It is hard to believe, but the 2010 Monster Energy Supercross season is already upon us. As you have probably read a million times before, this was a silly season for the ages; it was almost more exciting than some recent racing seasons! Similar to a game of 48 card pick up where you hold onto the four aces and let the rest of the deck fly, there were only a few riders who had deals lined up early and everyone else was forced to wait. Some riders still ended up where many expected them to, but others found themselves switching brands, reunited with old teams, and even hooked up with completely new ventures. More than perhaps any other year, there are many riders who quite simply do not have rides for 2010. But the great thing about moto, is people will always find a way to get things done. Take the Rockstar/Suzuki squad for example.
Not to be confused with the factory Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki team that consists of Ryan Dungey, Austin Stroupe, and Matt Moss, the Rockstar/Suzuki team was previously known as Canidae/Motosport/Kawasaki. Okay, so it is confusing, but the point is the Bobby Hewitt-owned team did what they needed to in order to keep going strong. They changed just about everything, brought on several new team members, and are even riding 2009 machines for the time being. But the important thing is that they will be at every round of the 2010 season, both indoors and out.
So with A1 nipping at our heels like an agitated little border terrier, here are some key riders who will be making an appearance on Saturday. Some teams may sound new and some not, but the important thing is, most of the riders you can't wait to see will be out on the track as soon as this weekend.
The Four Aces
James Stewart. Fans have known about the young rider for nearly 20 years, so it's difficult to believe that he is, in fact, still young. James will be entering A1 as the defending AMA Monster Energy Supercross Champion, and is certainly one of the heavy favorites for the series. Stewart had his first Supercross-only year in 2009 as part of the San Manuel/L&M/Yamaha squad which gave him plenty of time to rest up, relax, and most importantly, stay healthy. You better believe this guy will be refreshed and hungry when the gate drops this weekend.
Chad Reed. The Australian switched roles with his Floridian rival somewhat in 2009, returning to the Nationals for the first time in several years, while Stewart went on vacation. In turn, he was rewarded with several outdoor wins, his first AMA Outdoor National Championship, and the renewed respect of countless fans. The way things worked out, Reedy was one of the riders caught in the shuffle and has switched teams for '10, from Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki over to Monster Energy Kawasaki. Oddly enough, after the few seasons in which Chad took the summer off, it seems he is making up for it now. Beginning in the late Fall of 2008, Reed has basically raced nonstop, as the Australian Super-X series has been keeping him busy (and sharp) during the American off-season. Look for Reed to be comfortable and strong aboard his new green machine.
Ryan Villopoto. The red-head from Poulsbo, WA survived "Kick a Ginger Day" and will be coming on strong this season. As a 450 rookie last year, RV had a lot to learn before gaining confidence on the big bores and was finally able to put two wins together by the end of the series, with the first coming at his hometown race in Seattle. No one doubted his speed outdoors, and he pretty much waxed the field in what turned out to be his only full National appearance at Glen Helen. Nevertheless, Ryan has won three of the last four races he has competed in, so his confidence will be running high. The Monster Kawasaki duo of Reed and RV will be formidable to say the least.
Ryan Dungey. In 2009, Dungey won every major championship he entered. On top of his 250 West Supercross Championship and his 250 Outdoor National title, Ryan came out and helped secure the MXoN win for the United States in his first professional appearance on a 450. Ryan's career is based on rising to the occasion so there is no reason why he will not be ready for A1. He might be a rookie, but he will likely be a factor in the championship by season's end.
All right, don't get angry, those are just four names that most expect to see toward the front, but that does not mean there is nobody else who will be vying for wins, or even the championship. Josh Grant and Justin Brayton will be two riders to keep a very close eye on aboard their JGRMX machines. Don't forget, Josh captured A1 last year in spectacular fashion and then went on a tear outdoors claiming moto and overall wins. Brayton took his first professional moto win at Steel City and the kid who honed his skills on the indoor tracks of the Mid-West is now on some of the best equipment on the planet and will be a force to be reckoned with.
Other notables include, Tommy Hahn, Ivan Tedesco, Andrew Short, Davi Millsaps, Kevin Windham, Jason Lawrence…you get the idea. This is going to be one heck of a season.
Supercross Lites (with Splenda)
Since the East Coast Lites Championship doesn't start up for quite a while, lets just examine the West Coast contingent for now. Since the current champion, Ryan Dungey, is not defending his title, the championship hunt will be wide open this time around. The heavy favorite has to be Monster Energy Kawasaki's Jake Weimer, who won several mains last year and narrowly missed capturing the title. Along with his surprise success outdoors and his role in winning the Motocross of Nations, Jake must be riding a wave of confidence right now that is 10 feet high. And according to folks at the test tracks, it is showing in his speed. Weimeraner will be on a mission to take his first title starting tomorrow.
Of course his teammate, Josh Hansen, cannot be counted out. The off-again, on-again rider has more talent in his right thumb's cuticle than most could ever hope for, it's just a matter of keeping with the program. If he can put an entire season together on the most successful team in the sport, he will perhaps change some critics opinions of him, and might even surprise himself with a win along the way.
Trey "The Duck" Canard certainly cannot be counted out. One of the few riders to ever win a Supercross championship in his rookie year, Trey surprisingly struggled when he switched coasts last year to the West. The Geico Powersports/Honda rider did not have his best showing until the final round of the series in Salt Lake City where he narrowly edged out Jake Weimer for the main event win. Look for Canard to have his sights set on another championship. He is definitely capable of taking one home.
In talking about all these youngin's, you cannot count out Ryan Morais on his Rockstar/Suzuki one bit. The veteran of the class had what was his strongest season by far last year, where he was often the fastest man on the track, although he was never able to close the deal on a win. Ryan is another ultra talented rider who would love to show the kids a thing or two on the track.
The list goes on and on, from Supercross rookie and sole factory FMF/KTM rider, Tommy Searle, to others such as DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing/Yamaha's Broc Tickle, MotoConcepts/Yamaha's Ryan Sipes, or Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Honda’s Wil Hahn, there are countless riders ready and chomping at the bit to get their time in the spotlight. All we know for sure is that we won't miss a moment of the action tomorrow night.
If you are not one of the lucky 45,050 people in attendance, don't forget to:
1) Check back with www.transworldmx.com throughout the day as we will have several news updates as race time approaches.
2) Watch Anaheim I live on Speed starting at 10pm Eastern, 7pm Pacific.
Get your beverages and nachos ready, because you don't want to miss a thing. Braaaap!