World champion Phillips makes AORC return official

Tasmanian to challenge multiple categories aboard KTM machinery.

Image: Supplied.

Four-time EnduroGP world champion Matthew Phillips has confirmed he’ll return to the Yamaha bLU cRU Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC) this season, which is set to kick off on 9-10 March at Toowoomba in Queensland.

Overcoming a head injury that ended his 2018 campaign on the world stage, the well-credentialed Tasmanian will pilot KTM machinery, starting in the E1 division before sampling different offerings from the Austrian manufacturer in different categories throughout the season, making for a unique effort in his return year.

“Last year I suffered a head injury which put me off the bike for about six months,” Phillips explained. “I was in a negative headspace after that and decided to head home. As I started to recover I decided to help out a young and upcoming rider, Kyron Bacon, which got me back into the love of riding.

“My plan is to compete in all 11 rounds of the AORC 2019 season, beginning in rounds one and two in the E1 class. As the season moves on I’ll change things up a bit by moving across the senior classes with different bikes. The main thinking is that I want to maintain the love for the sport and by changing things up each round will definitely help that.”

Phillips previously contested the world championship with KTM Factory Racing in 2014 and 2015, picking up the E3 title in his first year with the squad. He last competed in the AORC full-time back in 2012. It’s understood Phillips will support and mentor youthful talent Kyron Bacon in the AORC EJ category alongside his own campaign.


Practice incident sidelines Barcia for Atlanta supercross

Factory Yamaha rider assessed for concussion.

Image: Supplied.

Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing has confirmed Justin Barcia will sit out this weekend’s ninth round of the 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship in Atlanta.

It’s understood the number 51 experienced an incident while practicing at his training facility in Florida, prompting him to undergo a medical evaluation at the Tallahassee Orthopedic Clinic (TOC), where he was assessed for a concussion.

“The news of Justin’s accident this morning is a real pity, but our main concern is Justin’s health and recovery,” said Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing team manager Jim Perry. “Following the concussion protocol, we hope that Justin will be back to 100 percent and cleared to participate soon.”

Barcia, who won the opening round of the series at Anaheim, currently sits sixth in the championship standings. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Cooper Webb holds the red-plate over Ken Roczen (Team Honda HRC) heading into the weekend’s round.


Yamaha bolsters entry-level support with return of R3 Cup

Affordable race-prepared packages available for participating riders.

Image: Russell Colvin.

Yamaha Motor Australia has bolstered its support of entry-level road racing in the country with the return of the Yamaha Motor Finance R3 Cup in the 2019 Motul Pirelli Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK), along with backing the all-new Oceania Junior Cup.

The R3 Cup is an entry-level class for up-and-coming riders, providing a national championship environment to hone their racing skills.

Continuing its tradition of cost-effective entry-level racing, Yamaha Motor Australia is offering an attractive value for money package for competitors that will have them on the grid aboard a brand-new race-spec R3 Cup bike for less than $8000.

Purchased separately, a 2018 YZF-R3 road bike costs $6299, and the YRT-developed race kit $5000 – the $7900 YRT-developed race package combines both with an incredible saving of $3500. Competitors only need to fit the race kit, throw on a set of tyres, fill the tank, and line up on the grid.

As series sponsors, Yamaha Motor Finance is also offering a tailor-made YMF package, where participants can purchase the $7900 racing kit through YMF with repayments spread over a 12 or 24-month periods.

A YMF sponsored and Yamaha bLU cRU supported category, competitors will receive a factory-style experience, with series support at every round by Demmery Race Team and Yamaha bLU cRU. There’s also a $20,000 prize pool on offer, as well as a live streaming and television package to entice potential sponsors.

The R3 Cup commences at Wakefield Park’s second round of the ASBK, scheduled for 22-24 March. For more information on the Yamaha YZF-R3 race package, visit


Dack prioritising tailored tuning over further YZ450F development

CDR Yamaha Monster Energy showcases updated 2019 look.

Image: Supplied.

CDR Yamaha Monster Energy owner Craig Dack has mentioned the squad is focused on tailored adjustments to the YZ450F for newly-signed riders Kirk Gibbs and Luke Clout, rather than further developing the premier class contender.

The current generation YZ450F was introduced for 2018, with majority of development already taken place by USA-bound rider Dean Ferris, who piloted the motorcycle to a third-consecutive MX1 crown and 10 overall wins from 10 rounds in the Pirelli MX Nationals last season.

“This is our second full season on the current generation YZ450F and it’s a sensational bike with a great chassis and powerful motor,” Dack explained. “Our time isn’t spent trying to develop the bike a great deal but rather personalise it for the individual rider as the production platform is so good.

“Brad, Aiden and Gary are able to get the most from it and the riders respect the fact we have such high quality technical staff at CDR.”

The powerhouse squad formally introduced the team and its partners today, showcasing the updated look it will sport in the upcoming MX Nationals followed by the Australian Supercross Championship.

“I love this time of year,” he added. “All the hard work over the off-season from both the riders and the teams comes to the surface now and it’s time to go racing. This is why we do the work – to see how it plays out on the weekends.

“Having Appin as the opening round this year should make for a great start to the season as the track always turns on great racing and its well supported by the fans. Our team has a good history at the venue and we hope for that to continue this year.

“Both Luke and Kirk have had a great pre-season, and both are showing good form. Kirk has raced in New Zealand and showed plenty of speed and quickly adapted to the YZ450F while Luke has done a couple of local races and been successful at those, so I feel we are well placed heading into round one.”

The opening round of the MX Nationals is scheduled for 17 March at Appin in New South Wales, with the series set to span 10 rounds over eight weekends.


Dovizioso not completely satisfied exiting Qatar test

Italian contender collected ‘interesting’ data throughout testing.

Image: Supplied.

Andrea Dovizioso admits he’s exiting the MotoGP World Championship test at Losail International Circuit in Qatar not completely satisfied with his Ducati Desmosedici GP19.

Less than ideal conditions on the final day of testing proved challenging for the Mission Winnow Ducati Team rider, finishing 15th on the timesheets, however he believes there’s strong potential after collecting interesting data throughout the three days of on-track action.

“This closing day was complicated a bit by the wind, which didn’t allow to completely follow our program,” Dovizioso explained. “We focused on some aspects and, while we’re not far from our rivals, there is still room for improvement.

“Honestly I can’t say I’m completely satisfied, but I’m also convinced we have strong potential and I’m confident we can have a strong race. We collected plenty of interesting data and it will be important to make the most of it to make sure we’re as ready and competitive as possible in two weeks’ time.”

Dovizioso’s teammate Danilo Petrucci was stronger in the times, winding up ninth, while Australia’s Jack Miller, piloting a Pramac Racing Ducati Desmosedici GP19, was 10th fastest on day three. Round one of MotoGP is scheduled for 10 March at the Losail venue.


Witnesses sought over hit-run rider

Victorian Police are appealing for witnesses and dashcam footage after a hit-and-run crash in West Melbourne left a motorcyclist with serious injuries.

The accident happened on Footscray Road at 5.10am today (February 28, 2019).

The 29-year-old male rider was treated by paramedics on scene and taken to hospital with serious injuries.

Police believe a white, early 2000s model Mitsubishi van, with registration plates WWX576, was seen leaving the scene travelling south on the Citylink, over the Bolte Bridge towards Port Melbourne.

Mitsubishi van hit-run rider
Police are looking for a Mitsubishi van like this

The vehicle has damage to the front left side and a missing headlight from the hit.

Anyone who witnessed the collision or has dashcam footage or information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report online at

It follows the sad death yesterday of a 28-year-old rider in hospital after a collision in Tarneit on Sunday (February 24, 2019) about 8.45pm at the intersection of Bethany Road and Claire Way.

The motorcyclist from Tarneit was travelling east on Bethany Road when he collided with a BMW sedan as the vehicle was turning into Claire Way.

The driver, a 29-year-old Mount Waverly man, stopped and assisted at the scene.

The rider was taken to hospital with life threatening injuries but has sadly died.


Price’s Dakar Rally victory honoured at Australian F1 grand prix

Fan-favourite to ride Red Bull KTM Factory Racing contender in drivers’ parade.

Image: Supplied.

Toby Price will be honoured for his incredible 2019 Dakar Rally victory at the Formula 1 (F1) Rolex Australian Grand Prix next month in Melbourne, where he’ll join the official drivers’ parade for a lap of honour aboard his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing contender.

Price captured his second-career Dakar crown in January in a heroic campaign that saw him compete and ultimately win the 10-stage event while nursing a broken wrist.

Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO, Andrew Westacott, said the scheduled lap of honour for Price at the F1 opener was a fitting way to acknowledge his global motorcycle triumphs.

“Toby Price is the only Australian to have ever conquered the gruelling Dakar Rally, and to have now won it for a second-time in defying circumstances is an incredible achievement,” said Westacott.

“What better way to celebrate Toby’s accomplishment than allowing him to join 20 of his peers that are the best racing drivers in the world in a lap of honour on the world stage.

“We are thrilled to honour Toby at the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2019 and see him receive the global recognition he deserves, when the world’s eyes are on Melbourne for the opening round of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship.”

The Formula 1 drivers’ parade will be held at 2:30pm local tome on Sunday, 17 March, ahead of the grand prix commencing.


Are electric motorbike range claims a hoax?

Electric motorcycles are coming on a wave of hype about range of more than 300km, but are the claims a hoax?

Traditional petrol-powered motorcycles are quoted in terms of miles per gallon or litre per 100km. It provides a reliable and realistic guide to the range from a bike’s tank. Riding hard or conservatively doesn’t make a huge difference to range.

However, the range calculations for an electric motorcycle are not as simple.

Vacuum sucks

We recently bought an expensive cordless vacuum cleaner which was claimed to have a battery that would last for a couple of hours of cleaning.

However, that was based on using the low-powered mode. If you want to really suck and use the boost mode, you are flat out getting about 20 minutes out of it. And six months down the track, that’s more like 15 minutes.

I also once drove an early Tesla sportster on a hot day around the Ipswich Motorway for only five laps before the fully charged battery overheated and I had to pit.

On another occasion, I rode an electric Zero DS with a claimed 290km of range from the Gold Coast to home and nearly ran out of battery because I was riding on the highway.

MotorbikeWriter and Zero DS police special electric motorcycle hoax
MotorbikeWriter and Zero DS

Electric hoax?

So is electric motorcycle range a hoax to rope in riders who want to be seen to be keeping pace with the modern world and showing their “green” credentials (that is, if they have access to clean power for recharging!).

Battery range in electric vehicles is subject to so many variables a range figure is almost a pointless hoax.

Factors that affect battery range include:

  • Extreme ambient temperatures;
  • Riding modes such as “eco” and “sport”;
  • Constant throttle at highway speeds that deplete batteries faster;
  • Brake regeneration extends range in stop-start traffic; and
  • Downhill sections conserve battery power.

Riders will have to think totally differently about electric motorcycles and almost disregard the salesperson’s claims about range.

For example, highway and city riding yield totally opposite range yields to a traditional petrol engine.

The latest Zero SR/F comes with this complex table of range calculations that vary from 132km on the highway to amiss double in the city! It’s enough to confuse any buyer.







Highway, 89km/h






Highway, 113km/h






Range (based on EU standard)



Electric sales

But the complex range claims have not stopped the surge of electric motorcycle sales, particularly in Asia and Europe.

Electric motorcycle and scooter sales will hit 55 million worldwide by 2024, according to London technology consultancy Navigant.

While more than 90% of electric bike sales are low-powered scooters and mopeds in Asian, Europe is surging ahead on the back of a host of financial incentives for the sale and use of electric bikes.

While motorcycle sales in Europe rose by 9.9% in 2018, electric motorcycle sales rose 81.5%, although they still represent only 0.75% of all motorbikes sold in Europe.

New range claims

Almost every day an electric motorcycle company makes outlandish clams about extended range.

Indian startup Mankame Motors claims it can make an affordable electric motorcycle capable of 480km range, beating the current (pun intended) longest range record of 360km by Zero Motorcycles.

A Chinese company claims it has a prototype power cruiser made of lightweight aluminium with  up to 400 km of range and charging from flat to full in just 15 minutes.

Battery life

As for the longevity of expensive batteries, there are few examples as electric motorcycles have not been around long enough.

However, Italian electric bike company Tacita says that in almost eight years their batteries have had more than 1700 recharging cycles with unchanged range.

They say they can guarantee 80% of the battery’s energy will remain after 4000 charge cycles.

I don’t say I disbelieve their claims, but they do make a mockery of my vacuum cleaner experience!


Provisionally suspended West lands Superbike Brazil seat

Queenslander signs with Kawasaki Racing Team Brazil.

Image: Supplied.

Anthony West has signed with Kawasaki Racing Team for the 2019 Superbike Brazil Championship, ensuring he remains competitive after being provisionally suspended last year.

The FIM provisionally suspended West following the receipt of a report from a urine sample taken at the Misano stop of the World Supersport Championship (WorldSSP) in 2018, indicating an alleged adverse analytical finding of a non-specified substance under Section 6 (stimulants) of the FIM Prohibited List.

West later had his request denied in lifting the provisional anti-doping suspension, barring him from competing in FIM sanctioned events, however the Queenslander denies the allegations and has been vigorously defending himself since.

“Great news, I’m unstoppable,” West said in a social media statement. “I just signed with Kawasaki Racing Team to race all 10 rounds of the Brazil SBK championship for 2019 – I’ll be racing the new Ninja ZX-10R. Thanks to Arai helmets and Fusports boots for sticking with me everywhere I go.

“And thanks to all fans who support me every step of the way. I figured after seeing how fast Alex Barros is at 48 and Troy Bayliss at 49 and still carving up younger riders, that gives me hope I still have more then 10 years left in the sport. You’re not getting rid of me that easy.”

The Superbike Brazil Championship, a non-FIM sanctioned series, is one of the few championships in the world that allows West to compete. The opening round commences on 24 March at Autodrome of Interlagos.


Inspectors trained in motorcycle road hazards

A fatal motorcycle crash on a corrugated road surface has sparked a new training program for inspectors to look out for specific road hazards that endanger motorcyclists.

VicRoads Safe System Road Infrastructure Program director Scott Lawrence says the training for existing surveillance officers would help road crews “better identify imperfections and other potential road hazards for motorcyclists”.

“The program has been designed by leading road safety experts with extensive motorcycle safety knowledge to help identify road imperfections and other hazards and ensure these are remedied as soon as possible,” Scott says.

“The surveillance officer teams, some of which include motorcyclists, are committed to reducing road hazards including surface imperfections (particularly on bends and on the approaches to bends), debris and other environmental factors that could destabilise riders.”

He advises that motorcyclists can also call 13 11 70 to report a road hazard.

Fatal road hazards

Victorian Motorcycle Council media spokesman John Eacott says the move is a direct result of “a fatal motorcycle accident involving a pavement shove (corrugations) which destabilised the bike”.

He says the training “can only be seen as a positive”.

“The VMC support this and look forward to more road safety initiatives that make riding safer,” he says.

“One such initiative which is long overdue is an extensive campaign to educate all road users about motorcycle lane filtering and both its safety and congestion-relieving benefits.”

Pothole roadworks road hazards
Dangerous road conditions are no laughing matter for riders

Former No 1 member of the Motorcycle Riders Association of Australia, Rodney Brown suggests motorcycle riders have input into the new VicRoads training.

“VicRoads needs to undertake a proper training needs analysis in partnership with motorcycle riders, pillions and other stake holders,” he says.

Dean Marks, the independent rider representative on the Motorcycle Experts Advisory Panel to the Roads Minister, questions the ability of VicRoads to respond fast enough to road hazards.

“VicRoads has not really done any sort of serious advisory work to notify riders and drivers of this number and process. It is something you need to search for,” he says.

“As we know, road conditions that may be suitable for four-wheeled vehicles may have a very different and fatal outcome for riders.

“Should riders stop and call every time they encounter unsafe road conditions, they would be lucky to cover 200 metres in a day.

“We are yet to see what will be done in the form of response to any hazard called in. We already have a plethora of situations where VicRoads have been advised of serious hazards and they still remain unmarked for elongated periods of time.

“I honestly feel that riders are treated with a great deal of contempt. In any environment where safety is paramount, education and proactive actions are first and foremost.”

Safety package

melbourne bus lanes road hazard
Melbourne bus lanes

The VicRoads training initiative is part of a recent $1 million road safety package funded by the Victorian motorcycle safety level.

The package also includes:

  • An extension of the bus lane trial in Hoddle and Fitzgerald streets to include the Eastern Freeway inbound from the Chandler Highway to Hoddle Street, and Victoria Parade between Hoddle Street and Brunswick Street; 
  • Developing a learner and novice rider pack containing tips, resources, a high-visibility vest and other “safety” equipment; and
  • The MotoCAP motorcycle protective clothing star rating system will be “further promoted to help riders make better choices when it comes to buying safety gear”.


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