Reed sits fourth on the all-time win list behind his longtime rival at 41, but went winless after a full season of competition for the first time in his career last year. Rider and owner of TwoTwo Motorsports, Reed has changed manufacturers, moving from Honda to Kawasaki, in hopes of a fresh start as he enters his 12th season of 450SX Class competition. He holds the record for the most podium finishes in history with 121 in 162 starts.
Dungey, who became the second 450SX Class rookie to ever win a title in 2010, closed out the 2013 season in third place with an average finish of 3.3 and two wins, one of them at the final race inside the Minneapolis Metrodome in front of his hometown crowd in Minnesota. A winner of 13 Main Events, Dungey has not finished a season outside of the top three in the standings in four years of 450SX Class action.
Last year signified Barcia’s rookie season in the premier division and he emerged with two victories, the first being at the second race of the season in Phoenix followed by a similarly dominant effort in Seattle later in the year. Barcia joined Sebastien Tortelli and Damon Bradshaw as the only riders to win a Main Event within the first two races of their 450SX Class careers.
On how to beat Villopoto, Barcia said, “Consistency is the key. He is very consistent each weekend so to be in the hunt for the championship, I need to do the same.”
Tomac has emerged as one of the sport’s rising stars the past couple seasons, capturing the 250SX Class Western Regional crown in 2012 and coming just a couple points short of defending that title last season. He is arguably the leader of the rookie group making their premier class debut this season and past experience through select races in the 450SX Class should work in his favor. In 2012, Tomac turned heads with a podium effort at the Monster Energy Cup, proving he has the speed to compete with the world’s best.
Roczen has progressed alongside Tomac in the 250SX Class, with the duo establishing a captivating rivalry last season in their battle for the Western Regional title that Roczen ultimately came out on top of. The German native has also performed well in select 450SX Class Main Events, finishing second in Seattle in 2012 while also compiling many laps led. He, like his fellow rookie, knows what it takes to run up front in the premier class and could be an early contender once the season begins.
During the off-season Roczen implemented a major change to his training program by moving to Florida to prepare for his 2014 season alongside Villopoto and his trainer Aldon Baker.
“We’re friends, and I could say if I don’t win he’d be the guy that I’d want to see win,” said Villopoto. “It’s his first year moving up to the [450SX Class] so obviously it’s going to be a learning year for him and it’s a lot more racing than he’s used to.”
Two riders who will not line up on the gate this Saturday night are Davi Millsaps and Trey Canard. Millsaps, last season’s 450SX Class runner up, suffered a knee injury while training aboard his Rockstar Energy Racing KTM, while Canard broke his arm in preparations for the upcoming season with Team Honda Muscle Milk. Both riders will be out of action indefinitely, but are expected to return early in the season.
Live coverage will begin at 10 p.m. ET of FOX Sports 1.