Wait for it.
Just a little bit longer.
The silly season is coming to an end!
So, let the prognosticating begin!
Eight glorious months of racing begins in a few weeks starting with the 2016 Monster Energy Supercross season on January 9 in Anaheim.
The story lines have been building for months and assuming no one else gets hurt in a pre-ride crash between now and then, the 2016 field arguably boasts the most competitive lineup ever. (We'd say most-stacked field but we used that last year and the year before.) The bottom line: Supercross is growing, more and more talented riders are not only getting to the races but qualifying and Ryan Dungey is not going to have an easy time repeating as Champion.
Lots of headlines entering the year, many personalities vying for a place on the podium and a dozen riders bring the necessary talent to be crowned 2016 Champion. So let's take a look at what's already brewing for the new Supercross year in the 450 class.
#1 Ryan Dungey - Red Bull KTM
A hands-on favorite to win week in and week out, 2015 Supercross Champion Ryan Dungey dominated the field last year and still would have won the title a round or two early if Trey Canard had not broken his arm in Detroit. Dungey simply doesn't make mistakes and there's no reason to think he'll get careless in his quest to back up his 2015 campaign. He took some much-needed time off after the Motocross season so expect a fresh Dungey looking to cement his place in Supercross history.
#94 Ken Roczen - RCH/Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John's Suzuki
Ken Roczen got off to a great start in 2015, then a crash in Oakland took its toll and he ultimately bowed out after Round 9. A stress fracture in his back hampered his effort to repeat as Motocross Champion where he finished as runner-up for the 2015 season, though hardly in contention for the title. But, after back surgery and some blazing speed seen at the Monster Energy Cup, the German looks ready and ripe to take what he felt was ultimately his.
#3 Eli Tomac - Monster Energy Kawasaki
The big question on Eli Tomac is whether his shoulders are healed from that brutal crash at Thunder Valley. Cleary, Tomac excels in Outdoors and we'll always wonder "what if" he had not gone down in Round 3 after dominating every Moto to start the season. But Tomac finished second in the 2015 Supercross season and if he's, as they say, 100 percent, he'll be a force to reckon with on his new bike.
#41 Trey Canard - HRC Honda
Any day there's no news on Canard, is good news because it seems as if fans wait with bated breath for another crash to end or delay his season. Canard gave Dungey a good chase last year in Supercross until that accident in Detroit cut his season short and delayed his entry into Motocross. A crash at the Monster Cup looked awful but he got up unhurt and went to Japan and grabbed a win over there. He's always got speed and if Canard stays upright and healthy this could be his year.
#25 Marvin Musquin - Red Bull KTM
The defending 250 East Supercross Champion and runner-up in the Motocross 250 class with his own "what if" his bike didn't fail him in that last round, retires the small bike and takes on the 450 class. Musquin has the talent to win as a rookie, just as his teammate Dungey did in 2010 and his presence certainly helps shake things up and adds a new dimension to the premier class.
#14 Cole Seely - HRC Honda
The 2015 Rookie of the Year finished third just 28 points behind Tomac last season. He grabbed his first career 450 win in Houston and added another four podiums. His Motocross season looked good starting in Round 3 but ended after dislocating his right shoulder in a practice crash in July.
#21 Jason Anderson - Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing
His rookie season also in the rearview, Anderson can build on his experience to make a serious run at the Championship. He also brings success to A1 where he took second last year and starting the year off atop the podium is a great way to begin his second year. Anderson is also very fast. He grabbed all three holeshots at the Monster Cup, earning him a new truck, and if that carries over to the season he's going to be hard to catch.
#4 Blake Baggett - Yoshimura Suzuki
Blake Baggett was the other rookie of note last year and rode better than Anderson. Baggett took fifth place overall just three points behind Reed for Supercross. He rode even better in Outdoors taking fourth place overall with four podiums. Baggett finished both seasons strong and that experience should prove invaluable as he rides into his second year.
#7 James Stewart - Yoshimura Suzuki
Stewart has four races under his belt in the last 18 months since his suspension for Adderall use hit news wires everyone last year. Two of those races he won, the Red Bull Straight Rhythm. Not exactly a solid testimonial on his readiness for the Supercross season especially considering he crashed in the other two races held on a legitimate track. He crashed and got hurt at the Monster Cup and crashed and got hurt in France. He hasn't actually finished a bonafide full race since Moto 1 at Spring Creek in 2014. He's also 30. Time is running out but a year off from the rigors of racing can also do the mind and body good.
#51 Justin Barcia - AutoTrader.com/Toyota/JGR Yamaha
Justin Barcia made a serious run at the Motocross Championship after nabbing his first career win at Budds Creek this summer. After that Round 6 victory he finished second or first in the next seven Motos but lost out on second-place for the season by just six points to the surging Roczen. Barcia last completed an entire Supercross season in 2013 when he finished in fourth-place with two wins and five podiums. A healthy, not to mention confident, Barcia can fight for the podium every week.
#22 Chad Reed - Yamaha ???
Yet without a ride, Chad Reed turns 34 in March but can still win as he did last year at Atlanta 1. He also looked to be a Championship contender in 2014 until a gnarly crashed ended his season in San Diego. Through Round 5 of that year he was in second-place just two points behind eventual Champion Ryan Villopoto. He's a long shot and can certainly compete but until he confirms plans to race, then he won't have a chance.
#28 Weston Peick - AutoTrader.com/Toyota/JGR Yamaha
Quite possibly the most talked about and most lauded racer today, you'd think Weston Peick was a multi Champion. However, he's yet to complete a full Supercross season since he turned pro in 2009 thanks to injury and still hasn't won a round. Last year, his first on factory equipment, he grabbed career best, third-place, twice. But he also missed four Rounds and in three other rounds took home just a point - not too different from past seasons. However, he was crowned King of Bercy at this year's Bercy-Lille Supercross in France last month and if he can bridge that success to the 2016 Supercross season, and not get hurt, look out.
Maybe, just maybe a rider comes out of nowhere to stun the Supercross world. A healthy body plus a dialed in bike multiplied by confidence, equals a rider fighting for the podium every week. These riders have shown promise but through injury or just sheer domination by those around them they get lost in the pack. But it's a new year and everyone starts at Zero.
- #19 Justin Bogle
- #29 Andrew Short
- #18 Davi Millsaps
- #10 Justin Brayton
- #20 Broc Tickle
- #15 Dean Wilson