MOTOCROSS: AUS: Round two preview

Motocross hurricanes head to Horsham Victoria will host its second and final round of the 2005 Maxxis Australian Motocross Championship on April 10, with capacity fields set to ply their trade at the heralded Horsham layout. After a...

Motocross hurricanes head to Horsham

Victoria will host its second and final round of the 2005 Maxxis Australian Motocross Championship on April 10, with capacity fields set to ply their trade at the heralded Horsham layout.

After a superb opening round in Wonthaggi three weeks ago, the eight-round championship will re-convene this Sunday with Honda's Craig Anderson (No Fear CRF450R) the current pacesetter in Pro Open (250cc 2T versus 450cc 4T), while 21-year-old New Zealand rookie Luke Burkhart (Shift Motul Suzuki RM-Z250) holds sway in Pro Lite (125cc 2T versus 250cc 4T) over Serco Yamaha's Cameron Taylor (YZ250F).

Anderson, who won the 2002 Pro Open title before heading to America, was an indomitable force in round one, marking his full-time return to the Aussie scene in the most emphatic way possible -- he wasn't headed all day.

The New South Welshman, also a three-time Australian supercross champion, sits on a maximum 50pts after round one, ahead of New Zealand triumvirate Daryl Hurley (Shift Motul Suzuki RM-Z450, 44pts), defending champion Darryll King (CDR Nokia Yamaha YZ450F, 40) and Shayne King (TeamMoto Honda CRF450R, 36). Victorian Lee Ellis (Motorex KTM 450SXR) is fifth on 31pts.

Anderson will now make the pilgrimage to Horsham with fond memories of his last visit in 2002 -- two wins and a second. The 27-year-old's heroics on that day provided a stark contrast to Hurley, who only scored a miserable 3pts as he struggled with set-up on his then two-stroke Suzuki RM250.

Now, after a two-year campaign in America, Hurley is back with a vengeance on Suzuki's all-new four-stroke RM-Z450, and was the only rider capable of keeping Anderson in sight during round one.

"I am really enjoying my return to Suzuki; the team is awesome and the 450 is a dream to ride," said Hurley. "I was really happy with my speed in round one, although Anderson did pretty much what he wanted to do. I plan on turning that around in Horsham though.

"I've had an eye injury for about a month, which stopped me from spending a lot of time on the bike before Wonthaggi. However, the team still prepared my bike beautifully, and thanks to input from my teammate Danny Ham, it was pretty much dialed in from the start."

Hurley's best overall performance in an Australian motocross championship still remains his second place in the 2000 250cc title behind Andrew McFarlane.

Meanwhile, Darryll King will be keen to see that Hurley's reign as the leading New Zealander in the 2005 championship is extinguished in round two, with the 36-year-old somewhat of a recent Horsham specialist. The Hamilton-domiciled King, a five-time world motocross winner, has won races at Horsham during the last three years, which has him enthused about his prospects this Sunday.

"The Horsham track really suits me," said Darryll King, "and I am feeling a lot fitter now after I broke my foot 12 weeks ago. After three weeks of solid raining -- on and off the bike -- I am now in a position to close to gap to Hurley and Anderson."

Darryll's sibling Shayne, who scored two lonely fourths in round one, saddles up this weekend after victory in the New Zealand 450cc four-stroke title on March 26, and will be looking to replicate last year's overall win in Horsham. At that point, Shayne was a 7pt championship leader over Darryll, before an underwhelming follow-up round saw his title hopes evaporate in one fell swoop.

Also watch out for Ellis to spend more time at the pointy end of the field in the two 30-minute (plus a lap) races, after poor starts saw him playing catch-up in Wonthaggi. Danny Ham (Shift Motul Suzuki RM-Z450, 29pts) and New Zealander Peter Broxholme (Honda CRF450R, 29pts) are also capable of more, as is South Australian Shane Metcalfe (Kawasaki Motors KX250), who already has some handy results at Horsham to his name.

In Pro Lite, 40 riders - and nine of last year's top 10 -- will be in action, with Burkhart, who finished 20th in a MX1 world championship race in Italy last year, the man everyone is chasing. The New Zealander was fast and efficient in round one, far exceeding his initial aim of "finishing in the top five".

With two second places already in his dossier, Burkhart will be aiming to make the ascension to winner in Horsham, although a posse of Aussies -- and fellow Kiwi Cody Cooper (No Fear Honda CRF250R) -- will be out to make sure that doesn't happen.

Taylor, the reigning number two, is making the best fist of the Australian challenge at the moment, and his 40pts has him ahead of 2003 Pro Lites champion Troy Carroll (CDR Nokia Yamaha YZ250F, 38), Daniel McCoy (Motorex KTM 250SXF, 36), Danny Anderson (Honda CRF250R) and three riders on 25pts: Troy Dorron (No Fear Honda CRF250R), Mitch Hoad (Chris Watson Motorcycles YZ250F) and Warren Smart (CRF250R).

Dorron and Taylor shared second places behind defending champion Cody Cooper (No Fear Honda CRF250R) in last year's Horsham round, while Carroll won two out of three outings in 2003 en route to his championship win.

As for Cooper, the opening to his title defence at Wonthaggi was hampered by an AC joint injury, and he languishes in 22nd position on a meagre 3pts. The 21-year-old is now back to full fitness after a further three weeks of convalescence, and will be fired up for a resurgent effort.

Meanwhile, Ryan Marmont (Motorex KTM 250SXR, 20pts) was fast in round one, and is capable of running up the front for the entire 30 minutes on the all-new four-stroke machine.

Qualifying for round two starts at 9.00am, with the first of three National Cup (developmental class) races slated for 10.50am. The opening Pro Lites moto is at 11.20am. Entry is $20 for adults, $10 for children 5-15.


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Series General
Drivers Chris Watson , Andrew McFarlane