GoPro athletes James Stewart and Ryan Villopoto, along with GoPro-backed teams Rockstar Energy Racing and Troy Lee Designs Honda, are ready to chase down motocross glory…
Although the candles have barely been extinguished at the finish line of the final Supercross race of the season, the anticipation for the outdoor motocross series grows faster than purse money burnt at the tables in Vegas after the main events. Only two weeks after the Supercross series finale, the sport’s elite must switch gears and line up for the opening round of the outdoor motocross series. Racers must transition the finesse of stadium racing to the abusive war of attrition of outdoor motocross.
The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship represents the tradition and heritage that serves the foundation of off-road motorcycle racing, and it also proves to be the most grueling, intense racing in all of motorsports. Two 30-minute-plus motos in intense heat and humidity wreak havoc on the racers’ bodies, and with 12 races in the series, only the strongest can survive and win.
For GoPro athletes, the 2013 Pro Motocross Championship serves as pivotal as any previous series. For some, it is a chance to prove themselves, while for others it symbolizes a fresh start or rebirth. And for guys like Ryan Villopoto and James Stewart, it is their chance to remind the masses of their dominance.
After winning the 2012 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship, Ryan Villopoto suffered a season-ending knee injury, forcing him to sit out the entire outdoor series. He watched from the couch as his rivals battled it out on the track week after week. He wasted little time, however, before diving back into his rehabilitation and training. Exactly a year later, RV2 has yet another Supercross championship and is as ready as ever to attack the motocross track.
Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart is also looking to reclaim his seat at the head of table. After racing to a perfect season of 24 straight moto victories and being named the SPEED Athlete of the Year in 2008, Stewart has struggled to rekindle the momentum. Injuries and disagreements with his bike have harbored JS7’s winning ways, but 2013 marks the opportunity to regain some of the magic he left behind in ’08.
In 250 class action, GoPro-backed teams Rockstar Energy Racing and Troy Lee Designs Honda will be vying for podium supremacy. Troy Lee’s Cole Seely and Jessy Nelson will be joined by 250 freshman Shane McElrath, who looks to parlay his amateur success to the professional ranks. McElrath will likely look to Nelson for advice, as Nelson enters his sophomore season and still has his rookie season fresh in memory. Seely, who sat out the 2012 due to injury, is looking for a rebirth of sorts, and a return to form. He has enjoyed some success in Supercross and some flashes of brilliance outdoors, but is excited to develop some momentum this season and chase down a championship.
Jason Anderson, Blake Wharton, and Ryan Sipes of the Rockstar Energy Racing team will be lining up alongside the Troy Lee team on the starting gate, and have their plans and championship hopes. Wharton and Anderson finished the 2012 season in seventh and eighth place overall respectively, and will be unsatisfied with anything less than a championship this year. Both put in strong performances in Supercross this year, and need only a good start to run at the front of the pack. Sipes, meanwhile, will make the jump up to the 450 in place of injured teammate Davi Millsaps. Sipes has experience already on the 450, so he should enjoy a smooth transition to the bigger bore machine.
In another interesting twist, Malcolm Stewart (James’ little brother) has joined the Troy Lee Designs Honda team in place of injured 450 racer Christian Craig, so he will line up next to his big brother for the first time in professional competition. The Stewart family has to be excited about the possibility of brothers sharing the podium this year.