– from MA Media
While domestic racing may be have slowed thanks to COVID-19, Australian representation on the world motorcycle racing scene is exploding, with more than 60 competitors overseas racing, and we are not there just to fill grid numbers.
Australia has always been the underdog when it comes to international sport, because of our small population, yet we produce high calibre sportsmen and women, and many world champions.
We are ranked 52nd in the world for population size of 25,643,800 as of 9 August 2020, well behind China 1.394billion, India 1.326billion, and USA with nearly 400million people.
But when it comes to sport, we are fierce, ranked 9th in the world behind the United States, Russia, Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan, and Italy according to greatestsportingnation.com.
In motorcycle racing, Australia has produced plenty of world champions over the years, (https://www.ma.org.au/about-ma-2/australias-world-champions-roll-of-honour/) from our first World Champion in 1936 Lionel Van Praag in Speedway, to recent times with the likes of Michael Doohan (5 times World Champion) and Casey Stoner (2 times winner) in MotoGP, Toby Price (2 times winner) in Dakar, Troy Bayliss in WorldSBK (3 times winner), Jason Crump (4 Times Individual and 3 Times Team Australia World Champion), Jason Doyle, Chris Holder in Speedway, Chad Reed in Supercross, Darrin Treloar and Jesse Headland in Speedway Sidecar, Matthew Philips in Enduro, Tayla Jones and Daniel Sanders in ISDE, Josh Hook in World Endurance, Bailey Malkiewicz, Braden Plath and Caleb Grothes in Junior Motocross, the list simply goes on.
But it is not just individual riders who have been successful on the word stage, our Australian teams in FIM Team Speedway, ISDE Women’s Trophy, ISDE Senior Trophy, ISDE Trophy Team, ISDE Junior Trophy, World Junior Motocross, Trial des Nations International Trophy Competition, Speedway World Cup, have all stood atop the dais in recent times.
In 2020, with COVID-19 devastating sporting competition across the globe, Australia is still extremely well represented on the world stage of motorcycle racing.
64 riders have traversed the globe in recent weeks and months in the hope to be standing atop the dais come the end of racing season flying the Australian flag.
In the USA and Europe, competition has fired back up with limited or no crowds.
We have Australians competing in MotoGP, MXGP, Moto2, MotoE, WorldSBK, Endurance World Cup, Moto3 World Junior Cup, European Talent Cup, Red Bull Rookies Cup, British Superbike Championships, IDM (German Superbike Championship), Campionato Italiano Velocita (Italian Superbike Championship) European Women’s Cup, Italian Enduro, Full Gas Enduro Series (USA), USA Pro Motocross and Supercross, Moto America, AMA Flat Track Racing,Speedway Grand Prix, World Under 21’s, SGP Challenge, and riders competing for their respective Speedway teams, in Poland, and Sweden, just to name a few.
We are not simply competing in these international competitions to fill grid spots, Australia have riders winning, finishing in the top three each weekend, and riders in their respective championships in the top 10 with their eyes firmly on the championship trophy.
So why are we so strong as a nation, with a relatively small population, in producing World Champion motorcycle riders?
Motorcycling Australia CEO, Peter Doyle said being Australian comes with some challenges when trying to compete at World Championship level.
“We are a long way from Europe, it’s very expensive to get into the current market, and unless your living there like the European riders are, racing in front of teams, learning the tracks and the challenges of different cultures, food, languages, you’re almost forgotten living down under,” he said.
“Australians for a long time, took it upon themselves to head overseas and take part in World Championship racing, pre-70’s there were not the large contract fees with large teams and limited special machines like the future decades would bring, so they largely had to fund it themselves, but you could purchase a bike that was somewhat competitive up until the mid-80’s.
“The 90’ and 00’s saw a very large number – possibly the largest – of Aussie’s heading overseas, the UK, USA and World Championships had Australian’s in nearly every class, Speedway and Road Racing had a huge contingent.
“Australians of that period were well respected for their work ethic, usually easy to work with and very adaptable to the differing conditions around the world.
“Much of the exodus especially in road racing in that era was due to a strong national series with large national level investment by the local distributors, and large numbers of talented riders trying to make it to the top.
“Having World Championship and large international events in Australia also gave the locals a chance to compete against the world’s best and showcase their talent.
“MA is investing more into junior programs each year and we will continue this to ensure we can help develop our next national and world champions.”
Both Billy Van Eerde (left) and Harry Khouri (right) have developed their skill through Australia’s junior programs and are now taking on the best in Europe.
“I think you would find it hard to find another sport in Australia that has produced the number of world champions year on year that Australia has, 25 FIM World Championships, at least one in each year for the past 25 years.”
While for most of us, we can’t be at a USA or European track in person to watch our Australian talent, we can via TV or online, and scream and cheer Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi, from the comfort of our loungerooms.
Australian riders competing overseas include:
• Jack Miller (MotoGP) Queensland
• Remy Gardner (Moto2) New South Wales
• Josh Hook (MotoE/EWC) New South Wales
• Tom Bramich (WSS 300) Victoria
• Tom Edwards (WSS 300) New South Wales
• Lachlan Epis (WSS 600) New South Wales
• Broc Parkes (EWC) New South Wales
• Josh Brookes (BSB) New South Wales
• Jason O’Halloran (BSB) New South Wales
• Tom Toparis (BSB SS) New South Wales
• Ben Currie (BSB SS) Victoria
• Levi Day (BSB TriOptions) South Australia
• Billy McConnell (BSB Superstock 1000) South Australia
• Brayden Elliott (BSB Superstock 1000) New South Wales
• Seth Crump (BSB Junior SS) Queensland
• Harry Khouri (IDM) New South Wales
• Jack Mahaffy (CIV) Victoria
• Joel Kelso (CEV World Junior Moto3) Northern Territory
• Senna Agius (CEV World Junior Moto3) New South Wales
• Billy Van Eerde (CEV World Junior Moto3/Red Bull Rookies Cup) Queensland
• Harrison Voight (European Talent Cup) Queensland
• Jacob Roulstone (European Talent Cup) New South Wales
• Sharni Pinfold (European Womens Cup) Queensland
• Grace Poutch (European Womens Cup) Victoria
• Dave Anthony (Moto America) California, USA
• Wil Ruprecht (Enduro World Championship & Italian Enduro Championship) , New South Wales
• Josh Strang (Full Gas Enduro & GNCC USA) New South Wales
• Taylor Jones (Full Gas Enduro & GNCC USA) New South Wales
• Mackenzie Tricker (Full Gas Enduro & GNCC USA) New South Wales
• Lyndon Snodgrass (Full Gas Enduro & GNCC USA) Victoria
MX & Supercross:
• Mitch Evans (MXGP) Queensland
• Jed Beaton (MX2) Victoria
• Wilson Todd (MX2) Queensland
• Nathan Crawford (MX2) Queensland
• Bailey Malkiewicz (MX2) Victoria
• Wilson Todd (MX2) Queensland
• Brad West (MX USA) Queensland
• Jett Lawrence (MX/Supercross USA) Queensland
• Hunter Lawrence (MX/Supercross USA) Queensland
• Luke Clout (MX/Supercross USA) New South Wales
• Jay Wilson (Supercross USA) Queensland
• Joel Wightman (Supercross USA) New South Wales
• Aaron Tanti (Supercross USA) New South Wales
Please note speedway riders often move from country to country depending on their contracts. Currently the majority of speedway riders are competing in Poland and Sweden, but Zane Kelleher remains in England.
• Jason Doyle (Speedway Grand Prix rider) New South Wales
• Chris Holder New South Wales
• Jack Holder New South Wales
• Max Fricke (Speedway Grand Prix rider) Victoria
• Jaimon Lidsey (under 21’s World Championship) Victoria
• Troy Batchelor South Australia
• Brady Kurtz New South Wales
• Keynan Rew Queensland
• Josh Pickering New South Wales
• Rohan Tungate New South Wales
• Sam Masters New South Wales
• Zane Kelleher Queensland
• Brayden McGuiness South Australia
• Jason Crump Queensland
• Ryan Douglas Queensland
• Toby Price (Dakar Rally) Queensland
• Rodney Faggotter (Dakar Rally) Queensland
• Ben Young (Dakar Rally) Victoria
• Trevor Wilson (Dakar Rally) Queensland
• Matthew Tisdall (Dakar Rally) Victoria
• Andrew Houlihan (African Eco Race) Victoria
• Max Whale (American Flat Track) Queensland
You can stay up to date with the latest news from our international competitors each Tuesday with our International Rider Wrap-up at www.ma.org.au