The 2021 Manjimup 15000
The Manjimup 15000 is one of the most iconic motocross events on the planet, and in 2021, MXstore headed west to check it out firsthand! We'd been hearing for years just how good the event was, and with 2020 being canceled due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we knew the 2021 edition was not to be missed. A quick chat with Willie from Dirt High Promotions and we were in, signing on to support the Junior Holeshot Awards at the event and come along for the ride!
Our mates Jase Macalpine (Gypsy Tales Podcast) and Sam Moore (Fist Handwear) had already signed up for the cross-country trek in their Fist Handwear Sprinter Van, but with time not our on side and more than a few things to keep us busy, we decided flying over was our best option. We picked up a motorhome from Perth, rendezvoused with our guy Jackson Richardson (who had just picked up his Gas Gas MC 450 machine from Savage Motorcycles), then headed south to meet up with the boys at Manjimup! We were pumped, and the four days ahead of us were going to be nothing short of amazing.
We arrived on Thursday evening around 8pm and headed to the camping grounds, which were packed with people getting ready for a huge weekend ahead. The vibe was well and truly alive, and we could already tell that the Manjimup 15000 was ready to live up to the hype. It had been a long day of travel, however, and knowing we had a big few days ahead of us, we had a quick dinner and hit the hay.
One thing that everyone had told us was to be prepared for the cold - Jatz took this advice seriously, spending over $500 at BCF in Perth on thermal gear to ensure he was ready for it. The temperature, however, barely dropped into single digits on our first night, and Jatz was up in arms Friday morning that the guys at BCF had stitched him up. Plenty of laughs that morning! Still, it was certainly chilly, especially when you're coming from the sunny Gold Coast, but overall the weather was looking great and it looked like we'd have an epic day of riding conditions ahead of us.
Friday was practice day, with Juniors on the track in the morning, before the Seniors hit the track in the afternoon. The majority of riders seemed to fall into two categories - WA locals who had raced Manjimup their whole lives, or newcomers who were experiencing the Manjimup 15000 for the first time! For the locals, the multiple practice sessions across all the classes is a chance to get out and check out the current conditions, while for the newcomers, it was an opportunity to try and familiarise themselves with one of the best and most brutal circuits in the country!
It was Jatz, Sam and Jase's first trip to Manjimup, so getting used to the track was top of the priority list. This was Jatz' first professional motocross race since 2018, and if there's any track that's going to push your abilities to the limit, it was this one! The boys all made it through practice unscathed and were actually pumped on how fun the track was to ride. It certainly got rougher as the practice sessions went through, but all in all it held up well, and everyone was looking forward to getting out there again on Sunday for the seniors race day.
CDR Monster Energy Yamaha's Luke Clout was one of the big guns who made the trek westward to take on the Manjimup 15000, his second visit to the prestigious event. Check out the video below to see Clouty take us for a hot lap of the Manjimup circuit during practice on the Friday afternoon!
Practice Friday afternoon saw the All Stars hit the track for the first time, and what a field of talent it was. Along with Luke Clout and Jackson Richardson, the lineup also included the reigning Manjimup 15000 Champion Regan Duffy, reigning MX Nationals Champion Todd Waters, former Manjimup Champion Matt Moss, as well as regular 450 ProMX heavyweights Brett Metcalfe, Aaron Tanti, Jayden Rykers, Connor Tierney, Jay Lamb and so many more. It was Clouty and Regan trading top place throughout the practice sessions, and it was looking more and more likely that if anyone was going to dethrone Regan on his home circuit, it was Clouty.
Friday night had us heading along to the Opening Ceremony for the 15000 at the Tall Timbers Brewery in Manjimup. It was a great night put on by Willie and his team, featuring interviews with riders, sponsors, media, local council and more! It was a great opportunity to get a better idea of the history of the Manjimup 15000, what it means to riders to be able to race the event, and just how important it is to the local community. It was a cool night to be a part of, and certainly had us buzzing for the Juniors race day on Saturday!
JUNIOR RACE DAY SATURDAY
Saturday morning arrived and you certainly knew that it was race day. The music kicked off loud and blaring from 6:30am, and in a matter of minutes, the entire Manjimup Motorcycle club facility was abuzz with activity. It was such a cool way to start the day and really set the tone for what was going to be an epic day of racing ahead. We were stoked to be supporting the Junior Holeshot awards, with $75 of MXstore spending money up for grabs for every holeshot across the junior classes. And to say we were blown away at the huge number of junior riders lining up on the gates would be an understatement!
There were 7 classes lining up throughout the day in the Junior grades - the 50cc Demo 4-9yrs, 85cc/150cc 9-12yrs, 50cc Auto, 100-125cc 2 Stroke 13-16yrs, 65cc 7-12yrs, 125cc 2 Stroke/250cc 13-16yrs, and the 85cc/150cc 12-16yrs. All up there were close to 250 Junior riders hitting the race track throughout the day, with full grids across nearly every race! The racing action was great to see, and there was no surprise to see the local WA crew up near the front in the majority of the races.
We have to give a huge shoutout to the Manjimup track crew for their work during the junior races. With such a challenging track, some of the smaller bikes certainly faced some issues, but the track crew was seemingly on hand for every single rider who went down or struggled with bike issues! Despite the issues, the kids were having the time of their lives out there, and no matter where there were finishing, they all seemed to have a huge smile on their faces. The future of WA motocross is certainly looking bright! Check out some of our favourite images below from the Junior race day.
A big congratulations to all the juniors who hit the track and had a blast out there. A special mention to young Deegan Fort on his Yamaha YZ65 and YZ85, who took home a total of 5 holeshots on the day, and also Kayden Minear, who was simply untouchable on his KTM machine in the 125/250cc classes, as well as dominating the elimination race!
The awards presentation straight after racing was a really cool occasion, and there were smiles aplenty for all the juniors up there collecting their awards and trophies after a big day of racing. Saturday night was relatively quiet, with most people in prep mode for the seniors race day on Sunday. We hit the KTM restaurant for dinner at the track, with a lot of laughs (mostly thanks to Ronan from The Bakery Film Co), and then headed back to the motorhome for a good night's sleep ahead of Sunday.
SENIOR RACE DAY SUNDAY
Sunday morning started much the same as Saturday; music blaring at 6am in the morning, and the unmistakable sounds of 2 stroke and 4 stroke machines firing up all over the Manjimup facility. The main difference - heavy rain from 2am in the morning had the place looking a little worse for wear, and while the boys faired pretty well in their swags, Jase's gear bag was a different story! We were feeling very thankful for the motorhome, though it was looking like it was going to be a wet day ahead.
A big breakfast at the KTM restaurant had us all fuelled up for the day ahead, and before too long the first practice sessions were on the line. The rain had slowed, though it was still coming down in patches, and the track was actually looking pretty good considering the amount of water that had come down. The forecast was looking promising, and it was looking like conditions were going to be prime for a great day of racing. Before we knew it, the first class was on the line, and we were off and racing!
The seniors field was stacked with talent across 8 classes, as well as the additional lineup of the OLD STARS - a group of mates from back in the day who love to catch up and ride dirt bikes. The bodies may be battered, and the riding pace a little slower these days, but the spirit of Motocross lives on through the OLD STARS and their legacy is now passed down to the current generation. Names like Jeff Leisk and Glen Fearn jumped out of the lineup, but this class isn't about prestige or champions - it's just a group of mates out there having a blast riding dirt bikes, and that's something we can definitely get behind!
The rest of the senior classes were the All Stars, Women, Veterans (35-44yrs), Masters (45+yrs), Pro Expert, MX1 Clubman, MX2 Clubman 1, and MX2 Clubman 2. The first round of races proved fairly challenging with slightly sloppy conditions, but the sun was beginning to shine through heading into the second round of races and conditions were looking prime! One of the best things about the Manjimup circuit is the viewing opportunities for spectators. No matter where you are around the track, you can get a great view of the majority of the racing, so keeping track of the action is easy. And the action was definitely worth paying attention to!
The All Stars racing was undoubtedly the pinnacle of the event, and watching Clouty and Regan drop the hammer in their head to head battles over the opening couple of races was impressive to say the least. This was a field of talent to rival the best in the world, and they were certainly putting on a show for the Manjimup faithful. Sam and Jase were racing in the Vets class, and though we could tell the track was putting them to the test, they were nothing but smiles coming back into the pits after each race. You don't drive 4,500km across the country to NOT enjoy yourself at the races!
The racing progressed quickly on Sunday, with so many exciting races keeping the fans captivated and wanting more of the same. The Women's class was one of the most competitive, and it was great to watch Hannah Stewart, Kara Cats and Court Hirst duking it out up front for wins in all of their moto's! The Vets and Masters classes were certainly not short of speed, and watching Aussie legends like Craig Anderson and Michael Addison take on the Manjimup circuit in person was pretty damn cool.
Each of the seniors classes had 4 races throughout the day, while the All Stars also threw in an elimination race in the third round. Unfortunately for the WA faithful, Regan Duffy blew his forks out holeshotting the third round of the knockout, and it was Aaron Tanti who looked to be in the box seat to take the prestigious race win. Luke Clout's chances seemed to be over with bike issues on the start line when they were down to the final six and was left watching on in frustration as his brother and mechanic Aaron wheeled it off the start. The motocross gods were smiling on him, however, as his YZ450F machine miraculously fired up and he was back on the startline just in time for gate drop! Two laps later and Clouty took the elimination race win, defeating Todd Waters and Aaron Tanti in the final three. Congrats mate!
The track was getting brutal as the day wore on, though it certainly didn't seem to be slowing anyone down. As we headed into the fourth round of racing in the afternoon there were some tired bodies around the place, but the excitement was high to get out there and finish the day on a strong note. We had a quick chat with Jatz about his plans for the final moto, and all he had to say was "hopefully survive", which seemed to sum up the mood for a lot of riders out there!
Sam and Jase finished their personal battle in the Vets class, with Jase just pipping Sam in the overall scoring (he'll tell you all about it), and the boys were looking both relieved and exhausted as they finished up the day. The All Stars were the final race of the day, with an 8 lap moto sure to put the boys to the test. Clouty had yet to lose a race on the day, but his bike was in a worrying state, and any slip up in the final moto could hand the Manjimup 15000 crown to Regan, hot on his heels in second place overall.
It was the CDR machine of Clout that grabbed the early lead, but Regan was determined to put on a show for the WA crowd in the final moto of the day, passing Clouty not long after and gapping the field throughout the moto. Clouty nursed his bike through the 8 lap race and took home second place with Todd Waters right behind him in third, more than enough to secure the overall win and his first Manjimup 15000 title. Celebratory burnouts ensued!
The MXstore After Party was the last thing on the list for the weekend, and it was a great way to wrap up an awesome trip. The Manjimup crew was ready to celebrate, and it was an enjoyable night mixing with riders, officials, locals, sponsors and a whole lot more. Special shoutout to Clouty and Todd Waters on their breakdance battle!
The next morning we were headed back to Perth in the motorhome and jumping on a flight back home. We were fairly bruised and battered (and that was without even racing), but this was an experience we will never forget. A huge shoutout to Willie and his whole team for putting on such an incredible event, the riders, the sponsors, the fans, and everyone else who contributed to making the Manjimup 15000 one of the best motocross events in the world. We are already counting down the days to 2022, and you can guarantee we'll be there going bigger and better than before! We hope to see you guys there.
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