WSX preview: Who can stop Roczen in WSX and can Anstie become SX2 world champ?

WSX is back, bigger and better for 2023 with it’s unique format and a series that seeks to showcase itself and the sport of supercross to the world by going around the world. Supercross is going global and it’s about time! It’s new, it’s shiny and it’s intriguing. All eyes will be on it, supporters and sceptics alike as the series carves a unique path in the sport that more and more riders may well be seduced by.

Global superstar, Ken Roczen, has already said racing AMA SX and world supercross is a way to extend his career and he will commence the defence of his WSX title with a big bold number one on a Suzuki and as the resounding favourite for the title.

When you take into account his supercross season and the level he showed a couple of weeks ago at High Point outdoors with barely any prep, it bodes well for an on-form Roczen, who has spent a lot of time on a supercross track and will be ready to rock in the UK this weekend at the iconic Premier League football ground of Aston Villa, Villa Park. Roczen the is the Man City of the WSX series but can anyone do a Leicester City and take an unexpected title?

Justin Hill is a prime candidate of those best positioned to challenge Roczen, after two years off he showed good top ten speed in AMA supercross and gradually got faster and faster as the season went on, finally landing on the podium as a privateer and showing raw speed on the factory level. Hill has the talent and with the three short race format, it could be right up his avenue to play spoiler.

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Joey Savtagy made is close last year and was very good in the first half of the AMA SX season, he will be a factor and this is a big priority for his season with the Rick Ware Racing squad. Colt Nicholls had a decent 450 rookie season at times aside from some injuries, but I believe he still has a lot more to give and if he clicks with the Kawasaki could prove some must see moments, Nichols is a supercross specialist and should be a big factor in WSX this season.

Justin Brayton and Vince Friese provided the drama at the final round last season with Friese going for the take-out on Brayton to win the title but taking them both down! The normally mild mannered Brayton was furious and they are no longer teammates with Brayton on Firepower Honda alongside Dean Wilson. The Scot will be back in front of the British home crowd and although he hasn’t been riding long after arm pump surgery, will be amped up to perform on a bike he now knows much better than his first race on the machine in 2022 in Cardiff.

Josh Hill shouldn’t be ruled out for some eye catching riders, he looked more comfortable on the Yamaha last year in WSX than he did on the KTM in supercross but was still capable of top tens and has just got his feet wet with some French supercross last weekend – and don’t forget he did the quad in Cardiff last year along with Roczen! You can’t sleep on those skills.

The biggest question mark in Cole Seely, he has moved up to the 450 after a tough 250 campaign in WSX last year but his AMA rides weren’t that impressive earlier in the year – but he should be a lot better prepared now. Seely has the skills, a former factory Honda riders who is an excellent supercross technician, if the feel is back and the starts are there there, Seely could be a surprise package.

Former MX2 world champ Jordi Tixier is back and has focused on this season, can he get amongst the Americans and will Matt Moss make his presence felt? The Aussie always has speed as has Cedric Soubeyras and Thomas Ramette but it’s a big jump to get the AMA regulars pace – let’s see if they have made the step up.

Image: WSX

The SX2 title race is exciting. Shane McElrath is back on a 250 where he looks much more at home than the 450 but British home favourite this weekend, Max Anstie, will think this is his chance to win a major title. Anstie was in superb form last year in WSX and in America this year including that East Rutherford win, now is his chance to get a title for the Firepower Honda team to cap a brilliant 2023 season.

Image: WSX

But it won’t be just those two, Aussie Aaron Tanti impressed me a lot last year in Cardiff and is highly skilled indoors, we all saw Enzo Lopes speed in the US supercross series and he will see this as a chance at a title with Luke Clout, the always there Chris Blose, Mitchel Oldenburg and the evergreen Justin Bogle all capable of getting in the mix. But Kyle Peters could really be the guy to watch, he has supercross experience with Arenacross titles to his name and will be eyeing up the title.

The wildcard in all this is Mike Alessi! He hasn’t race supercross for years but has done some Arenacross recently and his starts are always great – it could be the recipe for maximum entertainment as Mike tries to roll back the years against the current generation!

Words: Jonathan McCready