ABSENCE OF MX NATS IN WAPOSTED: 21 Apr 2010 @ 1:44 pm 671 VIEWS
Nicki Shea-Howell Reports ...
Whilst there has been a great deal of speculations, innuendo, stories and discussion amongst the various motocross forums and websites regarding the current format of the MX Nationals in 2010, the championship series of the Australian motocross championships has been successfully promoted by Williams Event Management since 1997.
There has been a fair amount of criticism leveled at the series promoter with both South Australia and Western Australia missing out on not having rounds of the MX Nationals in 2010. Kevin Williams is the managing director of WEM.
In an exclusive interview, I asked Kevin the big question, why did WA miss out on the MX Nationals in 2010?
“In 2009 we were ready to take ten rounds of the MX Nationals into 2010, however due to the economic times, which everyone faced, not just the MX Nationals; we met with the manufacturers and Motorcycling Australia who asked that the two rounds which missed out previously be included.
We spoke with the AJS club in Perth and said, look we needed to take a break in 2010, but we will be back in 2011. We have a contract and agreement with the AJS Club that the Nationals will be back in 2011. There is no question whatsoever that we wont be back, we will in 2011.”
Bearing the global economic crisis and associated financials into consideration, Williams was forthcoming in reacting to the notion that the series is perceived as an eastern states series.
“I read all the forums and whilst we are predominantly eastern seaboard, this notion of it is purely a tri state series is incorrect it is the MX Nationals, an Australian championships. WEM can afford to fly and drive over to Perth, no question, however the teams and manufacturers of 120 competitors and support crews spend in excess of $380,000 in flights and fuel costs alone over to Perth and in these economic times this has to be put in perspective and taken into account”.
Across the border in South Australia, the state is abuzz with discussions and criticism that that state did not get a round of the MX Nationals. The reason why? South Australia, did not apply for a round of the Nationals. Williams was firm and directly to the point, “We had been at Murray Bridge and then there was some club turmoil at Murray Bridge, so no-one from South Australia applied for a round in 2010”.
And what of next year, now confirmed that WA is definitely back on the calendar, what about other expressions of interest which has seen two WA clubs already look at the current model. Williams is keen to see the championships move forward to other venues around the country. “In 2011 we will have ten rounds of the championships; however we would love to see 12 rounds which is the maximum in our contract we can run”.
And whilst WEM is committed on paper to come back to the west in 2011, he remained firm that the market, economic status, teams and manufacturers would determine the discussion. “We would like to be able to say that we would be back to Perth every year, however the market and circumstances may only allows us to come back every second year”
Williams defended this decision by leveling some responsibility to the local home grown heros of the WA riders.
“One of the major problems we face in WA is that we never have full grids in WA, whilst some of the east coast riders don’t come over, the local WA riders don’t come out and support it. I can understand and appreciate the some of the local riders may not want to go up against the top manufactures with all the fruit on their machinery or get lapped, and I can appreciate that.
"Two years ago we ran an all powers support for the riders and we did not get a full grid. We received feedback from WA on what the local riders wanted, we adapted the round especially for them and reduced the fees and still did not get a full grid.
"So the consumer base think well, why should we come over to Perth when the local guys don’t come out and fill the grids and support their own hometown round. You have some great riders in WA and riders currently contesting the series doing very well, and finishing well so far; however wit
h respect, the riders need to take some responsibility for this”.
And what about Perth, is the travelling road show of the MX Nationals looking forward to the event coming back to Perth next season. Kevin was again optimistic about Western Australia,
“We love racing and coming to Perth and the west and in fact we are looking at a couple of different venues”.
Williams has also considered the options of having two rounds in the west.
“One thought up for discussion is running one round in Perth on a Sunday and one round at Kalgoorlie under lights on a Wednesday night as the teams head back to Adelaide and run a round in Adelaide so that the teams and riders are getting three rounds and value for their money whilst coming across. Another option, is for Manjimup, and again I am open to discussions with all the various stakeholders and partners. But we are constantly looking at ways how we can develop the series.”
So what of the future of WA and the MX Nationals, is it possible to run a round at Manjimup?
“Look, over the years I have spoken to the people from Manjimup and they have never wanted a round of the Australian championship at Manjimup. They have always wanted us to bring the teams across so that they can stay and run their own individual race, well that’s not in the overall plan for the manufacturers and what they need to achieve from their budget and championship results, and their own business interests. If clubs are happy to work together with WEM in planning, infrastructure, government funding and support we will certainly be seriously determined to looking at all possibilities”.
A passionate Kevin Williams said he was happy to look at all options and in the next week was sending out a letter to all the state controlling bodies for expressions of interests for rounds of the MX Nationals.
The future is looking brighter for Western Australia, and also the country with Williams dedicated to constantly develop the MX Nationals and the series and look at ways for improvement. Despite the criticism, WEM, with Kevin Williams at the helm, a twelve round series looks to become more than a dream, with the realization now that the motocross industry in Australia is at a healthy place, with an equally exciting future ahead.
To hear the exclusive Kevin Williams interview in full, tune into MX WEEKLY on 91.3FM in Perth from 7pm tonight (Wednesday) 9pm eastern states time or listen LIVE on line at www.sportfm.com.au.