As many expected, Malcolm Stewart and the GEICO Honda team have opted against Stewart lining up for the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, which the Stewart camp confirmed to TWMX this afternoon. The decision comes just days after Stewart claimed the 2016 Monster Energy Supercross Series 250 East Coast Regional Championship, which due to the “pointing out” rules in effect for the class, which forces him to the 450 class beginning in 2017.
Stewart announced on the podium Saturday night during his celebration that he would be moving up to the premier class in 2017, but despite many questions in post-race interviews was unable to confirm whether or not he’d line up for the summer.
The original contract between rider and the team was for the full year, Nationals included, but as Supercross wound down rumors that he would forgo the twelve-race series circled the pit area.
The question now is where Stewart will land in 2017. He is one of three high-profile 250 stars leaving the class (Cooper Webb and Jeremy Martin being the other two) and among a long list of riders that is without a signed/announced deal. Does GEICO Honda continue to field a 450 program with Team Honda HRC’s assistance or will Stewart ride for another brand altogether? This is something that we’ll keep an eye on in the next few weeks.
GEICO HONDA HAS ISSUED A FULL PRESS RELEASE ON THE STEWART DECISION, WHICH ALSO NOTES THE PROMOTION OF TRISTAN CHARBONEAU TO THE PROFESSIONAL RANKS. IT HAS BEEN POSTED IN FULL BELOW
Next weekend, the GEICO Honda race team will mark the transition from stadium racing in Monster Energy Supercross to traditional outdoor-style action in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. A five-rider lineup will include a new face at the opener at Hangtown in Sacramento, California on May 21st.
Tristan Charboneau, a two-time AMA Amateur National Motocross Champion at Loretta Lynn's, will make his professional debut in the 250MX class at Hangtown. The Washington state native joined the squad's amateur wing in late 2014, and moved to California this year to operate closer to the team's headquarters. His recent gains in speed and stamina while riding with current pro riders during the week has convinced the team he's ready for the professional ranks.
"I've been working really hard to try to get here and riding is going really well," says Charboneau, who will wear the #403. "I've only known for sure about this for the last few days, but my trainer has had me training for the last two months for this because I knew there was a chance. The work has been a huge confidence booster. I can do two 30-minute motos now no problem, and it has helped a lot mentally, too. When I do my motos at the practice track, I'm trying to track down the pro guys and sometimes I'm even passing them. I think [Team Manager] Mike LaRocco saw something in me when I was riding with other pros at the practice track. I'm really, really excited about this opportunity."
Charboneau works with team trainer John Wessling alongside several other GEICO Honda pro riders, as well as personal riding coach Jay Whipple.
Charboneau will join Christian Craig, RJ Hampshire and Jordon Smith to make a four-rider 250MX lineup, while Justin Bogle will anchor the 450MX program. Malcolm Stewart, fresh off the 2016 Monster Energy Supercross 250SX Eastern Region Championship, will forgo the motocross season to prepare for his graduation to a full-time 450 career in 2017.
"Now that I have won my first 250 SX championship, I know firsthand just how much work it takes to become a champion," says Stewart. "So as I move full time to the 450 class for 2017 I know it will take twice as much work and preparation. Not riding the outdoors this year will leave me plenty of time to prepare for my 450 SX and MX pro debut.
"Thanks to everyone at GEICO Honda and my family for helping me win this 250 SX Championship!" concludes Stewart.
Motocross prep and testing for the GEICO Honda team is well underway. The squad's 250 division grabbed the AMA 250 National Motocross Championship in 2010 and 2013, and last year the 450 division won the first five motos of the 450MX season.