The burning questions as the silly season commences.
The silly season in Australian motocross is heating up with several rider announcements made since the conclusion of the Australian Supercross Championship just over two weeks ago. With a few riders locked away and only a handful of seats still available, it’s left plenty of burning questions. In this edition of Q&A, we take a look at who’s signed, sealed and delivered their contracts amongst predictions of who will fulfil the vacancies.
Q: Which teams have announced their riders for 2017?
A: Surprisingly, majority of the top teams have revealed their line ups for 2017. Wilson Coolair Motul Suzuki was the first to announce its squad consisting of American Kyle Peters and regular team fixture Luke Wilson, which came just days before Crankt Protein Honda Racing unveiled its new-look line-up, along with the all-new 2017 CRF450R. The new premier class machines will be piloted by Todd Waters and MX1 rookie Luke Clout, while the team has also appointed Jay Foreman as team manager, who has just ended a 20-year association with Suzuki. Lastly, CDR Yamaha confirmed in October that Dean Ferris will defend his title with Victorian-based outfit next year, while just this week it was announced Dylan Long will join the factory Yamaha team.
Q: Will Kirk Gibbs and Luke Styke be returning to the KTM Motocross Racing Team?
A: While nothing has officially been confirmed, it’s very likely Kirk Gibbs and Luke Styke will be KTM-mounted in 2017. Obviously Gibbs came agonisingly short of claiming back-to-back MX Nationals titles before a broken femur forced him to the sidelines prior to supercross, although he recently told MotoOnline.com.au that the finer details of his contract are being finalised as we type this. As for Styke, he sat out the complete year of racing after re-injuring his achilles and that is definitely something that would play against him in terms of finding a seat in 2017, but he is quite a valuable rider with the correct credentials to get the job done. It’s also expected that KTM will return to a 450-only team in the new year after fielding Caleb Ward in the MX2 category.
Q: What about National Pump Monster Energy Kawasaki? We haven’t heard too much from them.
A: While they have been relatively quiet, it appears as though the Queensland-based operation will feature a new-look line-up for the upcoming year. MX2 regular Nathan Crawford has been linked to the team, which would see him step-up to premier class for the first time in his career, however a speculated lead rider is yet to be determined. Like KTM, Kawasaki won’t be hosting a 250 rider in 2017.
Q: If Dan Reardon wasn’t included in CDR Yamaha’s rider announcement, where will he be going next year?
A: Reardon has been very vocal about racing supercross-only next year, and it’s likely he will return to CDR for the Australian Supercross Championship, essentially taking the spot that will be vacated by Ferris, who signed an outdoor-only deal. In the meantime, Reardon is currently exploring his options to race supercross internationally, and was spotted testing a Star Racing Yamaha YZ250F this week in the US, which has put him in line to replace injured athlete Colt Nichols if all goes according to plan.
Q: Kade Mosig and Jay Wilson both had factory ride this year, how’s it looking for them in the new year?
A: There’s speculation Kade Mosig will return to DPH Motorsport, while Jay Wilson revealed earlier this week that it’s unlikely he’ll be racing the MX Nationals after being unable to secure a fulltime seat. However, the 2015 MX2 champion will be racing the ArencrossUK series at the beginning of the year with the JK Yamaha outfit.
Q: There’s only handful of factory 250 rides available, who’s secured them?
A: With Kawasaki and KTM dropping their official factory efforts in the quarter-litre category – although it is expected they will have supported riders that won’t be under the awning of the factory outfits – it leaves Serco Yamaha as the sole factory team in the MX2 category. There are several riders linked to the Queensland team, including speculation that newly-crowned SX2 champion Jackson Richardson will race fulltime in Australia with the team. Wilson Todd and Mitch Evans have also been named as strong candidates to fulfil the positions. There are many capable MX2 riders deserving of support in 2017, however it’s too soon to tell who will receive backing from manufacturers next year.