Features 6 Oct 2016

Top 10: Major motocross signings

Narrowing down our top 10 team signings from the past five years.

It’s that time of the year where current contracts begin to expire and new exciting deals are revealed to the public. For our latest instalment of Top 10, we’ve narrowed down the major motocross signings from the past five years, both locally and internationally, that have left or made their mark in the industry.

Image: Simon Cudby.

Image: Simon Cudby.

1. Ken Roczen to RCH Suzuki (2015)/Team Honda HRC (2017):
Ken Roczen has had two major team changes in his career since moving to America. The German was signed to Red Bull KTM Factory Racing for a number of years, which saw him claim the MX2 World Championship in 2011 with their European outfit, and following his move to the U.S, he went onto the be crowned the 2013 Monster Energy Supercross 250SX West champion and 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross 450MX champion. After experiencing an abundance of success with the brand, he would shock the industry as he returned to manufacturer who he started his pro career with – Suzuki. After two years with RCH Suzuki where he endured some highs and lows, which included being the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross 450MX champion, Roczen would sign a three-year deal with Team Honda HRC that will now see him through to the conclusion of the 2019 season.

2. Ryan Dungey to Red Bull KTM (2012):
Ryan Dungey had an incredibly successful six years with Rockstar Makita Suzuki, winning a handful of 250 titles while also being crowned the 2010 450 supercross and motocross champion in his rookie year. 2010 marked the final year that Suzuki’s team manager Roger DeCoster would be at the helm of the squad, as he moved onto Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 2011. Dungey and DeCoster shared a close relationship while they were at Suzuki, so it wasn’t a surprise when it was revealed that Dungey would be joining the Austrian manufacturer in 2012. The pair have since enjoyed numerous championships together.

3. Chad Reed to Monster Energy/360fly/Chaparral/Yamaha (2016):
The last decade has seen Australia’s most successful international rider Chad Reed switch between teams and manufacturers on several occasions. After numerous years of owning and operating his own outfit – TwoTwo Motorsports – Reed returned to Yamaha in 2016, a company who he shared multiple championships with earlier in his career. It also marked Yamaha’s first in-house team since 2006, which ceased operations a decade ago in order to distribute their factory resources to a host of privately-owned teams. For next season they will expand to two riders.

4. James Stewart to Yoshimura Suzuki (2012):
James Stewart was initially signed to JGR Yamaha for the 2012 season, however after a horrid supercross series, his contract was terminated, leaving the entire motorcycle industry stumped. In a matter of days, Stewart signed a multi-year contract with Yoshimura Suzuki which saw him begin racing with the team as soon as the Pro Motocross series commenced that year.

5. Dean Ferris to Red Bull KTM (2014)/CDR Yamaha (2016):
While Dean Ferris built a name for himself in GPs after several strong finishes, nothing would prepare the Australian for the attention he would receive following an incredible performance at the 2013 FIM Motocross of Nations in Germany. It eventually led him to sign a deal with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing in the U.S for 2014, despite already signing a contract extension with the Dixon Yamaha outfit in Europe for that year. Ferris wouldn’t reach his potential in America, as a wrist injury denied him the chance of completing the supercross series, and on return, he would take on a guest ride with Husqvarna (owned by KTM) back in the world championship. Ferris’ career changes wouldn’t stop there, as he returned home to Australia in 2016 with the CDR Yamaha squad, going onto to be crowned this year’s motocross champion.

Image: Simon Cudby.

Image: Simon Cudby.

6. Jay Marmont to Monster Energy Kawasaki (2012):
In the prime of his career, Jay Marmont secured four consecutive Australian Motocross Championships with CDR Yamaha from 2008 through to 2011. In need of a change, he signed with Troy Carroll’s Monster Energy Kawasaki squad in 2012, and despite winning a supercross title in his first year with the team, he wouldn’t reach the same level of success that he did in the years prior. He did later return to CDR Yamaha once again prior to retiring.

7. Todd Waters to Red Bull Ice One Husqvarna (2014):
Todd Waters fell short of the Australian Motocross Championship in 2013, however he was onto to bigger and better things the following year, signing with Husqvarna’s newly-formed factory outfit. The popular Queenslander was unable to complete the full series after suffering a leg injury, although he would return with the team in 2015, scoring his first podium finish in the world championship.

8. Cooper Webb to Monster Energy/360fly/Chaparral/Yamaha (2017):
Yamaha revealed it’s intentions to be a strong force in the coming years by signing one of their greatest prodigies, Cooper Webb, to join Chad Reed on their new factory outfit, which will be in its second year of operation in 2017. Webb has won a handful of championships in the 250 category and has also proven himself on the 450 at select events in the past, making him one of the most valuable riders that’s moving up into premier ranks.

9. Ryan Villopoto to Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team (2015):
Ryan Villopoto’s move the world championship shocked the industry, as it’s a rarity for America’s top motocross athletes to even think of making the switch. Despite the move being heavily rumoured for much of 2014, many stated it would never happen, however his time in Europe was short-lived. After claiming his first grand prix victory in Thailand, Villopoto would suffer a tailbone injury following a crash at Trentino’s fourth round in Italy. The American spent weeks on the sidelines before announcing his retirement later in the year.

10. Trey Canard to Red Bull KTM (2017):
Trey Canard was believed to be a Honda guy for life – he spent majority of his amateur career with the brand, won professional 250 titles with them earlier in his career and has been with the factory Honda HRC squad since 2011. Several major injuries denied Canard the chance to showcase his potential aboard the Honda, however it was revealed earlier this week that he will join Red Bull KTM Factory Racing for 2017, marking one of the biggest changes in the AMA paddock for next year.