MORGANTOWN, W.V. - With three-time defending champion Ryan Villopoto making his move up to the 450 Class, the 250 class championship is wide open in the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. And as the 12-round season kicks off this Saturday, the field is absolutely stacked with promising talent, and picking a favorite is virtually impossible. As the series makes the move to Saturday nationals beginning this weekend, a comprehensive television package, world class talent, and some of the best on-track action on the planet has built a high level of anticipation for what could be the most competitive season in the history of the sport.
Thanks to a trio of wins at the end of the season in 2008 and a newly-earned Monster Energy AMA Supercross Lites Western Regional championship, Rockstar/Makita Suzuki's Ryan Dungey has been dubbed the favorite by many. The Minnesota native has more experience on his bike and with his team than any of his competitors and possesses all the necessary tools to become the next 250 class champion.
However, if history has proven anything, the outdoor nationals are never a sure thing. Thanks to what some are a calling an international invasion, Dungey will have his fare share of challengers for the title.
Leading the way for the trio of overseas newcomers is Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki's Christophe Pourcel. The French rider is the 2006 World Motocross Champion in this MX2 Class, the European counterpart to the 250 Class. After suffering a near career-ending injury two years ago, Pourcel returned stateside this season, capturing the AMA Supercross Lites Eastern Regional title. With the support of the perennial front-running team, he will absolutely be a force to be reckoned with.
Joining Pourcel under the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit tent is South African Tyla Rattray, the reigning MX2 World Champion. Despite being a relative unknown in the United States, Rattray holds the credentials to be considered an immediate threat. But because he sat out the AMA Supercross tour to prepare for the outdoors, few of his competitors know his speed.
One young athlete who does is Muscle Milk/MDK/KTM's Tommy Searle. The British rider was Rattray's main source of competition throughout the 2008 season in the MX2 Class, engaging in an exciting season-long battle that came down to the final race of the season. Much like Rattray, Searle is largely unfamiliar with the competition in America, having also waited for the Glen Helen outdoor opener to begin his season, but he certainly has the talent to run up front.
While the concept of a four-rider battle for the championship is a mouth-watering thought for anyone, the list doesn't stop there. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki is pulling out all the stops in 2009. With the addition of Pourcel and Searle, Mitch Payton's squad will campaign five riders, each of which has a shot at the title. Jake Weimer made the move from Honda and has experienced nothing but success since swinging a leg over the green bike. Alongside him is Austin Stroupe. One of the most talented young athletes in the sport, Stroupe shocked the motocross world in 2008 by winning the season-opener at Glen Helen from Villopoto. Rounding out the loaded stable is quietly quick Ryan Morais. Unfortunately, Morais is temporarily sidelined with a shoulder injury.
Over at GEICO Powersports Honda, a trio of riders is prepared to throw their names into the championship equation. Trey Canard has an AMA Supercross Lites title to his credit and has shown flashes of brilliance throughout his short professional career. Australian native Brett Metcalfe is the new face and veteran rider in the GEICO lineup. While he is still in search of his first career AMA victory, a switch in teams has rejuvenated his motivation. The third and youngest member of the team is Blake Wharton, who hails from Texas. Wharton made his pro debut late last season, racing the final three rounds of the '08 championship. Raw and inexperienced, he turned heads by quickly acclimating himself within the highly talented competition, even leading multiple laps in his first ever national at Spring Creek.
There are many other fine young racers in what many consider to be the deepest field in the history of American motocross, and that directly translates into one of the most highly anticipated seasons ever. Proven winners from around the globe will converge for 12 weekends during the summer of 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship and determining who will prevail on Labor Day weekend in September is truly unpredictable.
For more information about the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, please contact media coordinator Brandon Short via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (949) 365-5752.
For fan and racing information on the 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, including television coverage of the 250 Class, log onto www.allisports.com.
MX Sports Pro Racing
MX Sports Pro Racing manages and produces the world's most prestigious motocross series - the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. An industry leader in off road powersport production and management, its mission is to raise awareness of motocross racing through the production of professional championship racing events nationwide. Through its various racing properties, partnerships and affiliates, MX Sports Pro Racing fields more than 60,000 action sports athletes each year and attracts millions of active fans, spectators and enthusiasts. For more information, please visit www.mxsportsproracing.com.
Alli, the Alliance of Action Sports
Alli, the Alliance of Action Sports, is a global business that encompasses national and international action sports tours and events, multimedia production, and a consumer facing lifestyle brand. The Alliance includes: the Dew Tour, Winter Dew Tour, China Invitational, Maloof Money Cup, Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, King of Wake series, and the Gatorade Free Flow Tour; Alli TV Productions, which creates original content, produces and presents content with partners, and distributes Alli content through a variety of channels. Alli is owned by NBC Sports and MTV Networks and represents a network of athletes, fans, brands and properties. Its mission is to facilitate the momentous growth of action sports, through competition and lifestyle, for a new generation of fans and athletes. The Alli properties are home to more than 550,000 spectators each year and broadcasts more than 150 hours of original content in 100 countries and 280 million homes worldwide. More information can be found at www.allisports.com.
Lucas Oil Products
Lucas Oil is a worldwide leader in the production of oils, greases, and additives. Based in Corona, Calif., Lucas Oil Products is one of the fastest-growing additive lines in the consumer automotive industry, featuring a premium line of oils, greases, and problem-solving additives. Through innovative product research and development, along with aggressive marketing programs, Lucas Oil Products has established itself as the top-selling additive line in the American truck-stop industry.
Forrest Lucas and his wife, Charlotte, founded Lucas Oil Products in 1989 after he spent 20 years as a truck driver and owner of a nationwide long-haul trucking fleet. They experienced firsthand the need for better lubricants and fuel treatments to maintain their equipment.
Lucas Oil is involved in an array of motorsports sponsorships, including the "Official Motor Oil of the AMA Pro Motocross Championship." For more information on Lucas Oil, please visit www.LucasOil.com.
AMA Pro Racing
AMA Pro Racing is the premier professional motorcycle racing organization in North America, operating a full schedule of events and championships for a variety of motorcycle disciplines. From its Daytona Beach headquarters, the organization operates and manages AMA Pro Road Racing, which includes AMA Pro American Superbike, AMA Pro Daytona SportBike, AMA Pro SuperSport and AMA Pro SunTrust Moto-GT. AMA Pro Racing also manages and works closely with the day-to-day operational organizations of the AMA Pro Flat Track Championship and the AMA Pro Supermoto Championship Series in addition to other two-wheel and ATV series. Learn more about AMA Pro Racing at www.amaproracing.com.