Monster Energy Kawasaki kicked the 2011 racing season off in brilliant fashion with Billy Mackenzie taking the overall win and an 18 point lead in the 2011 Australian Motocross Championship. Fellow 450 rider Dean Ferris was also on the pace running at the pointy end of the pack throughout the day, taking 6th overall after a crash kept him from the podium. Lites rider Phil Nicoletti recovered well from a heavy first race collision to take 5th overall.
With a brand new sponsor, rider line-up, team transporter and attitude, Monster Energy Kawasaki hit the ground running at the State Motorcycling Sports Complex at Broadford, Victoria on Sunday 13 March. Boasting an impressive pit set-up with many styling cues taken from their AMA counterparts, Monster Energy Kawasaki was equally impressive on the race track as well.
After Mackenzie and Ferris qualified in 2nd and 5th places respectively, the Monster Energy Kawasaki riders came out roaring in the opening race finding themselves in 1-2 within the opening lap and pulling a healthy gap over the rest of the field. Although it is a long season with many more races to be run and won, it was a satisfying start to the season and a small pay-off for lots of hard work put in by everybody involved with Monster Energy Kawasaki. Mid way through the first race the heavens opened dumping a massive amount of rain on Broadford turning the track to mud and creating a more level playing field.
Mackenzie won the opening race and backed that up with three more top three finishes (1-2-3-2) in the quad race format to take the overall win and an 18 point lead in the Championship.
Mackenzie was happy with his start to the season saying, “It was quite an easy race. It wasn’t the easiest of conditions but once you found your position you just basically had to stay upright so that’s what I did. I just made sure I tried to get a good start every time. I felt good in the first race and won and felt I could’ve won all the races but it’s better not to go too crazy and take home the points and the overall for the day.”
Fellow 450 rider Dean Ferris finished 6th overall after a second moto crash affected his chances of a better finish to the round. Ferris was on the pace all day, running at the front of the pack consistently in the horrendous conditions. However a lapse of concentration in the second moto, when he tossed his goggles to the side of the track, resulted in him cross rutting and crashing. He finished the day with results of 3-10-5-5 for 6th place.
Ferris says, “I lost a lot of points in one moto. I went down in the mud and finished 10th but in spite of that I still salvaged a lot of points. It could’ve been a lot worse. The bike was great and it worked well in the mud. We’ll move on to the next round and be positive.”
Lites rider Phil Nicoletti had it tough during the last week. The young New Yorker lined up at Broadford with six stiches in his chin after a practise crash whilst busily trying to clock up more set-up hours on his brand new Kawasaki KX250F. After qualifying in 3rd place at the season opener, Nicoletti was run into heavily on the opening lap putting him on the deck with a bent and damaged knee brace and in last place. From there, Nicoletti salvaged what he could of the first race to take 18th. Consistent top five finishes throughout the following three motos gave him 18-4-4-4 for 5th place overall.
Nicoletti says, “The first moto was a little bit rough for me. I ended up getting cleaned out so I ended up getting 18th in the first moto. I salvaged some points and ended up 5th overall.”
“Today was basically me building a foundation. I had no idea what to do down here as far as what to do behind the gate and with all the back to back races so I kinda got a routine now. We know what to do to my motorcycle and we’ll get everything situated as far as suspension goes. You know we really didn’t have enough time to get stuff properly organised but the team did an awesome job for the time that they had to get me comfortable. Another three weeks will do wonders.”
A happy Monster Energy Kawasaki Manager, Troy Carroll, who has a big clean up ahead of him after the muddy opener, says, “It was a good day, we’re happy. Billy came away with a win and he rode great all day. Dean was very unlucky as was Phil but all in all it was a good day. We came away with great points and I’m just really proud of the whole team. It was a great effort and we had to work for it but we’ve done it. First round win and we’re going to try and keep going from here.”
Monster Energy Kawasaki now looks forward to the second round of the 2011 Australian Motocross Championship at Appin NSW, on 3 April.
2011 Australian Motocross Championship
Round 1 – Broadford, VIC 13 March 2011-03-14
1. Billy Mackenzie, Monster Energy Kawasaki 89 points
2. Cody Cooper, Suzuki 71 points
3. Lawson Bopping, Suzuki 70 points
4. Cheyne Boyd, Honda 69 points
5. Ryan Marmont, KTM 68 points
6. Dean Ferris, Monster Energy Kawasaki 63 points
7. Josh Coppins, Yamaha 52 points
8. Louis Calvin, KTM 51 points
9. Jay Marmont, Yamaha 47 points
10. Michael Phillips, Honda 44 points
1. Matt Moss, KTM 94 points
2. Brenden Harrison, KTM 72 points
3. Josh Cachia, KTM 66 points
4. Cody Mackie, Honda 60 points
5. Phil Nicoletti, Monster Energy Kawasaki 57 points
6. Kirk Gibbs, Yamaha 55 points
7. Daniel McCoy, Suzuki 52 points
8. Kade Mosig, Honda 49 points
9. Ford Dale, Yamaha 49 points
10. Luke Styke, Yamaha 46 points
Images by Shayne Rice and Rudi Baker