MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – A talented field of 250 Class competitors will line up this weekend at Glen Helen Raceway to begin the 12-race journey through the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship.
With 2013 titleholder Eli Tomac having moved into the 450 Class for the 2014 season, the door is now open for any one of a number of top title contenders to claim the vacant number one plate. It all begins on May 24, with the Red Bull Glen Helen National in San Bernardino, Calif.
Among the favorites will be a pair of teammates at Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki in Dean Wilson and Blake Baggett, both of whom were the 250 Class Champion in previous years. Scotland-born Wilson captured the 2011 title in what was his second season as a professional, but has since suffered through an unfortunate run of injuries. He enters the 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship healthy and ready to win again in his final year in the 250 Class.
Baggett, who hails mere minutes away from Glen Helen in Grand Terrace, Calif., captured the 2012 championship. However, like Wilson he had his title defense marred by a lingering injury that ultimately hindered his trademark ability to charge to the front when conditions were at their worst. He is now looking at his home race to begin his shot at redemption.
There are more riders on Mitch Payton’s vaunted Pro Circuit squad to keep an eye on as well, including veteran Darryn Durham and sophomore sensation Justin Hill. Both have earned wins in the AMA Supercross 250SX Class, but they have yet to win a Pro Motocross race and would like nothing more than to join their successful teammates at the front of the field.
With Tomac now on a 450, it will be up to his GEICO Honda teammates to hold on to the 250 Class crown. Leading the way are Zach Osborne, who hails from Richlands, Va., and Cushing, Okla.’s Justin Bogle, who recently earned the Eastern Regional 250SX title in AMA Supercross. Don’t count out their teammates Zach Bell and Matt Bisceglia, a pair of young flyers also hoping to make a name for themselves this summer.
Honda will also be well represented well by the Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/MAVTV Honda squad, which looks at Glen Helen Raceway as its home track. Cole Seely, Shane McElrath and Jessy Nelson should all be in the mix this weekend and throughout the remainder of the 12-round Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship.
Last year, Ken Roczen and Marvin Musquin–both former FIM World Motocross Champions–were Red Bull KTM’s 1-2 punch in the 250 Class, and both earned multiple wins. Now Roczen is in the 450 Class, which leaves the French import Musquin as the team’s primary entry in this division. Coming off an injury that sidelined him from AMA Supercross, Musquin is fresh and ready to do battle.
Another orange-mounted rider to keep an eye on at Rockstar Energy Racing KTM is Jason Anderson, who hails from Edgewood, New Mexico, and recently claimed the Western Regional 250SX Championship in AMA Supercross. Anderson is maximizing his potential on the bike, and will be a dark horse to keep the momentum going into Pro Motocross. He’ll be flanked under the Rockstar tent by the division’s 2013 AMA Supercross Rookie of the Year, Joey Savatgy, who will make his 2014 debut after an injury kept him sidelined since December.
Yamaha will be supporting a couple of different teams in the 250 Class. Young chargers Cooper Webb, Anthony Rodriguez and Jeremy Martin, last year’s MX Sports Pro Racing Rookie of the Year, all hope to give Yamaha its first AMA Pro Motocross win in this division since 2004, while riding for a Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha squad that has made waves so far this season.
Yamaha is also supporting veteran rider Christophe Pourcel, who is making his return to competition after taking almost two full years off of the AMA circuit. Pourcel, a former FIM World Champion, is being backed by Valli Motorsports Yamaha and may be considered the most interesting man on the track. He came close to winning the 250 Class Championship in both 2009 and 2010, only to suffer some hard luck in the late rounds. Now, he’s coming back with a vengeance on his YZ250F.