widescreen televisions that were broadcasting the action live via the NRGTV live stream.
While the on-track action was enjoyed by all riders, the afternoon proved to be a hit with both the parents, riders and the Factory Yamaha teams themselves.
Riders and parents were treated to a tour through both the Serco Yamaha race truck and also the CDR Yamaha team truck, with photo and autograph sessions with all the factory Yamaha riders, that experience itself was worth the trip to this event.
With the truck tours over, it was time to head back to Yamaha central in the middle of the Coolum pit area for the evening's festivities.
With every YZ65 cup rider and their families, all team members of each of the factory teams, from riders and team owners, mechanics, truck drivers and team helpers in attendance along with Yamaha Australia staff, the evenings festivities kicked off, starting with a BBQ that was being cooked by none other than Craig Dack, Dean Ferris and Dylan Long, yep CDR Royalty was cooking up a storm for the kids.
With dinner being eaten, Kevin Williams introduced a line up of Yamaha legends to interview about their time with the brand, with the likes of Stephen Gall, Craig Dack, Dean Ferris, Cameron Taylor and more all giving a great insight about the time they have spent with the bLU cRU over many years.
The night then finished with a huge giveaway, with each and every YZ65 Cup riders having the opportunity to pick something up from the massive array of products on offer. Everything from signed Dean Ferris championship winning #1 plates, Dean Ferris signed Hoodies and Tees, sets of Yamaha riding gear, GYTR hard parts and more, it is fair to say the kids were more than a little excited.
Jayden along with all the other kids had scoped out what was on offer; I had a quiet word to Jayden... Hey, mate check out all those Dean Ferris signed plates and jumpers, but you pick what you want...
So he did, with his name being called out third and with Ferris still at the table standing with a signed Hoody in his hand, Jayden walked up to the table, straight by Dean and straight over to a pair of Scott goggles with Roll-Offs! The exact pair he had sitting back at home in Adelaide.
Ahhh that's my kid lol. He came back, and I asked why the goggles? He is a huge Ferris fan, and I thought he would have dived for something signed by Dean to put up on his bedroom wall, but the kid is a little too logical at times.
He looked at me and said "dad, you left my roll-offs at home, I keep getting roosted, so I got these" fair enough kid.
I then witnessed another act of kindness. We were standing around eating our second or so hotdog for dinner, when another young rider, a little older than Jayden came up and gave him a set of Yamaha gloves he just picked up from the table. I looked at the boy and asked are you sure; he said yeah they are too small for me so Jayden can have them. Jayden offered the goggles in return, but the cool little kid would not take them. It was refreshing to see.
With Saturday over, Sunday morning rocked around, and we headed back to the track to take in the day.
Sunday was all about the Pro riders; it was their final round of racing for the year. However, the YZ65 cup riders still had two more rides on the Coolum track that was going to be even rougher and tougher than the day before.
With the track still soaking wet in the morning for the first YZ65 cup ride, Jayden decided to sit it out, size was not on his side, and it was going to be tough on him.
He then talked himself out of riding the second ride later in the race, I tried everything to convince him just to go out and have some fun, but to no avail. It was his decision, and I had to go and take some photos of the racing in the main classes, so headed out.
Halfway through the first MX1 moto for the day, with the YZ65's due out on the line straight after the race, I got a phone call from my wife, "He changed his mind he is going to ride." Youn Seth Carpenter helped him get his gear on and took his bike to the staging area with him where I met up with them, cheers Seth.
The 40 riders lined up for their last ride, gassed it down the straight and off they went. The track was the roughest it had been all weekend for the little guys and gals, but they put in a great effort to get around the shortened track and finish off the event.
Every rider came in with a smile from ear to ear, sure it had been tough, but what an experience.
Jay came back to the pits last; I ran over to catch him as he came in, he still could not quite touch the ground on the 65. He pulled his helmet off, and his face was read, he had spent all his remaining energy getting around the track, but his smile was huge, and it all stemmed from the self-satisfaction for going out and doing something he thought was going to be too hard.
Our first YZ65 Cup experience was over, it was an absolute blast, and Yamaha Australia and every single person who worked to make these events happen in 2018 should be proud of what they have achieved. It really was a money can't buy experience.
The two YZ65 Cup motocross events were not the only two events for this year either, Yamaha came together with Troy Bayliss events to hold two YZ65 SX Cup events, giving 10-12-year-old riders their first taste of riding a Supercross track at both the Geelong and Adelaide events.
At the time of writing this, I had just watched the Geelong event and am about to drive down the road to watch take in the Adelaide round. The experience for the young riders at Geelong was again one they will never forget, riding in front of 11,000 people under lights in the middle of an AFL Stadium, yep that is what young MX dreams are made of.
And stay tuned for next year, I have a feeling this is not the last we have seen from Yamaha and the YZ65 Cup, hopefully more young riders continue to get the great opportunity we had this year in the coming years. We will certainly be back at any YZ65 Cup event held in the future.
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