2023 Pro Motocross | Who Is Racing This Summer?
The 2023 Pro Motocross Championship kicks off an eleven-round, four-month, cross-country run this weekend in Southern California. All of the staple tracks are still on the schedule and competitors will go at it for 30-minutes plus two laps a total of 22 times this summer, but one big question remains: what teams and riders are actually racing? Here’s a list of the factory/satellite/OEM-affiliated teams that should be on the line at the opening round.
Red Bull KTM
450 Class | Cooper Webb & Aaron Plessinger
250 Class | Tom Vialle & Max Vohland
Red Bull KTM will be at full strength for the start of the season. Cooper Webb was deemed fit from the Nashville concussion much earlier than expected and is in for all eleven rounds, while Aaron Plessinger’s podium at the SX finale proved that he’s up to speed.
Two-time MX2 world champion Tom Vialle will make his first visits to the US tracks alongside Max Vohland as part of the 250 Class.
250 Class | Derek Kelley & Joshua Varize
The West Coast dealership-run team will support Kelley and Varize for another full summer. Varize sat out the last rounds of Supercross due to injury but has been on the bike for a few weeks.
Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/Rides Unlimited
250 Class | Slade Smith, Max Miller & Ethan Lane
The amateur-based team maintains a presence in the professional ranks with three young riders in the 250 Class.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing
250 Class | RJ Hampshire, Jalek Swoll & Talon Hawkins
450 Class | Malcolm Stewart & Christian Craig (Injured)
Husqvarna’s factory squad was riddled with injuries through the first part of the year, and they’re still dealing with the issues going into the summer, with only three of the original five riders and none in the 450 Class. Jalek Swoll returns to action after missing the entire SX season with a broken arm, and Talon Hawkins will continue his first entire season as a professional. Despite heavy speculation RJ Hampshire would be bumped to the big bike for the summer, a chance to contend for the title will keep him in the 250 Class.
Christian Craig and Malcolm Stewart are in the latter stages of recovery from significant injuries (elbow dislocation for Craig, destroyed knee for Stewart) and may be back on the line later in the season. It’s unlikely the team will hire fill-in riders for the vacant motorcycles.
Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS Factory Racing
450 Class | Justin Barcia
250 Class | Michael Mosiman, Caden Braswell & Pierce Brown (Injured)
The factory squad sat out the final races of Supercross due to injuries but are back with three riders, albeit one fill-in, for the first round of outdoors. Justin Barcia’s rehab from a broken shoulder seems to have gone well; he’s been in California briefly, just long enough to ride with the team, and was added to the provisional entry list for the 450 Class early in the week.
Michael Mosiman took a much-needed break after Daytona but has been back on the bike for a while and working with the team in California.
Pierce Brown’s rehab for a busted hand and torn meniscus will continue for another month, giving Caden Braswell a four-race fill-in role. Braswell, a first-year pro who recently split with Phoenix Racing Honda, has been getting used to the red bike and the race team in California for the last few weeks.
Team Honda HRC
450 Class | Jett Lawrence & Chase Sexton
250 Class | Hunter Lawrence & Chance Hymas
Chase Sexton’s newly-earned champion status, Jett Lawrence’s move to the 450 Class, Hunter Lawrence’s elevated expectations, and Chance Hymas’ move to the pro class are just some of the things happening at Team Honda HRC right now, and with all that, they should be the center of attention at the opening round.
An injury-depleted field has intensified the Sexton and Lawrence match-up; it was already an ideal scenario of equal equipment and eleven rounds in varied conditions for Sexton’s speed and experience from the 2022 season to be tested by Lawrence’s potential and past outdoor success.
Hunter Lawrence continues along the multi-year plan set by Team Honda HRC with another summer in the 250 Class, and he’ll be the example for new pro Chance Hymas to follow.
Monster Energy Kawasaki
450 Class | Adam Cianciarulo & Jason Anderson (Injured)
Adam Cianciarulo will get plenty of attention at the opening round: he’ll be Kawasaki’s lone factory rider in the premier class and a central figure of Fox Racing’s roll-out for special edition gear at the company’s home race.
Jason Anderson will miss the opening stint of the summer to further heal displaced fractures of multiple vertebrae in his neck.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
250 Class | Jo Shimoda, Ryder DiFrancesco, Jett Reynolds, Carson Mumford & Seth Hammaker (Injured)
Pro Circuit had more than its share of misfortune through Supercross, and at one point, the team’s entire original roster was injured. They’re still working through some issues, like getting Austin Forkner back on the bike after a knee injury, Cameron McAdoo’s year-ending shoulder dislocation, and Seth Hammaker’s ongoing rehab for a damaged wrist, but they will have plenty of bikes on the track at the start of the summer.
Jo Shimoda raced his way into shape at the final rounds of Supercross and is a favorite for race wins and the 250 Class title.
Longtime Team Green prodigies Ryder DiFrancesco and Jett Reynolds will step up to the pro ranks full-time this summer. Both are coming back from injuries (DiFrancesco – thumb, Reynolds – wrist) and have lined up at recent amateur events to regain race experience.
Interestingly, Pro Circuit has only one name on the current provisional entry list: fill-in rider Carson Mumford.
Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha
450 Class | Dylan Ferrandis
250 Class | Justin Cooper, Haiden Deegan, Jordon Smith, Levi Kitchen, Guilleum Farres
Despite being down a few riders, including defending outdoor champion Eli Tomac and 250 Class talent Stilez Robertson and Nick Romano, Star Racing will be one of the biggest teams in the pits through the summer and should have six bikes on the track at the opening round.
Multi-time AMA MX champion Dylan Ferrandis will be the team’s contender in the 450 Class. A severe concussion sidelined the rider for most of Supercross, but he’s been back on the bike for roughly a month and has focused on regaining the number one plate.
Justin Cooper will make one more run at the 250 MX title this year but will face stiff competition from teammates Haiden Deegan (2023 will be his first entire season of MX), Levi Kitchen (won the overall at Thunder Valley in 2022), Jordon Smith (did not race outdoors in 2022), and Guilleum Farres (a Spanish rider the team signed in 2022).
250 Class | Jeremy Martin, Garrett Marchbanks, Preston Kilroy
450 Class | Phil Nicoletti (Injured)
The East Coast team is determined to run at the front in the 250 Class and have three riders ready for the challenge. Jeremy Martin, a two-time 250 MX champion, will lead the charge alongside Garrett Marchbanks and Preston Kilroy, a duo that missed all of Supercross due to broken wrists.
Enzo Lopes will not race outdoors but remains part of the team through its expansion into World Supercross.
Phil Nicoletti is still on the mend from an arm injury and is slated for a return to action in the 450 Class at some point in the summer.
Rock River Racing
250 Class | Colton Eigenmann
450 Class | Grant Harlan & Luca Marsalisi
Three riders will be under the Illinois dealership’s rig at the opening round, as Grant Harlan and Luca Marsalisi aboard the all-new 2023 YZF in the 450 Class and Colton Eigenmann as part of the 250 Class.
Twisted Tea/Progressive Insurance/Suzuki
450 Class | Fredrik Noren, Marshal Weltin & Kyle Chisholm
HEP Motorsports made a few changes to its program in the middle of the year, partly due to its commitments to WSX and Pro Motocross. Ken Roczen’s personal arrangement with organizers of WSX means he will not race all of Pro Motocross as initially planned, and the team has decided not to field any riders in the 250 Class outdoors (PMG will have two SX2 riders for WSX, as mandated by the series rules).
Marshal Weltin has been bumped to the 450 Class and will be joined by new addition Fredrik Noren for all eleven rounds of the nationals. Kyle Chisholm will line up for select outdoor races, including the season opener, as well as WSX.
250 Class | Dilan Schwartz & Robbie Wageman
450 Class | Derek Drake
BARX Suzuki also shuffled around some things ahead of the summer, as they picked up Dilan Schwartz from HEP Motorsports to race alongside Robbie Wageman in the 250 Class and moved Derek Drake to the 450 Class.
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