By Chase Stallo, Aaron Hansel and Jason Weigandt
The motocross world has been waiting a long time for the professional debut of Adam Cianciarulo, and after postponing his first pro appearance for four rounds due to a bout with salmonella poisoning, the amateur whizz kid will finally hit the pro ranks this Saturday at the Red Bull Budds Creek National. How will he do? If Cooper Webb, who battled fiercely with Cianciarulo in the amateur ranks, can be used as a measuring stick, AC should do quite well. Webb took fifth in the first moto at Hangtown, caught and passed Marvin Musquin for third in the first moto at Thunder Valley and even spent some time leading the first moto at Muddy Creek, which he followed up at High Point with a 6-11 for eighth overall. Will Cianciarulo match, fall short or exceed the performance of his mini-cycle nemesis at Budds Creek? -Hansel
With guys like Ryan Villopoto, Ryan Dungey, Justin Barcia and more all in the 450 Class this season, James Stewart can't be expected to be putting in the same dominant rides that he did in 2008 when he was literally perfect all summer. However, nobody expected him to be struggling just inside the top ten like he was in the first moto at High Point either! We saw a glimpse of what (we know) James is capable of when he took the lead and held it for five laps in the second High Point moto before Villopoto caught him, and then Stewart went out with a mechanical DNF. A mere five laps of glory is a far cry from the old Stewart standards, but after that race, Stewart told Jason Weigandt that "Bubba’s coming back at Budds Creek. I’m already calling it now." From the sounds of it, he's ready to snap out of his funk this weekend at the Red Bull Budds Creek National. Will he? -Hansel
Marvin Musquin goes for three straight Saturday.
Simon Cudby photo
Speaking of struggling riders, 2009 450 National Champion Chad Reed is certainly on that list this season. While he admits some behind-the-scenes illness issues are holding him back, he hasn't chosen to share all the details with the media. What he has said is that he believes that the week off will prove to be a big benefit, and that he'll be much better at Budds Creek. Will his prediction come true this weekend? -Hansel
Red Bull KTM's Marvin Musquin became the first 250MX rider to put together a winning streak in the 2013 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship when the took his second consecutive overall of the season at the GEICO High Point National two weeks ago. Especially impressive was that the win didn't come as a result of bad luck from any of his competitors. Musquin earned it the hard way by keeping his cool and riding a flawless second moto despite having teammate Ken Roczen breathing down his neck for the majority of the race. After that performance, it's safe to say that Musquin is riding better than we've ever seen here in America. Will he make it three in a row at Budds Creek? -Hansel
We're just going to say it. Tyla Rattray is much, much better at motocross than he is at supercross. His indoor resume is nearly blank, while his list of motocross achievements includes an MX2 World Championship and multiple 250MX victories here in America. With that in mind, it's safe to say that his value as an employee comes from results in Lucas Oil Pro Motocross. Problem is, he wasn't riding at a level that he was capable of for the first three rounds. A 9-9 for ninth (Hangtown), 7-10 for eighth (Thunder Valley) and 11-38 for seventeenth (Muddy Creek) was not stellar, but after some changes in the suspension and engine (Rattray felt his PC KX450F had too much power) departments, Rattray came out swinging and laid it down at High Point with a 4-4 for third overall. Will Rattray use his new setup to keep the podium ball rolling this Saturday? -Hansel
Wil Hahn makes his outdoor debut this weekend.
Simon Cudby photo
The defending Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Champions, Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey and Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett, are certainly fairing better than the 2011 champions did last season. Those number-one plate holders, Ryan Villopoto and Dean Wilson, didn’t even complete a single moto last year! Still, the champs need a shot of points this weekend. Dungey is a two-time winner at Budds Creek (2010 and 2012) and would like to become the first repeat winner at Budds Creek in the 450 Class since Ricky Carmichael’s run of eight straight from 2000-2007. Baggett is last year’s 250MX winner at Budds, with a points deficit growing by the weekend. Can either breakthrough? – Jason Weigandt
Last year Broc Tickle completely turned around a mediocre 450 season with a podium at Budds Creek, the first National overall podium of his career. From there, he rolled to a solid summer. Broc also podiumed a moto on the small bike at Budds in 2011. The North Carolina-born Tickle said he spent a lot of time racing Budds Creek growing up, and his results show his knowledge. Can he make a move at this track again this year? – Weigandt
Rockstar Energy Racing’s Ryan Sipes is near the top of everyone’s list of 450 surprises through four rounds. Sipes is accustomed to the 450—finishing eighth overall in the class in 2010—and being one of the taller guys on circuit is probably better suited for the big bike. Although he’s been on the cusp of the top five all season—including a 6-6 performance at High Point—Sipes has yet to breakthrough. Will Budds Creek provide the platform for the Kentuckian? – Chase Stallo
Can Savatgy continue to push for Rookie of the Year Honors?
Simon Cudby photo
The Other Rookie
Millsaps Training Facility (MTF) product Joey Savatgy has been vastly overlooked during his rookie campaign—something even 2013 SX Rookie of the Year honors hasn’t changed. Savatgy finally broke down the barriers of the Webb, Martin, Cianciarulo talk with a fifth in moto 2 at High Point. Can the FMF/Orange Brigade rider continue to throw his name in MX Rookie of the Year talks at Budds Creek? – Chase Stallo
Depth is something the 250 Class is not in need of. But with the return of GEICO Honda’s Wil Hahn from a wrist injury, that’s what it will be receiving. The reigning 250SX East Region Champion will make his 2013 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross debut at Budds Creek on Saturday. Hahn will be a factor, but where he fits in this deep class is open for debate. – Chase Stallo