KTM’S GIBBS OUT TO SHOW WHAT HE CAN DO AT GLADSTONE
With a flu-affected Raymond Terrace round behind him, and a significant points gap ahead of him, KTM Motocross Racing Team rider Kirk Gibbs finds himself in the enviable position of having nothing to lose as this year's Monster Energy MX Nationals series continues at Gladstone, Queensland this weekend.
After a demonstrative win at Conondale, Gibbs admitted his Raymond Terrace performance was short of his best after a week affected by flu, and the South Australian carded only his second non-podium finish of the championship season after taking 4th and 6th.
Three weeks later, and the most improved MX1 rider of the past 16 months is back to full fitness, and headed for a first-time MX Nationals venue that should mean a level playing field for all the top riders.
Gibbs now trails defending champion Matt Moss by 40 points with two rounds yet to run, and with his championship prospects behind such a seasoned campaigner limited, Gibbs finds himself able to dispense with tactics and concentrate on good old-fashioned throttle twisting.
Rob Twyerould – Team Manager: “The week leading up to this one has been a big improvement over the week leading up to Raymond Terrace. Jordan’s been up with Kirk the last few days putting him through his paces, and he’s feeling good. The tracks he's been practising at with a few other guys have been good, so Gibbsy should go well. He’s seen Gladstone and he says the it's quite flat and should be a little bit tight and hard-packed, but the clubs usually put in a huge effort with these races so it should come up pretty good. As Gibbsy says, he's got nothing to lose now, he is free to do his best now, and hopefully, mathematically take it down to the last round. It's not over until it's over. And all the guys who have been racing in the series this year have been incredibly competitive, and hopefully we can keep the pressure on until the very last race of the series.”
Kirk Gibbs (KTM 450 SX-F) – “I'll do some stuff tomorrow early before I fly out, and that'll be it. I haven’t done a lot of off-the-bike training lately but I have been riding a lot, and just working on things I feel the need to work on, and getting as prepared as I can towards the last two rounds. I've seen racing unglazed and called in the race to myself, but I sort of know what it is going to be like, just expecting them to rip it pretty deep, and it's probably pretty sloppy in the morning. Then it should be pretty good during the day, and then probably pretty hard packed toward the end of the day, it's a pretty hard dirt. It should be sunny up there, so it should dry out pretty quick. I've always been try not to worry about the championship too much, but at Raymond Terrace I just had one of those days when nothing really falls into place. So with a points out what it is now, there is really nothing to lose, so I'm free to do is go into the next rounds an try to win and see where we end up.”
In MX2 Racing, 2013 vice-champ Kale Makeham showed some of his best form of the series last time out, powering the Tune-Tech KTM to second on the day, while Red Bull KTM’s Hamish Harwood maintained second overall. Conondale winner Caleb Ward slipped to sixth in the championship after suffering a twisted knee on the Axis Motorsports KTM, but will be back on deck for Gladstone.
Kale Makeham (KTM 250 SX) – “Feeling really good. Got a really good result last round which was something good to build on, and then we've had three weeks to work on the weaknesses and feeling confident that the work was done in that time is going to pay off. I don't have a particular goal for the next two rounds, I just want to be the fastest guy - every time we go on the track.”
Caleb Ward (KTM 250 SX) – “I'm going to be there. The knee is feeling really good and I'm probably the best I’ve felt all year really. Gladstone is the closest round to home but it still 1400 km away so there won’t be many more friends there. I'm back to seventh in the championship, but if I can get a top-five finish for my first year would be pretty good.”
In MXD racing – KTM’s contender at the pointy end, Jack Simpson is well within range of the championship lead, and has every intention of staking a claim for the title over the next two rounds.
Jack Simpson – "We’re all on the money with good preparation this round. After Gladstone we’ll trundle down slowly to Coolum, do a couple of days training and be ready to rumble for Coolum. I’m coming into this one with the ‘it's game time’ mentality - it's the business end now and we can make it happen, so that's what I'm going to do."
2014 Monster Energy MX Nationals Standings to date:
MX1: 1. Matt Moss 653, 2. Kirk Gibbs 613, 3. Billy Mackenzie 571, 4. Adam Monea 552, 5. Jake Moss 479, 6. Kade Mosig 468, 7. Jacob Wright 460, 8. Hayden Mellross 426, 9. Sam Martin 391, 10. Brock Winston 375
MX2: 1. Luke Clout 548, 2. Hamish Harwood 520, 3. Luke Arbon 509, 4. Kale Makeham 485, 5. Jay Wilson 478, 6. Brenden Harrison 464, 7. Caleb Ward 441, 8. Kayne Lamont 395, 9. Errol Willis 372, 10. Riley Graham 281
MXD: 1. Jed Beaton 459, 2. Egan Mastin 451, 3. Nathan Crawford 436, 4. Jack Simpson 431, 5. Wilson Todd 374, 6. Aaron Tanti 342, 7. Jayden Rykers 337, 8. Brock McLeary 309, 9. Kyle Webster 302, 10. Jett Anderson 220
Pics: Jeff Crow - Sport The Library