With the Florida Winter Nationals (the Mini O’s) complete, we’ve witnessed the typical players making big power plays. Factory Connection Honda (GEICO) and Team Green (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki) are well stocked for the future, with Factory Connection signing the highly touted Zach Bell and Matt Bisceglia. Bell was once with Kawasaki and Bisceglia was on Yamahas. Team Green, not wanting to let another top prospect slip away, signed Florida wonder kid Adam Cianciarulo to an unprecedented five-year contract that will bring him right through the pro ranks. Bell and Bisceglia don’t have guaranteed pro deals yet, but as long as they perform as expected in the Am ranks, you can expect them to be pitting out of the pro GEICO Honda rig a few years down the road.
Cooper Webb made his Star/Valli debut at the Mini O's.
Photo: Rob Koy
Copying the success of the aforementioned Honda and Kawasaki programs, two new players have joined the fold. The newly merged Star/Valli Yamaha team has made the biggest push this off-season signing North Carolina’s Cooper Webb and Minnesota native Jeremy Martin—younger brother of American Motocross top privateer Alex Martin. This team also signed Kyle Peters to a pro contract following the Red Bull AMA Amateur Championship at Loretta Lynn Ranch a few months ago. Star/Valli has never run an amateur program before, but the obvious success GEICO Honda has had grooming the likes of Trey Canard, Justin Barcia, Blake Wharton, Eli Tomac and Justin Bogle has pushed this Yamaha team to make a move.
Another team making moves in the amateur ranks is KTM. Having already shown their muscle in the pro class—signing Ryan Dungey, and brining MX2 Champions Marvin Musquin (last year) and Ken Roczen to the U.S.—they’re also making huge strides in their amateur program, signing up-and-coming Vermont native Dakota Alix and Zach Bell’s younger brother Chase.
Lost in the shuffle was Suzuki, who just a short time ago had to deal with rumors that they were shutting down their amateur program. But the Rockstar Suzuki team is back, and it’s bringing the underrated Jace Owen with them. Joining Owen will be Daniel Baker—who’s replacing the aforementioned Jeremy Martin—and 85cc rider Michael Mosiman.
Zach Bell is looking to join the ranks of Canard, Barcia, Bogle, Tomac and Wharton for GEICO Honda.
Photo: Rob Koy
It’s telling that the Rockstar Suzuki program is run by the same people who operate the Rockstar Suzuki pro team—just like Factory Connection, Pro Circuit, Star Racing and KTM, the top amateurs are now groomed by the pro squads. In the old days, you rode for the brand, but transitioned to the team once you turned pro.
The ever changing landscape of amateur motocross seems to be changing once again. Teams no longer seem content to sit and wait on hot prospects to land in their lap. They’re going after top talent early and often, and trying to see them through to the pro ranks. Kawasaki’s Team Green program paved the way, and the GEICO team upped the ante. Now others are following suit.
Who’s next in line?