THE opening round of the 2013 Monster Energy MX Nationals kicks off at Raymond Terrace on April the 14th and with an all new race format and a heap of riders swapping teams.
With new riders also entering the championship now is as good a time as any to see how this season could play out.
The 450cc MX1 class has more potential moto winners than you can poke a stick at but as far as true championship contenders the list narrows substantially. 2012 MX2 Champion Ford Dale will be on the Carlton Dry Honda CRF450 for 2013 and there is nothing surer that Dale will contest for moto wins and perhaps even round wins this season, but whether he can be consistent over a full 10 rounds is probably a long shot. I look for Dale to move to being a championship contender in 2014.
Ford’s team-mate Ben Townley absolutely smashed everyone at the opening round of the 2012 championship but has been struggling to stay on the bike since, with a big crash at round two of the 2012 MXN series then another at round one of the 2013 New Zealand Championships. So, like Dale I have Townley down as a moto winner and perhaps a round winner but he will need to gain some confidence and consistency to be in the championship chase by season end. The most successful MX1 team in the paddock is CDR Yamaha and this year Lawson Bopping and Billy Mackenzie have the task of taking the team’s winning streak to an amazing six MX1 Championships in a row.
Bopping has proved himself a race and round winner when he is in top form and I expect the same in 2013, while Mackenzie is looking sharp on the Yamaha so far with good results over in New Zealand. But unless the former GP winner gets a little more consistency in his racing there is little hope for Dacka spraying champagne in 2013. Troy Carroll’s Monster Energy Kawasaki team has a very determined Jay Marmont swinging off their potent KX450F and after a tough 2012 motocross season I am expecting the four time MX1 champion to come out swinging in 2013. He will definitely be a championship contender, while his team-mate Adam Monea will simply be getting his feet wet in the big class this season.
KTM team riders Todd Waters and Kirk Gibbs have been spending endless hours testing the new KTM 450 SX-F as well as racing in the New Zealand Motocross Championships and there is nothing surer that Waters will be a favourite to go one step better than his 2012 results and take the championship. Gibbs should reach his goal of a top five finish. Team Motul Pirelli Suzuki’s Cody Cooper is in hot form at the moment and is currently leading the New Zealand Motocross Championship, and if the former Australian MX2 champion can keep that form into the MX National the quiet Kiwi will definitely be in the hunt for his first Aussie MX1 title.
Cooper’s team-mate Matt Moss and his brother Jake (Campbell Mining Suzuki) will without doubt be fast with moto wins more than possible but it is at best a long shot that either of the twins will be at the pointy end of the points chase after 10 rounds. Berry Sweet/Lucas Oils Yamaha’s lone rider Tye Simmonds is reportedly flying on the Yamaha and with the experience of Craig Anderson behind the young star you can expect moto wins and perhaps even a round win or two but it would be a lot to ask for Simmonds to be at the front enough to win the championship. 2014 will be the year for Simmonds to shine.
As far as the rest of the MX1 riders go you can expect Zero Seven Motorsport Kawasaki’s Cody Mackie, Full Force/Cars-R-Us Honda’s Dean Porter, TM Racing Australia’s Simon Thompson, JBC MOTOS’ Jacob Wright and privateer Thomas Rushton to all drop into the top 10 at times during the season if they all ride to their full potential.
Smarty’s MX1 Top Ten: 1. Cody Cooper, 2. Todd Waters, 3. Jay Marmont, 4. Billy Mackenzie, 5. Ben Townley, 6. Tye Simmonds, 7. Kirk Gibbs, 8. Lawson Bopping, 9. Ford Dale, 10. Cody Mackie.
With the signing of Josh Cachia the Carlton Dry Honda team has a great chance to retain the MX2 title that Ford Dale won for the team in 2012. Cachia really impressed me at the Coolum round last year when he went toe-to-toe with Metal Mulisha/Serco Yamaha’s Luke Styke for the final moto win and if both of these riders ride to their full potential this year the championships will come down to a Cachia/Styke battle.
Styke’s team-mate Luke Clout will use his U.S experience to put himself into the fray more often than not and I expect the same from the Raceline Pirelli Suzuki riders Ryan Marmont and Geran Stapleton. The big surprise this year could well come from former Japanese Motocross Champion Takeshi Katsuya who has signed with the Full Force/Cars-R-Us Honda team alongside another harder charger in Keiron Hall.
Zero Seven Motorsports Kawasaki’s Kade Mosig is another rider who will without doubt throw himself among the front runners while you can count on the Choice Motorsport KTM pilots Kayne Lamont and Dylan Long, TM Racing’s Nick Geck, Tunetech Racing/KTM Australia’s Kale Makenham, JBC MOTOS’ Bailey Coxon and KTM privateer Brock Winston to be very competitive throughout the series.
Smarty’s MX2 Top Ten: 1. Cachia, 2. Styke, 3. Mosig, 4. Katsuya, 5. Clout, 6. Marmont, 7. Long, 8. Lamont, 9. Stapleton, 10. Hall. 2013
Australian MX Nationals Calendar: Rd1 – 14 April – Raymond Terrace. Rd2 – 28 April – Murray Bridge, SA. Rd3 – 5 May – Wonthaggi, VIC. Rd4 – 19 May – Broadford, VIC. Rd5 – 2 June – Conondale, QLD. Rd6 – 14 July – Appin, NSW. Rd7 – 28 July – Hervey Bay, QLD. Rd8 – 11 August – Swan Hill, VIC. Rd9 – 25 August – Toowoomba, QLD. Rd10 – 1 September – Coolum, QLD.