2020 Team & Rider Rosters October Updates | Kickstart
NOTE: Apologies for the lack of posts on Monday, but it has been an eventful start to the week for the SML crew since swap was on his way back from Sugo and the final round of the All-Japan MX Championship, Chase laid up with a busted ankle (feel better, dude), and Anton on the road for the next few days. We’ll be back at full speed on Tuesday morning. For now, here’s a new rundown of rider rosters and teams for 2020. This isn’t just a copy-paste of a prior post, but an updated list with new signings or talk from the pit area.
This post shows how much changes in motocross in a very short amount of time. When we initially drew up the list in July, riders and teams were eager to put pen to paper for long-term contracts that would run beyond 2020. But now we’re in the final days of October and some of the “done deals” have fallen apart, communication with riders and teams stalled, and money from big sponsorships has gone away. Go look at our original post when you get done with this one to see how much changed over the course of the summer.
We’re entering a very interesting time in the sport. The riders viewed as race winners and title contenders are all confirmed to their current teams through multi-year contracts, some of which should see them through the end of their careers. This leaves the second and third-tier guys to fight out over the remaining rides, while up and coming talent tries to earn their place.
This part of October is the most critical time for a rider to land a deal with a team because most rides are already taken, preseason testing is underway, and boot camps will begin in the next few weeks as we inch closer to Anaheim One. There will be more signings announced, be it through injuries to an original roster or agreements with the smaller teams that are always the last to get their programs sorted, all the way to the first weekend in January.
Team Honda HRC
Justin Brayton | Supercross-only deal
Chase Sexton | Long-term deal, will race outdoors in 2020 and carry into a full-time ride in 2021
Ken Roczen’s three-year contract was set to expire at the end of this season, but the shared belief by all in the paddock was that he would stay with the team and remain their marquee rider in the United States. That was confirmed in the spring when Team Honda HRC and Roczen signed a three-year extension that will run through 2022. “I haven’t won anything yet but I have had more bad luck in the last three years. Everything hasn’t fallen into place for me yet but I have to think that this bad luck will wear off and my time will come,” he told us after the announcement in May. “I have to keep thinking positive and on their side, they are so supportive and will do anything to make their riders comfortable. I am happy to have them on my side and to keep this going and the security is nice.” At 25 years old, this could be the contract that carries Roczen to the end of his pro career.
Cole Seely’s plan for the future of his career was a variable that had to be waited out, but the 29-year-old announced his retirement from competition and Honda confirmed their plan for 2020 in September. Justin Brayton will run the CRF450R through the seventeen-rounds of the 2020 Monster Energy Supercross Series and Chase Sexton will step into the spot for the 2020 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, his first series in the 450 class. Sexton’s deal is big because he’s signed with the squad through 2023.
Monster Energy Kawasaki
Eli Tomac put pen to paper on his third contract with Monster Energy Kawasaki near the end of the Supercross season and the deal was announced in the early part of the summer. Few expected Tomac to sign with another team and his new deal (two years confirmed, with a reported a third-year option) will possibly carry him to the end of his pro career and keep him as the face of Kawasaki’s motocross program. “I’m 26 and will be 27 in November. Honestly, I don’t know,” he explained to us in early June. “I am pumped that I made it to 26 and that I still have two years to go. Villopoto and RC, those guys were already done. It would be like me being done at the end of this season. If I make it to 28 or 29, yeah, that would be good.”
Adam Cianciarulo was the most sought-after rider in the 2020 free agency. It was widely rumored that Honda had courted him for the spot alongside Roczen, but Kawasaki stepped up in the negotiations and did what was necessary to keep their long-time rider. Cianciarulo’s first 450 race is set to be the 2019 Monster Energy Cup in October.
Joey Savatgy is officially done with Kawasaki and is out due to the advancement of Adam Cianciarulo.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing
There will be no changes at the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing team in 2020, as the team locked Justin Barcia and Aaron Plessinger into multi-year contracts. This is good for both riders, as they’ve had their share of success (Barcia’s Anaheim One win, Plessinger’s flashes of speed at different rounds) but injuries and setbacks as well (wrist injuries and a concussion for Barcia, shattered heel for Plessinger).
The biggest development will be the new 2020 YZ450F race bike, something the riders and teams will spend the offseason working to develop.
Red Bull KTM
All of Red Bull KTM’s negotiating efforts went towards retaining Marvin Musquin and it paid off. Musquin has been with the brand since 2009 when they signed him as an MX2 rider, and no one expected them to part at the end of the current deal. That said, there were times of concern during Supercross, like when Musquin was given a contract and did not sign immediately, but he expressed repeatedly in public that he intended to stay with Red Bull KTM. The two parties reached an agreement early in the summer and announced a two-year contract extension; like Roczen and Tomac, this deal is expected to be the last contract of Musquin’s pro career.
As for Cooper Webb, he has a confirmed spot on the team through 2020 thanks to a multi-year contract. It’s widely expected he will sign a much more lucrative extension with KTM for 2021 and beyond at some time in the next twelve months.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing
Expected 2020 Roster
With both the 250 and 450 programs under one team, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing has a lot to work on for their future. Some riders have already locked in their spots with multi-year contracts or new deals, while others are working on securing their place or going elsewhere.
Jason Anderson and Zach Osborne will keep their 450 rides on the team thanks to multi-year contracts, with Anderson there through 2021 and Osborne through 2020. Even though both riders do not worry about anything for next year, they have expressed a desire to stay with the brand after their current deals expire and extensions should be announced in the near future.
Dean Wilson was called to the factory team when Anderson was injured during the Supercross season and will finish out 2019 with them. In a surprise announcement, Husqvarna confirmed a one-year contract extension with Wilson that will keep him with the group as they become the first confirmed factory three-rider 450 squad for 2020.
The 250 program will shift in 2020 through RJ Hampshire’s move from GEICO Honda and Jalek Swoll’s graduation from the amateur ranks.
Like Wilson, Michael Mosiman’s future with the team was confirmed when he signed a two-year extension that will keep him in the 250 class through 2021.
Thomas Covington has missed much of the 2019 season, his first professional season in America, due to injuries and illness. Around the end of the summer, we heard that he had been released from his two-year contract with the team, which is now well-known in the industry but still unannounced, and some signs point to him going back to the MXGP scene.
Bailey, meanwhile, parted ways with the team at the end of 2019 and where he will land is uncertain. There have been recent efforts by the team to retain him, but we’ve heard little on that lately. He recently stated that news of his 2020 program will be announced soon.
JGRMX/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing
Expected 2020 Roster
Editor’s Note: Because this is such a massive storyline, I’ve decided to keep the full details from early summer to now in the article, as it shows how eventful this offseason has been for JGR. The most recent update will be in bold at the very bottom of this section.
A lot of JGRMX’s plans for 2020 hinge on a title sponsor and it sounds like they are close to a deal with the Cherokee Native American tribe of North Carolina. Much of the rider roster hinges on a title sponsor and this deal will have some pull for the rider line-up.
JGRMX had Justin Hill and Weston Peick for the full 2019 season in the 450 class, but things went awry in November 2018, when Peick suffered life-changing injuries at the Paris Supercross and Hill was reportedly impacted by seeing his friend in critical condition. Peick has made progress with the injuries (multiple fractures to the skull, partial loss of vision due to nerve damage in one eye) and it’s unclear if he will ever be able to race at a professional level again. There has been talk that a retirement announcement will come in the next few weeks.
As for Hill, he struggled with crashes and less serious injuries of his own through Supercross and the Nationals, and he is out for the rest of the year with a shoulder injury. It has basically been confirmed that Hill would not return to the team in 2020, due to multiple issues that stemmed from results and communication.
Chad Reed spent the Supercross season with the team and tossed around the idea of racing a few Nationals until he was injured in Seattle. Nearing the end of his career and against doing an independent program again, Reed has been a good fit for JGRMX and we’ve been told he will return to their rig for 2020 Supercross in what should be his final season before retirement.
Fredrik Noren joined the team as a fill-in rider for the 2019 outdoor season and kept the yellow bike in the mix for top-five finishes in the 450 class. Noren will likely run an outdoors-only deal with the team in 2020, going into the place Reed will have in Supercross.
Alex Martin is the only 250 class rider with a multi-year contract at JGRMX. Recent development between Martin and the JGRMX team has increased the performance of the RM-Z250 and an uptick in results is expected through the rest of this year and 2020.
As for the title sponsor influencing the roster, if the backing of Cherokee comes through, Issac Teasdale is supposed to be promised a spot under the tent as a 250 class competitor.
Kyle Peters, Enzo Lopes, and Jimmy Decotis were all on one-year, Supercross-only contracts with JGRMX. Lopes and Decotis both experienced health problems (an injury for Lopes, recurring issues with Lyme Disease for Decotis), so Peters was the easy pick when funding was found to field a second 250 outdoors. All three have a close connection to the team and are hopeful to return in 2020 if it is a possibility. They will be against riders like Mitchell Oldenburg and Jordan Bailey for the potential spots.
Joey Savatgy was in talks with JGRMX and Honda over the summer, but when things broke down between him and Honda, JGRMX became the best option. Although there were rumors through the summer that JGRMX had presented Savatgy a two-year deal, team manager Jeremy Albrecht and Savatgy have both told us there has not been an actual offer yet.
JGRMX has one year left on their current contract with Suzuki and the deal is expected to be extended for a few more years, but Albrecht has said he is not willing to offer a rider anything longer than what Suzuki is committed to. That and a lack of a title sponsor has stalled the proceedings with Savatgy. But fear not, because the two parties talked openly immediately after the Ironman Motocross and Savatgy should get a deal once the Suzuki and sponsor things are finalized.
SEPTEMBER UPDATE: All of what we wrote could be pointless. Recent developments within JGR and Suzuki’s corporate structure has caused some concern for the future of the program. As of now, JGRMX is yet to confirm a title sponsor, which is the most important element to their 2020 program and nothing can go forward without that. Suzuki, meanwhile, has reportedly held off on confirming support to the JGR crew and H.E.P. Motorsports. In a podcast with Steve Matthes, Chad Reed is still unsure what will happen with what’s widely regarded to be his final year of motocross and only Alex Martin holds a contract to Suzuki. Keep an eye on this in the next few weeks, because it will have a big impact on the entire paddock.
OCTOBER UPDATE: Things changed at the race shop headquarters a few weeks ago. With still no confirmation of a title sponsor but the issue with Suzuki cleared up, Alex Martin has resumed testing with the team for 2020 and Joey Savatgy has posted a black and white video of laps on an unmistakable Suzuki RM-Z. From what we’ve gathered, they will be the only two riders supported for the 2020 season.
Longtime employees Jonny Oler and Ben Schiemeyer both voluntarily stepped down from their posts, with Oler now running his own suspension shop named Art Of War and Schiemeyer taking over the mechanic duties for Chad Reed in the next three months. Reed has moved on from the team and will race the Paris, Melbourne, and Auckland Supercross races aboard an independent Honda with plans to line up for Anaheim One to achieve career Main Event start 250.
This leaves Jimmy Decotis, Enzo Lopes, Freddie Noren, Issac Teasdale, and Kyle Peters without confirmed support for 2020, plus the handful riders that had an eye on JGR’s 250 spots
Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM
Blake Baggett is locked in with a multi-year deal at Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM, and like many, it could be the deal he wraps up his career with.
The second spot on the team is often determined by one-year contracts, something that Benny Bloss has held down for a few years. Bloss’ knee injury ahead of the 2019 season allowed Justin Bogle a much-needed fill-in shot with the team and he’s been promised a spot until the end of the outdoors. We’ve heard that the team would like to field three riders in 2020, which would be enough room for Bloss and Bogle both. But if they can’t, the team will have to make a tough decision.
Results by Bloss and Bogle were supposed to be the ultimate factor, but since both posted similar finishes in the National rounds, it became even harder for the team management. Both riders have been told the second spot is between them and that the decision has not been made. Conversations with Bloss and Bogle make it clear that both would like to remain and that they work well with the team, but that they have no indication of which one will get the spot.
OCTOBER UPDATE: It was announced that Bogle has been awarded the second spot for 2020, while Bloss will get some support through the offseason to stay in shape on the bike for the next opportunity that comes his way; he is tied to a possible spot at Team Tedder Racing on a KTM 450 SX-F that is practically identical to what the RM ATV-MC crew has.
With direct technical support from Honda and Supercross-only program, SmarTop/MotoConcepts/Honda has become a welcome option for riders in recent years.
Malcolm Stewart signed with the team for 2019 but only raced one full round until a broken femur put him out for the rest of the season. The team was impressed with Stewart’s speed, skill, and work ethic and have already signed him to a contract extension for 2020, with hopes he will be a contender for Main Event wins.
Vince Friese has a long history with the SmarTop/MotoConcepts/Honda, always on one-year deals. A torn ACL in halted Friese in the middle of a career-best season Supercross season and he will spend the summer waiting for the next race. Friese has recently resumed riding with the team in California.
Who could get the third spot with Brayton’s move to the factory truck? Mike Genova recently told us that Justin Hill is a potential pick, should he put in the necessary offseason work, while Martin Davalos has expressed interest at the ride. But there’s also a chance that the team stays with just two riders, Stewart and Friese.
OCTOBER UPDATE: Earlier this month it was announced that Justin Hill had signed a one-year deal with the team that will get him on the CRF450R for all of the Supercross season. Friese and Stewart raced the Monster Energy Cup for the team, but with Hill’s lack of time on the bike, he stayed on the sidelines. All three will race Anaheim One.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
There will be big changes to the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team in 2020, as two long-time riders are set to depart. Adam Cianciarulo is going to the 450 class with a factory contract, while Martin Davalos has pointed out of the 250 class for Supercross. Austin Forkner and Garrett Marchbanks will stay with the team thanks to multi-year contracts, with Forkner set to be a title contender and Marchbanks to be a front-runner.
The contract for one of the open spots was signed in the middle of the summer, as Jordon Smith is set to move to the Kawasaki team from TLD KTM.
The last spot on the team was locked in around Unadilla and came with some negotiations. Cameron McAdoo was widely expected to stick with TLD KTM after a good summer as a fill-in rider, but when issues arose with the team’s contract, Pro Circuit came into play. It sounds like the process was a bit of a hurry, but McAdoo signed with Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki just before the Unadilla Motocross.
Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha
Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha’s line-up will see two changes for 2020, as four of their five current riders are locked into multi-year contracts (Ferrandis, Nichols, Cooper, Masterpool).
The biggest change to the team will be the addition of Shane McElrath. A yet to be announced deal, McElrath’s move means he will leave TLD KTM, the only group he’s raced with since turning pro. Part of the contract mandates that McEralth lives in California full-time and he will take a spot in the team’s training program with Gareth Swanepoel.
Mitchell Oldenburg will not return in 2020 and where he will go is not completely clear; he is currently racing in Australia for the Pennrite Honda team in the 250 class.
Chase Sexton | Supercross only, will move to Team Honda HRC for outdoors
Christian Craig | Will resume racing with the team once FIM suspension is fulfilled
Jett Lawrence | Will to move to pro class full-time starting at Supercross
Carson Mumford | Expected to move to pro class full-time at Hangtown
Four of GEICO Honda’s current riders will return in 2020 through long-standing deals, but there will be some change as RJ Hampshire departs for Husqvarna, Jo Shimoda starts his full-time pro career in Supercross, and Jett Lawrence and Carson Mumford will go pro full-time in the 2020 Nationals.
Christian Craig will be ineligible to race during the first part of the year due to a suspension by the FIM for a prohibited substance that was detected in a urine sample from 2018. The punishment runs through March 2020.
Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM
Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM will have the most changes of any team in the pit area. A rough 2019 will see long-time riders Smith and McElrath depart for new teams, Cantrell and Falk leave without the promise of a contract anywhere else, and expected newcomer McAdoo goes to Pro Circuit instead.
Derek Drake is locked into a multi-year contract and Pierce Brown will make the full-time transition to professional racing for Supercross. Brown raced a handful of Nationals in 2019 through the A Class rule, but injuries before and at Loretta Lynn’s forced him to the sidelines for the last three rounds.
Brian Moreau, a French teenager in the MX2 division of the MXGP series, was directed to the team via Roger DeCoster and has inked a contract to come to the US in 2020. A look at Moreau’s MX2 results make the decision a little perplexing, but he’s saved by his Supercross experience through the French series. When McAdoo went to Pro Circuit, TLD KTM acted quickly and nabbed Brandon Hartranft. A young rider that spent two years with CycleTrader/Rock River Yamaha, Hartranft is expected to take the next step with the TLD KTM crew.
CycleTrader/Rock River Yamaha
Brandon Hartranft | At the end of the current contract, future uncertain
Jacob Hayes | At the end of the current contract, future uncertain
Completely uncertain due to recent changes at the team.
CycleTrader/Rock River Yamaha is known for putting their efforts behind riders that have a lot of potential in hopes they can advance to one of the top 250 teams. That platform has worked for years and got Hartranft the aforementioned deal with TLD KTM, but it sounds like massive changes are coming for the team. Long-time manager Christina Denney has decided to step down after 10 years in charge and it sounds like CycleTrader will no longer be the title sponsors. Without those two things, it’s possible the team goes back to its former program of being a place in the pits for Yamaha riders to park, but with no salary/pre-built bike/direct line to Star Racing.
Hayes will race with a Yamaha team in the Australian Supercross series this offseason and has connections to US teams that could make him their first option should they need a fill-in rider.
H.E.P. Motorsports Suzuki
Recent talks with riders on the team indicate that H.E.P. Motorsports Suzuki plans to again field three riders on Suzuki equipment for Supercross in 2020, with a desire to put a consistent top-10 contender on the roster, but it hinges on support from Suzuki.
OCTOBER UPDATE: H.E.P. Motorsports has felt the squeeze from Suzuki’s inner-company changes and as of now, it’s not clear which riders will be on the team. It seems like Enticknap is locked in, but Chisholm and Ray have both public expressed uncertainty about their spots.
ML512 Racing Team
Jerry Robin | Rumored
Justin Starling | Rumored
Jeff Walker | Rumored
Chris Blose | Rumored
Michael Lindsay, formerly of Vital MX and now his own media outlet, has worked out a plan to support four riders for the 250 West Coast portion of the 2020 Monster Energy Supercross Series. Although the final lineup is yet to be confirmed, we’ve learned that it will be a full semi with support from Honda and other industry brands.
Gas Monkey/AJE Motorsports
Kyle Peters | Rumored, but uncertain
One of the bigger independent teams in the pits, the AJE Motorsports team is set to come back for the 250 West Coast portion of the Supercross series. We have heard that Jacob Hayes has reached an agreement with the team, but it is yet to be announced. Kyle Peters is another rider that is said to be in talks.