The 450 Class is filled with familiar players, but the 2012 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship seems so far in the rearview that some key points have been forgotten in time. Want to get even more hyped up for today’s race? Check it out.
Red Bull KTM
Ryan Dungey— Remember, last year was supposed to be a learning year on the rushed-through new 450SX-F, and early in the season, riders like Chad Reed said Dungey’s setup looked off. By midway, though, KTM and The Dunge figured it out. Of course, Dungey faces the “can he do it straight up” stuff because Villopoto, Reed, Stewart and others weren’t there to challenge him all season last year. But consider that whenever those riders are there, Dungey never gets his doors blown off.
Monster Energy Kawasaki
Ryan Villopoto— Here’s a mind-blowing stat from the department of the now three-time Monster Energy Supercross Champion, who is also a three-time Pro Motocross Champion in the 250 Class. Ryan has raced only 14 Nationals in the last four years. Two 450 races in ’09, missed all of 2010 and 2012, and did the full season in 2011 (and, as you know, won the title). Fans are salivating over a Ryan v. Ryan 12-round brawl.
Jake Weimer— If you think back really hard you’ll remember Weimer had a good summer and finished third in points. At mid-season, he was lock-step with Mike Alessi for second. Okay, okay, a lot of riders where hurt last year, but Alessi was going fast and Weimer was with him. After a rough SX campaign, he needs a bounce here.
Dungey is seeking his second straight 450 Class title.
Simon Cudby photo
Honda Muscle Milk
Justin Barcia— The thing to think about Barcia isn’t his solid 2013 450SX campaign (two wins). It’s not his second in last year’s 250 National points. It’s his performances as a guest rider in the summer of ’11 on a CRF450. He gave Dungey and Villopoto all they could handle. A little less rev limiter and a little more space, a 450 in moto could be the perfect setting for Bam Bam.
Trey Canard— You know what makes hardly any sense? Canard has been a factory Honda 450 rider for three years and Barcia actually has more starts on a 450 outdoors. Trey raced twice in 2011 on a 450. That’s it for his whole career. Like supercross, Trey might be the hardest rider of all to predict this summer.
James Stewart— Stewart’s PR man Gregg Hatton told me last year that, after the motos at Hangtown, James’ bike looked brand new. There was virtually no evidence of it being ridden—no scuffs on the frame or side panels, no small knee-brace tears in the seat. James was that smooth en route to winning here last year. Yes, that’s a PR man talking, but, if you saw last year’s race it was hard to argue. Stewart was in complete control.
RV makes his return at Hangtown.
Simon Cudby photo
Mike Alessi— Alessi was second in points last year. He gets starts and he’s hard to pass and he does not give up or give in. There’s nothing really top secret about that.
TwoTwo Motorsports Honda
Chad Reed— Okay, Chad has really been struggling as of late. But you can find a glimmer of hope with this: Chad’s been counted out a lot, and he’s come back strong every time.
JGR Toyota Yamaha
Justin Brayton— JB, with an arenacross background, is usually better indoors than out. But he was fast and aggressive all day during yesterday’s press day, and, he asked for zero bike changes. That’s not normal for Brayton—heck it’s not normal for anyone during the first motocross weekend of the year.
Josh Grant— Remember this guy? JG won a moto for this team at this track a few years ago. That win was later pulled since he had jumped on a red flag. Still, he was the fastest guy in that race.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki
Dean Wilson— Hello, this is the 2011 250 National Champion. He’s a big, tall guy. He has been very fast at Hangtown in the past. Put him there with Canard as a real wild card with the potential to do big things.
Tyla Rattray— Once Stewart went out last year Dungey lost exactly two motos. One to Alessi and one to Rattray, at Southwick.
Alessi looks to follow up on his second place finish a season ago.
Simon Cudby photo
Andrew Short— There have been stacked fields before. Andrew Short always, always finds a way to flirt with top-three in points by the end of the season.
Michael Byrne— Every year, Byrner seems to come into outdoors slowly due to lingering supercross injuries. Every year, by the end of the year, he has a shining moment, and last year that came at Unadilla when he looked set to win. Just wait for August.
Matt Goerke— Goerke is expected back at Budds Creek after suffering a wrist injury testing during supercross season.
RAM Sycuan RCH Suzuki
Broc Tickle— In this loaded field it’s easy to forget that Broc was probably the third-fastest 450 guy by the end of last season. He usually starts the year slow, but ends quite fast.
Lucas Oil/Troy Lee Honda
Malcolm Stewart— Look out! We have the Stewart brothers on the same starting gate for the first time ever! You think big Mookie is pumped to have 200 extra cc this summer?