MOTOCROSSTIME - NEWS FROM LUCAS OIL PRO MOTOCROSS
It was a relatively mild offseason in terms of changes within the motocross world, but as always, there are plenty of new developments to look forward to this year. With less than two months to go until the first gate drop of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season, here’s a sampling of what’s new (so far) this summer.
Zach Osborne graduates to the 450 Class
The reigning 250 Class champion won’t get a chance to run the No. 1 plate outdoors, as Zach Osborne will instead move up to the 450 Class this summer after the supercross season ends. He’s currently trying to defend his 250 East title in supercross before moving up to the big bike.
Osborne will move up to the 450 Class instead of defending his 250MX title. (Photo: Chris Ortiz)
Ken Roczen makes his Lucas Oil Pro Motocross debut on a Honda
Okay, this one isn’t technically “new” since Roczen joined Honda HRC prior to the start of the 2017 supercross season. But we still have yet to see him race the red bike outdoors because he missed last season while recovering from a litany of injuries suffered earlier that year. Roczen has missed much of the current 2018 supercross with a hand injury, but he’s hoping to return for Lucas Oil Pro Motocross. He has yet to complete a full season in either supercross or motocross since signing with factory Honda, so this summer might present the first opportunity to contend for a championship with his new team.
Broc Tickle goes orange
There wasn’t a ton of upheaval with the 450 teams this year, so the biggest change was arguably Broc Tickle’s move from the (now-defunct) RCH Suzuki team over to the Red Bull KTM squad. He’s taking over the spot vacated by the retired Ryan Dungey and he’s training with Aldon Baker. Through the first 12 rounds of the supercross season, Tickle is sitting seventh in 450 Class points.
Tickle has always been a consistent top-ten guy, but could a move to KTM result in a next-level leap?
Justin Barcia secures a ride with factory Yamaha
With most of the factory teams lacking open roster spots, Justin Barcia — who won 450 Class races as recently as 2015 — was having difficulty finding a new ride after last season. After putting together a privateer effort for last October’s Monster Energy Cup, Barcia got a temporary deal with the factory Yamaha team. Thanks to some solid supercross results, he turned that into a full-time contract for the rest of the 2018 season. Barcia is coming off three seasons with the Joe Gibbs Racing team, so the Yamaha isn’t an unfamilar bike for him — the team used Yamahas the first two years Barcia was there before switching to Suzuki in 2017.
Justin Bogle joins JGR’s new factory effort
It was a career year for Bogle in 2017. For the first time ever, he notched a pair of moto wins (plus an overall victory) during the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season. But with RCH shutting down, the 25-year-old had to find a new ride, and he ended up with another Suzuki team, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Autotrader/Yoshimura Suzuki operation, which officially became Suzuki’s new factory team last fall.
Justin Hill changes teams for final 250 season
Another new addition to the JGR team is Justin Hill, who will spend one more season in the 250 Class before moving up to the premier class next year. In his second stint with Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki last year, Hill finished just 19th in 250MX points and missed several rounds due to injury.
Martin Davalos moves back to the 250s
After more than a decade in the lites class, Martin Davalos finally fulfilled his long-awaited hopes of racing a 450 last summer. The results were quite impressive — he had a number of top-five results late in the season and even finished second overall at Unadilla. But Davalos was unable to parlay that success into a 450 deal for 2018, so it’s back to the smaller bike this year. Davalos is reunited with Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki (the team he rode for in 2013 and 2014) after two years with the factory Husqvarna squad.
Despite a successful showing in the 450 Class, Davalos is back on a 250 deal this year.
The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship starts Saturday, May 19 with the Red Bull Hangtown Motocross Classic. Tickets for all 12 rounds are available now, and all 12 rounds can be streamed live, commercial-free and on-demand with NBC Sports Gold.
Souce: Lucas Oil Motocross