[Weekly Features]

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THROWDOWN NO.82 – 2013 Gas Gas EC450F

2 years ago

What’s this “Throwdown”? It’s a digital home for rumour, fact and innuendo, delivered on a weekly basis. Covering a broad spectrum of the off-road world’s news, the Throwdown will touch on everything from racing to trailriding; from industry tidbits to issues facing the sport. It’s about delivering you timely information all in one place so you don’t have to scour the Internet looking for it.

MX/SX---Aussie AMA MX/SX stalwart, Michael Byrne, is finally back on the bike after an extended layoff to allow his cracked vertebrae to heal. Despite being a top-shelf Pro rider for the best part of 15 years, Burner sounded like an excitable teenager this week after his first ride back. Great to see you're back, MB26!---After injuring his knee, leg and ribs, Chad Reed may no longer be racing this season, but his presence in the factory Honda big-rig is still making its mark. Anyone else notice how Justin Brayton paid tribute to Reed from the podium after last week's Toronto round of the AMA SX Series? "Having Chad here this weekend to give me some advice about my lines and where I could improve on the track made a big difference," the Muscle Milk Honda factory rider said. Despite a lingering knee injury, Brayton posted the fastest qualifying time and nailed his second holeshot and podium finish in as many weeks. Whatever Honda is paying Reed, it's not enough.---At the opening round of the 2012 Monster Energy MX Nats this weekend in Queensland, the powerhouse CDR Yamaha team will chalk up its 20th year in the game. Despite Rockstar's eleventh-hour withdrawal from its naming rights sponsorship of the team, principal Craig Dack has announced new sponsorship arrangements with Iveco Trucks, PodMX and Renthal. Speaking of 20, there will be a record of 20 internationals who've entered the 2012 MX Nats.---Twelve months ago, a new Speedway track was unveiled at Tumbulgum on the South-West Highway, south of Perth. After the success of that opening event, it hasn't been used since, but will be fired up again this weekend when it hosts the WA State Speedway Sidecar Championships, which is promoted by everyone's favourite Scotsman, Dirt High Promotions' Willie Thomson. Solo and stock bikes will also be on the weekend's race program---------------------------------------EnduroYamaha-backed AORC rider, Tom McCormack was in Papua New Guinea to compete in the Ride to Rivers two-day enduro last weekend. The Byron Bay-based youngster went 1-3 over the weekend's two rounds, finishing second Outright to Wayne Jennings.---Ballard's Offroad Yamaha team rider Matt Phillips has aggravated an existing injury this week, and goes into this weekend's Rounds 3 and 4 of the 12-round AORC series with two badly sprained wrists. But whatever happened to keeping your opposition guessing? Rather than keeping the injury quiet, the prolific young Facebook fiend plastered news of it for all to see this week. Is MP72 fair dinkum or just staging? Given he's prone to practical jokes, we wouldn't we surprised if Phillips is looking to mess with his rivals' heads. He may be leading the E2 class after two rounds, but he's down in fifth in the Outright standings, which is well below where he expects to be.---Best of luck to Matt Fish and the WA-based CPW KTM, who are in the UEA for the opening round of the FIM World Cross-Country Rally Championship this weekend - the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. The CPW team, which claimed a clean sweep of the Australasian Safari podium in 2010, will also contest the second round of the series a week later in Qatar. CPW's Don McGrath fired off this shot of Fish's race bike a few weeks back before jumping on a big bird bound for the Arab states. Its Safari graphics will be replaced by fresh ones over there.--- On the subject of Dakar, four-time Australasian Safari winner, Ben Grabham, has confirmed rumours that he will race the 2013 event, thanks to support from KTM Australia and Col Ross's HSE Group - a long-time supporter of KTM's desert racing program. "Yeah, I finally got the deal sorted with KTM and HSE," Grabham told Transmoto. "The timing is right for me, now that I'm focused solely on desert racing. I'll be racing KTM's 450RR (Rally Replica). We plan to do this properly, so I'm going to race the Moroccan round of the World Cross-Country Rally Championship in November. That should help me acclimatise to the desert and dunes I can expect to find in the Dakar." In the meantime, Grabbo is racing the Quit Forest Rally in WA this weekend, where his biggest threat is likely to come from his brother, Damien Grabham, who spearheads the Husaberg Rallye Racing team. Have fun on that pea-gravel, boys!---With Spanish manufacturer, Gas Gas, focusing its energies on the development of their two-stroke machines in recent years, their four-strokes have been somewhat overlooked. Check this Yamaha-powered EC450F that former Enduro World Champion, Ivan Cervantes, raced at the opening round of the EWC in Chile last weekend, posting an impressive 2-2 result. Strange though that Cervantes' 450 still appears to be running the 2011 frame, rather than the all-new perimeter frame that appears on the Gas Gas two-stroke models that have just landed in Oz. Kinda weird, prototype-looking fuel tank, too!---Australasian Safari organisers have confirmed details of their 3000km Adventure Tour, which will be run in conjunction with the September 21-29 event. Adventure Tour participants will ride the same tracks and some of the competitive stages as the competitors, but its itinerary will leave enough time to check out some of the local tourist attractions, and to mingle with Moto-class competitors to get a real feel for what competing in Australia's premier rally race entails. For more information, check out the Adventure Tour page of the Safari's website: www.australasiansafari.com.au Safari organsiers have also announced that Ross Runnalls has been appointed Clerk of Course for the 2012 event. Runnalls was a long-time competitor in both Moto and Auto divisions and has previously been the CRO (Competitor Relations Officer) for Moto-class entrants.---Does the earth ever stop shaking in Chile? Shortly after the awards ceremony for the opening round of the Enduro World Championship last weekend, an earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale rocked competitors. Thankfully, no one was injured. For the record, new KTM signing Antoine Meo, cleaned up both days in the E1 class. In E3, another new KTM signing, former Gas Gas rider, Christophe Nambotin, won both days - beating home three-time EWC champ and teammate, David Knight. In the E2 class, Husky's TE310-mounted Finn, eight-time EWC champ Juha Salminen, and Berg-mounted Frenchman, Pierre-Alexandre Renet, took one round-win apiece. Joining Meo, Renet and Nambotin on the top of the podium was Mathias Bellino, who won the Enduro Junior class - marking a French clean-sweep of wins in each of the four premier classes. Look for the French to throw out a serious challenge to Finland at this year's ISDE.---Things are ramping up for the 2012 Honda Broadford Bike Bonanza, to be held over the Easter weekend at Broadford's State Motorcycle Complex - about an hour's drive north of Melbourne. The good news is that the event has more of an off-road flavour this year. A special "Golden Era" exhibition will pay tribute to Honda's involvement in Australian Motocross, and the trick machines of the 1973 to 1984 era in particular. Cartoonist/satirist/MX tragic, Roger Harvey, will be unveiling the next in his series of classic, under-the-table MX publications, "Scrambles Down Under", which tracks the birth and growth of Scrambles in Australia. Also in attendance will be legends of the sport (such as Jeff Leisk, Mike Landman, Ray Vandenberg, Ray Owen, Ron Dinsdale, Ivan Mauger and Bernie Ryan) who'll be interviewed on-stage.---------------------------------------FMXFormer Sydney Swans AFL team captain and legend of the game, Paul Kelly, tried his hand at something completely different earlier this week. Responding to a dare, Kelly partnered up with Aussie FMX ace, Cam Sinclair, for a tandem Backflip to promote the upcoming Nitro Circus Live Tour in Oz. As Southside Promotions' Adam Bailey (who MC'd the promo event) told Transmoto, "Everything went fine with the tandem Backflip. But earlier on, when Kelly did a few ramp-to-ramp jumps by himself, he went down pretty hard and banged himself up. He didn't say much and went through with the tandem flip with Sincs, but soon went to hospital where they told him he'd fractured his hip!" No wonder they called Kelly "Captain Courageous" for so many years!---Speaking of the Nitro Circus Tour, Cam Sinclair plans to up the ante and Backflip with two mates on the bike at this year's shows - yep, a three-way Backflip. Seriously, boys?! ---Mark Monea, the bloke best known for throwing down his unique Carry-On (a kind of corkscrew Frontflip) busted his collarbone last weekend at his own compound while practicing for the upcoming Nitro Tour.---In the May issue of Transmoto magazine, which hits newsagent shelves early next week, there's a piece about how FMX has come full circle. We track how FMX has 'evolved' from its rebellious, anti-sponsor roots to a movement that is now all too happy to toe the line for corporate sponsors, and who are back in the racing paddocks around the world. Hart & Huntington now has naming-rights sponsors to teams in both the USA and Oz, and this weekend will see the first outing for the Serco Metal Mulisha Yamaha team at the MX Nats. You reckon Serco's team management will be obliged to run full-sleeve tatts?-------------------------------Industry

According to a few aftermarket accessory manufacturers we spoke to in the USA this week, Husaberg is planning to drop the 70-degree engine due to the costs associated with its production. We’re not sure whether Husaberg plans to release a new range for 2013 or 2014, but we are also told the KTM-owned Swedish-born marque is looking to rebrand itself and market a new range of enduro machines that slot in underneath KTM’s flagship EXC range. Take that with a grain of salt, but if what we’re told is true, that’s got to be crushing news for diehard Husaberg aficionados who are more accustomed to the idea that their beloved Bergs are boutique versions of the Katos..

GoPro helmet cam’s Aussie distributor, Lusty Industries, has announced that GoPro will again be the official camera partner for the Monster Energy MX Nationals. Additional GoPro HD Hero2 cameras will capture onboard and on-bike angles this year to provide viewers with more of an in-the-cockpit insight of what promises to be the most competitive season in the series’ history. The footage will be featured on GoPro’s MX YouTube channel as well as on various social media platforms. GoPro will also be on-site at the rounds, offering product demos and giveaways.

Unit really knows how to spark some controversy with their ad campaigns. Posted on Intsagram by Unit’s Paul Everest last week was a vandalised billboard that sat proudly near one of Unit’s retailers. Originally, the model in the advertisement had a T-shirt spray-painted on to cover her healthy set of ta-tas, with the word “respect” scribbled in blue – most likely by a roaming group of fuming female activists. Well, in another act of vandalism, some random punter has taken it upon himself (or herself) to reinstate her womanly prowess with a texta … good work, son! Let’s see how this one plays out.

JDR Motorsports has signed a deal for their riders to wear Bell helmets in both Australia and New Zealand – an arrangement made through the USA. In Australia, it’s rumoured that an exciting new line of Bell helmets are on the way and that Melbourne-based Monza Imports may have picked up their national distribution.

Wily vet of Europe’s World Motocross Championship, Geoff Meyer (who pens Transmoto’s weekly online column “MXGP Insider”), has released the 15th installment of his online/digi mag, MX Illustrated. Check it out: www.motocrossillustrated.com

Entries are now open for the East Coast MX Series – a series run by riders for riders (in much the same way as the Thumper Nats used to be), and caters to riders of all ages and abilities. Loving the grassroots theme underpinning the new series, Transmoto has got onboard as a sponsor, along with MX R&D, JDR Motorsports and Reality Design. For more information about the five-round NSW- and ACT-based series (which kicks off in early June), check out www.eastcoastmx.com.au

It’s hard to ignore the fact that the pace of battery development has accelerated in recent months. Lightweight lithium batteries have been released by the likes of Shorai, Super B and Anti Gravity in the past 12 months. And the latest lithium battery available to the Australian market is a UK-made specimen from Racing Batteries. With cranking power of 200PCA in a unit that weighs just over 500g and costs about $200, the Racing Battery is designed with the serious enduro racer in mind. For interested dealers or more information, check out www.racingbatteries.com.au

WA-based company, Harvey Fresh (who operate juice and dairy factories, and a winery that offers freshly squeezed fruit juices, dairy products … and fine wines) has signed on as the naming-rights sponsor of the 2013 Australian 4-Day Enduro (A4DE), to be held in Hervey, WA. The 2013 A4DE will take place from July 17 to 20 next year.

Former EWC and GNCC champ, Australia’s Shane Watts has partnered with GNCC organisers in an effort to raise awareness of the March of Dimes mission – an American organisation who’ve done Nobel Prize-winning work in improving the health of young babies. The Watts family was directly impacted by March of Dimes’ work when their second child, Rionn, was born sick and needed to undergo several surgeries. Nice one, Wattsy.

Here at Transmoto, we love the genius little app, Instagram, and we want you to as well. If you don’t already have Instagram, download it for free from iTunes, sign yourself up and if you’re at the AORC in Wonthaggi or Round 1 of the Monster Energy MX Nats in Conondale (which both take place this weekend), take a photo – using Instagram – hashtag it with #transmoto and upload it! After the weekend’s racing is run and won, we’ll throw the owner of the most creative/coolest image something from our prize cupboard. Want to see what that could be? Search for @Transmoto inside Instagram now and take a look for yourself!

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