How long before red wins a championship?
How long before red wins a championship?
Welcome to the offseason and our new ongoing “Team Previews” column. Every week from now until the Monster Energy Supercross season starts in January we will be profiling a big team in the sport. We’ll go through the changes that have been made, analyze results, and give each team a grade on all of their offseason moves. This week we have HRC Factory Honda and you will find the full schedule below.
Roczen will be Honda’s knight in shining armour.
Photos: Simon Cudby
#14 Cole Seely
#94 Ken Roczen
#41 Trey Canard
Last Season’s Supercross Results:
Cole Seely – 6th 450SX
Trey Canard – 9th 450SX
Last Season’s Motocross Results:
Cole Seely – 13th 450MX
Trey Canard – 18th 450MX
Offseason Grade: A
Seely is the most underrated rider in the 450 class.
Obviously the biggest signing of the offseason belongs to HRC Honda. They went out and signed the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Champion Ken Roczen for the next few years. This is Kenny’s third American team as a pro and his third different brand. This signing really showed that Honda wants to return back to their once dominant ways. With HRC more involved over the last couple of seasons we’ve seen some good changes for the brand. Roczen becomes the first premier class champion signed to big red since Ricky Carmichael back in late 2001. We all saw how that worked out.
Roczen’s debut at the Monster Cup went much better than the media and the majority of the fans speculated. You know how the story goes, a star rider signs to a new team and then they spend the entire first season fighting the bike. It’s all about bike setup, getting comfortable, and trying new things, etc. Judging by Roczen’s debut it looks like everything will be just peachy, but you just never know. Do I think Roczen will win at least one championship this season? Yes, I do. It would be dumb to bet against a guy who obviously just entered his prime. On the other hand, Ryan Dungey still has life to him and he’s incredibly consistent. It’s definitely going to come down to these two guys in the 450 class for each title.
It’s definitely going to be weird seeing the Honda team without the #41 of Trey Canard underneath the tent. Canard had spent ten years on red, four with GEICO Honda, and six with the factory team. Canard and Honda split on great terms and now a new era can begin for each party.
Cole Seely is the most underrated 450 class riders in the field. If you want to argue that he isn’t, that’s fine, but I won’t agree with you. Seely has won a main event and is usually very consistent. Last year was kind of a struggle fest for him despite four podiums and finishing sixth overall in the standings. He’s a top three guy and a winner when he’s completely healthy. I think that we will see the real Seely show up in 2017. When I say the real Seely, I’m saying finishing inside the top five at most all of the rounds and finishing on the podium at least 6-8 times. He’s coming off of an injury and will be fresh and ready for the gate drop come Anaheim 1. The real question is whether or not Seely can stay injury free fo rthe duration of the season. The past two seasons have been rough for him. However, he is signed through 2018, so Honda believes in his potential as they should.
Seely and Roczen will bring a great balance to a Honda team looking for its first premier class title since 2004. You have the outspoken Roczen and the quiet Seely who are very different, but both very fast on the bike. I know we will see a lot of red on the podium this year, but will it be enough for Honda to return its former dominance? I just don’t think we will see the “Big Red Machine” of the 1980s, 90s, or 00’s. The big problem is that the field is deep and so many other great squads stand in their way. Plus with only two riders on the team that makes it hard to actually overwhelm the standings. However, with a team of Roczen and Seely you look pretty awesome on paper Factory Honda. Let’s see what you’ve got for 2017.
Rockstar Husqvarna is next.
10/14 – Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM
10/21 – Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull KTM
11/4 – Monster Energy/Yamalube/Chaparral/Yamaha Financial Services/Factory Yamaha
11/11 – Yamalube Star Racing Yamaha
11/25 – HRC Honda
12/2 – Rockstar Husqvarna
12/9 – Factory Monster Energy Kawasaki
12/16 – Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki
12/23 – RCH Yoshimura Suzuki
12/30 – JGR/Toyota/Suzuki
Thanks for reading my series of team previews for the coming season. If you’d like to talk about these or any of the other stories that I’ve written you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach me on Twitter/Instagram: @troybendgen