2019 Australian Supercross Championship
Round Four – Auckland
Report and Images by AM
American Rockstar Husqvarna factory racer Jason Anderson kicked his 2020 pre-season into overdrive with a convincing win at the opening SX-Open event of 2019. The event was also the fourth round of the 2019 Australian Supercross Championship.
Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium hosted a wild night of racing across both classes. The Triple Challenge format along with the ‘joker lane’ providing some great action on track and some extraordinary results.
With riders only able to take the Joker lane once, over the three-race final format, a lane that cut a good five-seconds off the total lap time, strategy proved crucial when it came down to the final results for the night.
Jason Anderson in the SX1 class and Raceline Motorsports KTM’s Joshua Osby in SX2 showing they had both the speed and the strategy to lift the number one plates in New Zealand.
Penrite Honda Factory Racing’s Justin Brayton, the SX1 championship leader by three points heading into round four, fired the first shots in his championship battle with CDR Yamaha’s Luke Clout and Daniel Reardon, topping timed qualifying with the fastest lap time of 47.541 seconds on a full-sized and technical supercross track.
Reardon who vowed coming into this round that he would be more intense and lay it on the line for the title stayed good to his word, qualifying second fasters, with Anderson back in third and Clout 4th fastest.
Josh Hill ensured the Monster Energy CDR Yamaha was again well represented up the front, posting the 5th fastest time ahead of fellow American Joey Savatgy who was in just his second outing for the JGR Suzuki racing team.
Chad Reed was suffering the effects of two broken ribs and qualified down in 13th position aboard his Penrite Honda backed CRF450R.
When the top six riders rolled back on track for Superpole, Anderson showed his true class, dropping the fastest lap down to 47.005 seconds, edging out Brayton who was able to drop his fastest lap time by over two-tenths of a second, but was not able to match the speed of Anderson.
The CDR Yamaha trio of Clout, Reardon and Hill, claimed positions 3rd to 5th, with Savatgy not improving his position from regular qualifying finishing Superpole in 6th.
SX1 HEAT 1
With only 18 riders lining up in the SX1 class for the night, the Heat races were all about gate pick with every rider guaranteed a spot in the night’s main event.
In the opening heat, it was SB Motorsports Suzuki Ecstar’s Jayden Rykers who picked up the Knobby Underwear holeshot but was quickly swallowed up by Clout as the Australian set the tone for his night early.
Reardon settled himself into second position, while Rockstar Honda backed Jackson Richardson who has suffered crashes at the opening three rounds of the championship looked to turn his series around running in third position just ahead of Penrite Honda Factory racing’s Brett Metcalfe and Savatgy.
While Reardon tried everything to steal the lead away from his team-mate, Clout held firm, holding on to win the opening SX1 heat narrowly from Reardon, with Savatgy working his way past both Richardson then Metcalfe to finish 3rd.
SX1 HEAT 2
Once again proving the Suzuki RM-Z450 is no slouch, Cody Dyce on a borrowed stock bike pulled the holeshot for the SB Motorsports ECSTAR Suzuki race team, with Hill hot on his tail.
By the end of the opening lap, Hill moved his way into first position ahead of Anderson and Brayton, while Dyce clung on to 4th spot as he looked to repeat his success from round three the weekend before.
After leading the opening four laps, Hill succumbed to the pressure of Anderson, who went on to take the heat win, ahead of Hill and Brayton.
Empire Kawasaki’s Lawson bopping made sure the head was not entirely an American affair, finishing 4th just ahead of Raceline Motorsports KTM’s American import Henry Miller.
Chad Reed suffered a DNF after a small crash early in the race re-aggravated the pain he was suffering from broken ribs sustained while racing in Paris last weekend.
SX1 FINAL ONE
Metcalfe had been solid in the early sessions throughout the day but stepped up his game when the gates dropped on the first final, rocketing to the holeshot and leading the opening two laps from Anderson.
On lap three Anderson made the decisive move to the lead while the likes of Brayton and Clout who had a mid -ack starts and Savatgy who went down in the first lap worked hard to put themselves back into contention.
Yamalube Yamaha’s Richie Evans was the first rider to use the Sky City joker lane, using the advantage on lap five to elevate himself up to third position, before being shuffled back a few spots through the pack.
Up front Anderson held on for a comfortable win, while Metcalfe was able just to hold out his Honda team-mate Brayton for second with Clout making a late-race pass on his team-mate Reardon to finish in what would prove to be a vital 4th place.
Hill rounded out the top six, with none of the top six riders electing to use the Joker lane in the opening final.
SX1 FINAL TWO
Final 2 of the SX1 proved to be the highlight of the night as riders used speed and strategy, utilising the Joker lane to thrill the crowd in a race that went all the way down to the wire.
Miller was the first rider to lead the race, racing to the holeshot and leading out of the opening turn but was quickly relegated through the field with Hill moving to the front closely followed by Clout and Brayton on the opening lap.
Clout then worked his way by Hill to claim the lead, with Brayton holding down third, Metcalfe in 4th and Anderson back in 5th.
The very next lap Hill played his Joker card for the evening, opening up a considerable lead over the field and looked as though he could easily run away for the win, leading the next three laps.
Anderson who moved his way up to fourth position had different ideas, however, using his Joker to full effect and leapfrogging from 4th to 1st in one swoop claiming the lead with just a few laps remaining, while Clout moved his way back into second position, passing Hill for the second time in the race.
With just two laps remaining Clout pulled the trigger on a move that would play a part in not only the nights round result but also the overall championship standings, with the Yamaha rider launching through the Joker land and emerging with a narrow lead over a fast-charging Anderson.
Despite Anderson closing up to his rear wheel, Clout held on to take the Victory, with Hill crossing the line in third just ahead of Brayton in 4th and Metcalfe in 5th. Joey Savatgy had his best final result of the night finishing 6th before going on to DNF in the last race of the night.
In a small blow for his own title hopes, Reardon finished back in 7th, just ahead of holeshot winner Miller in 8th.
SX1 FINAL THREE
The Joker lane once again played a huge role in the final race of the night after Metcalfe grabbed the holeshot and led 99 per cent of the opening lap before being passed over the finish line by Anderson.
Leading after the opening lap Anderson looked as though he could run away for an easy win; however, Brayton, Reardon, Bopping all had other ideas as all three riders played their joker card on lap two, relegating Anderson back to 4th.
Brayton now leading made a mistake that led to a small crash and another big turning point in this year’s championship as he picked his bike up and got going again in 6th position, just behind main championship rival Clout.
The following lap Metcalfe used the Sky City Joker land to move himself back up to second position behind Reardon but was soon passed by Anderson, who was utilising a big jump section through one of the Rhythm sections to take big chunks of time out of his opposition.
With three laps remaining Anderson re-claimed the race lead, taking both the final race win of the night and the round win. Reardon crossed the line in second position followed by Metcalfe, Clout, Brayton and Bopping in 6th.
After all was said and done it was Anderson who proved to be too quick, taking two wins and a second-place finish to round the night out on the top step of the podium.
“I’m stoked to grab the win here in Auckland; the racing was super intense tonight. It’s always a blast to come over here and race in front of these fans – I’ll look to keep the ball rolling come Melbourne,” commented Anderson.
Luke Clout with his 4-1-4 results done just enough to edge out Metcalfe by a single point for the round and with Brayton finishing back in 4th, Clout now takes over the lead in the championship standings by a single point over Brayton heading into the final round at Marvel Stadium on Saturday the 30th of November.
Reardon maintains third in the championship and is still in championship contention sitting nine points behind Clout.
“I said to my brother this week; I’m back. There’s a lot of stuff behind the scenes that people haven’t seen, and for a while there I didn’t really even want to ride a dirt bike. I’ve got that passion back, and my eyes are back on the United States,” commented Clout.