The 250 Class is going to be interesting this summer. Last Thursday at Glen Helen I got a preview of who might be a player when the series kicks off in eleven days. I also chatted with some industry folks to get their opinions. Blake Baggett and Dean Wilson will line up as favorites with previous championships and natural outdoor prowess in their corner.
When I asked Mitch Payton who he thought would be the stronger rider he couldn't answer. "I expect them both to be up front racing for wins. It's going to come down to getting good starts, staying up and wanting it."
Some of the solid players in the class will include Zach Osborne, Darryn Durham, Jeremy Martin, Jessy Nelson, Shane McElrath, Cooper Webb, Justin Hill, Justin Bogle and Matt Bisceglia.
But how much will a title boost Jason Anderson's confidence? He's been on the podium outdoors before, but not with any consistency. This could be a great summer for him.
Where will Marvin Musquin fit in? He would be at the top of the list if it weren't for the injury he's been working through. Some close to his camp say he will likely have to race himself into form as the season wears on.
Cole Seely has never been known as an outdoor guy. The Nationals take their toll and Seely will have one more summer on the 250 to prove he can win inside and out. Zach Bell is returning from a shoulder injury, Anthony Rodriguez makes his pro debut and Kyle Cunningham is back where he's comfortable. Those could be stories to watch.
The biggest mystery surrounds the #377 Valli bike of Christophe Pourcel. Zach Osborne said it best last week as he watched him casually ride laps around the Glen Helen circuit: "That guy scares me."
CP's talent and speed are undeniable. It wouldn't surprise any rider in the field if he leaves the opening round with the points lead. It also wouldn't be a surprise if he quits halfway through the first moto and goes back to France. Unpredictable as he is talented, Pourcel will be one to watch when the gate drops on May 24.
i was sitting with Mitch watching practice and Pourcel rolled by, standing up and going at half-speed. He had been doing that all day and for the past two months according to those who have seen him. Mitch offered this:
"He used to do that with me all the time. One day we were out here testing at Glen Helen and he just wouldn't put a lap together. He said the bike was no good and the track was no good—he was really frustrated. At the very end of the day we hadn't gotten far with Pourcel because he wouldn't ride hard and he just kept saying the track was stupid and wasn't like anything we would race on. I told him we just needed him to try some clamps and tell us if they were bad, good or no different. All I wanted was two good laps from him. He said, "Just two laps?" I told him that was all I wanted. Just give us something to leave here feeling good about. So he pulled on his helmet and went out but he wasn't happy about it. At that point Chad Reed, who was riding for Suzuki, had the quickest lap time of the day. Pourcel went out and just dropped the hammer and beat it by two seconds. All the guys on the team were high-fiving and pumped. When he came in I told him that was awesome and told him his lap time. He pulled his helmet off and said, "What, did you think I wasn't good?" That's just the way he is. He is so talented he can turn it on and be the fastest guy out there any time he really wants to."