Brenton Drager takes the win at the Underground FMX opener
Underground FMX rider, Brenton Drager, causes an upset at the Precise FMX Open, Mackay, by taking out his first major freestyle motocross competition.
The opening round of the Australian and Underground FMX Championships, presented by RFDmx, held at the impressive Precise compound in Mackay (Qld) last weekend set the stage for what was a spectacular showdown between the pro riders of the series and the up and comers.
Bad weather caused havoc in the lead up to competition, and forced the event to be moved to the Sunday. Thankfully, the sun was shinning and a well-prepped course lay waiting for the 24-rider field.
Qualifying highlighted who’d been putting in the hard work during the off-season, with underground riders Brenton Drager, Tyronne Gilks, Gyles Stainton and Matt Smith piling the pressure on 2011 champion, Rhys Hillier, who went through into the head-to-head rounds in the number one spot.
Two of the event favourites, Joel Brown and Pat Bowden, went down hard in qualifying and were both lucky to walk away. Brown, even though crashing on his last jump, showed the judges enough to advance through to the first head-to-head round. He earned the tough-as-nails award for the day by riding through the pain with a badly swollen knee that he hurt in practice, but come the finals he didn’t have enough left in the tank for his younger competitors.
After some epic battles in the Round 1 12-rider head-to-head, the six riders to transfer to the semi-finals were the in-form Rhys Hillier, Brenton Drager, Gyles Stainton, Aaron Guthrie, Matt Smith and local favourite Dan O’Brien — who had the advantage of 1000 locals cheering him on.
Rhys Hillier produced some big flip combos — a text book Ruler, Sideways Hart Attack, and stepped up by flipping the 110-foot hit to knock out Aaron Guthrie. Gyles Stainton overpowered Dan O’Brien with a good variety of tricks including two flips off the superkicker – one a Nac Flip. Brenton Drager surprised everyone with his clean extension and style, opening up his run with a Whip Flip, huge Double Nac Indy, Ruler Indy, and then closed with a big Nac Flip to take out Matt Smith.
North Queenslander, Gyles Stainton, was first out on the course in the three-man final, and looked nervous riding under pressure, as he didn’t produce the quality of his earlier runs. Brenton Drager, who had driven 35-hours from Phillip Island, Victoria, pulled out everything as he knew Rhys Hillier would be the man to beat. But after messing up a Kiss Of Death it looked like his chances of a win were shot. In FMX anything can happen, and Hillier, after starting his run off strong failed to execute a Double Grab, pulled out an average Whip, and then while going for a big KOD Flip on his last jump under rotated and had a spine tingling crash that he somehow managed to walk away from, only sustaining a dislocated rib.
Hillier’s crash wrecked his chances of a win and the surprised Brenton Drager walked away with his first open FMX competition. Gyles Stainton earned himself a well-deserved second with Rhys Hillier rounding out the top three.
Overall the Precise FMX Open was a huge success. It was a great start to the 2012 Australian and Underground FMX Championships. The event highlighted the huge progression riders have made in the off-season, and the four rounds remaining will surely produce some epic battles.
Click for more information about the Australian and Underground FMX Championships.
Precise FMX Open results – top 12
1. Brenton Drager
2. Gyles Stainton
3. Rhys Hillier (Pro)
4. Matt Smith
5. Azza Guthrie
6. Dan O’Brien
7. Tyronne Gilks
8. Steve Sommerfeld (Pro)
9. Pete Anderson (Pro)
10. Joe Sheppard (Pro)