The silly season is in full swing as the off-season gets underway in the off-road racing community. We had heard of a lot of team changes for several of the top competitors in the Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Racing series, but now rosters moves are happening right and left. Yesterday, the AmPro Yamaha team announced its 2023 roster: Ricky Russell in XC1 (450cc), Liam Draper and Zach Osborne (yes, you’re reading that correctly) in XC2 (250cc), and Rachael Archer in WXC. Osborne told our Kellen Brauer in an interview yesterday that he has a two-year deal with Yamaha where he will race the XC2 class in 2023 and the XC1 class in 2024. Read Brauer’s full interview with Osborne if you missed it.
Steward Baylor Jr. has confirmed his time with the AmPro Yamaha team has come to an end and with his name not being on the '23 Blu Cru roster, we expect him to be back on a privately-funded KTM.
A few hours ago, Mike Witkowski (formerly of AmPro Yamaha through this season), announced a new deal with the Phoenix Honda Racing team for next year. Witkowski will compete alongside Cody Barnes and Ruy Barbosa, who are both returning to the Honda-backed team for ’23.
And this evening, the KTM Group—KTM, Husqvarna, and GasGas—officially announced their off-road team rosters for the new year. Ben Kelley remains with the FMF KTM team and will be joined by Johnny Girroir in 2023. Craig Delong and Trevor Bollinger are returning to the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team as Thad Duvall moves to the Coastal GasGas team. XC2 rider Ryder Lafferty will return to the factory GasGas squad for a second consecutive year. Below are the full team announcements from FMF KTM Factory Racing, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing, and Coastal GasGas Factory Racing.
FMF KTM Factory Racing Announces Impressive Offroad Lineup For 2023
MURRIETA, Calif. – KTM North America, Inc. officially unveiled its FMF KTM Factory Racing offroad team for the 2023 season, including six riders who amassed a total of six titles during the 2022 season. In addition to its four returning veterans, the team is excited to welcome two newcomers – Mateo Oliveira and Johnny Girroir – who are both set to make their official debut in the premier division in 2023. Tim Weigand returns as Team Manager of the talented squad, guiding the team and sharing his vast knowledge and experience.
Highlighting the team’s returning lineup is reigning WORCS and NGPC Champion, Dante Oliveira, who is ready to hit the west coast once again in 2023, joined by multi-time champion and teammate Taylor Robert. Trystan Hart will look to top a successful 2022 campaign with a title defense in the AMA U.S. Hard Enduro Series and KTM-veteran Ben Kelley is back in action and ready to reclaim the GNCC crown in 2023.
Tim Weigand, FMF KTM Factory Racing Team Manager: “It is with great pleasure that we announce the 2023 FMF KTM Factory Racing offroad team. We are as strong as ever, with six very talented and determined riders that are ready to tackle the new year. We are looking forward to another successful year.”
Kelley and Girroir will be headlining the east coast effort, with Kelley competing on a KTM 350 XC-F in the GNCC Series and AMA National Enduro Championship, while Girroir will concentrate on the GNCC Series (XC1 Open Pro) and the AMA U.S. Sprint Enduro Series (Pro), also competing on the very capable KTM 350 XC-F.
Ben Kelley: “I’m looking forward to another season of GNCC and National Enduro racing with the KTM offroad team. I’m coming back from a major injury, and I’m determined to get back to my previous winning form and hope to fight to reclaim the GNCC Championship, while working towards my first National Enduro Championship during the 2023 season.”
Johnny Girroir: “I’m really excited to join the FMF KTM Factory Racing Team and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds! I am looking forward to lining up on the front row in GNCC, and ready to fight for wins and championships in both series.”
On the west coast, Dante Oliveira will be defending his AMA National Grand Prix Championship (NGPC) title on a KTM 450 XC-F, as well as competing in the AMA West Hare Scrambles Series (WHS). Meanwhile, Dante’s brother, Mateo Oliveira, will make his full-time Pro-class debut in NGPC and WORCS events, also aboard a KTM 450 XC-F.
“I’m happy to be working with the team for 2023! I’m going to be changing it up, getting back to where I started out racing dirt bikes in West Hare Scrambles, also working hard to defend my GP Championship.”
“I’m super excited to be a part of the FMF KTM Factory Racing Team. It’s been a dream of mine to get to race for this team and to be following in my brother’s footsteps, alongside him, is surreal. Working with Timmy and the crew is going be a blast, I can’t wait to get started!”
Trystan Hart is back to defend his 2022 AMA U.S. Hard Enduro Series Championship after dominating the series in 2022 on a KTM 300 XC-W, claiming victories at all seven rounds of the schedule, plus adding a third-place finish at the famed Erzberg Rodeo along the way. Hart will also ride a KTM 350 EXC-F in the 2023 AMA EnduroCross series, a title he barely missed out on in 2022.
“As we embark on my third year on the team, KTM and I are both looking for more wins and championships. Winning Erzberg is very high on my list for 2023.”
Taylor Robert returns to action after missing most of last year due to a season-ending injury he sustained in April. In 2023, Taylor will ride select events on a KTM 450 XC-F in preparation for his goal of leading team USA to a third World Trophy at ISDE, which will be held in Argentina.
"I am very excited to be a part of the FMF KTM Factory Racing Team for my 10th year in a row. This year is all about raw speed for me. I’m going to go out there with the objective of being as precise and fast as possible. Using select races throughout the year to prepare me for the end goal of helping team USA win its third World Trophy at ISDE."
Antti Kallonen, Director of Offroad Racing:
“Once again, we have been able to strengthen our team by securing the current and future champions of the sport. Tim manages the team very well and has assembled the best possible support to find success. The strengthened partnership with Ranch Russell will provide our athletes with state-of-the-art facilities for the physical and mental training needed to win races and championships.”
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Announces Off-Road Lineup For 2023
Strong Six-Rider Team To Represent Husqvarna Motorcycles In 2023
The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team is pleased to announce its six-rider off-road team for the 2023 season, covering AMA GNCC, NGPC, National Enduro, National Hare and Hound, EnduroCross, U.S. Hard Enduro and West Hare Scrambles across the United States.
Anthony DiBasilio, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team Manager: “I’ve got my first full season under my belt as a Team Manager and I’m excited to apply what I learned to the 2023 season. We have a strong team that’s capable of winning races and championships in every discipline we enter. I have no doubt that each one of our riders will achieve their goals in 2023. The mechanics and all the team personnel are determined to make 2023 a standout year. Let’s go racing!”
Returning to the GNCC and National Enduro series for his sophomore year in the premier Pro division is Pennsylvania native Craig Delong. Building off of a strong 2022 season in both series, DeLong is knowledgeable of what it will take to consistently put his FX 350 on the podium in 2023.
"I’m excited for the upcoming season! After a full rookie year, grabbing some podiums and being a runner-up in the GNCC XC1 class, I’m ready to be battling for podiums and wins consistently all year long and to be in the championship hunt. The FX 350 also has some exciting changes that I’m looking forward to going into the 2023 season.”
Like DeLong, teammate Trevor Bollinger will also be returning to the GNCC and National Enduro series aboard the FX 350. Bollinger suffered through a challenging year in 2022, sustaining an injury halfway through the season, but the North Carolina native collected some impressive results to close out the year and he looks to come out swinging in the new season.
“I’m looking forward to the 2023 season. It is going to have its challenges coming off of an injury, but I’ve been here before and I’m confident that I will come out stronger than ever.”
Austin Walton will certainly be a championship contender on his FX 450 in 2023, finishing runner-up last year in the NGPC series. Walton will also be entering the West Hare Scramble series this season, which will be a change of pace for him but with a background in hare scrambles, the Nevada native will get up to speed quickly.
“I’m very excited to be walking into 2023 healthy and with a really good base in the off-season. I’m super excited to pick up a new series for this next year with West Hare Scrambles, going back to the old roots of what I grew up doing, while keeping the NGPC as the second series and jumping on a new re-vamped bike for the new season. I’m very excited to put that new R&D to work and start getting some wins and championships with those bikes. I’m feeling excited for the season and ready to kick it off!”
Making his return to the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team, California’s Dalton Shirey will join teammate Walton in the NGPC series for the upcoming season. The 2022 National Hare and Hound Champion will also look to retain the #1 plate in the series and keep his FX 450 on top of the podium in 2023.
“I’m super excited for 2023. The possibilities are endless. I’m super thankful for Anthony DiBasilio and the whole crew for seeing something in me and giving me this chance to once again be a part of the team. I can’t wait to start working with everyone again!”
Colton Haaker is excited to show the capabilities of the new models in the US Hard Enduro series and will also be gunning for his sixth EnduroCross series title in 2023. Colton will be riding his FX 350 in the EnduroCross series and a TE 300i in the US Hard Enduro series.
“I’m excited for the 2023 season for a lot of reasons, getting back to winning being the biggest! The team, new bikes and morale are on point. Now it’s just a matter of execution!”
Last but not least, Ryder Leblond is the youngest and newest member to the team. The Pennsylvania native will be competing in the U.S. Hard Enduro and EnduroCross series alongside Haaker for 2023. Determined to showcase his speed and skill atop the podium at all the races he enters, LeBlond will be riding an FX 350 in the EnduroCross series and a TE 300i in the US Hard Enduro series.
“I’m really looking forward to the 2023 race season. After 2022, I’m hungry for some wins in the Hard Enduro and EnduroCross series! I can’t wait to get the new season going with the new team, keep making improvements and grow with the team and everyone involved around me!”
Antti Kallonen, Director of Offroad Racing:
“Our team is ready to shine come the 2023 season. I’m looking forward seeing our athletes up front, led by Anthony who proved that he is a perfect fit to manage the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing squad this past season in his first season as manager. We have improved our program from all aspects, including strengthening our partnership with Ranch Russell to ensure our athletes are physically and mentally ready to win races and championships.”
Coastal GasGas Factory Racing Team Ready To Challenge For Multiple Titles
Thad Duvall Joins Ryder Lafferty For Exciting 2023 Season
The new race season is upon us and we’re fired up to announce the 2023 Coastal GASGAS Factory Racing team lineup for U.S. offroad action! Led by Team Manager Barry Hawk, the GASGAS USA-supported program returns for its third season with two riders competing on the east coast. Hawk, a former GNCC Champion, was thrilled to announce the addition of multi-time race-winner Thad Duvall to the squad, to join up-and-comer Ryder Lafferty, returning for his second year with the team.
“I’m really looking forward to next season as we’re fortunate enough to have Ryder Lafferty with us again. Ryder had fantastic results last season and we learned a few things toward the end of the year that I think will be a huge advantage for him next season. I expect him to be in contention for both championships. One big change for next year is the addition of Thad Duvall. I’ve known Thad and his family for a long time and he’s an extremely talented rider and I believe this change for Thad is a great move. I’m looking forward to finally getting to work with him. I must admit, these two guys are extremely talented but are at opposite ends of the spectrum in their riding style. My work may be cut out for me next year but I love this type of challenge.”
Duvall will focus on GNCC’s XC1 Open Pro Championship in 2023, as well as the U.S. Sprint Enduro series, racing aboard the EX 350F. The West Virginia native is no stranger to the premier class podium, and he definitely embodies the GASGAS way of fun!
Racing aboard the EX 250F, Lafferty will look to build on his successful year in GNCC’s XC2 250 Pro Championship this season, where he finished runner-up in 2022. Also, a third-place finisher in the National Enduro Pro 1 division last season, the young rider is hungry for more and he expects to contend for the top spot aboard the EX 350F in 2023.
"I’m excited to join the Coastal GASGAS Factory Racing team for 2023! I’m looking forward to see where this new opportunity is going to take me next year. I already feel a part of the Coastal Racing family and believe this will be my best year with the best people backing me. I grew up riding/racing with Barry in the early years of my pro career and excited to learn from one of the best in off-road history. I think Ryder has a lot of potential and I hope to help him grow as an XC2 rider. We will gel well together. I can’t wait to start testing my new bike and get everything dialed for the GNCC and US Sprints. This is going to be a fresh start for me and I’m beyond ready to put this bike in the center for the box!”
“I’m super excited for the 2023 season! I’m very happy with the previous GASGAS EX 250F and GASGAS EX 350F bikes I raced this season and look forward to learning and improving them in 2023. Since finishing 2nd in the GNCC series in the XC2 250 Pro class and 3rd in the National Enduro series in 2022 my goals for 2023 are to contest for those championships again. This year for training I’ll be working with Kailub Russell and Jacob Fetty. I think that with their guidance and knowledge I’ll be able to improve and accomplish my goals in 2023.”
Antti Kallonen, Director of Offroad Racing:
“We had great success the last two years with Coastal GASGAS Factory Racing and Barry Hawk has been great to work with, leading the teams to championships and race wins. We’re looking forward to working again with Barry and a strong rider lineup. With a new rider entering the team, the plan is remaining the same, to win races and championships. Of course, with Ryder Lafferty returning, we have a strong opportunity to win the GNCC XC2 250 Pro class as well as winning the Pro 1 National Enduro title. In addition, Thad Duvall joining the team will be a perfect fit for the team and I’m looking forward to the success he will bring to the GASGAS brand.”
DuVall will see action first, when the U.S. Sprint Enduro Series kicks of on January 28-29 in Hamer, South Carolina. Meanwhile, Lafferty will get his first taste of action the following weekend at the opening round of the AMA National Enduro in Sumter, South Carolina on February 5.