Mother Nature reared her ugly head as the 2017 Australian Supercross Championship played out its sixth and grand final round on Saturday night (November 18) at Jimboomba X-Stadium in the Logan shire of south-east Queensland.
Consistent pre-event rains turned the popular Jimboomba venue into a quagmire, forcing officials to announce a modified schedule of practice, qualifying and racing that delivered an evening of competition that for many bikes and riders fast became a battle for survival.
Despite the horrific track conditions, the spirits of Penrite CRF Honda Racing team riders Joel Wightman and Nick Sutherland were not dampened, the duo going on to score top ten finishes in their respective Finals to wrap up the 2017 race season in fine style.
In the SX1 category, NSW Hunter Valley-based Wightman was quick to admit the mud-fest
conditions made the track a challenge, as even though the rain finally stopped for the evening’s Heats and Finals, the track actually became harder to ride as it dried and became sticky, while the base underneath was still hard and slick.
“I was really happy to finish second in my heat race, as I basically stayed out of trouble and rode consistent laps,” Wightman explained. “But by the time the Final came around, not many jumps were getting attempted it was a true mud race.
“In the Final, my plan was to just stay on two wheels and I managed to do that – with only a few near misses! I finished seventh, which is my best result of the series and a good result to finish off the season with.
“I finished tenth overall in the SX1 championship in my rookie season in the class,” Wightman continued, “and with three Americans ahead of me and after an injury-riddled year, I’m somewhat satisfied. Missing the Final on the second night at the Aus-X Open last weekend cost me in the overall standings, but I’m looking forward to a big off-season now to reset and get prepared for 2018.”
In the SX2 division, Sutherland continued to line up for the Penrite CRF Honda Racing squad aboard the CRF250R of injured team rider Kyle Webster, and the popular Queenslander pushed on gamely in the sloppy conditions.
“In my Heat race I got an okay start but binned it in the second corner,” Sutherland revealed.
“But I kept my hands on the bars and got back up to make it to fifth at the finish.
“In the Final, I made another okay start, in the top five again, and was running top five for the majority of the race, but the longer the race went on, the harder the track got.
“I crashed twice with two laps to go, which cost me a top-five finish,” Sutherland continued, “but to finish the Final in sixth place, which gave me seventh overall in the Championship, was a good way to complete the series, and to say thanks to the Penrite CRF Honda Racing team and all the team sponsors and my supporters who made this opportunity possible.”
For Penrite CRF Honda Racing team owner Mark Luksich, the Jimboomba event marked the conclusion of the team’s third season of competition, in a year that delivered a range of highs and lows.
“2017 has been a memorable year, for many different reasons,” says Luksich. “Joel saw injuries take a toll on his MX Nationals season, but he came back strongly in SX, and to complete the Championship in tenth overall is a very deserving result.
“Nick has done a tremendous job in these recent SX races since joining the team at such short notice after Kyle Webster’s accident at Bacchus Marsh, and he has been a pleasure to work with and deserved his seventh place in the Championship.
“Meanwhile Kyle is continuing his recovery from his injuries and after his success in MX Nationals racing this year, we can’t wait to see him return in 2018 as the Penrite CRF Honda Racing team gears up for our fourth season and the forthcoming announcement of our team line-up as we get set to compete as Honda’s official MX2/SX2 race team.
“Of course our race activities are only made possible by all our team sponsors, who I wish to thank for all their ongoing support and enthusiasm, as we get ready for another year of national competition in 2018.”
Posted on: 20 Nov, 2017