With one of the most highly anticipated opening rounds in Monster Energy Supercross history just two days away, most of the buzz has centered around the ultra deep, ultra competitive 450SX class. Lost in the headlines of RV’s attempt for a three-peat, the return of Reed and Canard, a revitalized Stewart, the inauguration of Barcia and a second-year for Dungey under KTM, is the 250SX West Region, which is chalk full of rising stars. Here's your spotter's guide to the 2013 season:
Headlining the class is defending West Region champion Eli Tomac. Although Tomac is itching to make the ascending move to the 450SX class, he will have to wait until the 2014 season, or at least until the start of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, or maybe just the east coast supercross rounds this year. But his first assignment is defending his title. The newest member of the GEICO Honda squad, Zach Osborne, will join Tomac on the west coast. Osborne returns to the states full-time in 2013 after spending the last few years competing in the FIM World Motocross Championship in Europe. The Virginia native raced the first four races of the West Region in 2012 with his European based Bike-It Cosworth Yamaha team, garnering two podium appearances before returning to Europe. Justin Bogle, Wil Hahn and Zach Bell will race east.
Eli Tomac's title defense begins this weekend.
Simon Cudby photo
The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki stable looks to reclaim supremacy of the 250SX class after losing out on both championships a year ago. and will send stablemates Blake Baggett, Martin Davalos and Tyla Rattray to battle for supremacy of the west. Baggett, who’s struggled with consistency (in supercross) in recent years, is coming off a wrist injury suffered at the Monster Energy Cup, but should be 100 percent for the opener. Veteran Rattray returns to the team for a fifth season and will be joined by fellow 250SX veteran Martin Davalos—his first with the team. Dean Wilson, Justin Hill and Darryn Durham will race east.
A late off-season arm injury to Ken Roczen before the 2011 season stunted Red Bull KTMs plan of using both Roczen and Marvin Musquin in split duties—the team was hoping to have both race the 250SX West Region and then transition to the 450SX class on the 350 for the east. The plans have changed again this season, as the team will only feature Roczen on the west (Musquin will contest the East Region). This will be Roczen’s second full-time season in supercross.
The Lucas Oil/Troy Lee Designs Honda team will once again put all of its eggs in one basket—as all three members will contest the 250SX West Region. This is nothing new for the TLD crew as they have been doing it since the team’s inception. Multi-time 250SX winner Cole Seely once again headlines the TLD squadron. He won Anaheim 1 last year, but this year the race will mark the first time Seely has been on the gate since a devastating crash, in which he lost part of his kidney, at last year's Salt Lake City SX. The California native looks to be 100 percent as he explained to our David Pingree earlier this week. Joining Seely will be holdover Christian Craig, who has missed a ton of supercross races with injury the last few years but is ready to go this time. Amateur sensation Jessy Nelson, who’s ascension up the ladder included Rookie of the Year honors in Lucas Oil Pro Motocross, looks to enjoy the same success in supercross.
Blake Baggett leads the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki West Region charge.
Simon Cudby photo
J-Star/JDR KTM is another team that will feature all of its riders in the West Region. Holdover Malcolm Stewart will be joined by a pair of new faces. Joey Savatgy will make his pro debut at Anaheim. The Georgia native, and three-time AMA Amateur National Champion at Loretta Lynn Ranch, is making the switch from Suzuki (the bike he’s ridden since 2010) to KTM for his first professional season. Since coming to America full-time in 2010 the powerful Australian-based team has always featured a couple of Aussies, such as Matt Moss and Dan Reardon. This year, Josh Chachia joins the ranks. Chachia, a staple on the JDR team in Australia, raced the last round of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross in 2012 and will race the Monster Energy Supercross 250SX West Region before returning to Australia to contest the Australian MX Nationals.
After a solid year in the West Region in 2012, Jason Anderson returns to headline the Rockstar Energy Racing team on the west coast. Veteran Ryan Sipes will join Anderson on the west coast in his first season with the team. Blake Wharton and Nico Izzi are slated for the east.
From a team that housed up to seven riders at points last season, Star racing enters 2013 much leaner. Gone are Austin Stroupe, Ryan Morais (now Team Manager), Nico Izzi, Gareth Swanepoel, Ryan Sipes, Bobby Kiniry and a handful of replacement riders. Also gone is the partnership with Valli Yamaha. Star will be a one-rider team on the west coast, as the only returning member from the 2012 squad, Kyle Cunningham, will lead the team. Rookie Jeremy Martin will contest the east rounds.
The other half of the Star/Valli spilt, Valli Yamaha, signed long-time Lucas Oil/Troy Lee Designs rider Travis Baker for 2013. Baker is currently the only member of the team and will contest the West Region.
After a breakout 2012 season Jake Canada is back under the MotoConcepts tent. Canada will ride the west, with newest team member, Gavin Faith, handling the east coast duties.
Jason Anderson returns to lead the Rockstar Energy Racing team out west.
Simon Cudby photo
Others to Watch:
Michael Leib – After his contract was nullified by CLS Kawasaki (Europe) to contest the FIM World Motocross Championships, Michael Leib is back with help from Rocket Exhaust and On Track.
Austin Politelli – Politelli had a very “under-the-radar” rookie year in 2012. Can he find the same success in 2013?
Max Anstie – Anstie, like last year, will only race a handful of 250SX races, as he will be returning to Europe to contest the FIM World Motocross Championships.
Dakota Tedder – Dakota had a career best season in 2012. Will 2013 feature more improvement?
Dillian Epstein – The former Team Green amateur rider will make his pro debut at Anaheim.
Nick Paluzzi – Paluzzi looks to rebound from a treacherous 2012 season.
Derek Anderson – The star of the “Driven to Ride” web series makes his supercross debut at Anaheim.
Chris Plouffe – The second year rider from California looks to rebound from an injury plagued rookie season.
Tyler Bereman – The SoCal kid will make his rookie debut at Anaheim.
Jean Carlos Ramos – All we knew about this dude last year is that he had a cool name. We later found out he's from Brazil. He rode pretty well, too. He'll be back for '13.