2022 Penrite ProMX Championship
Round Two – Gum Valley, Mackay
With Mark Bracks – Images RbMotoLens
Two weeks on, and over 2400 kms apart, the second round of the Penrite ProMX Championships presented by AMA Superstores, hit the tropical climes of north Queensland at the Gum Valley motocross track at Koumala, 66 km south of Mackay.
From one of the most southern points on the Australian mainland, the ProMX circus travelled north of the Tropic of Capricorn as 124 riders converged on the track, situated in lush tropical surroundings, smack bang in the middle of a 3000-acre cane farm owned by ex-enduro rider, John Hand and his family.
Accompanying the weekend was the fourth round of the Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC) presented by MX Stores. The event was run on the Friday and Saturday, adjacent to the track amongst the hills around the area. It’s the first time that both events have been conducted simultaneously and is a great innovation.
The property has been in the family for a few generations. John, now 64, was one of the country’s top enduro riders in the ‘70s and ‘80s, who competed in the ISDE a few times and created the stunning layout as a training venue for his enduro riding.
Out of that, the Gum Valley Veterans All Terrain Motorcycle Club was formed and over the past 34 years the venue has hosted three rounds of the Australian Motocross Championship, in 1988 with riders such as Craig Dack, Jeff Leisk and Glenn Bell competing. Then there was a gap of a few decades before the nationals returned in 2007 and 2008, while in 2011 the venue hosted the Australian Four Day Enduro.
Even club or state events are a rare event at the property and the facility had not been used for racing in over eight years.
A couple of months before ProMX descended on the venue, it was completely overgrown and needed some intense prep work to bring it up to its magnificent best, to provide an extremely level playing field as there was no recent local knowledge of the layout, although veteran Matt Moss had competed there in 2008.
What a result. The Hand family, and the faithful and passionate members of the club, provided an astonishing venue, brilliantly manicured to host Australia’s best riders, and they should be congratulated for their efforts. At Christmas, the special AORC stage next door was still a cane field and as soon as that was finished growing, John was out ripping up the course to turn it into a spectator car park for Sunday’s MX!
There wasn’t one rider that didn’t vote the place as the best MX layout in Australia. There is no other track like it. As one uttered “this place is like Coolum on steroids.” Truthfully it is of an international standard with reminders of a European layout, or as some experienced veterans like Lee Hogan related, similar to those in the south-east USA states like Florida or Tennessee.
A remarkable venue in stunning surrounds, the extremely challenging layout uses the natural topography of the land to provide an excellent venue with the centre-piece of the layout a wicked leap that used to be called the “Matterhorn”, with a near vertical ramp that launched the brave high into the air.
The track traverses the spine of a hill and is a mixture of extremely fast flat out runs combined with tight switch-back sections and hair-pins to provide a very unique Australian track. If there is ever to be another MXGP in Australia, Gum Valley is the place. As the tag line on the logo states it’s “Heaven On Dirt.”
For all the accolades the track attracted, the event was overshadowed by the severe leg injury to defending MX1 champion Luke Clout (CDR Yamaha Monster Energy) who will be out for the remainder of the season.
It’s a devastating blow for the 27-year-old Sydneysider. He started the season in perfect form, taking the two victories at Wonthaggi and had a two-second lead in the opening moto before the incident occurred on the third lap, when he crashed and snapped his right tibia and fibula. His chances of retaining the number 1 plate have well and truly evaporated as he will take no further part in the Pro MX series but aims to be back to contest the Supercross championship later in the year. He remained in a Mackay hospital overnight before flying to Brisbane on one of the first ‘planes out and will have the leg operated on by renowned surgeon to riders, Dr Stephen Andrews. Clout has surgery at 1300 this afternoon (Tuesday) on what has been diagnosed as a complex break.
Clout was one of the major ingredients in the 2022 ProMX recipe and his absence will leave a bitter taste in the mouth as the season heats up to boiling point. No doubt the CDR Yamaha Team will go in search of a replacement but whether that happens before the next round, at Wodonga (VIC) at the beginning of May remains to be confirmed.
While Clout’s championship hopes demise overshadowed the event somewhat, in the final wash-up, it was a stellar day for the Honda Racing Team as they claimed the overall round victory in the MX1 and MX2 classes, and third overall for Cambell Williams in the MX3 class for the official factory team to now lead all three championships.
Thor MX1 Race One
2019 champion Todd Waters (Husqvarna Racing), was fastest after the combined 20-minute practice and qualifying session from class rookie, Kyle Webster (Team Honda Racing) and veteran Brett Metcalfe (GO24 KTM), showing that he still has loads of pace and an intense desire to be in the top bunch fighting for podiums.
From there it was the eight-minute Top Ten shoot out with Webster repeating his feat from Wonthaggi to be fastest from Aaron Tanti (CDR Yamaha Monster Energy Yamaha), claiming another $500 gift card from AMX Superstores.
Kirk Gibbs (KTM Australia), Metcalfe, Clout and Todd Waters (Husqvarna Motorcycles) completed the top six, separated by just 0.882 sec. Filling the remaining spots was Matt Moss (BBR 102 Motorsports Yamaha), Hayden Mellross (GasGas Racing Team), three-times champion, Dean Ferris (Team HRC Honda Racing) and Jayden Rykers (Empire Kawasaki).
From the gate it was a long and spectacular drag to the $250 100% Goggles Holeshot award. Webster was first across the mark to add to his weekend haul, but a little mistake forced him wide at the extremely rutted turn two and he dropped back to fifth, handing the lead to Clout from Ferris, Tanti and Moss.
The run to the downhill left hand turn two was dynamic, and dramatic, with the area playing a major part in a few incidents during the day. In fact, Webster went very close to binning it on the sighting lap as he charged over the crest to catch a braking bump that threw the Honda into a vicious mid-air step out that only his innate talent saved.
After two laps, it appeared that Clout was set to continue from where he left off at Wonthaggi, as he established an almost two second lead, but the gods of racing had other ideas and he was soon on the deck half-way through lap three, writhing in agony after coming unstuck in one of the ever deepening ruts of the sandy circuit, just as he charged to an up-ramp he landed backwards into the face and was slammed into the earth.
It was evident it wasn’t a run-of-the-mill crash as Clout was under medical attention for most of the moto.
Moss also crashed on the same lap but he remounted only to retire a lap later with an injured leg and knee. The tough nut managed to start race two, but the pain was too intense, and thus also retired from the second race, dangling his right leg off the peg as he took a short-cut back to the pits.
The enormity of Clout’s misfortune was amplified by the fact he was the benchmark on the sandy deck of Wonthaggi and looked to be settling right in with the similar conditions in the tropics. Although it was not lost on the Number 1 plate holder that he was essentially gifted the race wins at Wonthaggi after Webster’s self-inflicted triple faux pas mistakes while holding commanding leads in both motos. Additionally, the threat posed by his new team-mate, Aaron Tanti, who scored a second and a third at Wonthaggi to take second on the day wasn’t going to be a pushover, either.
At Gum Valley, Clout was sure giving it a good crack for the others to chase him and consolidate his title lead, before the fickleness of fate stepped in.
Tanti inherited the lead from his team-mate, as rookie Webster picked off his rivals to be in second on the third lap, aiming to cut down Tanti’s see-sawing advantage of around two-seconds.
Webster stalked his rival for five laps before relegating the Yamaha rider to second on the ninth lap at the 10-minute mark, and from there proceeded to pull away from the field.
It was clear that Webster had learnt from his over-enthusiasm from the opening round as he settled into a rapid rhythm to set up a gap of nearly seven-seconds, before backing it off with a couple of laps to run, taking the win by just under five seconds from Tanti. Waters third, Metcalfe fourth from Ferris and Gibbs sixth.
How quickly situations can change; Clout out of the championship, his team-mate Tanti inheriting the title lead with Webster a solitary point behind on 63 points, and Waters retaining third spot on 58 points.
Thor MX1 Race One Results
|1||Kyle WEBSTER (VIC)||Honda CRF 450||–|
|2||Aaron TANTI (QLD)||Yamaha YZF 450||+4.483|
|3||Todd WATERS (QLD)||Husqvarna FC 450||+10.755|
|4||Brett METCALFE (SA)||KTM SXF 450||+11.828|
|5||Dean FERRIS (QLD)||Honda CRF 450||+21.179|
|6||Kirk GIBBS (SA)||KTM SXF 450||+49.523|
|7||Jayden RYKERS (WA)||Kawasaki KX 450||+58.580|
|8||Lochie LATIMER (QLD)||KTM SXF 450||+1:25.644|
|9||Hayden MELLROSS (VIC)||GasGas MC 450||+1:35.117|
|10||Joben BALDWIN (NSW)||Honda CRF 450||+1:43.271|
|11||Joel EVANS (QLD)||Honda CRF 450||+1:44.428|
|12||Caleb WARD (QLD)||Honda CRF 450||+1:44.851|
|13||Joel WIGHTMAN (NSW)||Yamaha YZF 450||1 Lap|
|14||Cody O’LOAN (QLD)||KTM SXF 450||1 Lap|
|15||Oliver MARCHAND (NSW)||Honda CRF 450||1 Lap|
|16||Cory WATTS (VIC)||Honda CRF 450||1 Lap|
|17||Zachary WATSON (QLD)||–||1 Lap|
|18||Zhane DUNLOP (QLD)||Yamaha YZF 450||1 Lap|
|19||Kye ORCHARD (QLD)||kawasaki KX 450||1 Lap|
|20||Jesse BISHOP (QLD)||KTM SXF 450||1 Lap|
|21||Beau DARGEL (QLD)||KTM SXF 450||1 Lap|
|22||Riley STEPHENS (NSW)||Honda CRF 450||2 Laps|
|23||Bradley ACE (QLD)||GasGas MC 450||3 Laps|
|DNF||Luke CLOUT (NSW)||Yamaha YZF 450||11 Laps|
|DNF||Navrin GROTHUES (QLD)||Yamaha YZF 450||11 Laps|
|DNF||Matt MOSS (NSW)||Yamaha YZF 450||11 Laps|
Thor MX1 Race Two Report
Leg Two was an absolute ripper.
From the gate, three-times champion Ferris bolted on the Team Honda Racing CRF450R to grab the hole-shot from Gibbs, Tanti, Metcalfe, Waters, Webster and Moss.
Ferris settled into a consistently fast groove on a track that received next to no maintenance during the day. As such it had really roughed up with some insanely deep ruts at some parts of the magnificent layout, which tested the ability and stamina of all riders.
Moss gallantly lasted for just over two laps before his leg cried enough and he retired but those following Ferris really put the pressure on, as the top six were within five-seconds of the multiple-champion until the half-way mark of the 14-lap race.
Tanti closed to within a bike length of the leader but was not quite able to make a pass as Webster again played it safe and picked off his rivals one by one, to be in third by lap six, but couldn’t find a way passed Tanti on the Yamaha.
Gibbs, Metcalfe and Waters were basically line astern pressuring each other, behind Webster. It was a case of attempting to being inch perfect on the sandy track. One slight mistake from either of them, and vital title points would go begging.
It appeared that those positions may remain the same but with just over two laps to go Tanti slowed dramatically and started to drop places.
Ferris was in command and his team-mate Webster while closing was running out of time and laps. Meanwhile Tanti slid down the order and in his fatigued state crashed, virtually within sight of the finish line, dropping to sixth and nearly 50-seconds behind the leader.
In defence of Tanti he went into the weekend still suffering the effects of a head cold – no not Covid! – as he explained, “I was feeling a bit stuffy in the head and having a bit of trouble breathing in the humid conditions. I was trying al I could but just didn’t have the stamina.”
It was an emotional Ferris who greeted the chequered flag, his delight and relief palpable as he returned to the winner’s circle for the first time in over three years, after coming out of retirement and serious injury.
Ferris also laid to rest the bad memories of Wonthaggi where he scored 17-9 places. The faith of the Honda Racing Team didn’t take long to be vindicated. with a victory in just four races.
Webster was second while Gibbs made up for his mediocre leg one result, claiming the last spot on the race podium from Waters and Metcalfe, who were not too far adrift.
In the overall round result, Webster was the victor and moved into the series lead with Ferris second, Waters third and an extremely disappointed Tanti fourth, missing out on the round podium by a single point.
“It sure was hard work out there,” explained Webster. “The track was mint and fantastic to race on, but you really had to be on your toes as it is so fast in sections, while there were some really tight sections that could also catch you out.It’s great to come away with the points and get the title lead, but I feel for Luke. I hope he makes a quick recovery to get back out there.”
Even with the disappointing demise of Clout in the championship chase, the rest of the 2022 Thor MX1 class is going to be enthralling with so many contenders, but it is the rookie Webster that has them all looking over their collective shoulders. Webster has adopted to the big-bore 450 as if it’s his destiny and has established himself as a serious title contender.
Webster takes a six-point lead over Tanti to the next round with Waters in third, just three-points adrift of Tanti, which makes for three different manufacturers featuring at the top of the points table. Gibbs is fourth on 67-points with Metcalfe two-points away in fifth.
Todd Waters – P3
“I came into this weekend a bit nervous that it could cost me a lot of points, but today’s performance is definitely something I’m proud of. I didn’t get the best starts, but I was able to dig deep and work through the fields in both motos. My legs gave out on me at the end of the first race, but I had a good massage, then ensured I stayed hydrated for the second moto. I thought I had a lap or two more in that race than we actually did, so I was a bit disappointed I didn’t put on my late charge sooner, but I was so stoked to get on the box today! I feel stronger and fitter than I ever have and this result has given me a lot of confidence heading into Wodonga.”
Aaron Tanti – P4
“Race one I was happy and felt that even though I didn’t win the race, I was riding well and feeling good on the track. Race two and it was just in the final few minutes that I made a few mistakes and couldn’t get my flow back. I’m not sure if it was a fatigue thing, concentration or what exactly happened but it was disappointing way to finish the day. The positive for the day is I’m still well placed in the championship, and I don’t believe I have hit my peak yet. The team did a great job again and I believe we will get on top of things for the coming rounds and aim for some race and round wins. Also a shout-out to Luke, I hope he is doing ok and wish him a quick and full recovery.”
“I recall the whole thing but I’m not too sure how it happened. The rear of the bike stepped out and because of it being such a high-speed section of the track, the next thing I know I’m on the ground and my leg is in pain. I can’t thank the RACESAFE team enough for their support. Simon Maas and his team have gone above and beyond to look after me as have the CDR Yamaha team to make arrangements for myself and my family. It’s disappointing and frustrating but I will be back. I love racing and this is my first major injury since 2016 so I have had a pretty good run. I will do the full rehab and come back when I’m 100% ready to go.”
Thor MX1 Race Two Results
|1||Dean FERRIS (QLD)||Honda CRF 450||–|
|2||Kyle WEBSTER (VIC)||Honda CRF 450||+2.788|
|3||Kirk GIBBS (SA)||KTM SXF 450||+6.845|
|4||Todd WATERS (QLD)||Husqvarna FC 450||+7.664|
|5||Brett METCALFE (SA)||KTM SXF 450||+11.22|
|6||Aaron TANTI (QLD)||Yamaha YZF 450||+41.813|
|7||Jayden RYKERS (WA)||Kawasaki KX 450||+01m17.5|
|8||Caleb WARD (QLD)||Honda CRF 450||+01m22.7|
|9||Lochie LATIMER (QLD)||KTM SXF 450||+01m26.8|
|10||Joel EVANS (QLD)||Honda CRF 450||+01m36.5|
|11||Hayden MELLROSS (VIC)||GasGas MC 450||+01m45.7|
|12||Joel WIGHTMAN (NSW)||Yamaha YZF 450||1 Lap|
|13||Joben BALDWIN (NSW)||Honda CRF 450||1 Lap|
|14||Cody O’LOAN (QLD)||KTM SXF 450||1 Lap|
|15||Cory WATTS (VIC)||Honda CRF 450||1 Lap|
|16||Zachary WATSON (QLD)||–||1 Lap|
|17||Kye ORCHARD (QLD)||Kawasaki KX 450||1 Lap|
|18||Beau DARGEL (QLD)||KTM SXF 450||1 Lap|
|19||Jesse BISHOP (QLD)||KTM SXF 450||1 Lap|
|20||Oliver MARCHAND (NSW)||Honda CRF 450||1 Lap|
|21||Zhane DUNLOP (QLD)||Yamaha YZF 450||1 Lap|
|22||Riley STEPHENS (NSW)||Honda CRF 450||2 Laps|
|DNF||Bradley ACE (QLD)||GasGas MC 450||7 Laps|
|DNF||Matt MOSS (NSW)||Yamaha YZF 450||11 Laps|
Thor MX1 Round Points
|Pos||Name||Moto 1||Moto 2||Total|
Thor MX1 Championship Standings
2022 Australian ProMX Championship Calendar
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Massive MX1 round up from ProMX Round Two in Mackay | MCNews
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