Dream start for Team Kawasaki
The new-look Team Kawasaki outfit, led by a masterful Daniel Reardon, showed its wares in a spectacular opening to the 2006 Australian Supercross Championship (AKA Supercross Masters) at Wayville Showground in Adelaide on February 11.
Reardon (KX450F) finished on the podium in all three SX Open (250cc 2T vs 450cc 4T) races, with the highlight an easy victory in the final instalment by 8.464sec over Shift Motul Suzuki's Luke Burkhart (RM-Z450).
Reardon, who chose the SX Open path in 2006 in favour of defending his SX Lite (125cc 2T vs 250cc 4T) title, finished on 67pts after the three races, seven in front of championship debutante, American Timmy Weigand (Motorex KTM 450SX, 60pts). Third was reigning No. 3, CDR Nokia Yamaha's Cheyne Boyd (YZ450F, 52pts).
It was Kawasaki's first overall win in the SX Open class since superstar Chad Reed won four rounds of the 2001 championship.
"It was awesome racing tonight, I really enjoyed it," said Reardon. "The first round's out of the way, but I'm still not at my peak yet. My starts were alright, but weren't anything special.
"I think fitness was a big thing though - I was following dudes out there with their tongues out halfway through the moto. I think it really shows who's been doing the most preparation for the season.
"The KX450F is awesome. When I first rode it I sort of didn't like it -- too much power, heavy -- but I stuck with it. I nearly decided to ride the [KX250] two-stroke, but I'm really glad I didn't, the four-stroke is awesome."
In SX Lite, Reardon's voluntary absence did little to quell the Kawasaki cause, with his new teammate Mitch Hoad (KX250F) winning the class by 3pts (62 to 59) over 2004 champion Cameron Taylor (Serco Yamaha YZ250F). Danny Anderson (No Fear Honda CRF250R), another new rider to the factory ranks in 2006, was third on 58pts.
But it was SX Open that carried the most intrigue in the championship opener, with nine of the top 10 from last year returning, as well as Reardon, Weigand and Daniel McCoy (Motorex KTM 450SX) joining the cartel.
In the opening eight-lapper, defending two-time champion Troy Carroll (CDR Nokia Yamaha YZ250) struggled to get off the line, and he only showed glimpses of his best a few times throughout the night. An inglorious 10th overall (32pts) was the end result, and the Queenslander will be hoping that his mojo returns for round two in Perth on March 25.
Meantime, Weigand, Cody Cooper (No Fear Honda CR250) and Reardon stole most of the limelight, as the Australian title returned to Wayville for the first time since 2002. Weigand, who earlier had failed to reach the business end of the SX Lite program, eventually outlasted Cooper by 1.512sec, with Reardon third from Boyd and 23-year-old South Aussie Shane Metcalfe (Team Seven M2R Honda CRF450R).
Weigand set the fastest lap of the night on lap two -- a 43.589 on the expansive outdoor layout. Weigand also joined the likes of countrymen Jeremy McGrath and Mike LaRocco who have won Aussie supercross title races.
"I came into this event not knowing what the competition would be like so I had my own nerves to battle with," said Weigand. "The Aussie riders show great skill, particularly Daniel Reardon, who I enjoyed battling with.
"I enjoyed the track but it was really tight compared to what I'm used to in America. The whoops section was the most different, they're a lot bigger and more consistent back home, plus there are more places to pass on the tracks in the US. I need to get accustomed to the different tracks here to keep on winning."
Weigand was now in the zone, and his victory in the second moto, this time a 10-lapper, was hardly a revelation. Reardon improved one spot this time out, ahead of McCoy, three-time SX Open champion Craig Anderson (No Fear Honda CRF450R) and Boyd.
However, what was surprising was Weigand's spectacular crash after the finish line, which left the crowd in raptures -- but the rider a little worse for wear.
In the 15-lap finale, Reardon's zenith was the triumph over Burkhart, while Anderson also edged into the top three for the first time all night. Boyd and McCoy weren't too far behind in fourth and fifth. Weigand was 11th after a spill in the whoops.
Anderson finished fourth overall on 51pts, ahead of Burkhart (50pts), Cooper (49pts) and McCoy (48pts).
In SX Lite, three riders emerged with victories: Hoad (race one), Dorron (No Fear Honda CRF250R, two) and Taylor (three). However, the major difference was that Hoad, 21, was far more consistent, and has now set himself up for a serious tilt at his maiden Australian championship.
Hoad finished second in 2005, but was always on the back foot after failing to make the round one final.
Danny Anderson also acquitted himself extremely well, and finished with a second and two fourths -- a successful harvest for the promising 19-year-old.
Bronte Holland (O'Neal/KTM Electric 250SXF, 53pts) was another to show some fibre, completing the night in fourth ahead of Dorron (52pts), Robbie Marshall (Serco Yamaha YZ250F, 46pts), Lewis Stewart (Barry Francis Motorcycles Honda CRF250R, 45pts) and Kade Mosig (Full Throttle Sports/Fox CRF250R, 38pts).
Mosig, who signed off on a brilliant junior career with dual Australian championships in 2005, was the pick of the new batch of teenage tearaways on the SX Lite scene, while his contemporary Shaun Williamson (Yamaha Australia YZ250F) didn't fare so well, and was carted off to hospital after a bad crash earlier in the day.