If the Eli Tomac that stormed his way to the 450 Class title last season makes a return appearance this summer, the rest of the field is in trouble. Pro Motocross seems to cater to Tomac’s aggressive approach. He’s an absolute bulldog on the racetrack, pounding laps and ripping through the track unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. He has a gifted ability to make dramatic increases in pace late in motos when others are simply hoping to log consistent laps, and because of that, it really doesn’t matter where he starts. At more than 30 minutes per moto, there’s more than enough time for Tomac to ascend to the top, and it happened continuously over the course of last summer.
Tomac carries a unique skillset. While his technical savvy is elite, his ability to let it hang out is world class. It’s easy to see the influence of his Hall of Fame mountain biking father, Jon, in his riding. Tomac does things on the racetrack that leaves us speechless, and it’s a pleasure to watch it unfold. That’s why it’s easy to see why this summer’s 450 Class title is his to lose. He’s on a distinctly higher level than his competitors, and he can really only beat himself when it comes down to it. With 17 career wins under his belt, Tomac already sits seventh on the all-time 450 Class wins list, but it’s not out of the question to think that by the conclusion of this summer he’ll have climbed his way up to third, sitting behind only the two greatest Pro Motocross riders in history, Ricky Carmichael and Ryan Dungey.
While Tomac understandably grabs all the attention as we head into another Pro Motocross season, the contingent if Monster Energy athletes ready to line up on the gate for 12 rounds of grueling action is nothing to take lightly. Joining Tomac in the 450 Class is a fellow veteran in Justin Barcia. As the most recent winner in Pro Motocross you can argue that “Bam Bam” is carrying the momentum into Hangtown. Since his move to Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing last season, Barcia has enjoyed a rejuvenation of his career. He’s better outdoors than people give him credit for, and could easily assert himself in the thick of the title fight, looking to improve upon his fourth-place finish in the championship last season.
Complementing this veteran duo is a pair of rookies with aspirations to go bar-to-bar with their big-bike rivals. Aaron Plessinger is the defending 250 Class Champion. His potential has been realized, and the move to the bigger, more powerful Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing machine should be favorable for the lanky young rider. He was built to ride a 450, and he excels in the rough conditions of Pro Motocross. For Joey Savatgy, his underrated success in Pro Motocross, combined with the opportunity to learn from Tomac at Monster Energy Kawasaki, should combine for a solid season that many wouldn’t expect. It was a similar situation in supercross, and Savatgy used the lack of attention to his advantage to grab Rookie of the Year honors. Don’t sleep on Savatgy.
Unfortunately, for both of these rookies their seasons will start a little late as they recover from injury, but their eventual debuts are highly anticipated.
In Plessinger’s absence, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing has tabbed multi-time Australian National Champion Dean Ferris to step in. No one in the Land Down Under has been more dominant than Ferris in recent years, and hundreds of thousands of rabid Aussies will cheer on their champ as he tests his mettle against the world’s best.
As if the 450 Class contingent wasn’t strong enough, the group of 250 Class riders is loaded. With Plessinger making the move up, there’s a title vacancy in the small displacement, with a long list of hungry riders eager to break through for the first national title of their career. There is not a former champion in the 250 Class field, which sets the stage for what is sure to be an incredible, wide-open battle all summer long.
With two wins to his credit, you could argue that one of the favorites to emerge triumphant at season’s end is Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing’s Dylan Ferrandis. The Frenchman enjoyed a breakout season last summer, earning his first wins on U.S. soil, and most recently captured an improbable supercross title. He’s riding high on a wave of confidence entering Pro Motocross, and it could prove to be crucial to building a solid foundation for a potential 250 Class title run.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo is one of the most experienced riders in the 250 Class field, and the level of expectation that has surrounded him since he’s turned pro will reach its tipping point this summer. Many believe this is the summer where it all comes together for Cianciarulo, and based on how much he won in supercross, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him take this championship by the horns and try to run away with it.
The rest of the Monster Energy lineup is a mix of experience and promising talent. No one has logged more laps of Pro Motocross competition than Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Martin Davalos, and while he’s coming into the season under the radar, perhaps this is the year we see “Marty” break through for that first career win. His sophomore teammate Garrett Marchbanks continues to develop, and there’s no better place to learn than under the tutelage of Mitch Payton at Pro Circuit.
Monster Enegry/Star/Yamaha Racing has won four of the past five 250 Class championships, and while Ferrandis has garnered much of the attention, defending Rookie of the Year Justin Cooper has the makings of being a future star. Cooper showed flashes of brilliance throughout the summer last season, and his outright speed might be the best in the division. With a year of experience under his belt, who knows what he might accomplish in 2019. Perhaps no rider is more underrated than Colt Nichols, whose quiet confidence makes him one to keep an eye on every time the gate drops. The team’s fourth rider, Mitchell Oldenburg, is one of many riders on the mend after a tough supercross season, but when he returns “Freckle” has the speed to compete with the best of the division.
Collectively, the Monster Energy lineup is destined to achieve even more success after a dominant supercross season. Wins should come easy, and the odds of a sweep of each Pro Motocross title are promising.