With so much talent on the gate for this year’s Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, we’ve put together a spotters guide to keep track of who is where, and what they’re expected to do.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki
Blake Baggett – The defending 250MX Champion enters the season coming off a broken hand and wrist suffered at the opening round of Monster Energy Supercross. All signs point to him being 100 percent for the opener, and we all know what a healthy Blake Baggett can do outdoors.
Darryn Durham – Over a year has passed since Durham’s last race—a supercross in New Orleans that he actually won. Now after a long layoff with recurring shoulder problems (and an achillies injury thrown in) DD will finally make his outdoor debut with the most successful team in the class. The real question is if all of those injuries have robbed him of any speed.
Martin Davalos – The ultimate question mark heading into the season is arguably Martin Davalos. He has speed, but consistency and longevity have been issues. He’s said to be flying in outdoor testing, but Davalos is the riddle that may never be solved.
Blake Baggett is back to defend his 2012 250MX Championship.
Matty Fran photo
Justin Hill – Hangtown will mark the first professional Lucas Oil Pro Motocross race for the younger Hill, who was recovering from an ACL injury a year ago and did not race the last couple Nationals. Hill showed a lot of promise in his rookie supercross season before a fractured radius (forearm bone) in Toronto sidelined him for the remainder of the season.
Adam Cianciarulo – Not since Mike Alessi’s infamous “Believe the Hype” 2004 debut has their been as much anticipation for a rookie’s first race as there is for Cianciarulo at Hangtown. There was a lot of back and forth as to whether or not Cianciarulo, whose only big bike race came at the Monster Energy Cup, would wait until after Loretta’s or get the nod to turn pro at Hangtown, with the team obviously deciding on the latter. While his performance at Hangtown will be minuscule in the bigger picture of his career, the eyes of the industry will certainly be watching.
Other Notes: 2011 250MX Champion Dean Wilson will transition to the 450 class full-time. Joining Wilson in the 450 class for the team will be Tyla Rattray.
Cianciarulo will make his highly anticipated debut at Hangtown on Saturday.
Eli Tomac – After flirting with the decision to race the 450 outdoors, ultimately the team, and Tomac, decided to make one last run at a 250MX title that has eluded him. Tomac challenged Baggett for the title a season ago and is one of the favorites entering the 2013 season.
Wil Hahn – The newly crowned 250SX East Region Supercross Champion is expected to miss the first four rounds due to a broken hand suffered in practice at the Monster Energy Supercross season finale in Vegas. Hahn finished sixth in points a season ago, and could challenge for podiums upon his return.
Justin Bogle – The Oklahoman burst onto the scene at Unadilla in 2011 with a fifth overall in his first career race. But injuries have hampered Bogle for the better part of the past year. He missed significant time outdoors a year ago with a knee injury, and missed all of the 2013 Monster Energy Supercross season with a broken right scaphoid and dislocated left wrist. Getting back to race pace will be the goal for Bogle in the first couple rounds.
Zach Osborne - Following a four-year stint in Europe, Osborne returns to Lucas Oil Pro Motocross for the first time since 2008. Osborne has proven to be a podium contender in supercross, and his outdoor speed should be even better (the team tells ue Zach has been fastest in pre-season testing). Where he slots in with the top four contenders (Blake Baggett, Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen, Marvin Musquin) is in question entering the opener.
Justin Bogle makes his return at Hangtown.
Simon Cudby photo
Zach Bell – The highly touted amateur prospect’s injury list is already pretty extensive. Following his Horizon Award performance at Loretta’s last summer, he quickly made a name for himself in the professional ranks by grabbing a number of holeshots in a few appearances outdoors in 2012. But a number of spectacular crashes quickly took him out of the series. More crashes followed in supercross and the number one priority for Bell this summer is to stay healthy.
Red Bull KTM
Ken Roczen – The freshly crowned 250SX West Region Champion enters his second full season of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross as a heavy favorite—alongside Baggett, Tomac, and his teammate Marvin Musquin. The 2011 MX2 world champion has had a year to adapt to the tracks, the tighter schedule and the hot and humid weather. He also just claimed the 250 West Region SX title. This is expected to be a close title fight, with Roczen every bit in the mix.
Marvin Musquin – Another world champion that could take the crown from Baggett is Marvin Musquin. The crafty Frenchman had a solid year outdoors a season ago—including his first ever overall win at Unadilla—and just missed this year’s 250 East Region SX title. Musquin is expected to be in the title mix.
Rockstar Energy Racing
Marvin Musquin is expected to contend for his first title.
Jason Anderson – The 2010 AMA Horizon Award winner had a discouraging beginning to his pro career—even being sent home by his team for a few rounds to collect himself in 2011. Since then Anderson has rededicated himself and his potential is finally starting to shine through. Anderson finished eighth in points a season ago, and is hoping 2013 will be a breakthrough year.
Blake Wharton – The 250 class veteran is back for his second season with the team. Wharton missed all of the 2011 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship following surgery on both shoulders and admitted getting his outdoor stamina back a season ago took longer than expected. He did net a podium in a moto at his home race in Freestone last year. Yet the question that still lingers is; can Wharton make a title run outdoors?
Nico Izzi – Izzi resurrected a once stagnant career with the Star/Valli Yamaha team a season ago—showing the same flashes of the speed that garnered him 2008 Rookie of the Year honors. Izzi missed the entire 2013 Monster Energy Supercross season with a torn ACL, but is expected to be 100 percent for the opener. The former factory Suzuki rider returns to Suzuki—and the 250 class after spending last season in the 450 class—following stints with Yamaha and Honda.
Other Notes: Ryan Sipes will take the 450 spot on the team that was occupied by the now injured Davi Millsaps.
Nico Izzi is back for the Nationals after missing Monster Energy Supercross with a torn ACL.
Simon Cudby photo
MyPlash/Star Racing Yamaha
Kyle Cunningham – Cunningham will provide the veteran presence needed for this very young, yet very talented, team. Cunningham was never at 100 percent last season and wasn’t able to match the speed shown en route to fifth overall in 2011. By all accounts Cunningham is at full strength this season, which may lead to a return to his 2011 form.
Jeremy Martin – The highly touted rookie raced the last three Nationals a season ago, but 2013 will mark Martin’s first full season outdoors. A shoulder injury played a major role in his results a season ago, and in talking with Martin he is excited to be healthy and show his true potential.
Cooper Webb – Alongside Adam Cianciarulo, Cooper “Spider” Webb is arguably the most highly touted rookie of the 2013 class. Hailing from North Carolina, Webb has been a groomed by the great Gary Bailey from a young age. Webb has been preparing for his debut for over a year, and will lean on his mild-mannered approach to block out the pressure of the big stage. It’s hard to measure how a rookie will perform in their first professional season, but Webb could produce a few highlights this year.
Cooper Webb makes his pro debut at Hangtown on Saturday.
Simon Cudby photo
Lucas Oil/Troy Lee Designs Honda
Cole Seely – After missing all of the 2012 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship with a multitude of injuries, Cole Seely returns to provide a veteran presence on a young 250 TLD squad. Seely was originally scheduled to race a 450, but is now sticking with the smaller bike. Twelfth in the final point standings in 2010 has marked a career best. Seely should be in the mix behind Baggett, Tomac, Roczen and Musquin.
Jessy Nelson – A season ago, the TLD team made a late decision to uproot Nelson from the amateur ranks to the pros at Hangtown to replace the injured Cole Seely. He stepped up and garnered MX Rookie of the Year honors. Nelson has a knack for getting up front early, and with a full season already under his belt, the California native should continue his rise up the ranks.
Other Notes: The team’s 450 rider Christian Craig, whose been hampered by injuries throughout his career, is expected to miss the entire 2013 season with a broken navicular. Malcolm Stewart, formerly of the J-Star JDR KTM team, is expected to fill-in for Craig. Shane McElrath is the team’s amateur star, and was expected to turn pro at Hangtown. But his professional debut has been pushed back to after Loretta’s, according to the team.
Big things are expected of 2012 MX Rookie of the Year Jessy Nelson.
Eleven10 Mods Yamaha
Alex Martin – A-Mart is another returnee from the MASH unit. A broken wrist required surgery and kept Martin out of Monster Energy Supercross. Two years removed from a moto podium at Southwick, he has the potential to run inside the top-five—especially at his home track of Millville. Plus, don’t forget the motivation of trying to beat his younger brother, Jeremy.
Brady Kiesel – The under the radar rookie from Texas made three main events in supercross, including a career-high eleventh in Vegas. While he doesn’t garner the attention of names like AC, Webb, Hill, Bell, Savatagy or Jeremy Martin, Kiesel is another young gun to keep an eye on.
FMF/Orange Brigade KTM
Joey Savatgy – The 2013 SX Rookie of the Year was signed by the newly formed FMF/Orange Brigade KTM team after the folding of J-Star JDR KTM. Savatgy’s now under the guidance of Roger DeCoster and should benefit from The Man’s wisdom. The MTF product is another young, bright star looking to find his place in a deep 250 field.
Kyle Peters – The quiet North Carolina native dealt with an injury-filled rookie campaign a season ago, and has once again succumbed to the injury bug. Following his first career 250SX podium in Indianapolis, Peters crashed while testing for the Nationals sidelining him for the remainder of supercross. According to the team, Peters is not expected back until the Tennessee National at Muddy Creek.
A-Mart returns at Hangtown.
Andrew Fredrickson photo
Jake Canada – From a breakout season in 2012, to a disastrous 2013 supercross campaign, the last year has been a rollercoaster rider for Jake Canada. A year removed from a solid twelfth in 250MX points, Canada is looking to get his consistency back.
Team Tedder/Monster Energy Kawasaki
Dakota Tedder –The laid back California native had some bright spots in 2012, but consistency hurt him at times. His supercross season was pretty rough, so he’s looking to bounce back here.
Vann Martin – The former Honda of Houston amateur standout will contest his first full season of Lucas Oil Motocross in 2013. Martin actually made his professional debut at his home race at Freestone a season ago, before returning to the amateur ranks to race Loretta’s.
Gannon Audette – For the second consecutive year the former Star Racing product missed all of supercross due to injury. Audette fractured his pelvis and clavicle in Dallas, but is hoping to return by round three at the Tennessee National.
Munn Racing KTM
Lance Vincent – Vincent missed all of last season due to injuries, but is coming off a career year in supercross in which he finished eighth in 250 East SX points. Vincent can get some starts and that’s a huge advantage against this field.
Todd Krieg – The first year Munn rider failed to qualify for any supercross rounds but is expected to perform better outdoors.
Savatagy makes his debut with his new team Saturday.
Simon Cudby photo
Maykers/Witts End Racing
Zack Freeberg – After suffering a cracked tibia in Houston, Freeberg is hoping to return at the Tennessee National. The former Team Green prospect rode under the Langston-Witt KTM team a season ago, with mixed results in his rookie year.
Ryan Zimmer – Zimmer’s results were very inconsistent a year ago, but he did garner 12 points at seasons end—a stat he is hoping to improve upon in 2013.
Cole Thompson – Canadian Cole Thompson’s privateer effort in supercross will continue into the outdoors. Thompson opened the eyes of the former Star/Valli Yamaha team a season ago after some impressive rides on a privateer 450. Shortly after Thompson signed with the team, he injured his shoulder at Washougal—hampering his results late in the season. Thompson first race will be the Tennessee National at Muddy Creek.
PJ Larsen – Larsen finished the supercross season with Eleven10 Mods Yamaha, but his status with the team and Hangtown is still uncertain at this time.
Mitchell Oldenburg – The rookie privateer had a surprisingly productive supercross season before a collarbone injury hampered his results late. He will make his pro debut at the Tennessee National.
Travis Baker – The former Troy Lee Designs rider, who was signed to a supercross only contract with Valli Yamaha, is currently looking for a ride. There are talks that Valli may field a team for the Nationals later in the season, but nothing is certain at this time. In the meantime, Baker is not expected to be on the gate at Hangtown.
Ken Roczen is seeking his first outdoor title in the U.S.
Simon Cudby photo
Gavin Faith – After a career year in Monster Energy Supercross with MotoConcepts, Faith is heading back to Australia to defend his MX2 Australian Supercross title. Faith has yet to sign with a team, but hopes to have something in place before the season beings.
Austin Politelli – Following a breakout year with HRT Honda in the 250SX West Region, Politelli is headed to Canada to ride for the elite Leading Edge Kawasaki team—the same team that houses Brett Metcalfe and Tyler Villopoto. This will be Politelli’s second excursion North of the Border with Leading Edge, as he raced the Canadian Nationals as a 16-year old in 2011.
Michael Leib – The Californian is returning to Europe for the third time in his career after signing with the Dutch based Rockstar Beursfoon Suzuki team for the remainder of the 2013 MX2 season, with a team option for 2014. Leib hopes to make his 2013 MX2 debut at the Grand Prix of Italy June 9.Jimmy Decotis – Signed in early April by CLS Kawasaki, Decotis will finish the remainder of 2013 in the MX2 class in Europe.