Welcome to the 2017 Monster Energy Supercross Series
Words and photos by: Krystyn Slack | Freestyle Photocross
The silliest of silly seasons has finally come to a close and the “first day of school” is just around the corner. At least it feels like the “first day of school” heading into the season opener for Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship – when the first gate drops we get the chance to reconnect with our fellow motocross enthusiasts from around the country, see if we have any friends in our “new classes,” and start from a blank slate with zero points yet awarded. A1 – the race, not the steak sauce – is probably the most looked forward to event of the year because anything can happen, and it usually does.
If you haven’t been keeping up, this off-season has featured a multitude of changes: rider changes, team changes, brand changes, racing format changes, sponsor changes, and others – some that even left fast “factory” guys without rides heading into 2017. To get you up to speed before “classes resumes,” here are a few things you need to know before the 2017 Monster Energy Supercross Season Opener on January 7, 2017.
1. Timed Racing: With the exception of adding semis to the racing format a few years ago, the introduction of timed racing in 2017 will be the first significant change to racing format since 1985. Feld Motorsports is always looking for ways to elevate and progress the sport, and the introduction of timed racing does just that. The 450SX class will be racing 20 minute plus one lap Main Events and the 250SX class will be racing 15 minute plus one lap Main Events. Fitness will definitely come into play with this change and it will also give the fans an opportunity to watch their favourite riders for even more time each week.
2.Ken Roczen will be “Riding Red” in 2017: One of the most talked about contract changes in the off-season was the move of 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Champion Ken Roczen from RCH Racing to Team Honda HRC aboard the highly anticipated 2017 CRF450R. He officially made his racing debut with his new team at the 2016 Monster Energy Cup, where he almost rode away with the $1 Million purse, winning two of the three Main Events and only narrowly missing winning the third. Kenny already looks extremely comfortable on his new steed and fans and riders alike are excited to see what he will be able accomplish this season.
3.Trey Canard signs with Red Bull KTM: After ten seasons with Honda, one of the longest rider/brand partnerships the industry has seen, Trey Canard has signed a new contract with Red Bull KTM, joining now teammates Marvin Musquin and multi-time champion Ryan Dungey aboard the KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition bikes. Although Trey has come into some unfortunate luck with injuries plaguing some of his seasons, his work ethic and dedication make him a great fit on his new team.
4.JGR Moves from Yamaha to Suzuki: The other most surprising brand change in the off-season was the JGR bike brand switch. After a long-time partnership with Yamaha, the Auto Trader/Suzuki/JGRMX team heads into 2017 with a brand new partnership with Suzuki. And for the first time, the team has also added two 250 riders to their roster. The combined efforts and dedication of the JGRMX team members paired with the fact that the RM-Z450 is the current reigning championship bike has great potential to be a winning combination in 2017.
5.Cooper Webb moves up to 450SX: Multi-time champion Cooper Webb will make his 450SX debut at Anaheim 1 on January 7, 2017. After locking down the 2016 250SX Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship as well as the 2016 250 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, it didn’t take long for Cooper Webb to have his 2017 contract signed, sealed, and delivered. As one of the first riders to secure his contract – even before the silly season hustle and bustle really got underway – Cooper will join Chad Reed as the second member of the 450 Factory Yamaha team, officially named Monster Energy/Yamalube/Chaparral/Yamaha Financial Services/Yamaha Factory Racing. Having long-time veteran Chad Reed on his team will only be beneficial for Cooper as he makes the jump from the 250 class to the 450 class. Will Cooper continue his winning streak and light the candles in Anaheim?
6.Marvin Musquin’s stellar off-season: Marvin Musquin has consistently made a statement during his rookie 450 season, showing that he not only has the heart and dedication to ride up front but the speed as well to be a real contender in the 450 class. Of course, Marvin was no stranger to the podium during his 250 seasons either, but it was in his off-season racing where his finesse and ability on the 450 really started to shine through. He reigned as the King of Paris Lille Supercross and as the Red Bull Straight Rhythm Champion, dominating both of the events with speed that was unmatched by other riders. Musquin was also named the 2016 AMA Supercross Rookie of the Year. Marvin Musquin is definitely a rider to pay attention to in 2017 as he enters his sophomore season as a 450SX rider.
7.Malcolm Stewart without a ride for 2017: Easily one of the most puzzling events of this off-season is the fact that we are less than a week from the first gate drop and 2016 250SX East Champion is without a ride. There has been speculation all over the interwebs that a deal was in the works… somewhere… but time continues to pass by, and so far, zero offers are officially on the table, at least in the public eye. Malcolm made the decision to forego the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship in order to prepare to be a full-time 450 racer in 2017, which may have ultimately hurt him when it came time to get a 2017 contract in place. In fact, based on the preliminary entry list released by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) on January 2, 2017, Malcolm isn’t even signed up to line up in Anaheim on January 7th. Will we see Mookie at Anaheim 1? You’ll have to watch and see.
8.Justin Bogle signs with RCH Racing: There had been speculation for most of the entire silly season that “The Captain,” Justin Bogle would be moving from his long-time stint with GEICO Honda to a Suzuki based team for 2017. However, with Factory Suzuki closing its doors and RCH Racing being in an uncertain state as well, the contract for Bogle was one of the last to be officially announced. At one point it was unclear if the Ricky Carmichael/Carey Hart owned RCH Racing would even be lining up in 2017 after the loss of key title sponsors. However, they will now be running as THE Factory Suzuki effort from here and into the future. Even after missing three races of his rookie 450SX season, Bogle still finished the series 11th in points. Heading into his sophomore season, Justin looks to make his mark with his new team.
9.Austin Forkner to make his Supercross Debut: Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Austin Forkner is likely to be the most mentioned 250SX Supercross rookie for the entire season. After an illustrious Amateur career filled with years of championship after championship, Austin became eligible to race Monster Energy AMA Supercross last year, but instead decided to get his feet wet on the pro scene by first racing the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. Austin didn’t waste any time making his name known and finished at an impressive 4th place overall in the outdoor season. Look for this rookie to make a big splash this season during his Supercross debut.
Last, but certainly not least –
10.How to Watch Monster Energy Supercross Internationally: Bred in America, and loved throughout the world, Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship certainly is expanding its global footprint. For any of you North of the Border, fans who do not yet have access to FS1 and FS2 via your cable provider, Feld Motorsports has not left you in the dust. Knowing how integral the International fans are to the growth and sustainment of the sport, the Supercross Season Pass was created to give access to fans that don’t already have access to the FS1 and FS2 networks. The Supercross Season Pass can be purchased for individual events or for the entire season as a whole and grants the subscriber both live and on-demand access to all the heart-pounding action that takes place during the entire 2017 season.
Now that you’re caught up and ready for the “first day of school,” it’s time to #DropTheGate. Stay connected with MXP all season long for weekly race reports and photo galleries from the 2017 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship season. You don’t want to miss it!