Deep Talent in 250 Class Means Endless Possibilities for 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship MORGANTWON, W.V. (May 21, 2009) - With three-time defending champion Ryan Villopoto making his move up to the 450 Class, the 250 class ...
Deep Talent in 250 Class Means Endless Possibilities for 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship
MORGANTWON, W.V. (May 21, 2009) - With three-time defending champion Ryan Villopoto making his move up to the 450 Class, the 250 class championship is wide open in the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. And as the 12-round season kicks off this Saturday, the field is absolutely stacked with promising talent, and picking a favorite is virtually impossible. As the series makes the move to Saturday nationals beginning this weekend, a comprehensive television package, world class talent, and some of the best on-track action on the planet has built a high level of anticipation for what could be the most competitive season in the history of the sport.
Thanks to a trio of wins at the end of the season in 2008 and a newly-earned Monster Energy AMA Supercross Lites Western Regional championship, Rockstar/Makita Suzuki's Ryan Dungey has been dubbed the favorite by many. The Minnesota native has more experience on his bike and with his team than any of his competitors and possesses all the necessary tools to become the next 250 class champion.
However, if history has proven anything, the outdoor nationals are never a sure thing. Thanks to what some are a calling an international invasion, Dungey will have his fare share of challengers for the title.
Leading the way for the trio of overseas newcomers is Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki's Christophe Pourcel. The French rider is the 2006 World Motocross Champion in this MX2 Class, the European counterpart to the 250 Class. After suffering a near career-ending injury two years ago, Pourcel returned stateside this season, capturing the AMA Supercross Lites Eastern Regional title. With the support of the perennial front-running team, he will absolutely be a force to be reckoned with.
Joining Pourcel under the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit tent is South African Tyla Rattray, the reigning MX2 World Champion. Despite being a relative unknown in the United States, Rattray holds the credentials to be considered an immediate threat. But because he sat out the AMA Supercross tour to prepare for the outdoors, few of his competitors know his speed.
One young athlete who does is Muscle Milk/MDK/KTM's Tommy Searle. The British rider was Rattray's main source of competition throughout the 2008 season in the MX2 Class, engaging in an exciting season-long battle that came down to the final race of the season. Much like Rattray, Searle is largely unfamiliar with the competition in America, having also waited for the Glen Helen outdoor opener to begin his season, but he certainly has the talent to run up front.
While the concept of a four-rider battle for the championship is a mouth-watering thought for anyone, the list doesn't stop there. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki is pulling out all the stops in 2009. With the addition of Pourcel and Searle, Mitch Payton's squad will campaign five riders, each of which has a shot at the title. Jake Weimer made the move from Honda and has experienced nothing but success since swinging a leg over the green bike. Alongside him is Austin Stroupe. One of the most talented young athletes in the sport, Stroupe shocked the motocross world in 2008 by winning the season-opener at Glen Helen from Villopoto. Rounding out the loaded stable is quietly quick Ryan Morais. Unfortunately, Morais is temporarily sidelined with a shoulder injury.
Over at GEICO Powersports Honda, a trio of riders is prepared to throw their names into the championship equation. Trey Canard has an AMA Supercross Lites title to his credit and has shown flashes of brilliance throughout his short professional career. Australian native Brett Metcalfe is the new face and veteran rider in the GEICO lineup. While he is still in search of his first career AMA victory, a switch in teams has rejuvenated his motivation. The third and youngest member of the team is Blake Wharton, who hails from Texas. Wharton made his pro debut late last season, racing the final three rounds of the '08 championship. Raw and inexperienced, he turned heads by quickly acclimating himself within the highly talented competition, even leading multiple laps in his first ever national at Spring Creek.
There are many other fine young racers in what many consider to be the deepest field in the history of American motocross, and that directly translates into one of the most highly anticipated seasons ever. Proven winners from around the globe will converge for 12 weekends during the summer of 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship and determining who will prevail on Labor Day weekend in September is truly unpredictable.