PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The American Motorcyclist Association has selected some of the fastest youth motocross racers in the country to compete at the 2012 Federation International de Motocylisme Junior Motocross World Championship Aug. 25-26 in Sivlievo, Bulgaria.
Two riders selected for each of the three classes -- 65cc, 85cc and 125cc - will attempt to successfully defend the titles the U.S. team won in 2010 in France and 2011 in Italy.
This year's 65cc team members are Conner Mullennix from Santee, Calif., and Parker Mashburn from Stephenville, Texas. Both riders will compete aboard KTM Orange Brigade 65s.
Monster Energy Kawasaki Team Green rider Austin Forkner from Richards, Mo., and Suzuki amateur support team rider Jake Pinhancos from Rochester, Mass., will represent the United States in the 85cc ranks. Both Forkner and Pinhancos have won AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships. In 2010, Pinhancos represented the United States in France where he won the 65cc FIM Motocross World Championship.
In the 125cc class are Jerek Balkovic from Camp Hill, Pa., on his Cernics Racing Yamaha and Jordon Smith from Belmont, N.C., aboard his Farren/PR2 Racing Suzuki.
"I feel that the opportunity to represent my country against the greatest riders in the world and showcase my talents is a major highlight in my motocross career," said Smith, who won the Schoolboy 1 class at the 2012 AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships. "I have been training hard, and I am ready. I feel honored to follow in the footsteps of some of the greatest riders from the United States, such as James Stewart, Ryan Villipoto and Davi Millsaps, along with FIM World Champions Blake Wharton and Joey Savatgy.
"I look forward to using my talents to continue the groundwork they have laid and working with my teammates to prove that the USA is the best country for motocross," he continued. "I am positive that all of our hard work, training and dedication will bring home another world championship for the U.S. team."
KTM North America's Amateur Motocross Support Coordinator Mike Sleeter will serve as team manager and organize the team's efforts. Sleeter, a racer himself who also won a title at the 2012 AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships this year, brings years of amateur and professional racing experience and will surely be instrumental in the success of the team.
"Having the opportunity to help these amateur racers represent the United Sates is an honor, and I'm very excited," Sleeter said. "I've had the opportunity to race abroad myself, and the experience will be one these kids will never forget. We have a strong team, and I have confidence that they will perform well and represent the United States with pride."
AMA Motocross Manager Kip Bigelow said that the team is looking forward to re-creating the success it experienced in 2010 and 2011.
"The amount of time and effort needed to put the team together and coordinate the logistics is substantial, but the pride and honor that is displayed by the entire team makes it worth it," Bigelow said. "While in the past American riders, such as Ryan Villopoto in Italy in 2003, Blake Wharton in Bulgaria in 2007 and Eli Tomac in New Zealand in 2009, have won individual class titles, the overall team titles of the last two years have been exceptional. Without question, our amateur motocross program in America provides some of the best young racers in the world. I have no doubt that this year's team will compete at the highest level and will be a force to be reckoned with in Bulgaria.
"With support from the AMA and the FIM North America, along with team sponsorship from Cernic's Racing, Super Sketch, VP fuels, Dunlop, and Dirt Shirts, this looks to be another great adventure for these riders and their families," Bigelow added.
The riders will keep fans up to date with daily updates on the team's Facebook page and Twitter accounts. Those on location during the weekend will upload photos throughout the week on their Instagram account as well.
Instagram: Search for "teamusjrmx"
If you would like to donate to the Junior Motocross World U.S. team, you may do so by contacting Kip Bigelow at the AMA by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.