Features 8 Feb 2024

Top 10: Anticipated events of 2024

The most pivotal races on this year's domestic and international calendar.

Last year saw the global racing calendar ramp up to a whole new level, as new championships emerged and captured the imagination of riders and race fans alike. Now established, 2024 should see many of these domestic and international series and events continue to evolve. MotoOnline outlines a mixture of key events to keep an eye on in this Top 10 feature.

Image: Supplied.

1. SuperMotocross Finals:
Last year Feld Motor Sports and MX Sports Pro Racing revolutionised the sport by joining forces and creating the SuperMotocross World Championship – a series that effectively combined the two championships, with the top 20 riders from the combined Supercross and Pro Motocross standings automatically qualifying for a three-round playoff series on hybrid tracks. With huge money on the line and so many question-marks as to how it would shake out, the playoffs captured the imagination of the industry and fans like few other events ever have. And it worked. With a year under the belt and plenty of feedback from the riders, teams, fans, media and industry to work through, this year’s playoffs are again the most hotly-anticipated events of the year. The three-round finals begin on September 8 and finish on September 22. Locations are yet to be announced, but should be dropping soon.

2. Australian ProMX opener at Wonthaggi:
Australia’s MX1 and MX2 classes are both brimming with talent again this year, with a long list of racers capable of winning motos and rounds. Last year’s MX1 champion, Dean Ferris, who burst from retirement to shock the field has been promoted to the formidable CDR Yamaha Monster Energy team, alongside his closest rival, Jed Beaton. Honda Racing again boasts a talented squad with Kyle Webster and Wilson Todd, while Nathan Crawford is also jumping up to the premier class with KTM Racing Team. At the same time, Luke Clout ended 2023 on a high in supercross and will spearhead Empire Kawasaki’s campaign, while you can never discount the vast experience in Kirk Gibbs (GasGas Racing Team) and Todd Waters (Raceline Husqvarna). The MX2 class is also stacked, with Honda Racing duo Brodie Connolly and Alex Larwood, Rhys Budd moving to the Raceline Husqvarna squad alongside talented teenager Jack Mather, Kayden Minear entering his second season with KTM Racing Team, Byron Dennis stepping up for his rookie season with the GasGas Racing Team, Reid Taylor signing with Empire Kawasaki, and Yamalube Yamaha Racing (Ryder Kingsford, Jayce Cosford and Kaleb Barham) taking over as the main Yamaha-backed team in Serco Yamaha’s departure. Wonthaggi’s dark loam again returns as the series-opening round, setting the scene for what should be an enthralling battle across the two premier classes, as well the MX3 and MXW fields.

3. MXoN at Matterley Basin:
The Motocross of Nations (MXoN) is always one of the most highly anticipated events on the motocross calendar. After the incredible scenes we saw at Ernee, France last year, where the star-studded French team claimed the Chamberlain Trophy, and Team Australia posted their best-ever result (runner-up), we’re already looking forward to what 2024 will bring. Matterley Basin in the UK is a spectacular track and a riders’ favourite, and it could also provide a real opportunity for a country to beat the home team for the first time since 2018. The top three teams from 2023 – France, Australia and Italy – and Team USA (if they can field a top-tier team) are likely to again be the most-fancied countries to stake a claim on English soil, although you can never rule out the Netherlands and a host of other countries eager to find success. The 2024 MXoN on 4-6 October is one to lock into your calendars now.

Image: Octopi Media.

4. AMA Supercross finale in SLC:
From a fan’s perspective, it’s been an unpredictable, spectacular start to the 2024 Monster Energy Supercross Championship, with six different winners in three rounds across the 450SX and 250SX fields. We’ve also already seen both spectrums of the weather scale, and race favourites both succeed and stumble. There’s still an immense amount of racing to take place between now and the 11 May finale at Salt Lake City’s Rice-Eccles Stadium and big momentum shifts are likely to unfold over the remaining 14 rounds. If we were to write the script, though, we’d love to see both the 450SX and 250SX classes go down to the wire, with multiple contenders having a shot at the titles. As always, the finale will also see the second of the East-West Showdowns, and the final opportunity for those riders to make a bid for their regional championships, as well as settling the debate as to who’s the fastest 250SX rider before the focus switches to the outdoors.

5. Pro Motocross opener at Fox Raceway:
As it has for the past three years, Pala’s often-hot and dry Fox Raceway will again play host as the season opener for the 2024 Pro Motocross Championship. There’s always a special buzz that surrounds the first round of the great outdoors – most of the racers outside of Supercross contention have long-switched their focus to prepare for the gruelling, longer moto formats of the Pro Motocross Championship. Establishing themselves as the rider to beat from the first gate-drop can do wonders for momentum and confidence. Australian fans will also be keeping a close eye on the Team Honda HRC’s Lawrence brothers to see whether Jett can replicate the incredible success he enjoyed as a rookie or if Hunter can stamp his authority on the class in a similar fashion against a star-packed line-up.

6. ProMX final at Queensland Moto Park:
With the traditional home of the Australian Motocross Championship finale, Coolum, now closed to make way for the industrial expansion in the area, QMP will host the final two-day final round for the first time in its history. The hard-pack natural terrain circuit in the rolling hills southwest of Brisbane has been part of the ProMX calendar for two years and has gained a reputation as a challenging track that can quickly catch riders out. Coolum always had a festive atmosphere as the industry converged to witness the crowning of the new champions, and it’s going to be really interesting to see how the fans and racers adopt QMP as the new home of the final round.

7. World Supercross returning:
There haven’t been any announcements from SX Global regarding the 2024 FIM World Supercross Championship, but after a rocky 2023, there’ll be plenty of eyes on the series to see if they can establish themselves as a new, genuine player on the world stage. Last year saw multiple rounds cancelled and rescheduled as the championship was pared back from an initial six rounds to just three in its first proper year as a series. At the same time, the original investors backed out and sweeping changes were made to the board and management behind the scenes. However, with new investors secured and a willingness rebuild the championship slowly and steadily, there’s genuine interest as to what that will look like in 2024. If it goes ahead, expect to see some new teams and some new countries involved, as the promoters attempt to consolidate and build on a successful final round at Melbourne last year.

Image: Foremost Media.

8. MXGP season commences at Argentina:
With five-time champion Jeffrey Herlings (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) expected to back to full health and return for his 15th year racing the MXGPs against defending champion Jorge Prado (Red Bull GasGas) and previous title winners Romain Febvre (Kawasaki Racing Team) and Team HRC’s Tim Gajser, the upcoming season is expected to be a hotly contested one. The season-opening MXGP of Argentina is always a spectacular affair, with the loamy circuit ranking up there as one of the riders’ most-liked tracks. At the same time, 2024 marks a new chapter for the successful Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP team, which has moved its base to Belgium. The blisteringly fast Maxime Renaux will headline the three-rider team with Jago Geerts and high-performing former independent Calvin Vlaanderen. It’s shaping up to be another fascinating season, with a staggering 20 rounds scheduled this year.

9. AORC series:
The big off-season news was the addition of Daniel Milner (KTM) back into the Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship lineup for 2024. Milner is returning home after a stint in EnduroGP to contest the E2 category. While we will see the addition of Milner, we will be without 2023 outright and E2 champion Josh Green, who announced his retirement following last season. Replacing Green at the ShopYamaha Off Road Team is EJ champion Will Dennett, who will make the jump up to E2 alongside Kyron Bacon (E1). Team Motul Pirelli Sherco will once again field Jonte Reynders in the E2 class, marking his sixth season with the team following his A4DE outright win in 2023, and he will be one to watch in the new season.

10. AUSX championship series:
We’re yet to hear official word of what the 2024 AUSX championship will look like, but with a well-attended (by both racers and fans) three-round series bookending the 2023 domestic race season. The promoters, AME, have dropped hints that they intend to expand to at least four rounds in 2024, including a long-overdue, welcome return to Queensland for the first time since 2019. Organisers have confirmed the championship will return to the tight, confined Adelaide Entertainment Centre, but will look at ways to maximise the limited floor space. The two other venues are unknown, but if WSX returns to Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium, we’d expect to again see AUSX worked in as a double-header type weekend. Work is also under way to have the popular CR22 85cc Cup given championship status this year, paving the way for the next generation of young Australian racers to gain exposure and experience racing in front of thousands of fans.