The 2014 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship series officially kicked off at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, California on May 24th. The series will make twelve stops at premier motocross race venues across the country, concluding in Tooele, Utah for the final round. The 2014 series also features a brand new event to be held at a new venue in Crawfordsville, Indiana.
After Ryan Villopoto announced that he would not return to defend his title in the 2014 series, due to knee surgery, the question was, who would step up to the plate? The premier class is packed with top caliber racers, many of which who have been former champions in their own rights. If you take a look back through the top twenty on any given weekend it is clear how deep the field of talent has become.
During Round one at Glen Helen Raceway, race fans witnessed Josh Grant dominate the pack to take home the moto one win. Dungey battled it out to the end with teammate, Ken Roczen to take the win in moto two and the overall for the day. As the series headed to Hangtown, race fans witnessed the young, Ken Roczen clean up in both motos to take the overall for Round two.
Although the class is filled with more talent than ever before, it is obvious that there will be a few riders likely to be out front every weekend. The guys who can get out of the gate clean and into turn one before the roost takes flight, will be the ones to experience success in this series. In years past we have seen racers start at the back of the pack or go down and still manage to make their way back to the front by the end of the moto. However, with ten or twenty guys that are fast enough to take a moto win, fighting through the pack has all of a sudden become much harder than it had been in the past. And considering the fact that every rider is conditioned to be able to complete the thirty-minute plus two lap moto at capacity, starts have become more and more important.
James Stewart has claimed that he is just looking to survive the first few rounds of the series without crashing out or experiencing mechanical issues. However, at Hangtown after a few bike adjustments after moto one, Stewart seemed to have his confidence back and a much faster pace than in the previous round. Although Stewart’s season has started out slow, the number seven shouldn’t be counted out of the championship chase, just yet.
Just fresh off the injured list, Trey Canard has bounced back, once again, with an impressive fifth place finish in his first race back, during the closing rounds of the AMA Supercross series. The Muscle Milk backed Honda rider has not even been back in competition for two months and is already up front battling for podium positions. If Trey can stay healthy and avoid the injured list this season he may just be able to follow up his 2010 250 Championship Title with a 450 one in 2014.
Weston Peick is another name that has begun to surface in the industry in the past year or so. After a achieving some great results on his full privateer ride, Ricky Charmichael and Carey Hart signed him as their fill in rider on board a Soaring Eagle Suzuki. Peick took home two top ten finishes last weekend at Hangtown, with a sixth in moto two. As the series progresses look for the six and a half foot stature of Weston Peick to be up battling for top five positions.
Chad Reed is another rider that has had a slow start to the season, after returning from shoulder surgery just last weekend. Although Reed may take some time to recuperate and bounce back from the injury, once he is back in full force he will surely be up front battling with the front-runners for podium positions.
The boys in orange on the Red Bull/KTM team have been up front both rounds and seemingly pulling away from the rest of the pack. With one win each and consistent starts, Ryan Dungey and Ken Roczen have proven to be the guys to beat this season.
In the 250 class there is also a fairly deep field of riders that could take a win on any given weekend. That goes with saying, not if Jeremy Martin shows up with his Star Racing/Yamalube Yamaha. This kid has truly taken the industry by storm. After claiming his first ever career win at Vegas Supercross, Martin has done all but put on the brakes. The young gun swept both motos at Glen Helen in what many thought would be a one-time deal for the no-name rider out of Millville, Minnesota. Martin proved that he was the real deal when he swept Round two at Hangtown with two more wins, with nearly twenty second leads in both.
Although five of the six Monster Engery/Pro Circuit/ Kawasaki riders are out on injury, it is not likely that even Adam Cianciarulo or Martin Davalos could hang with Martin.
The 250 West-coast champion, Jason Anderson has had to battle through the pack and through a few crashes to manage the finishes he has so far this season. If he can manage to get a decent start and stay out of trouble, he is one of the few riders that could manage to keep Jeremy Martin in sight for the championship.
Another rider that has also surprised race fans and industry personnel alike is Jeremy Martin’s teammate, Cooper Webb. The rookie managed to get himself up in the podium spotlight multiple times during the Supercross season and has now built the confidence to be battling up with the best of the best. He has become known as one of the most aggressive 250 riders on the track and if he can figure out how to stick with Martin, it could be a battle of teammates for the championship title.
Next week the series will head to Thunder Valley in Lakewood, Colorado for Round 3 of the Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Championship.