While domestic racing may be at a standstill 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, (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 in MotoGP, Toby Price in Dakar, Troy Bayliss in WorldSBK, Jason Crump (4 Times Individual and 3 Times Team AustraliaWorld 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 thedais 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 Australian’s 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), CampionatoItalianoVelocità (Italian Superbike Championship) European Women’s Cup, Italian Enduro, Full Gas EnduroSeries (USA), USA Pro Motocross and Supercross, Moto America, AMA Flat Track Racing and riders competing for their respective Speedway teams, in the UK, 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.”
“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 lounge rooms.
Please find below list of Australian riders competing overseas, discipline and their hometown.
- Jack Miller (MotoGP) – Rathmussen, Queensland
- Remy Gardner (Moto2) – Manly, New South Wales