We all know what Dean Wilson looks like in Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki colors, so let' move forward from the present day signing and think about how this will impact Wilson's future.
It's great for Dean that he found a safety net once the Jeff Ward Racing situation started to get dicey. But the pressure is on. Based on his 2011 250 MX title, Dean's asking price and negotiating powers were huge. Plenty of teams wanted him, to the point where he could turn offers down (including JGR and the original approach from Pro Circuit, which would have kept him in the 250 class bike for an extra year). He was heading into 2013 with a fat paycheck and multi-year deal, staying with Kawasaki, and doing it for a team that had won at the highest level before (don't let the new JWR name fool you, this was the L&M team that won the 2008 and 2009 AMA Supercross titles). If it would have worked out, it would have been low pressure, it would have been fun. Now that he's been spit back into the Lites (wait, 250) class, and everyone will expect him to win and win big. And as we saw last year, the 250 class is exceptionally deep, maybe more competitive than ever. Dean is a great rider, but nothing is guaranteed in that division. For example, due to PC's injury woes, Dean will most likely be slated in 250SX West against Eli Tomac, so you're looking at a real battle there. And if he's on a 250 again outdoors, well, his teammate Blake Baggett sure isn't going to slow down, nor is Ken Roczen. Tomac may be there, too.
So, you've got Dean, who didn't even want to ride 250s anymore, having to step up and ride one better than ever, because the competition keeps stepping up.
Of course, Dean could potentially race a 450 outdoors (we've heard that rumor). How does that impact things? Heading into 2013 with JWR, Wilson got to cash in on potential -- the team was betting on him becoming a threat to win 450 races without having watched him race one. If Dean goes 450 this summer for PC, he'll at least have to show the potential to do battle with the likes of the Ryans. And that's a tall order no matter who you are. In other words, Dean has to perform at a very high level over the next 10 months to get back where he was a month ago.
On the bright side, some of his potential suitors might be better equipped to get him for '14. JGR should be working with a new Yamaha YZ450F by then, and maybe Chad Reed's TwoTwo Motorsports team will finally be able to make a run at a second rider -- or, maybe Reedy will step aside and let Dean be the lead dog. Chad has never been afraid of dropping a retirement rumor.
A lot is going to happen within the next few months, but Dean has to make sure it's all positive. Judging by the way he handled this little career crisis he just went through, he seems well-equipped.
Dean Wilson will be back with Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki for 2013.
Simon Cudby photo
Davey CoombsDean Wilson just did the right thing: he red-shirted and gets to play for his team one more year. If you're a college football fan, you understand that concept. You only get so much time to play for your school before you turn pro, but when you get hurt, you can play an extra season, and that helps make you as prepared as possible for the big move up.
In Deano's case, he was on the best team in the class -- Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki -- but after having an excellent sophomore (second) year in the 250 class, winning the 2011 Lucas Oil Motocross title, Wilson had an injury-shortened 2012 season. Still, he thought he was ready to move up to the big-time in the 450 class, and he signed in with Jeff Ward Racing, even though he had yet to win a Supercross Lites title. Some second-guessed his decision to join a fairly new team, but then that became a moot point when the wheels fell off of the JWR program. It seemed like a bad deal -- like a football player losing a scholarship or getting cut -- because the other 450 factory teams were full.
That's where the redshirt comes in. Like a football player with one last chance to make a big impression, Wilson now has a chance to show what he can really do in SX, and also test the deeper waters of the 450 class outdoors. He can use this last season in the 250 class -- his senior season in college terms -- to make a better case for himself.
Given the crowded market, the lack of full-blown 450 rides, and the empty spot in his trophy case for a #1 250 SX plate, I believe Dean Wilson is actually in a better spot now than he was when he was with JWR, which was also learning its way as a new franchise team. Dean gets another year to learn the ropes, work with Mitch Payton and Bones Bacon, and maybe win another championship before moving on up. Like a redshirted, blue-chip athlete who stays in school one more year, Wilson once again has a chance to improve his stock before he goes into the draft -- in moto terms, a 450 factory ride in 2014.