October 1 is Christmas Day in the American motocross industry—that’s when new contracts begin, and “official announcements” of new team lineups hit the wires. This year, October 1 coincided with Sunday’s Motocross of Nations race date, so some of the press releases either got glossed over, or delayed until this week to find some clean air.
Now, we present to you the latest.
10. Andrew Short to Husqvarna
Andrew is not making a supercross comeback. Short retired in 2016 and spent the ’17 season working for Honda HRC, partly because of the great friendship he has with Ken Roczen. But Andrew has also fallen in love with rally, and now he’s going to do some high-level racing with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s rally unit, stating today, actually, with the 2017 OiLibya Morocco Rally on October 4 to 10. Shorty will also compete in the Dakar Rally. No American has ever won Dakar. Hmmmm.
9. Hunter Lawrence to the USA … Eventually
In July, most American fans probably didn’t even know who Hunter Lawrence was. His agent was already shopping him to a variety of American race teams, though, as those that had seen him ride in his rookie MX2 season in Europe were impressed with his raw talent and skills. GEICO Honda was already set to make a deal with him even before his breakout performance in front of U.S. fans at the MXGP of USA in Jacksonville. Details needed to be worked out, though, mainly because Lawrence had a two-year deal with Suzuki’s Grand Prix effort, which was about to run aground. By the time all the i’s were dotted and t’s were crossed, Lawrence had put together a strong run to end the season and a sparkling Motocross of Nations effort. He’ll be here in 2019 for GEICO Honda, but first will give the MX2 Championship a run in a switch to red, with the 114 Motorsports Honda team.
8. Justin B in, Justin B out
RCH/Yoshimura Suzuki is gone, now JGR runs Suzuki’s factory team under the name Autotrader.com/Yoshimura Suzuki. Weston Peick is staying but JGR has swapped Justin Barcia for Justin Bogle. We were hanging out at the JGR shop last week and heard Barcia’s old mechanic Ben Schiermyer talking about “doing practice starts with Justin” and it sounded like nothing had changed.
As for Barcia, no one knows where he’s going to end up, but he is prepping a 2018 Honda CRF450R for a privateer effort at Monster Energy Cup.
7. Hill Moves Over
JGR (Autotrader.com/Yoshimura Suzuki) will also run a 250 team for 2018. They had a 250 squad in 2017, but it will be a much bigger effort this year as Suzuki continues to ramp up its 250 program. Proof? They’ve convinced Justin Hill to bring his 250SX West Region number-one plate over from Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki. Hill had been shopping for a 450 ride, and he will have one … with JGR in 2019. For now, he’s the anchor of Suzuki’s 250 comeback.
6. Josh Grant Stays
If Hill wanted to move from Pro Circuit 250s to a 450 slot, an obvious choice would be with Monster Energy Kawasaki, but that team announced on October 1 that Josh Grant was re-signed as the second 450 rider beside Eli Tomac.
5. Davalos to Pro Circuit
Hill is out at Pro Circuit, so guess who is coming back? Martin Davalos will remain in the 250 class and make his second go-around with Mitch Payton’s team. Marty, his new teammate Joey Savatgy, and Hill were all scheduled to point-out of the 250s in 2017 and be forced into the 450 class, but an AMA rule change in April allowed them to all stay.
4. Davalos’ 450 spot
Marty waited a dozen years to finally get on a 450, and he was darned good this summer with Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna. But that team no longer has room for Marty—no announcement officially yet but we expect his 250SX slot to go to young Michael Mosiman. As for his 450 outdoor ride? Zach Osborne will be 450 mounted next summer.
3. Millsaps to Yamaha
Yamaha announced yesterday that Davi Millsaps will take a 450 slot with factory Monster Energy Yamaha, as teammate to Cooper Webb. Chad Reed is moving on … but we don’t know where to.
2. Rocky Mountain Moves
Millsaps rode for Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM the last two years. His slot will be filled by Benny Bloss, who moves up to the 450 class full-time for 2018 (Benny was 250SX/450MX last year). Blake Baggett, of course, is staying.
1. Tickle to Dungey’s spot
There might not be a more heralded position in this industry than the one formerly held by Ryan Dungey, and Broc Tickle is the man who got it. Tickle gets Dungey’s Red Bull KTM 450 and will now train at Aldon Baker’s Baker’s Factory. This should be Tickle’s best shot ever, but he also has some very big boots to fill.