2016 Anaheim 1 Supercross
This Saturday night from Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., the 2016 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, will kick off with one of the deepest field in more than a decade. With Ryan Villopoto retiring prior to the beginning of the 2015 season, the door was left wide open for a new champion to be crowned. The same questions was on everyone’s mind, who’s next?
Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey filled this void finishing on the podium in 16 races out of the 17 round series, with eight of those podium finishes being wins. Dungey will carry the target on his back as several other hungry riders are looking to dethrone him and steal the glory for themselves.
The first of these riders in Eli Tomac. As Monster Energy Kawasaki’s newest recruit, the Colorado native showed flashes of brilliance and incredible speed during the 2015 season. However, inconsistency would ultimately hold him back in the championship standings. With a new team, new bike, and another year of experience under his belt, Tomac will undoubtedly be one to watch in 2016.
Another one of these riders is RCH/Soaring Eagle/Jimmy Johns/Suzuki Factory Racing’s Ken Roczen. The German had an up-and-down season after taking the victory at the first round in Anaheim last year and was plagued with multiple injuries as the season progressed. With a full year of testing and racing on his factory Suzuki RM-Z450 under his belt, Roczen is looking to provide his team with their first championship of any kind and become Supercross’ first ever German-born champion in the 450 class.
Team Honda HRC’s Trey Canard returns for 2016 after an unfortunate crash with Jake Weimer late in the 2015 season put an end to his supercross race campaign. The Oklahoma rider looks to put five years of 450 Supercross class race experience to propel him to race wins and a championship to help bring Team Honda HRC back to the glory days they once enjoyed.
Coming into his second season with Joe Gibbs Racing/Autotrader.com/Toyota/Yamaha is Justin Barcia. Barcia dealt with some teething pains on his Yamaha YZ450F in the beginning of the 2015 season, but progressively adapted to his new machine and team. The Florida rider’s aggressive and spectacular style may be the key to his success in 2016.
After shutting the doors to his TwoTwo Motorsports team last year, Chad Reed found a home at the newly formed Monster Energy/360fly/Chaparral/Yamaha Factory Racing team. The team marks the rebirth of a Factory Yamaha 450SX class team, who Reed raced for several years ago. At 33 years old, Reed is the veteran of the class, but looks to use that wisdom and experience to translate into race wins and a championship for his new team.
Another returning veteran is none other than Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s James Stewart. The Florida rider was forced to sit out the entire 2015 season following a 16-month suspension resulting from a failed PED test in 2014. The 30-year-old Stewart has not won a Supercross championship since 2009 and after over a year of not racing, is certainly hungrier than ever to put him and his factory Suzuki RM-Z450 on top of the box.
Several second-year 450 class riders will be a threat on any given weekend. The first of those riders is Team Honda HRC’s Cole Seely. The California rider achieved his first 450SX victory of his career and finished on the podium a total of five times, which placed him in third overall in the championship at the end of the 17 round series.
The second 450 class rider returning for his second season is Team Yoshimura Suzuki’s Blake Baggett. Baggett had big shoes to fill in James Stewart’s absence last season and exceeded at the job finishing fifth overall in the final standings with one podium finish.
Red Bull KTM’s Dean Wilson will essentially enjoy another rookie season in 2016 after a torn ACL took him out of contention a year ago after just three races. Wilson will focus on using his raw speed and talent to craft in his comeback, leaning on the experience of his teammate Dungey and intelligence of team manager Roger DeCoster.
Three former Eastern Regional 250SX Class Champions will lead the rookie effort in the 450SX Class as Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin, GEICO Honda’s Justin Bogle and Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna’s Christophe Pourcel all prepare to commence their first full-time 450SX class season. Musquin capped off his 250SX Class career last season with his first career title on U.S. soil and the Frenchman’s technical riding ability should prove beneficial as he acclimates to the premier division. Filling the place of Eli Tomac at GEICO Honda is Justin Bogle.
The Oklahoman will remain on the team he has raced for his entire pro career, giving him a familiar setting to develop from in his rookie season. Pourcel last competed in Supercross during a championship-winning 2010 season. However, the French rider has plenty of talent and has many people curious as to what he can accomplish with the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team.
With a trio of former champions and 10 past Main Event winners, Monster Energy Supercross will have its deepest field of 450SX Class competitors on the gate for the 2016 season. While Dungey looks to repeat his performance from last year, his primary competitors will all look to dethrone him as champion over the course of 17 races in 18 weeks.