From MotoGP to MX, Trials and Endurance racing overseas, Edward has the latest news on all of the Aussies doing us proud on the track. Here's his April 2023 update...
With many Australians showcasing their skills abroad in a range of disciplines both on-track and off-road, our monthly column focuses on how they’re faring in 2023 battling it out with the best in their chosen classes against the best riders in the world.
Jack Miller – MotoGP
Having started his season off in positive style with a seventh in the opener in Portugal, Jack Miller’s continued to make solid progress. Keeping his momentum going into the second stop on the calendar in Argentina, much upside could be extracted from his weekend in hugely challenging conditions.
After claiming 10th in the sprint race on Saturday in the dry, the weather turned on the Sunday, which suited the highly skilled Aussie nicely. Making moves briskly from way back on the grid, the #43 rose to the occasion to power through the pack to eventually bag sixth. Not bad at all considering the circumstances. Heading to America for round three, things didn’t go to plan despite the signs looking promising for Miller, with a crash in the race while in third and looking fast a source of frustration for the popular pilot.
“Unfortunate one. I felt really good from the get-go. I made a decent start, felt comfortable and was settled into the race,” Miller mused. “I swapped a map and then she let go of me. I was really trying to manage the tires and I felt we had a great chance of being there until the end. The positive part was the speed and how we were up there with the guys. We’ll take that from the weekend. We’ll learn from the negatives and go towards Jerez with a clean mind.”
Next up for Miller and his Red Bull KTM team is Jerez, where he’ll be hoping to build on his largely encouraging start to the campaign.
Joel Kelso – Moto3
After banking a quality ninth in the season opener, disaster struck for Joel Kelso just after the race had finished when he and another rider collided in a clash that saw the Darwinian devastatingly suffer a broken ankle. Forced to sit out all the rounds since, Kelso’s aiming to return at Jerez this weekend, where he’ll be eager to pick up where he left off.
Remy Gardner – World Superbike
Back on the grid for the WorldSBK stop at Assen, there was much room for upside to be gained from Remy Gardner’s weekend, as he continued making headway in his rookie term in the class.
Not only did he top the timesheets in FP3, but he also recorded a solid eighth in the first race before claiming a superb sixth in the second. Although his 11th in qualifying and 12th in the Superole were not ideal, the GYTR GRT Yamaha hotshot still left the iconic Dutch venue content with his efforts, knowing precisely where improvement is needed.
“Not a bad race two, although unfortunately, we had bad luck in the sprint race. For sure we need to work on our qualifying sessions, once again starting from behind didn’t help. In the last feature race, our pace was fine and I enjoyed it,” he explained. “The tyre choice was the correct one in my opinion, it was just a shame I lost a lot of time in the opening laps as I got forced wide, but we were still able to perform a good recovery. Let’s keep rolling and progress further, we know there’s potential.”
Oli Bayliss – World Supersport
Oli Bayliss suffered an unfortunate setback at Assen, with a crash that broke a couple of toes in the first free practice session ensuring he ultimately had to pull out despite valiantly trying to soldier on in FP2, qualifying and race one. Unable to shift gears and clearly in pain, Bayliss is now doing all he can to get back as soon as possible.
“Definitely not how I wanted the weekend in Assen to go. After a crash in FP1 I broke a couple of toes on my left foot and I was declared unfit Sunday morning. Really disappointing after the potential we had. Time to get some recovery and training in before Barcelona and come back strong. Thank you to my sponsors and supporters,” the gifted speedster said.
Josh Hook – FIM World Endurance Championship
Josh Hook and his TSR Honda France team started off their FIM World Endurance Championship title defence in fine fashion by reigning triumphant at the Le Mans 24 hours. The Aussie and his teammates, Mike Di Meglio and Alan Techer, managed the challenging surface masterfully to navigate the race with aplomb. Getting their pit stops spot on and sustaining excellent speed across the event, it was impressive to see Hook and co. maintain their focus and concentration in the gruelling conditions on their way to a memorable victory.
“We were champions last year without winning a race, but we want to win, we want to show that we are the best, so to win here in the first race of the season is incredible,” stated Hook. “Congratulations go to the team who have put together a winning package. We couldn’t have asked for anything better; the bike was perfect. We were also lucky, but with the work done this winter it is a deserved result. It’s not often that you can do a 24-hour race without any problems, neither in the box nor on the track, it’s an exceptional day for us.”
Jacob Roulstone – Red Bull Rookies Cup
Young Aussie Jacob Roulstone kicked off his Red Bull Rookies Cup campaign with an encouraging ride at the picturesque Portimao. Even though qualifying didn’t go as he envisaged due to the headwind and him admitting he positioned himself poorly in the pack, Roulstone got things back on track in the races. Storming through the field from 20th to claim 13th in the first hit-out, he then backed this up admirably with a wonderful ninth in the second, as he underlined his immense talent and race pace.
“In both races, I was very happy with myself and the way I rode from where I started so far back in P20. But made good opening laps and finished P13 on Saturday afternoon. And then with the quick turnaround on Sunday morning finished in P9 and ended the round at P10,” he explained in his insightful Red Bull Rookies blog.
Josh Brookes – British Superbike
Josh Brookes couldn’t have dreamt of a better way to begin his BSB crusade, as the experienced pilot rode sublimely to guarantee he holds the championship lead after the season opener at Silverstone. Commencing his weekend ideally by bagging a podium in Saturday’s sprint race, this served as a fine precursor for what was to come on Sunday. Stamping his mark in the first race emphatically and settling into his groove quickly, Brookes grabbed the lead five laps in and never looked back to register an outstanding win.
The final race was another one littered with upside for Brookes, who let his riding do all the talking again by securing a polished second to cap off his brilliant body of work that saw him notch his first win since 2020. “I’ve spent a long time speaking about this moment, when I was winning regularly I used to think the next one is at the next race and then the last two years have been quite hard to accept knowing I can’t get the results,” the ecstatic BMW rider asserted.
“People start to doubt you and I don’t blame anyone for that. It’s only natural, whether it’s fans or other teams, maybe they’re thinking you’re slipping and you’re getting old. I have thought about this moment a lot the past couple of years, so I don’t really have quite the emotional words to say, but it certainly feels good to win for myself and for the team.”
“It’s perfect leading the championship after the first round. We are always optimistic that we are going to have a good bike, a good package, but to get into the opening round and already have three podiums it’s just ideal! We are in a perfect place to build for the rounds to come.”
Jason O’Halloran – British Superbike
The likeable Aussie contender got his 2023 BSB series off to a consistent start by going 4-5-4 at Silverstone. Raking in a tidy points haul on a weekend where he highlighted his speed and all-round skills, he left feeling content with his output even if he knows there’s room for refinement.
“The weekend hasn’t been too bad. I felt pretty good in myself and felt like I was riding well and I was in the front group in all of the races. We’re just struggling a little bit with a few things so we have to keep working at it,” disclosed the ‘O Show’. “We’ve got a test coming up this week so we need to work through a few things as quick as we can and turn up to Oulton with the hope of being a bit stronger.”
Jett Lawrence – AMA Supercross
The sensational young hotshot is one step closer to claiming another title Stateside, with his April efforts seeing him flex his muscles over his competitors.
On top of winning his first Triple Crown at Glendale by virtue of 1-3-1 moto scores, he also registered a handy second in the mud at East Rutherford, where a last lap charge almost saw him reel in Max Anstie before an overzealous RJ Hampshire took him out. Thankfully the #18 was able to smartly remount and not lose any positions in the 250 East/West Showdown.
“The ending of the race changed pretty quickly. I tried to cut down on Max [Anstie] but ended up spinning. I figured that was gone but at least I had second locked up. In the last turn I just saw this giant wave come towards me; I had no chance to react,” Lawrence revealed. “Luckily, I kept the bike running and could get going right away. Tonight was a race where taking a risk for two points could cost you 20 points, so I just wanted to race my race and stay off the ground. We’re happy to make it through to the chequered flag.”
Hunter Lawrence – AMA Supercross
In excellent form and having won six of the eight races he’s competed in, Hunter Lawrence is within touching distance of claiming his maiden title in America. Having raced to another superb victory in Atlanta and grabbed a third in treacherous conditions at the Showdown at East Rutherford despite dealing with a groin injury, only a miracle can stop him now.
“My mechanic had put on the board ‘P5, calm,’ so I knew to just take it easy where I was. The worst thing to do in a mud race is to fall—your gloves get all muddy and slippery and just make riding a nightmare. I saw RJ and Jett start to battle a little, and just capitalised on how it all unfolded somehow. I’m pretty happy to stay off the ground and finish the race,” he explained after East Rutherford.
Riding exceptionally and in the form of his life, if all goes to plan this weekend in Nashville, Hunter will be crowned 250SX East champion, which would be a fitting reward for all his hard work and the resilience he’s displayed to overcome all the adversity he’s faced since moving to America.
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