Penrite Honda Racing’s Justin Brayton says he’s excited for the ‘winner takes all’ showdown at Melbourne’s final round of the Australian Supercross Championship, remaining in title contention despite nursing an undisclosed injury in recent rounds.
Marvel Stadium will play host to a thriller as Brayton aims to capture a fourth-consecutive crown during the international Monster Energy AUS-X Open, however, it is Australia’s own Luke Clout who will carry the red plates into the decider and multiple-time champion Dan Reardon is also within striking distance.
Brayton confirmed post-race at the S-X Open Auckland on Saturday night that he has been dealing with a hampering injury that happened in a practice incident prior to Wollongong, which has restricted his preparations between rounds since and almost ended his campaign altogether. He stopped short of declaring what in fact the injury is.
“It’s actually kind of cool and I’ve been enjoying it, to be honest,” Brayton said of the increasing challenge from Clout and the Australian championship regulars. “I’m super-stoked that I’m even in this position after a crash I had a couple of weeks ago, thankful that I’ve been able to rehab and be able to even swing a leg over a motorcycle.
“These past two [rounds], I’ve kind of had a goal that I needed to give myself a chance going into Melbourne and its winner takes all there, so this is exactly where I wanted to be and hoped to be – I didn’t think I could be here, so I’m excited. I have some substantial injuries, for sure, but we can talk about it after Melbourne…
“I’m stoked to be going into Melbourne with a shot at it because they’re never easy, but this one’s going to be exciting, really good for the fans and I’ve never been in this situation so it will be a good mental test and I typically thrive under pressure.
“[There are] two more weeks of healing and I should be able to get back on the motorcycle in the next five days or so, practice a little bit and I think I will have my sharpness back. It’s really difficult when you don’t ride for basically three weeks and you don’t even know if you can ride. That edge goes away, but it will come around and we’ll be good for Melbourne, I think.”
Brayton qualified on top of the charts in New Zealand and then went on to record 3-4-5 finishes for fourth overall in the triple crown format. It was a costly error while leading the third final that ended his hopes of a podium and ultimately gave away the points-lead with a single round remaining.
“The night was actually pretty good, starting off great as fastest in qualifying and then in the heat race it was kind of just okay,” Brayton recalled. “In the mains, I was winning the last one and fell over by myself, it was honestly my fault, just tucked the front after the whoops and the bike was on top of me. I’m thankful I was able to get up, not be injured and still be able to finish the race. All good, we’ll go onto Melbourne.”
Brayton has been all-class since travelling down under for supercross from 2016, winning three SX1 championships in a row alongside his American supercross schedule. Next year will see the 35-year-old join Ken Roczen at Team Honda HRC for the AMA series.