Suzuki Report from Broadford MX
Team Shift Motul Suzuki gathered momentum in the Pro Open and Pro Lites titles charge with its revised rider line-up in today's opening round of the 2007 Australian Motocross Championship at the State Motorcycle Centre, Broadford (VIC).
Fielding the revised line-up for the entire 10-round motocross series, Team Shift Motul Suzuki welcomed back former Australian Champion, Daryl Hurley to contest the Pro Open class, while Luke Burkhart assumed his new mantle aboard the RM-Z250 Pro Lites entry.
Returning to the scene of his 2006-season ending collision, Hurley had a difficult start to the day at Broadford, beginning with a lap-one crash in the first Pro Open moto.
Clawing his way back through the pack, Hurley was progressing strongly until a wayward rock struck him in the eye and shattered his goggles, leaving him with severe bruising to his right eye and reduced visibility, eventually crossing the line in ninth. Rapidly gathering momentum, Hurley was running in a clear second place in moto two before the race was red-flagged.
On the re-start, Hurley took the holeshot and led for several laps until Daniel Reardon made a move for the lead. Hurley then held second position and maintained a comfortable gap back to third-placed Cheyne Boyd until the final lap of the race when he had a minor crash as a result of the reduced visibility in his injured right eye and Boyd slipped by relegating the Kiwi rider to third, sealing fifth overall.
With limited time on his new RM-Z250 race machine, Burkhart got his championship assault off to a solid start, qualifying third fastest in the ultra-competitive Lites class.
The season-opening Lites race didn't begin as smoothly for the young New Zealander as he tangled with Cody Mackie at the race start, rejoining the fray in second-last place. Impressively passing 17 riders on the opening lap, Burkhart was on a major charge through the 40-strong field. Working his way up the order throughout the 30-minute moto, the 23-year-old Suzuki rider was running inside the top ten on the final lap when a second crash dropped him back to 14th.
A much stronger performance in moto two saw Burkhart put in solid, consistent laps across the 30-minute battle to cross the finish line in a very promising fourth place. Now sitting seventh overall in the Pro Lites class, Suzuki is confident that Burkhart can significantly improve his championship standing during the remaining nine rounds to be a series contender.
Team Shift Motul Suzuki will spend time testing and developing its RM-Z racebikes ahead of next weekend's second round in Penguin (TAS) on Sunday 22 April.
DARYL HURLEY – TEAM SHIFT MOTUL SUZUKI
"It's really good to be back racing in Australia. I took a little bit to get comfortable on the bike again; in the first race I was getting back into the rhythm but I was slowed a bit struggling to see clearly with my eye all swollen and bruised.
"It was so dusty and hard to see out there; then a rock came flying out of the dust and hit me in the face and my goggles completely blew apart."
LUKE BURKHART – TEAM SHIFT MOTUL SUZUKI
"The first race was pretty frustrating – I made a good start, but Cody Mackie crashed right in front of me and I had nowhere to go and got my front wheel stuck between his rear guard and wheel.
"It was really difficult to get close enough to make passing moves because you couldn't see a thing when you got in behind the other guys with all the dust.
"A 10-round championship isn't won in round one and this is a reasonable foundation for the season – we've got some good points to start with and there's 18 more motos still to come."
JAY FOREMAN – TEAM SHIFT MOTUL SUZUKI TEAM MANAGER
"It's a solid start for the season that we can build on in both classes.
"Now the season has finally started we've got a better idea of where we sit in the competition and what needs to be done to challenge for the series. I'm encouraged by the performances of both riders as the day went on; they each had a good run for their second races.
"After nine months out of the competition, Daryl was a little tentative to begin with but quickly got his confidence back and was running up the front of the pack where he belongs. "Without any time to test on the 250 before the start of the season, I'm pretty pleased to have also banked some reasonable points in the Lites class, too.
"Switching classes, Luke was quick on the smaller bike right from the start of the day – he had some back luck at the start of race one and fought back through the field, and then he had a better run and scored a good result in race two.
"We'll get out and do some testing before Penguin next week, particularly to get the 250 set up specifically for Luke."
2007 AUSTRALIAN MOTOCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP – ROUND 1:
1 Daniel Reardon 50, 2 Cheyne Boyd 42, 3 Darryll King 34, 4 Jay Marmont 33, 5 Daryl Hurley 32 (Suzuki RM-Z450), 6 Kade Mosig 27, 7 Justin Carafa 27, 8 Shane Metcalfe 23, 9 Craig Anderson 22, 10 Cody Cooper 19
1 Danny Anderson 45, 2 Jake Moss 43, 3 Adam Monea 38, 4 Mitch Hoad 34, 5 Daniel McCoy 29, 6 Michael Phillips 28, 7 Luke Burkhart (Suzuki RM-Z250) 25, 8 Cody Mackie 24, 9 Louis Calvin 24, 10 Lewis Stewart 19