Report provided by MX Sports
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Mere hours after the final checkered flag flew on the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, at Ironman Raceway, the racing community gathered this past Sunday to celebrate the season that was with the annual awards brunch. The incredible Lucas Estate, home of Lucas Oil founders Forrest and Charlotte Lucas, provided a picturesque setting for the season-ending celebration, in which newly crowned champions Ken Roczen and Cooper Webb were recognized for their accomplishments, along with several other individuals who made the 50th anniversary of motocross in America a year to remember.
Headlining the collection of influential figures in attendance at the celebration were Forrest and Charlotte Lucas, along with AMA Pro Racing executives Jim France, Founding Member & Principal, and David Atlas, Managing Member & Principal. Each were recognized for their contributions to the continued growth of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, which remains the most prestigious off-road motorcycle championship on the planet, and were given special trophies in honor of their unyielding support.
While co-emcees Greg White, public address announcer at the Nationals, and Jason Weigandt, color commentator of Pro Motocross on NBC Sports and MAVTV, brought attention to the many moments and individuals that defined the 2016 season, it was Roczen and Webb who were the focal points of the morning.
Roczen amassed one of the most dominant seasons in Pro Motocross history en route to his second 450 Class title in three seasons. He captured nine overall victories, each coming via 1-1 moto sweeps, and finished on the podium in 23 of 24 motos. His season total of 584 points is the most since James Stewart's perfect season in 2008 when he scored 600 points, and serves as the fourth-highest point total achieved by a champion in series history. The banner season was historic for the RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John's/SuzukI Factory Racing effort as well, with the Carey Hart and Ricky Carmichael led effort becoming the first privately owned team to win a 450 Class title.
For Webb, his hopes at winning the 250 Class title seemed bleak at the start of the season after he was forced to battle through a lingering wrist injury. While he started off slow, Webb ensured his presence was felt in the early rounds as he slowly progressed through the injury. At his home race from Tennessee's Muddy Creek Raceway, Webb emerged with his first overall win of the season, igniting a dramatic surge through the second half of the summer that saw him rattle off three straight wins and seize control of the championship. Once in possession of the red number plate Webb never looked back and ultimately went on to claim his first national title in his final season of 250 Class competition. He gave Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha its third straight championship, leading the way for a 1-2 finish in the final standings for the team with Alex Martin following as championship runner up.
In addition to honoring its champions, Pro Motocross also recognized its most promising young stars with Rookie of the Year accolades, which were given to a pair of Missouri natives. In the 450 Class, former AMA Horizon Award Winner Benny Bloss was given the honor for the premier division, following an impressive first season with BTO Sports/WPS/KTM. After joining the team just prior to the Pro Motocross Championship, Bloss showed continued progression throughout the summer, recording a career-best result of fourth at Unadilla and finishing sixth in the final standings. In the 250 Class, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider Austin Forkner's Rookie of the Year honors confirmed his position as a future title contender. His late-season ascension to the forefront of the division culminated with the first overall win of his career at the Ironman National, capping off the summer with four straight overall podium results and a fourth-place finish in the final standings.
One of the most memorable moments of the season ending celebration came when Andrew Short was given the Lifetime Achievement Award. The likeable veteran wrapped up an illustrious career that consisted of 16 full seasons of competition and was highlighted by five championship podium finishes and a victory at the 2010 Motocross of Nations in his home state of Colorado. Short is one of the most beloved riders in the history of the sport, both by fans and his peers, thanks to his humble, approachable personality and hard-nosed mentality on the track. He formally brought his racing career to an end by fittingly racing to the 450 Class holeshot in the second and final moto of the season at Ironman Raceway.
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship Awards
450 Class Champion:
Ken Roczen; RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John's/Suzuki Factory Racing
250 Class Champion:
Cooper Webb; Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha
450 Class Rookie of the Year:
Benny Bloss; BTO Sports/WPS/KTM
250 Class Rookie of the Year:
Austin Forkner; Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
Manufacturer of the Year:
Kawasaki Motors Corp., North America
Team of the Year:
RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John's/Suzuki Factory Racing
Team Manager of the Year:
Kyle Bentley; RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John's/Suzuki Factory Racing
450 Class Champion Wrench Award:
Oscar Wirdeman; RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John's/Suzuki Factory Racing
250 Class Champion Wrench Award:
Eric Gass; Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha
Transport Driver of the Year:
Dirk Houghton; Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM