2016 was a bit of a strange year in Monster Energy Supercross. Roczen could never quite get right, Tomac had trouble acclimating to the new team, Bubba couldn’t keep it on two wheels (not that that is particularly uncommon for the 2-time champ). In 250’s, Savatgy took a massive leap that not a lot of people saw coming, Webb displayed the will of a champion and the people’s champ, Mookie, won a title. Heading into the 2017 season, there have been a couple of major team changes, with the Martin Brothers shifting to KTM & Honda, respectively, Bogle going to Suzuki, Roczen making the leap to Honda, Canard bouncing over to Factory KTM & the entire JGR team swapping in blue for yellow. This is shaping up to be one of the more intriguing Supercross seasons in recent memory, and the moto community is itching to see how everything goes down. Although it’s not always a great idea to start throwing out predictions, screw it, it’s more fun that way. HERE WE GO.
250s (Remember when they used to call this the ‘Lites’ Class?)
Pro Circuit Resurgence // Rise of Forkner // Return of AC
For several years, Mitch Payton’s Pro Circuit Kawasaki team was without a doubt the most dominant squad in motocross. Since its inception in 1991 (on Hondas at the time), when Jeremy McGrath & Brian Swink swept both the 125 championships, Payton’s finely-tuned machines & expertly groomed riders have enjoyed more than their fair share of success. In recent years, that same team has struggled to hold on to the dominant form they once possessed. With prospects like Adam Ciancirulo struggling to stay healthy for more than a few races, it’s been a tough stretch for the dynasty. 2017, however, seems to carry with it new hope for the Payton-led squad. Austin Forkner showed tremendous speed in the outdoor series and promises to make a splash in the upcoming season. Adam Ciancirulo, after struggling with injuries & consistency, seems to be getting things squared away and is looking to get his once-promising career back on track. In 2016, Joey Savatgy’s career enjoyed a massive jumpstart as he leaped from a Top-5 guy to someone who was competing for race wins & was really a championship contender in both Supercross & Motocross. Look for all three of these rippers to be in the hunt all season.
New Look Star Yamaha // Martins & Webb Depart // Nichols Gets Promoted
The revamped Factory Yamaha team had a major facelift over the offseason. Their two bonafide studs, Jeremy Martin & Cooper Webb, have both parted ways from the team. Martin made the switch from blue to red & Webb was essentially promoted to the big bikes, but is still a part of the blue crew. The new look squad certainly carries much potential, but are abound with question marks. Colt Nichols had a stellar season for the Rock River/Cycle Trader unit in 2016, and was rewarded with a factory ride. Still, his success could be more a one-off thing as there is so much unknown about the young rider from Oklahoma. Mitchell Harrison also poses as someone to keep an eye out for from the blue crew, as a highly touted youngster who underwhelmed in his rookie debut outdoors. However, Aaron Plessinger is the most poised to make noise in the championship mix. Plessinger possesses the right combination of grit & natural bike skill that will allow him to do some damage if his consistency can improve.
Geico Lands a Stud // Martin Switches Sides // Sexton Debut
Geico has been a perennial thorn in the side of Pro Circuit, and enjoyed some success in 2016 as Malcolm ‘Mookie’ Stewart was able to claim a Supee title. 2017 will have a bit of a different look for Geico, as they have cut ties with Mookie & Jordon Smith, in addition to adding one of the biggest names in the sport, Jeremy Martin. The 2-time outdoor champ has plenty to prove coming into his 4th Pro season. Last year really didn’t go how Martin would’ve liked & he continued to struggle in Supercross, as he finished a good margin behind Mookie. Chase Sexton was without a doubt one of the most impressive amateurs over the past couple of years, and he seems to be positioned for great things. It will certainly be interesting to see what he can do in his first full year of racing with the big dogs.
Factory KTM // Canard Comes Aboard
The similarities between Dean Wilson & Trey Canard are absolutely eerie in some ways. Both had stellar amateur careers, proved themselves quite well on the smaller bikes & both riders have had a string of bad luck in recent years. So the transition from Dean-O to Trey is almost a direct swap. It’s cool to see Canard with a fresh start, so hopefully he can get back to the top step of the podium on the new ride. There is a possibility that the two biggest threats to his championship hopes are under the same tent as him. Ryan Dungey is a top championship contender every year, as he maintains a potent blend of speed, consistency & durability. Marvin Musquin will enter 2017 as one of the most interesting riders to watch. Musquin improved with each race in 2016, and looks to be a real darkhorse contender this year.
Factory Honda // Roczen Takes Canard’s Spot
After a relationship that had lasted for several years, Honda & Canard split ways. Entering 2017, one of the biggest stars in the sport of motocross is now the face of Factory Honda’s squad. The German phenom, Ken Roczen, made his 3rd team swap in as many years and took his talents to the boys at Honda. Roczen’s 2016 supercross campaign was one that he would definitely like to forget. It seemed like he could never really get on track & as such, his results suffered. With a new team, and a renewed confidence after his outdoor domination, Roczen enters 2017 as the favorite to claim the title. His stablemate, Cole Seely, is definitely someone to keep an eye on this season. Seely has a knack for supercross, and definitely has the speed to run with the big boys.
Factory Yamaha // Webb Makes the Leap
Cooper Webb, after his reign of terror in 2016, has officially made the leap to the big leagues. Webb was massively impressive in his last year on 250s, as he swept the Indoor & Outdoor series’. It will be intriguing to see what the young ripper out of North Carolina can do in his debut campaign on the beefier displacement. On the other end of the spectrum, quite literally, is the seemingly ageless Australian. For the past years, there has been speculation as to whether Reedy will hang up the boots; however, every year Reedy holds his middle finger high & proud to those same speculators. Reed, at the ripe age of 34, will come back for another season, to see what kind of damage he can do all these years later: John Dowd anyone?
The Rest of the Field
Jason Anderson remains an interesting name coming into the new season. Anderson has speed that will make your head spin, his only problem is his utter lack of consistency. If Anderson can maintain some consistency, he will be a contender for the championship. Eli Tomac is more of an outdoor specialist, but he remains a serious contender as he is just so damn fast. Tomac really started to come on towards the end of 2017’s outdoor series, but he will have to step it up a notch if wants to mix it up for the championship. It’s hard to consider Bogle & Tickle to be real contenders coming of the RCH tent, but they will certainly be in the mix all season.
All we know is, 2017 should be an awfully dope year and we can wait to see how everything shakes out as the season goes on.