Over $8 million in contingency committed to 2021 Lucas Oil Pro MX
With a month remaining until the start of the 2021 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, MX Sports Pro Racing has announced a record sum of manufacturer contingency support for the upcoming season. With the addition of American motocross’ seventh competing manufacturer, GASGAS, more than $8.3 million will be up for grabs for competitors over the course of the 12-round season.
Davey Coombs – Vice President of MX Sports Pro Racing
“With a record amount of contingency support and the expansion of our field of competing manufacturers, it’s an exciting time in American motocross as we prepare for a new season. In the face of an extremely challenging past year our manufacturers have doubled down on their commitment to the sport, which will only serve to benefit the hundreds of competitors that will line up on the gate this summer. Manufacturers play arguably the most important role in elevating the global impact of not only our championship, but off-road motorcycling as a whole, and they continue to serve as invaluable partners in the ongoing legacy of American motocross.”
The 2021 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship is anchored by the factory supported efforts of GASGAS, Honda, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki and Yamaha.
For GASGAS, the Spanish manufacturer that became an icon in motorcycle trials competition, its historic series debut will be spearheaded by the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS lineup of Justin Barcia in the 450 Class, along with Pierce Brown and Michael Mosiman in the 250 Class. GASGAS will become the 27th different manufacturer to contest the off-road motorcycle racing series.
The 2021 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will once again consist of a 12-round schedule, beginning on Memorial Day Weekend with the season-opening Fox Raceway I National on May 29 from Southern California’s Fox Raceway.
2021 AORC to broadcast on SBS on May 9
The Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship, presented by MXstore, (AORC) will make its historical TV debut with broadcast partner – SBS Australia – May 9, from 1.30-2.30pm.
The hour-long feature brings the racing action from the opening rounds of the 2021 AORC, held at Golden Beach, Victoria, straight into the lounge rooms of race fans around the country for the first time ever, showcasing the gruelling nature, triumphs, and challenges of the championship. Hosted by Kate Peck, renowned motorsport journalist and self-confessed ‘motorbike addict’, Peck joined the Golden Beach paddock to capture the ups and downs of the season’s opening races firsthand.
Dive into the behind-the-scenes stories of the AORC athletes with never-before-seen access, and watch the marquee rivalries of the championship unfold, pitting machine against machine and rider against rider in the fierce race for glory.
After the premiere, the AORC TV show will be available to view via the SBS on Demand Channel. Tune in on SBS from 1.30pm to 2.30pm, May 9, to be amongst the first to witness AORC in all its glory .
Hard Enduro heads to Portugal for the Extreme XL Lagares
The wait is almost over, with just one week to go all roads lead to the inaugural round of the 2021 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship, Extreme XL Lagares in Portugal.
Overcoming the restrictions of the ongoing Covid pandemic, the world’s best Hard Enduro athletes, together with a wealth of amateur and hobby riders, will compete for pride and glory across three demanding days of competition.
In a change to previous editions of Extreme XL Lagares due to public restrictions, the FIM World Championship category will compete in three events over two days with an Endurocross race and mountain time-trial Prologue on Saturday, followed by Sunday’s Main Race.
Non-championship riders will take to the Endurocross track on Friday, followed by the Saturday Prologue and join the World Championship competitors on the start line for Sunday’s action.
As the 2019 WESS Champion and 2020 Red Bull Romaniacs winner, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Manual Lettenbichler naturally starts as one of the favourites for the top step of the podium. But despite previous podium results in Portugal, Lettenbichler has yet to truly master the rigorous rocks the region is famed for, so will 2021 be his year to triumph?
Sherco Factory Racing will be a formidable force this season, their sights very much set on success. In 2019 Mario Roman stole the show with a phenomenal ride to victory. Demonstrating a perfect mix of speed and technical ability, the Spaniard turned up the heat in the closing stages to win and will be aiming high again this year. Teammate Wade Young is a past winner of the race, in 2017, and finished as runner-up in 2019. A fan of the terrain, he’ll also be pushing for nothing less than victory too.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing boast a trio of Hard Enduro talent. Billy Bolt, Alfredo Gomez and Hard Enduro legend Graham Jarvis have all won in Portugal before, with Jarvis holding the all-time win record over Gomez. The potential for a podium-sweep can’t be ruled out with these guys.
Jonny Walker will make one of the most anticipated team debuts in Portugal with Vision Track Beta. After a decade on KTM machinery, Walker made a jump to Beta Motorcycles during the winter and Extreme XL Lagares will be his first serious outing in new colours. Vastly experienced and hungry to impress, Walker is an obvious threat for podium honours.
GASGAS Factory Racing debut their two-rider outfit of Taddy Blazusiak and Michael Walkner. A true mix of experience and youth, Blazusiak will come out swinging while Walkner is keen to demonstrate that he is a young talent to watch out for.
Trece Racing Society will be a new crew to keep an eye on as Pol Tarres rolls out on Yamaha machinery for the first time in Hard Enduro. The Spaniard’s ability on a bike knows no bounds and he’s excited to show what his Yamaha is capable of when the going gets tough.
Changing colours for 2021, TTR Squadra Corse field a three-rider team of Travis Teasdale, Kevin Gallas and Azzalini Alessandro on GASGAS machinery and will be a privateer force to be reckoned with among the factory outfits.
Jarvis Husqvarna Racing – managed by Graham Jarvis – is also a new team to watch for in 2021. The team’s five riders include Bulgaria’s Teodor Kabakchiev and Britain’s Will Hoare, Jonathan Richardson, Sam Winterburn and Grant Churchward. Featuring a real mix of raw, young talent under the guidance of Graham, expect fireworks!
Add in a wealth of youngsters like Israel’s Suff Sella, Russia’s David Leonov, Germany’s Tim Apolle and Leon Hentschel plus South Africa’s Matt Green who have all signed up, and the countdown is firmly on to round one in Portugal.
In keeping with strict government Covid guidelines, coronavirus testing facilities will be available on site. Competitors will also be able to take a test before returning home. Spectator attendance is not permitted.
The opening round of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship takes place at Extreme XL Lagares, Portugal on May 7-9.
FIM World Championship schedule
- 6 May
- 09:00 – 24:00: Technical and documental verifications. Covid Testing
- 12:00 – 24:00 – Bikes in Parc Ferme
- 8 May
- 08.00 – 12.00: Endurocross
- 16.00 – 18.00: Prologue
- 9 May
- 10.00: Main Race Start
- 17.30: Podium
Amateur Class schedule
- 6 May
- 09:00 – 24:00: Technical and documental verifications. Covid Testing
- 12:00 – 24:00 – Bikes in Parc Ferme
- 7 May
- 09.00 – 17.00: Endurocross
- 8 May
- 14.00 – 16.00: Prologue
- 9 May
- 10.00: Main Race Start
- 17.00: Podium
Jonny Walker talks to switch to Beta for Hard Enduro
The biggest off-season rider team switch unquestionably came from Jonny Walker. After almost a decade with KTM, he shocked the Hard Enduro world with his change to Beta machinery.
Putting together his own team during the winter months, Vision Track Beta came to life. In what is sure to be the biggest test of his career, Jonny’s performance at round one – next week’s Extreme XL Lagares – will tell Jonny, his competitors, and the wider audience if the move was a successful one.
But, if one thing is certain, it’s clear that when Jonny’s got a spring back in his step, he’s a ferociously fast and competitive Hard Enduro racer…
With the opening round of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship nearly here, have all the pieces of the puzzle, the building of Vision Track Beta, come together?
Jonny Walker: “I think we’re there now with everything. As ready as we can be for round one. All the brands and partners I’ve spoken with have come onboard to support me. We’ve put a lot of testing in and plenty of track laps. I’d like to have done a couple more races, but it’s not been possible. I’m just looking forward to getting started now.”
Has building your own team been a challenging and enjoyable process?
“Yes! I’ve always raced for a factory team, so as a professional rider I’ve never really seen it from the other side. The factory life is an ‘arrive and race’ sort of thing, but now I’m more hands on. I’ve total say in what I’m doing and the products I’m using on my bike. I’ve enjoyed the process of speaking with companies and brands directly too. There’s been lots of phone calls, lots of emailing, but it’s come together really well.”
You won the Endurocross race at Extreme XL Lagares in 2019. It would be pretty cool if you could win it again, first time out on the Beta!
“Yeah, that would be cool, but being successful in the main event is the priority. I do enjoy the multi-race format aspect of Extreme XL Lagares though. If you can win an individual event, it gives good exposure. It would be awesome to put Beta on the top step of the podium and a great way to start off the weekend!”
Unfortunately, there is no city prologue in Porto this year. That must be a bit of a relief after taking a swim there in 2019! But in all seriousness, will you miss that part of race?
“Yes, it is a shame not to have the prologue in Porto this year, but understandable too. It’s super cool and not just a highlight of Extreme XL Lagares, but of our sport because it’s so unique. I think my mechanic is the most relieved about it not taking place this year. He can stop googling ‘how to waterproof a 2-stroke!’. Like everyone, I hope the city prologue will be back for 2022.”
Looking ahead to the entire season, what races will play to your strengths?
“There’s been a lot of changes this offseason and so naturally Extreme XL Lagares is the biggest test to see how things have come together. Once those round one nerves and jitters are out of the way and we’re up and racing, I’ll settle into it better. Red Bull Erzbergrodeo and Red Bull Romaniacs are big favourites for me. I’m looking forward to them.”
Is it good to finally have an FIM Hard Enduro World Championship to race for, a series that brings all the iconic races together?
“It’s cool to be under the FIM umbrella. Hard Enduro is such a big scene now, so it’s good to be properly recognised with every other motorcycle championship out there. But Hard Enduro is different too. It’s special, unique and successful because amateur and hobby riders are such a big part of what we do. We’re all in it together, if you know what I mean. That’s why it’s become so popular. So as long as that element remains unchanged – it doesn’t become too elite, the tracks stay as they are, and the atmosphere stays cool – then who knows how much bigger things will get!”
Past form shows you know how to race for a championship title – leading WESS in 2018 and third in 2019. What is the key to maintaining that sort of consistency across a full season?
“Trying to be at the sharp end of the results every time you race is key for sure. As a rider I feel like I’ve got a strong all-round skill set. My speed is good and I’ve been trying to improve on the technical side of my riding as this championship is 100 per cent Hard Enduro focused. The goal is to win the title and become world champion. That’s what I’d love to do and what I’m aiming for. I feel like we can do it too if everything goes well and we get a little bit of luck along the way.”
Skyler Howes joins Husqvarna Factory Racing from 2021
Skyler Howes has signed to the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team for a three-year contract. The 29-year-old will first compete on Husqvarna machinery at the Sonora Rally in Mexico in early May, before lining up at round one of the 2021 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship – the Rally Kazakhstan – in June.
Born in California, Howes grew up competing off-road, specifically desert racing, before turning his hand to rally in 2018. Contesting the Dakar Rally for the first time in 2019, the American admits he underestimated the iconic event, and despite showing great pace on the tough terrain he was forced to retire after dislocating his shoulder. Exceptional rides in both the 2020 and 2021 races saw the Utah resident finish inside the top 10 and as leading privateer – the highlight being an impressive fifth overall at this year’s event.
Now, looking ahead to the 2021 season, Howes will compete in a number of local North American races before focusing on the full FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship. Although he has some experience racing world championship events having previously competed in Morocco, Skyler plans on using the 2021 season to build his pace and experience on the varied terrain he’ll experience at each of the six championship races, while getting up to speed on his FR 450 Rally machine.
Howes and the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team’s first FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship outing will be the Rally Kazakhstan on June 7-13.
“I am so excited to have signed for the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team – it is something I have worked hard my whole life for. I started riding when I was just three years old and have raced offroad my entire life. I have only been racing rally for the past three years, and in order to be able to compete in the Dakar this year I had to sell everything I owned. I raced the Dakar for the first time in 2019, in Peru, and I have to be honest, it was a huge wake-up call. In 2020, I was able to sort a ride and, despite losing some time through the event, I was able to finish inside the top-10 and as top privateer. For this year it was a struggle financially to get to the start, but I knew I was capable of a really good result – I finished fifth, and as top privateer once again. Thankfully, my result got the attention of the factory teams and now it’s a dream come true to sign for Husqvarna Motorcycles – they have one of the best structures and set-ups in the paddock. One of the biggest things for me is the fact that I can now concentrate on my training 100 percent and hopefully take my riding and results to the next level. The goal for this year is to take in the world championship rounds and get as much experience as possible before January next year where the aim is to go on to challenge for the Dakar podium.”
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP & MX2 teams break cover
The Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP & MX2 teams are looking fast and motivated as they set their sights on the first FIM Motocross World Championship gate-drop of the new season.
The team will line up with three popular names inside the premier class, MXGP. Jeremy Seewer will remain on the team for a third consecutive season (fourth with Yamaha) and will be joined under the awning by hot new recruits, Glenn Coldenhoff and Ben Watson.
Spearheading the outfit in 2021, five times silver medallist Seewer hopes to steer his YZ450FM to the top step of the podium.
“I’ve finished second in the world five times, two times in MX2, two times in MXGP and one time at the Junior World Championships and these are not bad stats, you know, but of course I want to win, and yes, I think I can! Usually, we race in 19 different countries and on different tracks, sand, hardpack, hot, cold, winter, summer, you know, so it’s such an open book. It just takes a lot, a lot, a lot and at the base, I think it’s hard work from everybody.”
“Yeah, I think there’s a lot of hard work, not only for myself, but I also think from the whole team. I think I was ready for a big change this year, which I actually did, and I really feel good already within the team. I feel like I have really good people around me, and the goal will always be to get the world title.”
While his teammates strive for more race and Grand Prix wins, 23-year-old rookie Ben Watson hopes to soak up their knowledge and experience as he gets set to get his feet wet.
“For me it’s a really big opportunity, to join the Yamaha Factory MXGP team, and something I’m really grateful for because obviously the beginning of the season in MX2 last year, it wasn’t going really the way I wanted and the opportunities to show myself were coming less and less. Fortunately, at the end of the season I found myself and started to ride how I know I can, so it was definitely my time to take this step to the 450.”
Yamaha has a strong strategy to develop the next generation of MXGP champions from within its own ranks, and as Watson progresses up the Yamaha Racing pyramid, so too will young Yamaha stars Maxime Renaux and Thibault Benistant as they join title favourite Jago Geerts inside the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 team for 2021.
“It means a lot to me to become a Yamaha Factory Rider for the MX2 team. For sure, it was a goal. It’s the highest team in the MX2 class that we can have in Yamaha.”
It’s no secret that Yamaha is on the hunt for FIM Motocross World Championship glory as the riders aim to secure the MX2 Championship gold plate while defending Yamaha’s title as the MX2 Manufacturer of the Year.
“I will try to fight again for the world title. The benefits of staying in the same team for a couple years is you get to know the people very good and we made really some improvements with the bike this year, for sure suspension wise and setup of the bike… this year I really want to to get back on the top step of the podium. I want more moto wins, more GP wins, and to do better let’s say.”
Meanwhile, Benistant is enjoying the move from the GYTR kitted YZ250F to the fully-fledged Factory YZ250FM. The 18-year-old sets his sights on a promising rookie season.
“Of course everything is a little bit different, the engine, suspension, everything is a little bit more strong and to be a rookie, I think I have a little bit less experience than the more older, but it’s similar because we have almost the same hours on the bike, just not in the same championship, in MX2 I won’t have pressure. I know what I need to do and I’m working for.”
The 2021 FIM Motocross MXGP and MX2 World Championships are expected to kick-off on the 13th of June in Orlyonok, Russia.
Australian ProMX visits Canberra for Round 2
The 2021 Penrite ProMX Championship presented by AMX Superstores swept into Canberra over the weekend, marking Round Two of the series, with the Thor MX1, Pirelli MX2 and Maxxis MX3 joined by the bLU cRU YZ65 Cup for the first time in 2021.
The Thor MX1 class saw Luke Clout reign victorious, but Regan Duffy retains the red plate after a consistent performance for third overall, tied on 40-points with Hayden Mellross.
Regan Duffy now leads the Thor MX1 standings on 85-points, to Todd Waters on 78, with Hayden Mellross completing the top-three, a further five-points in arrears. Luke Clout and Kirk Gibbs sit fourth and fifth, with sixth placed Brett Metcalfe tied on points with Gibbs.
“It was an interesting day out there. I qualified well and had a good first race, but the track baked out before the back-to-back races and I struggled with that hard-pack. It was an easy track to throw it away on and, with everyone being so close, I didn’t want that to happen. I rode within my capabilities and I’m happy to walk away with the points today – it’s certainly a lot better than crashing and getting 10ths. We might have lost a few points in the championship, but we’ll go back, regroup and look forward to Gillman.”
“I am not there yet; I need to improve in some areas, and we have a plan. We proved today that we can win which is an important positive.”
“If this is my worst round its ok but I cannot afford another repeat of this weekend. I crashed last week, and I did not have the strength I needed to ride at my best. It was frustrating but we will bounce back for Gilman.”
“Today was definitely a step forward in comparison to the first round and we took a lot out of this one. We’ve made some changes with the bike to suit me more and they’ve worked, although I’d still like to be up toward the front further! All in all, we had a consistent day and it’s more to build from.”
Kyle Webster was untouchable in the Pirelli MX2 class, adding another two wins to his tally and continuing his winning streak – now four from four for the season. Noah Ferguson was second overall, ahead of Jay Wilson.
As a result Webster now sits on 100-points, with Rhys Budd second on 69, and Jesse Dobson is third overall on 67-points, one-point ahead of Jay Wilson.
“Being from Western Australia, I am considered more of a sand specialist so in the off-season I focused on improving my hard-pack skills. The team has really been putting in, we have been to Gilman twice in the past few months and I like the track. Whilst I have a decent point’s lead I can’t afford to let up. Gilman will be really important for the team and I am focused on getting maximum points there.”
“Today was a step in the right direction for me but there is still a lot of work to be done. At least this weekend I was in the battle and competitive unlike Wonthaggi where I just stunk. There is still more speed to come and some fitness at the end of the motos but things are heading in the right direction and with a four weeks until round three in Adelaide, hopefully I can make another step forward. Thanks to the team for a big effort in the lead up to the round and I’m looking forward to get more work under my belt before Adelaide and getting back to where I belong.”
“Overall, I’m pretty happy with how I rode today and race at a speed that would put me inside the top five. On the hand other, I need to put two motos together at each round and get as many points as I can in every race. The sixth place was good and I felt had I been able to get passed the rider in front of me quicker, I may have been able to move further forward. Race two was ugly as I was ran over a few times and ended up with a bike on me in that first turn crash. But I raced all the way to the end and was able to salvage as many points as I can.”
Blake Fox went two for two in the Maxxis MX3 class, retaining the standings lead, with Ben Novak second overall and Ryder Kingsford third.
The standings are a similar story but saw a slightly different order, with Fox on 97-points, with Kingsford second and Novak third.
“Second overall for the day is awesome and it’s a positive step forward. I came into round 1 injured so we have been following a plan which is working. We have spent time at Gilman training and testing. Our bike is working great, and I believe another 4 weeks on the bike will prove invaluable.”
bLU cRU YZ65 Cup
The early bLU cRU YZ65 Cup leader is Heath Davy, who took the win, but is tied on 47-points with Peter Wolfe.
Paddy Lewis was third overall and currently sits on 38-points, two ahead of Dejan Sankovic. The overall standings are the same as this was Round 1 of the YZ65 Cup.