This one week off from racing has seemed like an eternity! But just like that, we’re at the beginning of a brand new racing season. This second half of the “year” will see the riders transition into the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season.
The first stop of the season is at Hangtown MX in Northern California, just outside of Sacramento. Hangtown has been a regular stop on the Pro Motocross schedule and we may even see the rare occasion of a Hangtown mudder this weekend.
Naturally, the start of the season means that both classes are wide open. However, there are bound to be some front runners for favorites to win the title. In the 450 class, the lead contender has to be defending champion, Eli Tomac. Tomac is definitely in his comfort zone when racing the outdoors season and he has put on some dominant (to say the least) performances over the past few Motocross seasons. Coming into the season as defending champ must put Tomac’s confidence through the roof, but we all know how heavy the red plate can be at times.
Another obvious choice to contend for the title is Marvin Musquin, who has continuously finished just behind Tomac – always the bridesmaid, never the bride… until now? Musquin clearly has the skill, dedication, and motivation to win the title, he just needs to be consistent throughout the year.
It seems obvious to also name Supercross champion Cooper Webb a likely candidate to win the Motocross title as well, but there is an air of uncertainty there. On his old team, Webb was less than stellar but was able to jump clear to the opposite end of the spectrum in Supercross. The question is, will this new Webb shine through in outdoors as well? Or is Webb more comfortable on a Supercross track?
Then there is Ken Roczen. Before his injuries, Roczen was nearly unbeatable on a Motocross track. Last season he finished third overall in the points standings and won a few motos along the way. Will Roczen return to his old form this season? He seemed to go through a mental slump towards the end of the Supercross season, but Motocross has always seemed to be more in his wheelhouse. If his mental game is back, he is as much of a threat as any other rider on the track.
The last clear rider that will battle for the title is Jason Anderson. After winning the 2018 Supercross title, he suffered an injury after round 2 of the Pro Motocross season which caused him to sit out a majority of the season. Anderson is a proven champion and we would be remiss to exclude him from a talk of who can win the championship. Of course, there are other dark horses among the group that could emerge and take this fight all the way to the end of the season – riders such as Zach Osborne and Blake Baggett. Only time will tell who will put themselves into the spotlight and whether Tomac will maintain his hold on the red plate.
The Pro Motocross season is always exciting in the 250 class because we get to see all the riders battle against one another through the entire season, rather than being split into East and West regions. Having all these heavy hitters in the class come together week in and week out will make a great racing weekend every single week.
The front runner in the class going into Round 1 is Dylan Ferrandis. Last season, Ferrandis showed that he is more than comfortable on a motocross track and he has the speed to win a lot of motos this season. Add to that the fact that he is coming off of a 250 West Region Supercross Title, you have to like his odds to win the outdoors title as well.
Ferrandis’ main competitor through the Supercross season, Adam Cianciarulo, also has a great shot at winning this championship. Cianciarulo put together a great Supercross season and lost his championship in the last round after a small crash bent his handlebars beyond repair. If AC wasn’t in the top three in points in the closing rounds, we’ll be extremely surprised.
The 250 class is probably even deeper than the 450 class – there are so many riders that have a chance to battle for the championship that we can’t possibly talk about them all right now. Other riders that have a legitimate shot at the trophy include Justin Cooper, Colt Nichols, Chase Sexton, RJ Hampshire, Shane McElrath, Alex Martin, and Jordon Smith. We can’t disregard the two riders who came over from the MXGP series: Thomas Covington and Hunter Lawrence. Covington and Lawrence have both raced several seasons in the MX 2 class (250s) and consistently put their machines in the top five if not on the podium. The MXGP series is likely a harder and more demanding series than the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series due to the nature of the tracks – MXGP tracks are groomed significantly less, forcing riders to learn how to ride in rough conditions. Coming over to the U.S. and racing these well-groomed tracks, may allow Covington and Lawrence to excel even more than they did in MXGP.
Less than two more days until we’re back to racing!!