It’s been a long off-season. While September through January usually sit on the calendar without any points-paying AMA races, a steady diet of off-season work can get us by. Team USA skipped the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations this year, though, and Monster Energy Cup and Red Bull Straight Rhythm continued to not happen. The busy off-season international schedule was paired down to one race, the Paris Supercross, which was paired down itself, with just one night of racing. There has been very little to bench race about this off-season, besides mythical battles of what we think will come this year.
Well, we’ve finally come to that point! We’ve run plenty of storylines (List Part 1 and Part 2) and preview videos at you, we even checked to see who was flying at the test track. You probably know by now what riders moved where, what riders want to step up, and what riders want to hold on. This is the best time of the year: everyone is tied, and anyone can win. Even better, the opening rounds have delivered on the hype the last few years, as Justin Barcia’s thrilling opening-round wins can attest. We get great anticipation running up to round one, and then usually some surprises early in the season to keep the excitement going. Remember 2019 when Barcia and Blake Baggett took the first two rounds? That’s the kind of stuff we’re talking about.
At some point the craziness will settle down. Last year it ended up being an exchange of race wins for Ken Roczen and Cooper Webb for most of the season. Those two are certainly going to be good again this year. Here’s something crazy: the defending champion has not won the opener since Ryan Villopoto dominated Anaheim 1 in 2012. Always weird stuff happening early….
Plus, we’ve got one of the time-honored traditions of sports, the big-name free agent switching teams. Eli Tomac to Monster Energy/Star Yamaha Racing is the focal point (and our most popular story of 2021). How will he gel with the new bike and team, and who will he co-exist with a very capable teammate in Dylan Ferrandis? You also have the Jason Anderson-to-Kawasaki move, with the Kawasaki brass saying they’re pleasantly surprised how easy it is to work with him. Flying at the Test Track rumors say JA21 is outrunning his teammate Adam Cianciarulo on lap times. That’s some hype.
Of course, another season of Cianciarulo trying to fulfill his considerable potential is also exciting. Same for Chase Sexton, who everyone watches ride and just marvels at the form and style. Then you weave in a rider on the rise with a free-agency move via Aaron Plessinger, now on Red Bull KTM. What about Malcolm Stewart training with Plessinger at the Baker’s Factory, and now on Rockstar Energy Husqvarna?
Then there are guys that didn’t go anywhere. Roczen, Barcia, and Marvin Musquin. They all won races last year. It’s just a big old mashup of guys who are putting in their best efforts and coming in ready, and no one, not even the riders themselves, know where they stand. That’s the best part, that’s what makes it so exciting, that’s why the week before Anaheim is chocked with the best bench-racing around.
We’ll have much more for you after a Tuesday evening press conference featuring the top 450 riders. Be sure to check in with us tonight and tomorrow for coverage. Then the 250 riders will finally reveal what coasts they will compete in when the 250SX West Region division holds a presser on Thursday night. On Friday at noon riders will hit the track for press day, so we’ll finally get a look at everyone in their 2022 attire.
Then it’s Saturday, race day, and Saturday night at Anaheim. We’re finally there.