2021 MXoN - What Might Have Been for Team Australia?
The 2021 Motocross of Nations is scheduled to be held on September 25 and 26 in Italy, following the cancellation of the 2020 running of the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Regretfully, Team Australia is unable to attend the 2021 event as a result of the significant restrictions and regulations on international travel due to the pandemic. It's an unfortunate scenario but certainly one not limited just to Australia, with the powerhouse American team also withdrawing their participation from the event in the face of the growing challenges provided by COVID-19 restrictions.
As disappointing as it is to not have our Aussie stars representing the green and gold at the most prestigious motocross event on the planet, it really highlighted to us just how deep our talent pool is when we considered what our 2021 MXoN team may have looked like. For those unfamiliar with the event, each country participating sends a 3 rider team to compete across 3 different races, in their 3 respective classes - MXGP, MX2 and MX Open. Each class races 2 races; MXGP & MX2, MX2 & MX Open, MXGP and MX Open. The lowest finish from the 6 total results is then discarded, and with an Olympic style scoring system for the remaining 5 results of your country's riders, the nation with the lowest cumulative score wins the trophy!
With that in mind, we thought we'd take a look at the Australian stars that may have made up the 3 man team to fly the Aussie flag and represent our great country! Let us know below who YOU would choose for your MXoN Team Australia.
Fresh off becoming the first Australian to ever win the 250 Pro Motocross Championship in America, Jett Lawrence would be first on the list of most people's Aussie MXoN teams, and for good reason. The 18 year old prodigy from the Sunshine Coast has stamped his authority on the international field this year, emerging victorious in his season long battles with Yamaha's Justin Cooper and Jeremy Martin to seal the first trophy of what many are predicting to be a career for the ages.
Outright speed is no problem for the aptly named Jett, and the 2021 Pro Motocross season showed that consistency is just another string in his bow. The final, championship deciding round in Hangtown was the only race we really saw Jett struggle to handle the pressure of the world on his shoulders, yet despite what he himself described as "an absolutely terrible ride", he still held his composure enough to secure his first championship. Much like his brother before him, we have zero doubt whatsoever that Jett would deliver the performance of a lifetime lining up alongside the world's best in the green and gold. We can't wait to see it!
While the rest of the names listed here were somewhat realistic possibilities to line up for the 2021 Aussie team, Mitch Evans would still have been sidelined with injury, even if we were to attend the event. However, we figured that this was only a hypothetical, so as the top ranked Australian 450 rider on the global race scene, we had to throw Mitch's name into the mix.
Prior to his troublesome wrist injury, the HRC man had shown he has the speed to run alongside the likes of Jeffrey Herlings and Tim Gajser in the World Championship, and if he were fully fit, we're confident one of the Australian 450 machines would have his name on it! A strong debut performance for Team Australia at the 2018 MXoN at Red Bud planted Mitch's feet firmly in the upper echelons of the elite international 450 racers, and we can't wait to see him back in the green and gold one day soon.
After an uncharacteristically slow start to his 2021 MX2 campaign in the World Championship, Tasmania's Jed Beaton is looking more and more comfortable by the week and pushing himself firmly back into the championship picture. The factory Husqvarna man is a podium threat every time he lines up on the gate in the MX2 championship, and after a 2020 season that saw him narrowly miss the podium in 4th place, there's no doubt he's hungry to get on the box in what will be his final year in the MX2 championship.
Based in Europe, Jed looked a certainty to line up for Australia at the 2021 MXoN if called upon. What was up for debate is whether he was lining up on his usual 250 machine, or moving up to the 450 to contend the MXGP or MX Open class. With such a wealth of world class talent in the 250 class, it's hard to argue against putting one of our MX2 stars on the bigger machine and letting them rip. With a move to the MXGP class on the near horizon in 2022, Jed would have to have been one of the names at the top of the list for a 450 ride for Team Australia, and we know he would have crushed it!
Just like younger brother Jett, Hunter Lawrence had a 2021 season to remember. A strong Supercross season saw him finish in second behind Justin Cooper, while he joined Jett and Cooper on the podium in the Outdoor championship in third place. His motocross speed in particular was eye opening (that 1-1 at Southwick!), and despite a few rounds where he looked a little off the pace, there was no doubting that Hunter was a top 3 guy all season long. After a tough few years marred by injuries, 2021 was a breakout year for Hunter and we couldn't be more pumped for him.
Unlike Jett, Hunter has proven himself at the Motocross of Nations before. His results in the MX2 class at the 2017 and 2018 events were brilliant and given his progression over the years since, there's no reason to think 2021 would have been any different. What might have been different is the class he was riding, with Hunter tipped as one of the 250 stars likely to be given a berth on the 450 machine if the team were to go ahead. While we're disappointed we won't get to see Hunter in action at the 2021 event, we have no doubt he'll be a mainstay on the team for years to come.
The CDR Monster Energy Yamaha man has been the dominant 450 rider on home soil in 2021 and we have no doubt Luke Clout's name would have come into consideration for Team Australia at the 2021 MXoN. With a moto DNF due to bike issues at Round 1 of the Penrite Pro MX Championship the only blight on his 2021 season, Clouty has proven to be a class above since his return from racing in America. His dominant performance at the Manjimup 15000 was eye opening to say the least, and had the domestic race season continued here in Australia, we have no doubt he would he have been up the front of the pack all season long.
With tough COVID-19 travel restrictions and uncertainty around the postponed Australian race series, Clouty was never much of a realistic chance to ride for the team this year, but take those distractions away and we have no doubt he'd have been right in the mix for selection. A healthy and hungry Luke Clout onboard the rocketship YZ450F Monster Energy Yamaha machine can run with the best of them, and he absolutely would not look out of place donning the green and gold for Australia at the Motocross of Nations.
As the incumbent MX Open rider on the Australian team, Regan Duffy's name would be on most people's lists when considering the 2021 team lineup. Debuting in Assen 2019 as a 17 year old, the young Western Australian star showed no fear lining up against the world's best, and his performances on the track in treacherous conditions were simply outstanding. Sitting only 3 points behind Clouty in the Penrite Pro MX 450 Championship before the season was suspended, Regan has shown his pace is there to match it with the best of them, and had both hands in the air when Motorcycling Australia called for applications for the 2021 team.
With speed to burn and an endless amount of passion when it comes to representing his country, Regan is a rider you could put on the team with 100% confidence that he would leave everything on the track and wouldn't let anyone down. After debuting at such an early stage of his career, we have no doubt we'll see him back in the green and gold again soon and we can't wait to see it!
Another incumbent from the 2019 event, Kyle Webster would absolutely come into consideration for the 2021 team. Kyle's performance for Team Australia at Assen was incredible, and after his domination of the domestic MX2 Penrite Pro MX Championship prior to the season being suspended, you'd have to imagine his standings in the eyes of selectors was even stronger. Winning 5 of the 6 moto's (and somehow making it look easy) has him firmly planted as the best MX2 rider on Aussie soil, but how does he stack up against our overseas MX2 riders?
No matter the competition or challenges in front of him, Kyle Webster is a rider that knows how to rise to the occasion. Coming into the 2019 MXoN as a relative unknown, Kyle raised a lot of eyebrows with his huge third place finish in the qualifying race, and despite the wild and wet conditions on race day, finished 7th in the MX2 class. The Honda man has been a consistent threat in the domestic MX2 championship for a number of years now and has really come into his own in 2021. We had a blast with Kyle at the 2019 event and we'd love to see him back racing for Team Australia again in the near future!
Prior to his move to Europe for the 2020 MXGP season, Wilson Todd was the reason Kyle Webster hadn't claimed himself a domestic MX2 championship, winning back to back 250 titles in 2018 and 2019 before he headed off to take on the World Championship. While his European career has been disrupted somewhat by injury, there is no doubt that on his day, a healthy Wilson Todd is one of the quickest Australia 250 racers we've got, and we have no doubt he'd get the job done for Team Australia if called upon.
Wilson's recent results in the MX2 World Championship have been some of the best we've seen, with consistent top 10 finishes showing glimpses of the speed we'd come to know here in Australia. A top 5 finish in moto 1 in Turkey showed just how fast Wilson can be, no matter how talented the competition, and we'd love to see him take on the full field of the best in the world at a Motocross of Nations event.
The reigning 450 Australian motocross champion isn't the youngest guy on the starting line these days, but as the early rounds of the Penrite Pro MX 450 Championship showed, on his day Todd still has the speed and racecraft to match it with the best of them. A veteran when it comes to international racing, Todd has represented Australia on four occasions at the Motocross of Nations, and with such a wealth of experience you know he'd be a reliable pick if called upon.
Todd himself has said he would rather younger upcoming riders answer the call when it comes to stepping up and representing their country, but if injuries or other unavailabilities left a space open on the team, we have no doubt he'd put his hand up to fill the void. Not only that, we're confident he'd do one hell of a job and put his Husqvarna machine up the front against the best competition in the world. We'd love to see it!
As one of Australia's most decorated MXoN representatives of all time, Dean Ferris is a household name for most of the motocross industry in Australia. The incumbent MXGP class rider on the team would almost certainly have come into consideration for the 2021 event, however, a broken back and long road to recovery from a crash back in 2020 forced Dean into early retirement. It seemed to be a premature end to one of the greatest careers in Aussie motocross, but was it?
2021 has seen a return to racing for Dean, as he discovered that, in his words, the best thing for his recovery from his injury was riding! Dean has recently returned to racing at a few state level events and more than held his own. While a return to racing at an international level might be a little far-fetched at this early stage, we can't help but wonder... will we be fortunate enough to see Dean Ferris line up in the green and gold one last time?
While it's all hypothetical at this stage, there's no doubting the talent available for Australian selectors when the 2022 event rolls around. With all these names and more, is it too unreasonable to think that an elusive maiden Motocross of Nations victory for Australia is on the near horizon? We don't think so! #AussieAussieAussie
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