With an epic 2011 Monster Energy Supercross season in the rearview, the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship kicks off this weekend with the same basic thread—contenders are here, contenders are healthy, and contenders are ready. So why shouldn’t we see another great title battle here, too?
To make you sound smart when Hangtown’s first motos hit the air live on Fuel TV, we’ve put together this Spotter’s Guide with an update on who is riding what in the 450 Class this summer. Stay tuned to Racer X tomorrow for the 250 class.
If we missed anyone, send a letter to email@example.com and we’ll get ‘em in.
Team Rockstar Makita Suzuki
#1: Ryan Dungey: The Dunge narrowly lost his 2010 SX crown, so he now has more motivation to hang onto his 2010 AMA MX title. No one wants to give up two titles in one season, and that’s why Dungey has been spotted all over Southern California logging laps on his #1 plate-shod RM-Z450.
#24: Brett Metcalfe: After Metty missed half of his rookie 450 SX campaign to a broken wrist, you may have forgotten that he finished second in points to Dungey 450 MX points last year. And that was his first season on the big bike, riding for GEICO Powersports Honda. Now he’s on the full factory team with Dungey and fully healed up from his indoor injuries. Look out.
Dungey is going be very reluctant to give up both his #1 plates.
Photo: Simon Cudby
Team BTOSports.com BBMX
#26 Michael Byrne: Byrner needs a good series on his BBMX/BTOSports.com-backed Suzuki, since his supercross season started late with an injury. But Michael has been in this situation before, only to bounce back strong outdoors. His teammate Jason Thomas is out for the summer with after recently undergoing ACL surgery.
Team ARMA Energy Snax Suzuki City
#54 Jason Lawrence All your “Where’s J-Law?” questions can be answered here: he’s riding an RM-Z450 for the Suzuki City team. Is there any magic left? We’ll soon see.
Team Monster Energy Kawasaki
#2 Ryan Villopoto: It’s been nearly two years since Villopoto raced a 450 outdoors—he went 1-1 at the Glen Helen opener in 2009, then jacked up his knee and pulled out of Hangtown the next week. Further injuries have kept him away from motocross since. Now he’s packing the Monster Energy Supercross Championship in his return.
#32 Jake Weimer: Tough season last year on a 250 for Weimer, but the year before, he won two nationals and rode for the victorious Motocross of Nations team. He was supposed to make his 450 debut in supercross, but a broken arm kept him out until the last two races. He’ll be ready this time.
Team San Manuel/Red Bull Yamaha
#7. James Stewart: Sure would be fun to see James outdoors again, and there were rumors he may ride the first four rounds, but he is not currently entered for Hangtown. Neither is his teammate, Kyle Regal.
Team Muscle Milk Toyota Joe Gibbs Racing
#10. Justin Brayton: Brayton twisted his ankle at the Las Vegas SX but should be ready to race by Hangtown. He came into last year’s season healing from a punctured lung and never got to show what he had.
#18. Davi Millsaps: Davi has been logging the test laps back east getting his machine ready, and he did show some improvement late in supercross.
Team MotoConcepts Yamaha
11. Kyle Chisholm: The Chizz was putting in the best rides of his career early in this supercross season before crashing and bruising a lung in Houston. He’s been recovering ever since and will be ready for Hangtown.
12. Tommy Hahn: T-Hahn missed some supercross racing with an injury, too, but did come back by Dallas. He hasn’t even touched a supercross practice track—he’s been fully focused on riding outdoors for two months now.
377. Christophe Pourcel: The Pourcel rumors went round and round, but the could-have-been 250 Class champion in 2009 and 2010 ended up on MotoConcepts. He’s only been on the bike for three weeks but has long said he favors a 450 over a 250, and was riding a KX450F at home for quite a while for riding and training. So he should be ready.
Team Rockstar/Valli Motorsports Yamaha
#27. Nick Wey: Nick Wey will be there all summer, giving it his all for team two-seven.
#74. Austin Stroupe: You may not see Austin this summer. His shoulder injury from last year was still nagging, so he went under the knife after supercross. He could be back by midseason, depending on how the recovery goes.
#539. Ricky Dietrich: RD gave up his very successful career in WORCS and EnduroCross to give full-time motocross a try. Remember, he was showing top-five speed two years ago as a fill-in for Monster Energy Kawasaki.
Team Rock River Power Sports Yamaha
#53. Jarred Browne: “Jet” Browne is going to miss a few races with injuries, so Vince Friese will be a sub for him wearing national #45.
#801. Jeff Alessi: Jeff is still nursing supercross injuries and will be out for a few rounds as well, so Drew Yenerich, #87, will sub for him.
Team DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing Yamaha
#76. Kyle Partridge: This just in: privateer Partridge will now race 450 Yamahas for Star.
Team American Honda Racing
#14. Kevin Windham: With both Trey Canard and Josh Grant out, Kevin Windham is subbing in at American Honda Racing. He nearly went out himself after his crash with James Stewart at Las Vegas, but we hear he’s healed up and will ride Hangtown.
#33. Josh Grant: JG tore his ACL at the Phoenix supercross and is just about ready to get back on a bike now. You’ll see him on the track after a few rounds.
#41. Trey Canard: After breaking his femur toward the end of supercross, Canard is in the same mode as Grant, trying to recover and hoping to return soon. Maybe RedBud.
#22. Chad Reed: Reed and his TwoTwo Motorsports team is in for the full season. You may recall that Reed is the 2009 AMA MX Champ.
Lucas Oil Troy Lee Honda
#144. Christian Craig: Craig injured his knee in supercross but is back and ready now—he raced the USGP. He’ll be on a 450 this summer.
Alessi returns for KTM in 2011. Only it's on a 450.
Photo: Simon Cudby
Team Red Bull KTM
#29. Andrew Short: Red Bull KTM returns to the 450 Class after taking a few years off, and Shorty will be competing on the 350 SX-F. The bike has come a long way since Mike Alessi raced it last year, and Shorty usually runs up front outdoors.
#800. Mike Alessi: Mikey boy gets his wish—he’s back on a 450. The KTM 450 doesn’t pack fuel injection like the 350 does, but it does have a linkage now. And, Mike was plenty fast when he last rode a KTM 450 outdoors in 2007. Holeshots, anyone?
Team J-Star Motors/JDR KTM
#942. Tye Simmonds: This 18-year-old Australian was under the radar in supercross. Because he’s too big to race Lites bikes, he had to jump into the deep waters of the 450 group. He’s riding the 350, still, and he should be a little more comfortable outdoors.