After taking a four-year break from world-famous Glen Helen Raceway, Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross returns to the San Bernardino, CA, track for the season-opening round. Known for its challenging elevation changes and exciting jumps, Glen Helen will officially kick off the 12-round championship on Saturday.
With reigning Motocross Champion Ryan Villopoto out for the season due to knee surgery, the championship is anybody’s guess heading into round one. Among the favorites are Red Bull KTM teammates Ryan Dungey and Ken Roczen. Dungey has won the title twice and hopes to pick up a three-peat in 2014, while 2014 AMA Supercross Rookie of the Year Roczen is looking forward to his first full year in the 450 class.
With Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Villopoto on the sidelines, the team asked current Canadian Motocross Champion Brett Metcalfe to sub in. Australian Metcalfe had planned to defend his Canadian title this year, but opted instead to contest the AMA Pro championships alongside Jake Weimer on the factory Kawasaki team.
Also on a Kawasaki is Chad Reed, who returns to racing at Glen Helen after an injury during Supercross. The Discount Tire/TwoTwo Motorsports Kawasaki rider is healthy and ready to race again. Reed last won the Motocross title in 2009.
Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart will be back for the 2014 Motocross season. Although plagued by inconsistency over the last few years, the talented racer is always a force to be reckoned with. Not only did Stewart win the championship in 2008, he did so by sweeping every moto on the schedule that year. Added motivation for Stewart may come in the form of his brother Malcolm, who’s stepping up to the premier class on the Lucas Oil/MavTV/Troy Lee Designs Honda.
Representing the factory Honda team are Muscle Milk Honda’s Trey Canard and Justin Barcia. Barcia finished third in the premier class last year and former 250MX Champion Canard wound up fourth. Meanwhile, the GEICO Honda support team is in a holding pattern due to injury. Last year’s 250MX Champion Eli Tomac and 2013 250SX East Champion Wil Hahn will campaign the series but both will miss early rounds while recovering.
Toyota/JGRMX/Yamaha rider Justin Brayton is also struggling with health issues, coming off of a broken foot and a fractured hand. Nonetheless, Yamaha factory’s Brayton is slated to line up on the Glen Helen gate with teammates Josh Grant and Phil Nicoletti.
Other riders of note include Rockstar Racing Team KTM’s Davi Millsaps, who hasn’t raced since the final Supercross event of 2013, thanks to surgery and then a nagging injury. BTO Sports KTM’s Andrew Short is one to watch this year, as are RCH Racing Soaring Eagle teammates Ivan Tedesco and Weston Peick. Local favorite Mike Alessi, riding for Smarttop Motoconcepts with teammate Kyle Cunningham, will do a one-off at Glen Helen and then race the Canadian series.
The game, as they say, is afoot.Tags: Chad Reed, GEICO, Glen Helen, Glen Helen Raceway, Ivan Tedesco, James Stewart, Josh Grant, Kawasaki, Mike Alessi, Motorsports, Red Bull, Ryan Dungey, Ryan Villopoto, Smarttop Motoconcepts, Yoshimura Suzuki