The 2013 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship is right around the corner, with the Red Bull Hangtown Motocross Classic scheduled for May 18, 2013.
In a matter of days, the 2013 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will kick-off under the California’s central valley sun at the Red Bull Hangtown Motocross Classic near Sacramento. Racers have been on a brief break from competition following the conclusion of the 2013 Monster Energy Supercross season in Las Vegas, some resting wounds in order to be fit for the gate drop in Moto 1 while others have been training day in and out to stay focused and competitive. In the 450 division, Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey will fight to defend his title against a truly stacked field while in the 250 ranks, Monster Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett will return to action after sitting out most of the 2013 Supercross season recovering from injury. The upcoming season is poised to be one of the most competitive in recent memory, and we can’t wait to see who comes out on top in Round 1 at Hangtown.
Dungey nabbed the first-ever outdoor Nationals title for KTM in 2012, putting in a series of flawless performances including a 10-moto long win streak mid-season and earning a perfect podium record for the year. While the achievement was truly masterful to behold, many of the top contenders were sidelined with injury, begging the question of how things would have gone had the full roster of decorated motocross racers been on the line.
Ryan Dungey will have plenty of competition in 2013 as a number of top competitors are healthy and ready to race.
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto was one who sat out the entire 2012 season due to injury, but has recently shown that he’s healthy and ready to compete. RV earned his third consecutive Supercross title in 2013 with an impressive 10 race wins. He earned the motocross title in 2011 and has been on course to rank among the best ever in the sport over the past three years.
Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart seemed unstoppable through the opening rounds of the Nationals in 2012, winning four motos in a row aboard his then new RM-Z450. A crash in Round 3 set off a string of misfortunes for Bubba that left him physically unable to continue at a competitive level, so mid-season he pulled out. Similar issues plagued him during the 2013 Supercross season and he stopped racing with three rounds remaining. He has since been rehabilitating his wrist and training to be ready for the outdoors.
Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Justin Barcia came up 20 points short of winning the 250 class in 2012, but has already proven he’s a contender for race wins in the premier class following his rookie season aboard the 450 in 2013 Supercross. His teammate, Trey Canard, returns to the outdoors after missing all of 2012 due to injury. The Oklahoma native struggled at times during Supercross in 2013 but managed to finish sixth overall. He took the outdoor title in 2010 in the 250 class aboard a Honda and will be gunning for moto wins all year. Two Two Motorsports’ Chad Reed also returns to the Motocross championship after missing 2012 due to injury.
A stacked 450 class includes Ryan Villopoto, Justin Barcia, Chad Reed, Mike Alessi, Dean Wilson and James Stewart.
While Motoconcepts’ Mike Alessi didn’t fare well in the 2013 Supercross season, he proved he is a contender for moto wins during the 2012 Motocross championship, regularly grabbing holeshots and battling at the front with Dungey. Villopoto’s teammate, Jake Weimer, grabbed a number of podiums during last year’s Motocross season and returns to see if he can up the ante in 2013.
Rockstar Suzuki’s Davi Millsaps has announced he will sit out the nationals this year to recover from injuries sustained during Supercross after finishing second to Villopoto, and Ryan Sipes has been tapped to ride in his stead. Monster Pro Circuit Kawasaki will front two riders in this year’s 450 series; Dean Wilson and Tyla Rattray. Rattray was chosen to ride in Villopoto’s place in 2012, but a first round wreck sidelined the South African rider until mid-season. Rattray became one of only a few riders to win a moto in 2012 when he grabbed the checkers in Moto 2 at Southwick. Wilson won the 250 nationals in 2011 and makes his move to full-time 450 duty for motocross in 2013.
BTO Sports’ Andrew Short and RCH Racing’s Broc Tickle fared well in the 2012 Nationals, finishing fourth and fifth overall, respectively, and each could challenge for podium finishes in 2013.
Baggett is going to have his hands full defending his title against the swollen 250 field. Among his teammates are Darryn Durham, who makes his nationals debut, and Martin Davalos, a relative veteran of the sport who finished fifth overall in the 250 SX West division earlier this year. Added to the team are Justin Hill and amateur phenomenon Adam Cianciarulo, who makes his professional debut at Hangtown.
A number of rookies will shake things up in the 250 class, including Adam Cianciarulo, Cooper Webb, Justin Hill and Joey Savatgy on the newly formed Orange Brigade team.
The GEICO Honda squad will be a rider down as 2013 250 SX East champion Wil Hahn recovers from a wrist injury sustained in the Supercross finale. Hahn plans to make his return at Budds Creek in June. Eli Tomac chose to hold off moving up to the 450 class for another shot at the 250 motocross title in 2013, and he’ll be joined by Justin Bogle, Zach Osborne and Zach Bell.
Red Bull KTM has the 2013 250 SX West champion, Ken Roczen, vying for a second title this year as well as Marvin Musquin. Both riders proved competitive in the outdoors in 2012, finishing fourth and fifth respectively overall.
Rockstar Energy Racing has three riders capable of podium finishes in Jason Anderson, Blake Wharton and Nico Izzi. MyPlash/Star Racing Yamaha’s Kyle Cunningham, Jeremy Martin and Cooper Webb make up a relatively young team, with Martin marking 2013 as his first full season outdoors in the pro ranks and Webb coming into the pros for the first time. FMF/Orange Brigade’s Joey Savatgy is another highly touted rookie that will look for glory in the 2013 Nationals. Savatgy was named the 2013 SX Rookie of the Year and found his way to the new Orange Brigade team after J-Star JDR KTM closed up shop following the Supercross season.
Women’s Motocross is a Triple Crown contest in 2013, with stops at Hangtown, High Point and Southwick.
Women’s motocross has been reduced to a Triple Crown contest that will kick-off at Hangtown. Round 2 is scheduled for June 8 at High Point and the concluding round will be June 29 at Southwick. The 2012 WMX title-winner, Ashley Fiolek, will not race in 2013, leaving six-time WMX champion Jessica Patterson to fight against the likes of Mariana Balbi, Alexah Pearson and Sayaka Kaneshiro for the first-ever WMX Triple Crown.
The 2013 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will be telecast on NBC, NBC Sports Network and FUEL TV. There will also be more live streaming coverage than any previous season, available through allisports.com and NBC Sports Live Extra. Other changes to the series include the new Motorcycle-Superstore.com Holeshot Award, which changes the conventional holeshot to a series-long points battle for a $25,000 payout in the 450 class and a $15,000 payout in the 250s. Riders will log points every time they earn the holeshot and the rider with the most points at the end of the season wins the bonus.
Racing starts at Hangtown on May 18, 2013 with 450 Moto 1 at 1:11 p.m. PST. Check back to MotoUSA all season long for full coverage of the series, and be sure to sign up for MotoUSA’s Fantasy MX 2013 to earn bench-racing bragging rights and to have a chance at winning a brand new Kali Prana Carbon Rip helmet!