Talking point: Should AMA National teams look at National riders outside the US in the future?
Whilst the 250cc class in the AMA Nationals this year is strong, the 450cc class is as weak as it’s been for a number of years but there are a few reasons for this.
Firstly, they’ve been unfortunate with injuries with the likes of Anderson, Barcia, Tomac and Craig out injured at the moment. Some of which won’t even return to race the Nationals which is a shame. People are critical when there’s low rider entries in MXGP but at times this is because of injuries and you have to be honest, injuries are affecting the level of AMA 450cc class this year. Yes, there might be 40 riders behind the gate but the quality isn’t at it’s usual level at the front. It’s a shame because Tomac V Sexton V Lawrence could have been great!
Aside from the injuries, the World Supercross series is also having some sort of impact. Ken Roczen has decided to sign up to the full WSX series meaning he won’t race the AMA Nationals although the German hasn’t ruled out racing a couple. Joey Savatgy is another very good rider opting to race WSX but you’d have to say Roczen is the only elite level rider to choose WSX as oppose AMA Nationals. The other riders would just help the depth of the 450cc AMA Nationals class.
Looking at the 450cc AMA Nationals this year, you just have to look at the likes of Jose Butron and Lorenzo Locurcio who are both no doubt good riders but currently sit sixth and seventh in the standings after two rounds. Locurcio has AMA National experience in the past but Butron is racing these tracks for the first time. The Spaniard has just been concentrating racing the National championship in Spain the past few years and whilst he’s still fast probably thought the best days of his career were in the past but he’ll be loving running in the top ten of the AMA Nationals and it’ll certainly be good for his motivation.
Another example is Fredrik Noren who is currently tenth in the standings and even French rider, Romain Pape is sixteenth and has scored points in three out of four moto’s.
Looking ahead to 2024, firstly, the level should hopefully be higher than it is this year with hopefully less injuries although with the injuries in Supercross high this isn’t always a guarantee. But there should be riders making the jump up from the 250cc class such as Hunter Lawrence and hopefully Justin Cooper finally making the move up.
However, should AMA National teams be having a look at riders in Europe that don’t race MXGP and focus on National racing similar to Jose Butron? Just look at the MX1 British Championship for example… the likes of Harri Kullas, Conrad Mewse and Josh Gilbert are fast and don’t race MXGP at the moment. They would probably love to have the opportunity with an AMA National team and Gilbert raced selected rounds of the series last year running in the top twelve when the class was tougher. AMA teams could offer them a salary and then they’d get prize money as well, it could be a win-win as these riders despite not racing MXGP full time specialize in racing Motocross.
Looking further a field there’s also French riders that are strong and could be competitive in the MX1 class. Stephen Rubini and Pierre Goupillon would be two very good options, whilst both might prefer racing a 250cc they’d have a real good chance of results in the 450cc class in America. There has actually been rumours both could race a couple of AMA Nationals at the end of this year after the French Elite series finishes so it could be a chance for America to see their speed.
Other championships such as the ADAC MX Masters and Dutch Masters have fast riders that could be considered as well. There’s also championships outside Europe that could be looked at, the MX1 class in Australia is very competitive with the likes of Todd Waters, Dean Ferris and Jed Beaton competing. In Canada, Dylan Wright could also be looked at.
It’ll be interesting to see how the AMA Nationals future looks and especially if World Supercross continues to grow but for the moment the factory teams do remain behind the AMA series…
Article: Andy McKinstry