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Monster Energy Racers Set To Open AMA Pro Motocross Championship
Monster Energy’s Chase Sexton (Honda) & Jo Shimoda (Pro Circuit/Kawasaki) lead the Monster assault on pro dirt bike racing’s outdoor season
If you’re a casual fan of professional dirt bike racing, aka “motocross,” maybe a skateboard by your side, surfboard in the garage or snowboard hanging on the wall, we’re offering a combo Motocross 101 + Monster Energy racer preview story here that’ll get you up-to-speed on what’s happening this summer as the just completed Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship gets set to transition from stadiums to countryside tracks with the annual running of the AMA Pro Motocross Championship, presented by Monster Energy.
Right out of the gate, the AMA Pro Motocross Championship features pretty much all the same athletes you followed during Monster Energy AMA Supercross. A few guys that missed the SX season with injury will be back, and a few, mainly veterans, will opt out of the outdoor season with ‘supercross only’ contracts. But for the most part, it’s the same cast of the world’s premier pro motocross racers that lined up for Anaheim 1 in January, and just finished their “indoor” (or stadium) season here two weeks ago in Salt Lake City.
The AMA Pro Motocross Championship has been around for some time. One track in particular this year, Michigan’s RedBud MX, will celebrate its 50th anniversary on July 1st. Tracks on the 11-round tour that runs from the end of May through the end of August, stretch from the Pacific back to the Atlantic, dotting the Midwest and Northeastern States as well. The racers competing ride for the same factories/teams (Kawasaki, Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki, etc.), competing on the same bikes – which have been tuned to race on the longer, more rugged outdoor tracks (as compared to indoor supercross).
Famed author Earnest Hemmingway once said, about sports; “There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing and mountaineering – all the rest of merely games.” And with that said, here’ Monster Energy’s lineup of matadors, er, motocrossers, contesting the 2023 AMA Pro Motocross Championship.
Monster Energy’s Favorites:
- Chase Sexton (Honda) - Placed 2nd overall in the premier 450 class last season to Monster Energy’s Eli Tomac (Star Racing/Yamaha), who is out for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Sexton returns as one of the favorites to win the 450 class, and will be pitted out of the same truck as the other favorite – Honda’s Jett Lawrence. The Sexton and Lawrence battle will no doubt be the main focal point of the series this summer.
- Dylan Ferrandis (Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha) - Just a couple short years ago, in 2021, the French great Ferrandis was unstoppable in the 450 class, winning the championship by a whopping 73 points over Tomac. Ferrandis was injured at Anaheim 2 (Round 4) and missed the remainder of the supercross season this year. Good-to-go for the outdoors, Ferrandis, if he can remain healthy, is one of the top three threats to win the overall (with Sexton & Jett Lawrence).
- Jo Shimoda (Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki) - Last season Shimoda drove a wedge between Honda’s Lawrence brothers, topping Hunter Lawrence for 2nd place overall in the series’ 250 class title run. Shimoda missed much of the 2023 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season with an injury, but returned with some solid results. He’s definitely one of the favorites to contest for the overall 250 title this summer.
- Justin Cooper (Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha) - Always a threat to not only podium, but win in the outdoor 250 class, Cooper moved up to the 450 class for supercross with some limited success – contesting just five rounds – before shifting his focus back to the 250 class for the outdoor season. Always fast and always up front, look for Cooper to get out of the gate quickly at Fox Raceway (Pala, Calif.) this weekend.
Monster Energy’s Guys to keep a close eye on:
- Adam Cianciarulo (Monster Energy/Kawasaki) - AC’s still (reportedly) still dealing with a shoulder injury, but he came on strong at the end of the supercross season – which bodes well as he’ll be carrying the mail outdoors for Factory Kawasaki (with teammate, Monster Energy’s Jason Anderson, on the sidelines with an injury suffered during supercross). … No timeline is set on Anderson’s return for outdoors. And, with defending champion Tomac out, that’s about it for Monster Energy in the 450 class (Sexton, Ferrandis and Cianciarulo).
- On the 250s Monster Energy will be flat out stacked with talent. Beginning with the Star Racing/Yamaha program, including (with Cooper) Levi Kitchen, Haiden Deegan, Jordan Smith and Guillem Farres. Kitchen and Deegan will be fun to watch as they’re both sophomores in the class, with this being their first full season outdoors. The veteran Smith hit some high notes in supercross, and finished fast at Salt Lake City. The Spanish Farres contested a couple races and finished in the top 25 in ’22. … On the green bikes there are still a few injury situations that’ll keep the powerful Pro Circuit/Kawasaki program operating with limited numbers – at least to start the season. Along with Shimoda there’ll be Carson Mumford, who joined the team during the supercross season and put up consistent top ten finishes. And joining the team starting this weekend will be amateur MX racing legend Ryder DiFrancesco, and Jett Reynolds who, when healthy, is extremely fast outdoors. Expected to join the team in the coming weeks are Seth Hammaker, who ran in the top five often last year, and the always fast Austin Forkner.
The gate drops on the’23 Pro Motocross Championship, presented by Monster Energy, at Fox Raceway in Pala, Calif., May 27th.