Features 27 Feb 2024

Q&A: ProMX rider movements

Unpacking the key rider and team signings leading into season 2024.

It’s all change in Australian motocross for 2024 and the Penrite ProMX Championship is shaping up to be another closely-fought series. As we count down the days to the gates dropping on the first motos at Wonthaggi, take a look at some of the biggest off-season rider changes in this latest Q&A feature.

Image: Supplied.

Q: How much of a title threat will Luke Clout be at his new home with Empire Kawasaki?

A: Former MX1 champion Luke Clout’s switch from CDR Yamaha Monster Energy to the Empire Kawasaki team was a big talking point late last year, but from all accounts he’s enjoying the change. The past two years have been a tough road for Clout as he dealt with a near-constant string of injuries, but finishing 2023 with a memorable AUSX championship main event win in Melbourne could be the injection of confidence he needs to be a regular visitor to the winner’s circle again this year. At this stage, Clout will enter Wonthaggi fit, healthy and with plenty of pre-season seat-time on the new generation KX450, which should see him start the season strongly.

Q: There’s been a shake-up in the KTM Group team line-ups. What can we expect to see in 2024?

A: There will be both new and familiar faces across the KTM, GasGas and Husqvarna teams this year. For the KTM Racing Team, Nathan Crawford steps up for his foray into the MX1 class, while teenager Kayden Minear returns for his second year in MX2. The ever-experienced Kirk Gibbs – previously a fixture at KTM – has moved across to be the MX1 rider for the GasGas Racing Team, where he’ll sit alongside reigning MX3 number-one Byron Dennis, who will start his rookie MX2 career in 2024. Meanwhile, Todd Waters returns as the MX1 rider (and team owner) for the Raceline Husqvarna Racing Team, joined by former Serco Yamaha rider Rhys Budd (MX2) and Jack Mather also now in MX2.

Image: Supplied.

Q: Honda Racing and CDR Yamaha Monster Energy are both fielding really strong MX1 teams. Could 2024 come down to a battle between the red and blue corners?

A: There’s no question that both the Honda and Yamaha teams are going all-in for 2024, in their quest for the MX1 title. The CDR team boasts last year’s top two racers, defending champion Dean Ferris and the always-threatening Jed Beaton, which on paper puts them in a strong position to lift the MX1 trophy this year. However, this is the one title that has eluded the Honda team for decades, and with four-time MX2 champion Wilson Todd stepping up to join Kyle Webster for his first full MX1 campaign, the scene is set for a fascinating showdown. However, the likes of Clout or Crawford could spoil the party for both teams. At the same time, Honda Racing is again well-positioned to defend its MX2 title hopes, with Alex Larwood and Noah Ferguson joining super-fast Kiwi Brodie Connolly under the red awning. Of note, Honda Racing has also signed Charli Cannon, who’s the favourite to again claim the MXW crown this year.

Q: Who’s not going to be back behind the gates for this season?

A: We expect to see a number of our usual regulars either missing from action, or only lining up for select events this year. The most high-profile of the 2024 omissions is former MX1 champion and CDR Yamaha Monster Energy rider Aaron Tanti, who is pursuing his dreams in the US with the PRMX team. While it hasn’t gone to plan as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury, he won’t be lining up in Australia this year. Meanwhile, Empire Kawasaki regular Haruki Yokoyama has signed with Honda Dream Racing to return to the All Japan nationals. However, because he’s still working with Ross Beaton in Victoria, he could still line up for the occasional ProMX round. The other big question-mark hangs over former GasGas Racing Team rider Regan Duffy, who endured a difficult time as he returned to racing after his near-fatal crash in 2021, and he has been replaced by Gibbs on the GasGas team. There hasn’t been any word about Duffy’s plans for this year’s series.

Image: Supplied.

Q: How will the closure of Serco Yamaha affect the bLU cRU’s MX2 presence?

A: After 22 years as one of the most competitive teams in Australian motocross and supercross, Serco Yamaha closed its doors at the end of 2023 after the team lost its official Yamaha backing. While disappointing news, Yamaha has confirmed it will field three riders in the MX2 class through the Yamalube Yamaha Racing team, while WBR Yamaha will move to a MX3-only team with four riders under the tent. The Brisbane-based Yamalube Yamaha team will again field Jayce Cosford, while Kaleb Barham’s late 2023 form saw him rewarded with a seat on the team, and Ryder Kingsford has moved across from WBR. The new structure effectively streamlines Yamaha’s presence across the three classes and they now have a dedicated team for each, rather than supporting three MX2 teams.

Q: Could 2024 be Brett Metcalfe’s final year of full-time competition?

A: No matter which way you look at it, South Australia’s Brett Metcalfe has enjoyed a remarkable, long-standing journey at the top of the sport, and what would be a more fitting end to his career than for the number 24 to complete 24 years of professional racing in 2024? Metty, who turns 40 in May, told MotoOnline last week that this was likely to be his last year of full-time racing, and will signal it with a return to Kawasaki – a brand he spent a number of seasons with, while racing in the US and Canada. Metcalfe will again be riding for his own Penrite GO24 Team, and with two South Australian rounds on the ProMX calendar this year, there will be plenty of opportunities for his home fans to cheer him on one last time.