News 15 May 2015

Youth of Pro Motocross line up for 250 Class season

Martin to defend crown against the sport's finest rising talent.

Source: Pro Motocross.

Source: Pro Motocross.

The highly anticipated summer-long battle of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will officially get the 2015 season underway this Saturday with the 47th annual GoPro Hangtown Motocross Classic.

For decades the 250 Class has been known as the division where stars are born and this season that distinction couldn’t be more accurate.

Fresh off his breakthrough season a year ago in which he won his first career professional title, Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin is set to defend his 250 Class crown against a hungry field of contenders all eager to accomplish the same feat and solidify themselves as the sport’s most promising young prospects.

Prior to the 2014 season, Martin had two overall podium finishes during his first full year of professional competition. While it was a solid rookie campaign that established a foundation to build from, virtually no one expected the Minnesota native to come out and dominate the first half of last summer’s championship the way he did, going a perfect 4-0 in motos to start the season and winning three of the first six rounds.

The fast start Martin set forth ultimately proved to be too much for any of his competitors to overcome. He finished the summer with a top-10 finish at all 12 rounds and scored five victories en route to the title, including perhaps his most coveted at his home track of Spring Creek MX Park, owned and operated by his parents.

Martin’s dominant season vaulted him to stardom and he added his name to a list of budding talent in a division that has the potential to provide the most competitive 250 Class season in many years.

He’ll enter Hangtown as the only rider with title experience, and while there’s no reason to doubt Martin’s ability to become the first repeat champion since Ryan Villopoto (2007-2008), he’ll have his work cut out for him with a list of title contenders desperate for a national title of their own.

Perhaps Martin’s primary challenger for this season’s championship will come from a familiar face – Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha teammate Cooper Webb. Like Martin, Webb is entering his third year in the 250 Class and has done well to build off his first career overall win and third-place finish in the championship last summer.

Thus far in 2015 Webb has been very impressive, cruising to his first career professional title with a west region championship in supercross. Momentum and confidence are weighing heavily in Webb’s favor and he looks poised to continue Star Racing’s recent ascension to the forefront of the 250 Class.

This season’s east region supercross champion, Marvin Musquin, might have more to prove than any of his fellow competitors in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. The Red Bull KTM rider is one of the oldest and most experienced riders in the division, and the Frenchman is no stranger to winning championships, earning back-to-back FIM World Motocross MX2 Championships in 2009 and 2010.

The 2015 season is Musquin’s final one in the 250 Class and while he’s already signed on to stay with KTM and ride a 450 beginning next season, he’s yet to achieve the title he came over to the US to win.

Musquin’s path to the supercross title was a dominant one and while his fourth-place 250 Class finish a year ago was solid, especially considering he was coming back from a serious knee injury, it looks like the Frenchman is ready to pull out all the stops this summer and leave the division in a big way.

Another rider set to embark on his final season of 250 Class competition is GEICO Honda’s Justin Bogle. The 2014 season was big for Bogle, winning his first professional title in supercross and earning a career-best Pro Motocross finish in fifth.

He’s been as consistent as ever so far in 2015 and he’ll be the true leader of a young GEICO Honda squad this summer. The Oklahoma native got his first taste of the overall podium on two occasions last season, and it’s not out of the question to think he has the ability to take the next step and challenge for wins in 2015.

Since he turned pro prior to the start of the 2013 season, it’s been a rougher journey to stardom than Adam Cianciarulo expected. Arguably the most successful amateur rider in the history of the sport, the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki pilot has at times shown the speed that made him the most highly touted amateur since Villopoto, but injuries have plagued his development.

A bout of salmonella poisoning delayed the start of his rookie season while an injured shoulder kept him out of the Nationals a year ago. Cianciarulo has endured more shoulder problems this season already, missing supercross, but it allowed him to fully focus on this summer.

It’s been a over a full year since he’s logged a lap of competition in any sort of championship, but Cianciarulo isn’t a rider to ever count out and the entire Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team is hoping he can help give them some success after a winless supercross campaign.

Several other riders have shown impressive progression over the last year and have the potential to add even more intrigue to an already loaded group of championship hopefuls.

Jessy Nelson narrowly missed out on the first win of his professional career last season in Indiana, but he’s maintained that speed into 2015 and parlayed it into a supercross win in January for the revamped Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Red Bull/KTM team. Nelson will undoubtedly make his presence felt this summer and that success could very well filter down to his teammates Shane McElrath and newly added Mitchell Oldenberg.

Joey Savatgy, Chris Alldredge and Arnaud Tonus round out a four-rider lineup for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki. Savatgy has taken advantage of the best opportunity of his career by becoming a consistent podium threat in supercross and he’s capable of doing the same at the nationals.

With two of the 250 Class’ most prominent title contenders, Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha will surely see success from its other two riders, Aaron Plessinger and Anthony Rodriguez.

Red Bull KTM will field two riders this summer as Justin Hill joins Musquin in search of the team’s first 250 Class championship. Hill enjoyed a stellar season in 2014 in which he emerged as a front-runner, ultimately landing him a spot alongside Musquin for this season.

The aforementioned GEICO Honda squad will be loaded with youth behind its leader Bogle. Matt Bisceglia will embark on his sophomore season, looking to build on a 15th-place effort in his rookie campaign that saw him miss multiple rounds with injury.

RJ Hampshire got a taste of the pro ranks last summer by competing in the final three races of the season and thus far his first full year of professional action has been promising with his first career podium result in supercross. Rounding out the team lineup is rookie Jordon Smith.

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing will make its anticipated return to the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship with a three-rider effort in the 250 Class. Veteran Martin Davalos has fought through illness and the effects of a broken foot suffered last season, but he still remains one of the most recognizable and experienced riders in the division that hopes to turn things around at the Nationals.

The Zach tandem of Zach Osborne and Zach Bell each provide stellar speed and both riders have aspirations of becoming consistent podium contenders this summer, looking to make Husqvarna a household name once again.

From top to bottom, the 250 Class is home to a deep well of emerging talent. While title favorites have established themselves, look no further than last season to realise that any one of these rising stars has the potential to turn heads and make a surprising run towards a championship.