Among the lengthy list of elements that are helping to heighten the excitement surrounding the opening round of the 2011 AMA Supercross season this weekend at Anaheim stadium, there are three that may have not received the kind of attention they deserve.
They have been overshadowed by all the hype and focus that has been directed on the brewing between Ryan Dungey, James Stewart, Chad Reed, Ryan Villopoto dual, with the accompanying Suzuki RMZ450, Yamaha YZ450F, Honda CRF450R, Kawasaki KX450F face-off adding an interesting mix of motorcycle manufacturer bragging rights.
However, in the one non-Japanese team in the pits, KTM, there are some new faces. Not new to the scene, but new to Austrian orange. They are 5-time 500cc Motocross World Champion, Roger DeCoster and former factory Honda Supercross/AMA Motocross rider, Andrew Short.
In a well-publicized departure from longtime employer Suzuki, DeCoster-who brought an unprecedented degree of rider coaching and team management that resulted in numerous titles-decided to leave the Japanese powerhouse when he couldn't be guaranteed three-more years on his contract that would have taken him to retirement. So DeCoster signed with KTM as Race Director, working with Honda defector, Andrew Short as team orange's number one rider.
After years of wearing Honda red and Suzuki yellow, DeCoster will be sporting the distinctive KTM orange for the first time this weekend at Anaheim. In a strange twist he'll be pitting his number one rider, Short, up against the man he plucked from obscurity and coached to a rookie Supercross title winner in 2010; Ryan Dungey.
And the third inaugural element? The Anaheim opener will mark the first Supercross race for the KTM 350 SX-F, a smaller bore motorcycle that received its share of criticism until it nailed several holeshots in the outdoor nationals last AMA Pro Motocross season. The smaller displacement KTM, team guru DeCoster, and proven force Short just may be the thing that upsets the apple cart.
Add the DeCoster/Short/KTM element to the news dominating mix of Stewart/Dungey/Villopoto/Reed, because as we all saw last year, DeCoster has not lost his Midas touch.