Kickstart | 2020 Motocross Team Rosters & Rumors
With a weekend off from the travel of the 2019 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, there’s no better time than now to write what we’ve heard in regards to riders and team pairings for 2020. There’s no free agency season in professional motocross, which means deals are discussed and worked out almost year-round. For a championship-caliber racer, an agreement is almost always locked up by the final stages of the Supercross season, while an up-and-coming rider has to work through the summer months to earn one of the remaining spots. Even if a pen is put to paper in June or July, the official word doesn’t come out until the fall, as the terms of most contracts are September to September. Even if the announcement isn’t made, plenty of information is passed around on any given weekend at the races and by this time of year, we have a very good idea of how the paddock will look.
2020 could have been a big year for contracts. The current deals that tie Eli Tomac, Marvin Musquin, and Ken Roczen to their respective teams were set to expire at the end of 2019 and each could command a high price from any OEM. But instead of forcing the negotiations to the breaking point, all three decided to stay put and signed extensions that could see them through the close of their careers. With those three done, the last big fish was Adam Cianciarulo. Two companies made a push for AC and he recently finalized his setup for 2020 and beyond.
There’s a lot to watch in the 250 class. A number of established young riders have decided that it’s time to part ways with the teams that they’ve spent the formative years of their careers with, so you’ll see a lot of changes come October.
If you’re a motocross superfan, then you know that everything can change at a moment’s notice. What we have written isn’t in stone, so don’t be surprised if a rider goes elsewhere.
Team Honda HRC
Ken Roczen | Remains with team, signed three-year extension through 2022
Cole Seely | At the end of current one-year contract, future uncertain
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.
Things are less clear for Cole Seely. A one-year extension with the team for the 2019 season kept Seely from a possible retirement (he considered calling it quits after his 2018 Tampa Supercross crash), but a shoulder injury from a practice crash has him back on the sidelines for the rest of the 2019 season. Will Seely step away from the sport, retain a place with Honda, or will he land a new deal with another team? That is still uncertain, but more will be figured out in the next few weeks.
The second spot at Honda is a big question and a number of riders have been linked to the team, but it sounds like nothing has been finalized. At one point it looked like Adam Cianciarulo was set for the spot, largely in part to his relationship with Roczen, but instead he’s put a deal together elsewhere. With Cianciarulo out, Joey Savatgy has emerged as the most likely candidate for the red bike, as he is nearing the end of a one-year deal with Kawasaki and has established himself as a viable second rider with podium potential.
Monster Energy Kawasaki
Eli Tomac | Remains with the team, signed two-year extension through 2021
Joey Savatgy | At the end of current one-year contract, set to depart at end of 2019
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.”
Joey Savatgy is nearing the end of his one-year deal with Kawasaki and it’s widely known that he will not be back with them in 2020, due to the advancement of Adam Cianciarulo. Not all is lost for Savatgy, though, because he’s done more than enough to earn the support of another factory team with solid results through the Supercross season and raw speed outdoors; he is said to be on the short list for Honda’s second spot.
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. Although the deal has not been announced (that’ll happen towards the end of the summer or early in the fall), Cianciarulo has signed a multi-year contract that will move him to the 450 class for 2020 and beyond.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing
Justin Barcia | Remains with team, current contract runs through 2020
Aaron Plessinger | Remains with team, current contract runs through 2020
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 for both will be the release of a revised YZ450F race bike, something that both should be racing soon.
Red Bull KTM
Marvin Musquin | Remains with team, signed two-year extension through 2021
Cooper Webb | Remains with team, current contract runs through 2020
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 a 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 presented 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
Jason Anderson | Remains with team, current contract runs through 2021
Zach Osborne | Remains with team, current contract runs through 2020
Dean Wilson | Uncertain, current contract runs through remainder of 2019
Jordan Bailey | Uncertain, current contract runs through remainder of 2019
Thomas Covington | Remains with team, current contract runs through 2020
Michael Mosiman | Uncertain, current contract runs through remainder of 2019
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 to worry about anything for next year, they have expressed a desire to stay with the brand after their current deals expire.
Dean Wilson was pulled to the factory team when Anderson was injured during the Supercross season and will finish out 2019 with them. It’s unclear-unlikely that Husqvarna has plans to have three riders in the 450 class; if they do not, Wilson will have to look elsewhere. One of the more accomplished riders in the free agency pool, we’ve heard that a move to JGRMX/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing is a very likely possibility.
Two spots of the 250 program are deemed full for 2020, with Thomas Covington holding his spot and RJ Hampshire moving to Husqvarna from GEICO Honda. Covington has missed much of the 2019 season, his first professional season in America, due to injuries and illness but he is saved by a two-year deal. As for Hampshire, it’s widely known he will part ways with GEICO Honda at the end of the summer and that he’s already signed with Husqvarna for 2020 and beyond.
That leaves current 250 riders Michael Mosiman and Jordan Bailey up in the air. Both have deals that will expire at the end of the summer and both want to stay with the team. If Husqvarna wants to follow the lead of other OEMs and field four riders in the 250 class is unclear. Mosiman is expected to extend his time with the deal, thanks to his career-best rides indoors and outdoors. Bailey, meanwhile, has had a tough go due to repeat mechanical DNFs and will have to rely on his history with the team as a bargaining tool. To add more to the situation, the team will bring current amateur Jalek Swoll to the pro ranks at some point in 2019.
JGRMX/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing
Justin Hill | At the end of current two-year contract, set to depart at end of 2019
Weston Peick | Uncertain, current contract runs through remainder of 2019
Chad Reed | Uncertain, contract was for 2019 Supercross season
Fredrik Noren | Fill-in rider through end of 2019 National season, future uncertain
Alex Martin | Remains with team, current contract runs through 2020
Enzo Lopes | Uncertain, contract was for 2019 Supercross season
Jimmy Decotis | Uncertain, contract was for 2019 Supercross season
Kyle Peters | Uncertain, current contract runs through remainder of 2019
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 and their North Carolina casino. 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 vison due to nerve damage in one eye) and it’s unclear if he will ever be able to race at a professional level again. 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’s all but confirmed that Hill will 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 recent developments indicate he will return to their rig for 2020 in what should be his final season before retirement.
Fredrik Noren has joined the team as a fill-in rider for the remainder of the 2019 outdoor season and has kept the yellow bike in the mix for top-five finishes in the 450 class. Only a few weeks into their summer-long agreement, it’s completely unclear if JGRMX or Suzuki will extend an offer of some sort to the long-time privateer in 2020.
With Hill out and Peick’s career uncertain, there is room open in the 450 class at JGRMX. Dean Wilson sounds like a possibility for one of the spots, as does Joey Savatgy. Our prediction? Wilson at JGRMX, Savatgy at Honda.
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.
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.
As for the title sponsor having an influence on the roster, the backing of Cherokee could mean that Issac Teasdale is promised a spot under the tent, likely as a 250 class competitor.
Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM
Blake Baggett | Remains with team, current contract runs through 2021
Benny Bloss | At the end of current one-year contract, future uncertain
Justin Bogle | Fill-in rider, future uncertain
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.
Justin Brayton | Remains with team, current contract runs through 2020
Malcolm Stewart | Remains with team, signed one-year extension for 2020
Vince Friese | At the end of current one-year contract, future uncertain
With direct technical support from Honda and Supercross-only program, SmarTop/MotoConcepts/Honda has become a welcome option for riders in recent years. They’ve already locked in two top riders for 2020, with the last spot likely locked up but not yet announced.
Justin Brayton has a multi-year contract that runs through the end of 2020. Brayton inked this deal in 2018 amid his career-best run of results, and he’s indicated that this could be the deal that he ends his career with.
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. Considering the close relationship between rider and team, we expect him to return in 2020.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
Adam Cianciarulo | Moves to 450 class
Martin Davalos | Pointed out of 250 class, future of career hinges on 450 ride
Austin Forkner | Remains with team through multi-year contract
Garrett Marchbanks | Remains with team through multi-year contract
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.
One of the open spots has already been filled, as Jordon Smith is set to move to the Kawasaki team. The other vacancy is still uncertain, as Kawasaki has a wealth of talent in the Team Green amateur ranks to pull from, plus the long list of current pros that will be in need of a deal.
Davalos has said he will only race in the 450 class if he has a team ride, but unfortunately, it sounds like the nerve issues in his neck could force him to retire outright.
Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha
Dylan Ferrandis | Remains with team through multi-year contract
Colt Nichols | Remains with team through multi-year contract
Justin Cooper | Remains with team through multi-year contract
Ty Masterpool | Remains with team through multi-year contract
Mitchell Oldenburg | At the end of current one-year contract, set to depart at end of 2019
Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha’s line-up won’t change much for 2020, as four of their five current riders are locked into multi-year contracts (Ferrandis, Nichols, Cooper, Masterpool). Mitchell Oldenburg is the only rider that is coming to the end of his current bid and he will not return in 2020; where he will go is not completely clear, but he has leads (Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM sounds likely).
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.
Chase Sexton | Remains with team through multi-year contract
Hunter Lawrence | Remains with team through multi-year contract
RJ Hampshire | At the end of current contract, set to depart at end of 2019
Christian Craig | Remains with team through multi-year contract
Jeremy Martin | Remains with team through multi-year contract
Four of GEICO Honda’s current riders will return in 2020 through long-standings deals, but there will be some change as RJ Hampshire departs for Husqvarna and Jo Shimoda will come to the pro ranks at some point in the year (likely the summer). There’s still one more full-time spot at GEICO Honda and that could be filled by one of the many free agents. We don’t have many leads as to who that could be yet.
Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM
Jordon Smith | At the end of current contract, set to depart at end of 2019
Shane McElrath | At the end of current contract, set to depart at end of 2019
Sean Cantrell | At the end of current contract, future uncertain
Cameron McAdoo | Fill-in rider through end of 2019 National season, likely to sign full-time in 2020
Derek Drake | Remains with team through multi-year contract
Mitchell Falk | At the end of current contract, future uncertain
Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM will have the most change of any team in the pit area. A rough 2019 will see long-time riders Smith and McElrath depart, while Cantrell seems unlikely to remain after two injury-plagued years. Drake is locked into a multi-year contract, while fill-in rider Cameron McAdoo has reportedly earned his way to a full-time deal with them in 2020. Current amateur Pierce Brown will make the full-time transition to professional racing after Loretta’s (it’s unclear if he will race after a recent shoulder injury). Falk’s contract expires at the end of 2019.
There is some uncertainty to other details at TLD KTM. We have heard there are a number of riders hopeful for a place on the team, including Oldenburg and Bailey, but what will happen needs to be worked out.
CycleTrader/Rock River Yamaha
Brandon Hartranft | At the end of current contract, future uncertain
Jacob Hayes | At the end of current contract, future uncertain
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 seems to be working in 2019, as Hartranft and Hayes have both received attention from the big 250 teams for 2020. If either rider has earned a place on a factory-backed team is still unclear, but we have to think that one of them will wind up somewhere next year. If nothing comes their way, they could easily return to CycleTrader/Rock River Yamaha.
CycleTrader/Rock River Yamaha has always supported a 450 rider through Supercross. Although we have no insight on any talks between the two, this would be a good chance for Martin Davalos to move to the 450 class.