Bench Racing Ammo:  Who’s Got Next?

Bench Racing Ammo: Who’s Got Next?

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A week off? That’s not going to cut it for our staff of (they think they) know it alls, who will now have to carry their weekly bench racing sessions over from actual motos to hypothetical situations. Over the weekend, Jason Weigandt, Steve Matthes and Jason Thomas started a bench-racing bar battle speculating who will be the next star of the sport. Here is their email exchange. And if you have a debate idea, email Weigandt at jasonw@racerxonline.com and these dudes will set it ablaze.

Weigandt: Alright, guys, Ryan Villopoto has now firmly established himself with "the man" status in the 450s. A lot of competition for him has come and gone, from Alessi to J-Law, Hepler, Townley and more, with only Ryan Dungey still right there ready to turn the tables. But right now, RV's the man. Who will be next, though? Will someone else become this dominant on a 450 in a few years? It's darned close back there. Tomac, Roczen, Musquin, maybe Baggett. And Barcia has a year head start on those guys—and don't forget the even younger set who will be there someday, like Cooper Webb. Matthes, who you got?

Matthes: Well next up in a few years is, no doubt, Evan Ferry. But the riders of today (and even tomorrow) will have plenty of time dealing with him in a few years so I won't focus on him today.

But be warned, a storm is coming.

More than ever before the kids coming up are so fast and so ready to race pro it's ridiculous. The top amateurs of yesteryear were lucky to break into the top ten, now kids are running at the very front of the pack immediately. I know this is predictable but with his stature, training habits and everything he brings to the table, I really think that Eli Tomac is shaping up to be a factor in American motocross in the next five years.

Justin Barcia as well, he's going to be a future champion and Roczen's won on every level he's raced, but I wonder if he can be all-in enough to win a 450 title. He's still young so maybe he'll get more gnarly with his program, but I do know that Tomac is already there and looking good to make the adjustment to 450's. And I know he's hurt right now but Dean Wilson will also be a guy once he finally gets healed and stays healthy for a long time.

From what I'm seeing of Cooper Webb, he looks fantastic to be a 250 champion real soon. With a brand new looking-like-it's-competitive YZ250F, I hope Yamaha locks this kid up for many years. He's aggressive, he's stylish and he appears to be in shape. Him and the still-sidelined Adam Cianciarulo will be next.

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"I think 2014 will see Barcia as a contender for the championship both indoors and out." - Jason Thomas
Simon Cudby photo

JT: I really like Justin Barcia in this spot. He has proven he can win supercross titles on the 250 and has already won races in his rookie year on the big bike. Having six-time champion Jeff Stanton in his corner is the missing ingredient he needed to make the jump to the elite level. Honda brought Bam Bam up through the amateur ranks and is now beginning to see the fruit of their labor. I don't see him anywhere but factory Honda long term and with his learning curve, stable program and his ability to already challenge the two top dogs, the sky is the limit for the #51. I think 2014 will see Barcia as a contender for the championship both indoors and out.

Weigandt: Matthes, did you even pick a guy or did you just spray the whole field with pump? This 250 group is close and my biggest wish is that they all keep pushing forward, so we get fantastic Barcia/Tomac/Roczen/Baggett/Musquin duels in the 450 Class like we saw on 250s last summer. That would be good for the sport.

What's interesting about this group is that each have strengths and weaknesses, and that might lead to good racing as opposed to one dude dominating. Tomac has the required gnarliness as far as his program and competitive drive, but his starts continue to be an issue, and that leads to some inconsistency. Barcia has starts and consistency down, but I wonder if his speed is enough to simply crush guys the way Villopoto learned to do. Roczen has talent and consistency but right now he's able to get away with having some fun and still win. If you follow the RV/Dungey model, you'll eventually have to go full in to win in the 450s. We'll see if Kenny can do that. Marvin Musquin is a technician, on some tracks that really plays into his favor, but we all wonder if he has the required balls-out aggression to stomp 'em everywhere. And Baggett has become a giant question mark in supercross—and even outdoors, right now, due to that darned wrist.

Anyone else is just too young to make accurate predictions four years into the future.

If I have to pick one guy, though, I'll go with Tomac. I think he has the most upside. When he's on, he's logged some amazing rides both indoors and out.

Matthes: I did not spray any pump over the field but I grant you that I threw out a few names. But the name I threw out three times and stated he'd be a factor in American motocross in the next five years (IE: the post Villopoto years) was Eli Tomac. I, like Weege, will take Tomac as he presently lives in Gnarly-Town and will just be gnarlier from here on out. His 450 ride for next year has been widely speculated as a move to the RCH Suzuki team but I hope he stays with GEICO on the factory Honda. That is, to me, anyways, the perfect spot. But he'll be good no matter where he goes.

But neither of you mentioned Dean Wilson like I did and that's surprising to me. YOU'RE BOTH HATERS!!! But seriously, yeah he's going through a tough time right now with yet another shoulder surgery scheduled, but I think a national motocross championship holds way more water than a 250SX title. Look throughout history and you see a lot of Jimmy Gaddis and Shae Bentley types as SX champs in a regional series, but MX champs? Well, you're really doing something if you win one those. And Wilson's got one. Tomac, Barcia, Roczen do not. Don't sleep on the Scot people!

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"He's going through a tough time right now with yet another shoulder surgery scheduled, but I think a national motocross championship holds way more water than a 250SX title." - Steve Matthes on Dean Wilson.
Simon Cudby photo

Weigandt: Oh, really? Are you pumped on the Scotsman or are you actually just secretly channeling your inner Canadian? We all know Dean has the skills to pay the bills (be it in Canadian or U.S. dollars, or Pounds) and whenever he's back on track (2014 supercross, most likely, or perhaps the Monster Energy Cup) he'll still be part of the mighty Pro Circuit squad. All good there. But two years of injuries have knocked him down a peg. I wouldn't be surprised if Dean is right back in this group a year from now, but I can't pick him as the best of the bunch while he's on the sidelines.

Here's the real problem: I know Dean has fully embraced the Scottish heritage now, but once you get some Canadian on you, you're just bound to run into trouble along the way. Matthes, you should feel really, really badly about what's happened to this poor guy.

Matthes: Yeah man, that's a great point. Remember Dusty Klatt? He was going to be the next JSR and then he just pooped the bed. Big-time. Like drink-the-water-in-Mexico-get-drunk-and-wake-up-in-the-morning-with-sheets-covered-in-poop-type deal (this may or may not have happened to a friend of mine). Every time we do some sort of Racer X List with foreign riders who have won supercrosses, nationals, titles or really anything, DC reminds me that Canada has never done anything.

Dean's got the Canadian stink on him, no doubt about it. Heck his one ride at the MXDN under the Canadian flag ended up with his teammates crashing out, one looping out on the start and a B-Main for the Maple Leaf. Maybe that's it; maybe he'll never be able to get to be the NEXT one in America because he can't wash the Canadian-ness off of him. I don't care, I still believe in Dean dammit and as a matter of fact I've got my kilt on right now.

Someone make sure Tomac doesn't have any Canadian in him at all. Please.

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"If I have to pick one guy, though, I'll go with Tomac. I think he has the most upside." - Jason Weigandt
Simon Cudby photo

Weigandt: It gets worse, because Dean has the same agent Dusty did. Oh, the stench is on him!

Hey speaking of the foreign troubles, JT, a multi-time German SX Champion, can you explain to us how the heck Roczen adapted to supercross so well? He says he raced exactly one German supercross race, ever, growing up. Now he's a West Region 250SX Champion. That's one heck of a learning curve.

Matthes: I like how we all go to JT for German knowledge, don't forget, I once survived three months with Kniep Racing over there!

Weigandt: Yeah, Matthes, you did some time in Germany, which actually reminds me....JT is also a multi-time champion of the Montreal SX! Oh no, did you get the stink of Canada on you, too?

JT: My whole career was Canadian stench! If I had been good enough to get rotating butt patches, surely "Mediocre" would have been written on my hindquarters more often than not. As for Roczen, the kid just has talent for supercross. Many riders are just more gifted in tight confines than others. Roczen's path through the GPs is a very similar to Jeffrey Herlings, but put them on a supercross track and it's a different story. The same can be said for Justin Barcia vs. Blake Baggett and Jeremy McGrath vs. Jeff Emig for that matter. It just comes easier to some than others.

As for Wilson, I feel horrible for the wee lad. Without injuries, he rockets to the forefront of this list for me. Unfortunately, injuries are one of if not the main reason for unrealized potential for up and coming superstars. If he can get some momentum rolling, Monster girls will be blowing wind up his kilt again in no time.

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