Even though this year is far from complete, we’ve heard plenty of talk and speculation about how the rider/team pairings will work in 2016. Our constant time in the pit area has helped us figure out a very solid idea of who will land where, but anything could change before the gate drops. There are still a few question marks surrounding some riders, and we’ve noted their statuses as “likely” in the rosters. We’ve made a couple of updates since originally posting this article on September 8th, which are noted throughout…
Monster Energy Kawasaki
Team Manager – Dan Fahie
Eli Tomac (LIKELY)
Wil Hahn – CONFIRMED
The discussion of which riders will work from the Monster Energy Kawasaki pit area is by far the biggest topic of the offseason. There has been talk of the team wanting Eli Tomac on a green machine for quite some time, and from what we've heard this will finally happen in 2016. There hasn't been an official press release from Tomac or Kawasaki regarding the matter, but an announcement should come at the end of September or start of October (UPDATE: the news should come in mid-October, around the Monster Energy Cup). Since he is still healing from shoulder injuries, Tomac's first race will be Anaheim One.
UPDATE (Sept 10) | We have learned Kawasaki has in fact extended Wil Hahn's current contract to keep him on the team for another year.
A few other rumors we've heard during our time at the track have been about the team's support from Monster Energy or the addition of a third rider that would bring another major sponsor, but there has been little indication of either thing actually happening.
Team Honda HRC
Team Manager – Dan Betley
Team Honda HRC will stay with this lineup in 2016, as both riders continue multi-year contracts with the factory effort. Despite the injuries and setbacks experienced in 2015, both young riders showed incredible speed through Supercross and the Nationals, which makes them contenders for even more race wins in the new year.
Team Manager – Mike Webb
With his suspension now over, James Stewart will return to Supercross and the Nationals in 2016. Yoshimura Suzuki stayed with the veteran racer through the sixteen-month FIM/WADA-issued punishment and recent posts on social media show Stewart turning laps on his private practice tracks in Florida. In order to get more time on the tracks, Stewart will compete at the upcoming Red Bull Straight Rhythm, Monster Energy Cup, Lille SX in France, and a possible Australian SX.
Blake Baggett did well in his rookie season in the 450 class, flourishing as the lone focus of the entire Yoshimura Suzuki team. He will return to his spot in 2016.
There is talk that national hardware retail chain True Value will be a title sponsor of the team in 2016, something we've heard as far back as the start summer. Company CEO John Hartmann is an avid motocross fan and has helped bring the brand to racing with advertisements and small sponsorship of television portions of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, so it’s not a far-fetched idea…
Team Manager – Coy Gibbs
Phil Nicoletti (POSSIBLE)
JGRMX has solidified their squad, thanks to the recent contract extensions signed by both Justin Barcia (through 2018) and Weston Peick (through 2016). After a very successful first year together, which saw Barcia claim a number of race wins and Peick put in a number of career-best rides, things should only improve in the future.
Phil Nicoletti's status with the team is one uncertainty. His past agreement with the team guaranteed a full National schedule and participation at select Supercross races, with the option to fill-in should a "full-time" rider be injured, but he is ready to compete full-time for both championships. If an agreement with a group in the US cannot be reached, Nicoletti has told us there are offers to race the FIM Motocross World Championship for a full factory team. UPDATE: From what we’ve heard, the team and Nicoletti are working to stay together for 2016.
Red Bull KTM
Team Manager – Roger DeCoster
Red Bull KTM will become a three-rider team in 2016, with Dean Wilson and Ryan Dungey continuing their multi-year contracts, and Marvin Musquin graduating to the 450 class. Dungey and Musquin announced the extension of their agreements with the team just after claiming the Supercross championships earlier in 2015, while Wilson has the chance to make up for missing almost all of the year with a knee injury.
BTO Sports KTM
Team Manager – Forrest Butler
Davi Millsaps (SUPERCROSS ONLY)
BTO Sports KTM continues to grow, with Davi Millsaps joining the Andrew Short and Justin Brayton for the Supercross portion of the year. Short has hinted for some time that these are the final years of his long pro career, and his re-signing to the team will likely carry him through to the end.
RCH/Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John's/Suzuki Factory Racing
Team Manager – Kyle Bentley
Broc Tickle (LIKELY)
Despite injuries, issues with setup, and a scathing interview by his father with a German magazine, Ken Roczen will stay with the RCH/Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John's/Suzuki Factory Racing team in 2016. The new year will see the departure of Roczen's longtime mechanic and friend Kelly Lumgair, but veteran technician Oscar Wirdeman has been hired to handle the wrenching duties. There is a chance he will race the Red Bull Straight Rhythm and Monster Energy Cup, depending on his recovery from recent surgeries.
The agreement Broc Tickle signed with the team for 2015 was only for one year and the ever-improving rider is again in negotiations for another stint with the team. While nothing has been announced, it's likely he will return to RCH again for 2016.
Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna
Team Manager – Bobby Hewitt
The second year of the Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna team will be very important, as their two riders will compete aboard the all-new and thoroughly improved FC450 machine. Jason Anderson has signed another lengthy contract with his longtime team (through 2018), while the new year will mark Christophe Pourcel's first ever full-time 450 contract in the US and will make him a class rookie in the Supercross series.
Don't be surprised to see 250 class riders Zach Osborne or Martin Davalos contest select events aboard bigger bikes at some point in 2016.
Team Manager – Tony Alessi
2015 was an interesting year for SmarTop/MotoConcepts, as they contested much of the Supercross season until Mike Alessi's serious injury at the Daytona round. They raced sporadically around the world for the rest of the year, including an overseas run at two MXGP events, limited Canadian Nationals, and the Washougal round of the American Nationals. Tony Alessi has hinted at a similar schedule for 2016 for both Alessi and Friese, with the possibility of a third rider.
UNSIGNED RIDERS & TEAMS
Chad Reed – Unsigned
Chad Reed has been linked to Yamaha since the end of his TwoTwo Motorsports team, but what will happen for 2016 is still not clear. Many say that he will ride just the Supercross portion of the year for a revitalized Factory Yamaha team, while others say this deal isn't close to complete and that he's been in talks with other teams. We'll find out more in the coming weeks. Monster Energy and Discount Tire will continue their support of Reed. UPDATE: At the 2015 MXGP Of USA, rumors circulated that the Yamaha/Monster/Reed deal was close to complete, with the next rider mentioned in the article as a possible teammate.
Justin Bogle – Unsigned
The former 250 East SX champion has been linked to a number of teams, including the Honda-backed Crossland Racing team, Monster Energy Kawasaki (With Hahn staying at Kawasaki, this is no longer an option) and SmarTop/MotoConcepts, but where he will wind up is still a question. UPDATE: At the 2015 MXGP Of USA, rumors circulated that the Yamaha/Monster/Reed deal was close to complete, with Bogle mentioned as a possible teammate.
Jake Weimer – Unsigned
Weimer's 2015 was cut short by a crash at the Detroit SX, and only recently healed enough to resume riding. While it's likely he will race with the private Team Tedder group in 2016, nothing has been confirmed.
UPDATE (Sept 10) | Josh Grant – Unsigned
We originally had Josh Grant filed as one of the riders linked to the second spot at Monster Energy Kawasaki, but with the news that Wil Hahn will stay, Grant is now on the search for a team in 2016 (he will ride for Kawasaki at the MXGP of USA and possibly the Monster Energy Cup). We’ve heard talk from Grant before that should a spot not materialize, his fallback is to begin racing off-road trucks.
Kyle Chisholm – Privateer
Chisholm will likely continue his privateer team in 2016, but with much more support after ample time to prepare and plan (the 2015 program was pulled together in a matter of weeks).
Fredrik Noren – Unsigned
Noren's status is unique in that he has limited SX experience, but is a very capable outdoors and is a tester for Team Honda HRC. He was a good fit at the Crossland Racing team, but since the plans for the team are in limbo, we're uncertain of what will happen with the Swedish rider.
Nick Wey – One More Year Or Retirement?
Nick Wey was unsure what the future held after the Las Vegas SX, and even in our recent time around the likeable veteran, we’re still not sure if he’ll bring the Mafia Moto Crew out for another year or enjoy retirement.
UPDATE (SEPT 15) | Josh Hill – Full-time job at Monster Energy
Hill has stayed under the radar since crashing hard at the Daytona SX, but recently competed at a small Supercross race in Mexico. We’ve heard that Hill has recently taken a full-time job with Monster Energy and that his racing career is likely finished. Congrats on the new gig, JHill!
Crossland Racing To Receive Increased Honda Support
One persistent rumor we've heard this season is a shakeup at Crossland Racing. The small team has grown quite a bit in just a few years, even receiving limited technical support from Team Honda HRC, but the talk in the pit area is that it will get even more help in 2016 from Honda and fall under the guidance of Honda's longtime advisor Dave Arnold. What riders land on the team will depend on how this support from Honda shakes out.
New Yamaha-Supported Team Led By Jimmy Albertson
Albertson and Matt Goerke have already made their plans for 2016, but what class they'll race is up for discussion. Albertson has told us he's thought about dropping back to the 250 class, while Goerke could go to the 450 ranks.
CycleTrader.com/Rock River Yamaha
Team Manager – Christina Denney
No riders have been confirmed to the growing Yamaha-supported team for 2016, but expect an announcement by December. UPDATE: Kyle Partridge has posted images on social media of a CycleTrader.com/Rock River Yamaha bike in his garage, which means he could be a rider for them in the new year.