With the 2019 race season quickly approaching, it’s time to bring you up to speed on how the paddock will look come Anaheim One. Over the next few weeks, we will share updates and background on the top racers and teams, including the staff members, gear deals, equipment, and other important information.
For 2019 the Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM team returns to a two-rider, 450-only effort for the Monster Energy Supercross and Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship (the team had two 250 positions in 2018, but has shelved the program). Blake Baggett and Benny Bloss both remain with the team and will race factory-backed KTM 450 SX-F motorcycles with support from WP, FMF Racing, ODI, Sunstar, Engine Ice, Motorex, Motion Pro, Dubya, Galfer, Hinson, ASV, Acerbis, D’Cor Visuals. Former racer Michael Byrne will return to his position as Team Manager.
Because Western Power Sports, the parent company of the FLY Racing brand, is a title sponsor of the team both riders will wear FLY Racing apparel and helmets, along with SCOTT goggles and Alpinestars boots.
4. Blake Baggett
Mechanic | Austin Kent
2019 will be Blake Baggett’s third season with the team, which comes thanks to a three-year extension that was signed early in 2018. With this new deal, Baggett will be part of the team through 2021.
Baggett holds a special honor as he was the only 450 class racer to score points in all twenty-nine events of the Supercross and motocross season. Many considered him a dark horse contender for podium and top-five finishes ahead of the 2018 season, but the opening stint Supercross proved to be problematic and through four races Baggett posted 12-7-7-9 finishes. Things took a positive turn at Oakland and San Diego and Arlington, where Baggett put in back-to-back- third-place finishes. The most well-known moment of Baggett’s entire SX season occurred at Tampa, as he made a mistake through a long rhythm section and was launched over a berm into a safety net during his Heat Race. Baggett logged a series of top-ten finishes through the middle rounds and ended the series with third-place results at Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. He finished fourth overall in the point standings.
Baggett’s results at Hangtown and Glen Helen were off the mark for what some would expect from an outdoor specialist, but it was attributed to bike setup mistakes at Hangtown and an opening lap Moto Two crash at Glen Helen that ripped the left grip off of the handlebar (Baggett completed the full thirty-minute moto without stopping for repairs). Thunder Valley was the turning point to the summer, thanks to a pair of third place finishes, and he stayed in the top-ten through all but one moto for the rest of the summer (he finished sixteenth in Moto One at the muddy Ironman finale). Despite this consistency, Baggett did not claim one moto win in the summer months and he finished the year fifth in the championship.
The Monster Energy Cup was Baggett’s only offseason event, and with 11-10-11 motos, he finished tenth overall.
29. Benny Bloss
Mechanic | Derek Rankin
Benny Bloss returns to the team with a one-year contract extension that was signed late in 2018.
2018 was Bloss’ rookie Supercross season in the 450 class. In a preseason crash, Bloss collapsed a lung and had to take time off ahead of the first race, but still lined up at Anaheim One. Despite efforts to manage the injury, another crash in the LCQ at the opening round resulted in a bruised lungs and a broken sternum, which forced him to the sidelines for Houston and Anaheim Two. After returning to action at Oakland, Bloss made every Main Event through the rest of the year but experienced issues and crashes that kept him from finishing in the top-ten until round twelve at Indianapolis, where he finished eighth. Ranked fifteenth in the championship standings at the end of the season, Bloss took Rookie of the Year honors for the 450 class.
The Nationals were considerably better for Bloss, as he finished in a points-scoring position in twenty-two of the twenty-four motos, and in the top-ten in nineteen of the motos. RedBud was both a high point and low point for Bloss due to a season-best third place finish in Moto One and then a twenty-third place finish in Moto Two. Bloss ended the series seventh overall in the point standings.
Bloss was set to race the Monster Energy Cup and rode practice at the offseason event, but a deep wound on his knee repeatedly opened up and forced him to sit out the night’s race.