Here’s what JT thinks is going to happen next year
Here’s what JT thinks is going to happen next year
Silly Season: Episode 1
The silly season of motocross switcharoos is warming up. While many spots are remaining constant, there are a few coveted spots up for grabs. The interesting aspect of that is the number of riders who will be all vying for the few openings. With more and more 250 riders moving to the 450 ranks, premium teams are filling up quickly. There is certainly not a lack of talent to choose from. Let’s take a look at who I think will end up where in the 450 class and next week we can tackle the smaller bores. Keep in mind that many of these are based on my opinion, inside info and rumors.
Factory Honda/HRC: Honda has their two current riders, Trey Canard and Cole Seely, locked up for next year. Both were supercross winners in 2015 and both have bright futures ahead. The injury bug has bitten both of them lately but when healthy, they can win any race at any time. Canard was second in the points championship and still a factor when he was taken down by injury at the Detroit round. Look for him to once again be a threat for a title in 2016.
We’re all expecting Eli Tomac to Kawasaki to be announced after the season. Lissimore photo
Monster Energy Kawasaki: Eli Tomac will be the new leader on a team left struggling since Ryan Villopoto departed in 2014. Things didn’t work out with Davi Millsaps and Wil Hahn has fought injuries all season. For a team that has won so much in recent years, 2015 was a disappointment. With Tomac, they will be back in the fight next season. The second spot is a highly intriguing possibility for many riders. This team has done a great deal of winning and riders know it. The 2016 Kawasaki is lighter and more nimble, adding even more incentive to go green. Look for Josh Grant, Justin Bogle, or Wil Hahn to land this spot.
Yoshimura Suzuki: The return of James Stewart is big news for the boys in yellow. They have sorely missed their #1 rider and really, the sport has as a whole. James should come in more motivated than ever to win races and contend for a title. Blake Baggett, on the other hand, has been a pleasant surprise in 2015. I was very unsure of how he would do in supercross but he was impressive. He was much better than he ever was on the 250 in supercross and looked to adapt well to the Suzuki. Yoshimura Suzuki is bringing a serious combo with Stewart and Baggett.
Barcia will be back at JGR and hoping to have a better supercross season. Cudby photo
AutoTrader.com/JGR/Yamaha: Justin Barcia is back! For what was looking like a deteriorating situation, the JGR/Barcia combo is really coming together now. If Barcia can continue this level of riding and his incredibly consistent starts, he will be a threat indoors next season. This is exactly what both Yamaha and JGR had in mind when they wrote a big check last season. Backing Barcia up will once again be everyone’s favorite underdog, Weston Peick. Weston was a legitimate podium threat at the end of last season so look for him to build on that confidence. As for Phil Nicoletti, time will tell what the future holds. Surely he is fielding full time offers after such a strong outdoor season, but he may prefer to stay put. If he does, look for him to try and push for a full-time ride for both series.
Soaring Eagle/Dodge/RCH Suzuki: Ken Roczen was hired this season to win championships for the superstar team owned by Carey Hart and Ricky Carmichael. Everything looked to be headed that way until an ankle injury sidelined Roczen during supercross and he really hasn’t had the same form since round 4 in Oakland. There have been rumors flying around about strife between Roczen and team members but I am sure many of those are nothing more than growing pains with a new team. Roczen is still capable of winning and so is his RMZ450. Finding the magic recipe to get him back on top has to be priority #1 this off-season. As for Roczen’s teammate, that will be a highly chased spot, similar to the opening at Kawasaki. Broc Tickle currently occupies that spot, of course, but there will be many looking to replace him when the music begins to slow. I know that the team really likes Broc so he should be the favorite to retain his role once they settle on the raise that Broc should get.
Geico Honda: With the departure of Eli Tomac, word is that this 450 program will go away. Justin Bogle will put the 450 to good use starting this weekend at Unadilla but they will go back to their main focus of the 250 class for 2016. It’s a shame because this was a great spot on a great team.
BTO/WPS/KTM: The big news here is the addition of Davi Millsaps. Coming off a couple of tough years due to injury and sickness, he is determined to get back to the front in 2016. Justin Brayton has another year left on his contract so he will stay put and all signs point to Andrew Short returning for another season on the Forrest Butler-owned team. This is a strong 3 man team on what is basically a satellite effort.
Rockstar Husqvarna: Jason Anderson is the poster boy for the Husqvarna resurgence and will remain there in 2016. Christophe Pourcel will also return to the team next season and I am very interested to see how he fares in supercross. He has never raced the 450 class inside but his dominance on the 250 can’t be ignored. Husky has a great chance of podium performances with the talent they wield.
Red Bull KTM: Ryan Dungey will once again lead the orange brigade into 2016, this time with a #1 plate. He has been absolutely brilliant this season and shows no signs of that changing. Flanking Dungey will be Dean Wilson and Marvin Musquin. Deano has missed most of the season with a knee injury but makes his return this weekend, just like Justin Bogle, at Unadilla. Marvin Musquin, on the other hand, is on great form and is looking for continued success on the bigger machine next year. He seems to gel very well with the KTM crew and I don’t expect to see him leave there for years to come. If all three of these guys come into 2016 at 100%, look out.
Chad Reed: Yes, he’s his own team sort of. Well, the 22 needs to figure out what he wants to do and we’ve all heard that maybe a return to Yamaha might happen. This is still the leader in the clubhouse but we also hear he’s talking to some other teams as well. Stay tuned…
*There are other teams such as CycleTrader.com/Rock River Yamaha, Crossland Motorsports Honda and Jimmy Albertson’s Motosport/Yamaha effort but these deals tend to shape up later in the season as the factories get first dibs. Albertson did sign Matt Goerke to his team, making a strong 1-2 punch on a privateer effort. I will update other teams as things take shape but early August is still a ways out for most.