Empire Kawasaki racer Dylan Long has finished off the 2019 MX Nationals championship in spectacular fashion between 3-4 August at Coolum, Queensland, by scoring dual MX1 podium results in the double-header series finals.
Long has been a standout performer in the latter stages of the Australian Motocross Championship season since returning from injury, showcasing the capabilities of both himself and the highly-competitive Empire Kawasaki KX450.
Saturday marked Long's first overall podium of the year after he qualified in sixth position and then powered to 3-7 results in the opening MX1 sprint races for a combined moto score of fourth. In the final outing, he charged to third, granting him a deserved third overall for round nine.
Today was even more impressive for the popular Victorian talent, transferring through Super Pole to qualify in third. The first moto saw him one again ride to a top-three result in third place, before backing that form up with second in moto two. Those results saw him achieve back-to-back overall podiums, this time in P2 for round 10 to cap-off the series.
"I'm really stoked for myself and the Empire Kawasaki team to finish the season with these podium finishes," beamed an elated Long. "The goal was to get better and better at every round once I came back from injury and we did that.
"After finishing third yesterday, I knew I would have to back it up today and we managed to finish second, so we're really happy. The track was gruelling this weekend and especially today, but Empire Kawasaki had my KX450 working so good in these conditions and I can't thank them enough!"
Rounds nine and 10 were more difficult for second Empire Kawasaki MX1 entry, Lawson Bopping, unfortunately ruled out of contention early in the weekend. He qualified ninth and finished 12th in the first sprint race, but exited the second encounter with illness and wasn't able to return to racing from that point.
"Over the last couple of months I've been dealing with health issues again, so it's been difficult in these last few rounds," Bopping recalled. "Yesterday started off pretty decent and I was around fourth at the start of moto one, but obviously just couldn't hang in there and faded back. From there I got sick and it was dangerous for me, so it's really disappointing. I've had a great time with Empire Kawasaki and am super thankful for them to put me on-board."
At the conclusion of the 10-round MX1 championship, despite missing multiple rounds in the first half of the year, Long eventually climbed to ninth in the final standings. Bopping - who joined Empire Kawasaki as a fill-in rider from round two and then later became a team fixture - wound up 16th in the rankings.
The weekend was a consistent one for Deakin Hellier in the hard-fought MXD division, piloting the Empire Kawasaki KX250. In round nine he qualified in 17th and then scored 11-15 results for 13th overall, before round 10 saw him qualify 16th and go on to record a 15-11 scorecard for 14th overall. Hellier ended up 13th in the final championship standings.
"There were a few up and down moments in the results, but I gave it everything I had and I'm pretty happy with my finish this weekend," said Heller. "To finish 13th in the championship isn't what I wanted, but I was consistent and it's always good to finish healthy. A big thanks to Empire Kawasaki and everybody who has been behind us this season."
The weekend was contested in support of the National Breast Cancer Foundation, with Empire Kawasaki featuring a special pink livery across both rounds.
The team will now turn its focus to the 2019 Australian Supercross Championship, which will commence with round one at Brisbane Entertainment Centre in Queensland on Saturday, 12 October. Visit www.kawasaki.com.au for further information on Kawasaki Motors Australia.