Who's going where for the upcoming American season.
It might seem like the 2016 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship is ages away, but the reality is the gates will drop on Anaheim 1 in just 10 weeks time. With team signings happening left right and centre, it’s a good time to answer some of the big questions that are cropping up from the American silly season.
Q: Monster Energy Kawasaki signed who?
A: Eli Tomac. Arguably the biggest news of the silly season to date was GEICO Honda’s golden child, Eli Tomac’s defection to Monster Energy Kawasaki. Whispers of the deal had been flowing thick and fast for weeks before its announcement two weeks ago so it didn’t come as much of a surprise to insiders, but the announcement is still a huge one for Kawasaki looking to fill the shoes of Ryan Villopoto. Tomac will race alongside Wil Hahn in the 450SX class, after the latter, who missed most of 2015 with injury, had his contract extended for a further year.
Q: Will James Stewart be back?
A: Absolutely. After the World Anti-Doping Agency and the FIM suspended James Stewart from competing in the 2015 championship after testing positive to a banned substance (Adderall), Stewart will be back with a vengeance in 2016. He’s already chalked up a win at the Red Bull Straight Rhythm contest and will contest the Sydney AUS-X Open next month as he prepares for his much anticipated return. Blake Baggett will return to Stewart’s Yoshimura Suzuki team next year as well.
Q: After all that went down between Ken Roczen and RCH Suzuki, have they parted ways?
A: Nope. Despite the struggles with bike settings, injuries and the blistering interview by his father in a German publication, Ken Roczen will stay with RCH/Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s/Suzuki Factory Racing team (now that’s a gobful!) for next year. While nothing’s been announced, expect the consistent and improving Broc Tickle to stay at RCH too. A few chummy social media posts between Tickle and team co-owner Carey Hart signal they’d be happy to again extend his contract for 2016.
Q: Will Chad Reed turn up on a Yamaha?
A: It’s highly likely, but solid details of any arrangements after the demise of TwoTwo Motorsports this year have yet to break the surface. Reedy did show up at Monster Energy Cup aboard a Discount Tire/Monster Energy-sponsored YZ450F. His results were more than a little disappointing with minimal ride and prep time before the event, but you can expect Reed will be more than ready to fire at Anaheim 1. Early on there was also talk that Reed would possibly join JGR alongside Justin Barcia and Weston Peick, but those whispers have (so far) failed to eventuate.
Q: Is it true Red Bull KTM is expanding to three 450 riders next year?
A: Correct. Both current champion Ryan Dungey and the injury-smashed Dean Wilson are on multi-year contracts with the Austrian brand, while defending Eastern Regional 250 Supercross Champion Marvin Musquin has graduated up to the 450SX class. Rather than let such a fine racer back into the fishpond for another team to snag, Red Bull KTM has instead expanded their 450 team to three seats so ‘Moose-can’ remain on the orange machines.
Q: With Tomac gone, will GEICO Honda park its 450 effort in 2016?
A: No. After losing Eli Tomac to Monster Energy Kawasaki there was a bit of speculation (including claims from the team itself) that GEICO Honda would shelve its 450 team and again focus on its burgeoning 250 team for 2016. But just yesterday Honda announced that former East Coast 250SX champ Justin Bogle will be promoted to the lone 450 seat under the red tent next year. Bogle spent some time in Tomac’s seat this year after the Colorado native was injured and showed flashes of brilliance that were hampered by equally spectacular crashes.
Q: Who will Jason Anderson ride for?
A: He’ll return to Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna after signing a remarkable three-year contract with the team (out to the end of 2018). Anderson will be pitted with Frenchman Christophe Pourcel, who’s been given a surprising second chance with teams in the US after burning multiple bridges back in 2011. It’ll be Pourcel’s first fulltime 450 contract in the US and he’ll enter the upcoming 450SX championship as a class rookie.
Q: So that just leaves the Honda factory race team – who’s on their 2016 roster?
A: Honda’s 450 squad will remain unchanged with Trey Canard and Cole Seely getting behind the grips.