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Motocross Legend Byrne

Motocross Legend Byrne

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Australian Motocross Legend Byrne

Michael Byrne Supercross - By Peter Coward
Michael Byrne Motocross - Hangtown - By Peter Coward
Michael Byrne signing autographs - By Peter Coward

Photos:  [clockwise ]  Michael  Byrne leads fellow Aussie legend Chad Reed  in an AMA SX event; signing autographs; and in action at Hangtown in an outdoor AMA MX event. (By Peter Coward)

Aussie Byrne - a top MX and SX rider in the United States for over a decade

Michael Byrne is one of Australia’s all-time motocross greats, racing the Racing AMA Supercross and Motocross series for over a decade – between 2000 and 2014.

Byrne, from Queensland, moved to the United States permanently in 2001, finishing ninth overall in his first full season in the AMA Supercross series, aboard a Kawasaki.

His opportunity to race internationally came after his brilliant performance in the 2000 Australian 500cc Grand Prix at Broadford, where he finished 9th overall (with a 4-15) against the world’s best riders.

Following that event, he and another Aussie legend – the late Andrew McFarlane – launched their international racing careers. McFarlane finished fifth in the same Grand Prix, with a 3-9 result. But where McFarlane moved to Europe to contest the World Motocross Championships, Byrne went straight to America.

Prior to leaving Australia, Byrne won the 1998 Australian 125cc Motocross Championship, after finishing third the previous year.  

Then in 2000, he was the runner-up Australian 250cc Motocross Champion, finishing second to McFarlane and ahead of an up-and-coming international superstar Chad Reed. Reed would also turn professional in the US and go onto to become Australia’s most successful Supercross and Motocross rider, which overshadowed Byrne’s amazing career that has never been fully recognized or celebrated back home.

Together with Chad Reed and Craig Anderson, Byrne was a member of the Australian team that won the World Cup of Motocross at Glen Helen in the United States.  The 2002 Motocross of Nations was originally planned to be held in California USA that year, but was canceled at the last moment and moved to Spain.  

Byrne’s first AMA podium finish came on 22 February 2003, when he finished third in the 125 AMA SX round at Minneapolis aboard a Honda.

He became a very consistent top factory rider, finishing five times in the Top 10 in both the MX and SX series and achieving more than ten podium finishes, although he never broke through for a maiden overall victory.

Byrne twice finished fourth overall in the 450 AMA MX series (2008 and 2009, Suzuki). And in supercross, three times he finished 6th overall – in all classes (125 – 2003, Honda; 250 -2004, Kawasaki; and 450 -2006, Kawasaki).

Byrne had his fair share of injuries throughout his career, with his most serious happening just prior to the 2012 Monster Energy Supercross Championships, when he broke his neck.  He made a full recovery, however, and competed every round in the 2012 and 2013 450 AMA MX series, finishing 14th (Kawasaki) and 21st (KTM), respectively.

His last ride in the USA, before hanging up the boots, was on 9 August 2014 at Unadilla in the 450 AMA MX round as a privateer on a Kawasaki.  After retiring from professional racing, Byrne took on a new role as Assistant Team Manager for the Rock Mountain KTM team in America.

He continues to be involved in the sport and, in 2018, he was appointed as Team Manager of the Australian Motocross des Nations team. Australia finished fourth overall that year at Red Budd in the US, with the team including Kirk Gibbs (MX1, KTM), Hunter Lawrence (MX2, Honda) and Mitchell Evans (MXO, KTM).

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2001 World 250cc Grand Prix – Broadford – Michael Byrne leads Chad Reed

2001 MXdN Namur Belgium - Australian Michael Byrne's 125cc Yamaha - Photo by Chris McAteer

Byrne’s 500cc Yamaha at the 2001 Motocross des Nations in Namur, Belgium

Michael Byrne No 26 - By Peter Coward

Byrne finished 15th and 6th overall in the 2005 and 2006 AMA 250cc SX Championships

Byrne was coached for two years in the US by Australian motocross legend Stephen Gall

Byrne was coached for two years in the US by Australian motocross legend Stephen Gall (left)

2001 Adelaide Supercross Masters, 250 Final – egg449

2002 World Cup of Motocross – Glen Helen Raceway – The Mind Champion

Two Minutes With Michael Byrne – TransWorld Motocross

Byrne's key career highlights

Michael Byrne Motocross

Australian motocross legend Michael Byrne competing in the AMA SX Championships in the United States

Australian Motocross Championships

1997
3rd Australian 125cc Championship (Honda)

1998
Australian 125cc Champion (Honda)

2000
Runner-up Australian 250cc Champion (Honda)

 

AMA Supercross Championships

2001
9th overall 250 AMA SX (Kawasaki)

2003
6th overall 125 AMA SX (Honda)

2004
6th overall 250 AMA SX (Kawasaki)

2006
6th overall 450 AMA SX (Kawasaki)

2007
7th overall 450 AMA SX (Suzuki)

AMA Motocross Championships

2004
6th overall 250 AMA MX (Kawasaki)

2005
5th overall 250 AMA MX (Kawasaki)

2007
8th overall 450 AMA MX (Suzuki)

2008
4th overall 450 AMA MX (Suzuki)

2009
4th overall 450 AMA MX (Suzuki)

World Championships

2000
9th overall Australian 500cc Grand Prix, Broadford (Australia) 4-15

2002
1st at 2002 World Cup of Motocross – Glen Helen Raceway (with Australian team riders Chad Reed and Craig Anderson)

Motocross des Nations

1998
Foxhill, Great Britain – Australia 16th overall, Byrne rode 125cc class and finished 25th in Moto 1

1999
Andiatuba, Brazil – Australia 8th overall, Byrne rode 500cc class and finished 8/23 in two motos

2000
Saint Jean D’Angely, France – Australia 7th overall, Byrne rode 250cc class and finished 36/21 in two motos

2001
Namur, Belgium – Australia 6th overall, Byrne rode 125cc class and finished 39th in Moto 1

2007
Budd Creek, USA – Australia 8th overall, Byrne rode MX Open class and finished 30/12 in two motos

2008
Donnington, Great Britain – Australia 6th overall, Byrne rode MX Open class and finished 8/36 in two motos

2009
Franciarcorda, Italy – Australia 7th overall, Byrne rode MX Open class and finished 38/36 in two motos.

 

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Australian Motocross Champions 125cc
Australian Motocross Champions List (All classes)
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