Interestingly the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross schedule has been condensed this year, which means that the guys are going to have fewer breaks to recover from the challenges of racing at a professional level. Therefore, only the fittest riders will thrive when the title fight reaches Lake Elsinore. Following an intense four-week stretch of racing, the riders enjoyed a day off this past weekend before the action resumes at Budds Creek, on Saturday.
Obviously, there was no race this past weekend to discuss here. So I thought that now would be a good time to take a closer look at the riders that are hoping to turn their season around at Budds Creek on Saturday, following a dismal beginning to the season.
James Stewart (6th in the 450MX series standings):
Honestly, I do not foresee James Stewart winning a moto this year. Simply, he just is not fast enough currently. James has had a couple of opportunities to take a win or two, however he failed to capitalise; faster riders just ran him down. James was content with his performance prior to round four though, as his sole goal for this season was to be consistent. However, at the fourth round that plan fell apart as he scored just five points on the day after a fifteenth, and a mechanical failure. Evidently the start to the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross season has been quite disastrous for the rider that once went undefeated.
Broc Tickle (10th in the 450MX series standings):
In my opinion Broc Tickle is quite lucky to be in this position after four rounds. Tickle has not finished in the top ten in any of the eight races that have been run thus far, hence why it is a bit surprising that he is so high up in the points standings. However, consistency is key with a field such as this, and Broc has finished eleventh in the last three motos. Unfortunately he should be doing much more on the factory RCH Racing Suzuki, he proved that he has the speed that is needed to contend for the positions in the top ten last year. Tickle is the only rider aboard an RCH Suzuki, so I presume there that there must be some pressure on him to perform.
Chad Reed (17th in the 450MX series standings):
So, who would have thought that Chad Reed would be sat in seventeenth after the first four Lucas Oil Pro Motocross rounds? Admittedly the Chad Reed that we have seen on-track thus far, has been suffering from an illness. At the moment that is all we know, as he hasn’t gone into too much detail when discussing his problems. Chad has mentioned that he hopes to be a lot better when the series resumes after this break, however it is unlikely that he will be a top-five contender immediately, as he can still only do some light training. I still predict that he will be better than seventeenth though – he has to be.
Justin Brayton (18th in the 450MX series standings):
Justin Brayton has had an awful start to the 2013 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series; there is no real explanation for why he is buried this far down in the series standings. Brayton has never been an outdoor specialist; but he should be hovering around the top ten with guys like Broc Tickle, in my opinion. Justin has had two tenth place moto finishes so far, but aside from that his finishes have been dismal, as he has had many motos where he has failed to score points. Hopefully Justin will turn it around at Budds Creek, as he is in need of some success.
Blake Baggett (4th in the 250MX series standings):
Blake Baggett has looked like a different guy so far this season, as he has struggled to match the pace of the leaders; obviously, this is a result of the wrist injury that he sustained during supercross. However what I find surprising is that he has gone backwards since round one; I believe that this could indicate the wrist has struggled through four successive rounds. But I do think this means that he will be in podium contention on Saturday, which is where Blake belongs. If he is going to contend for the title, he has to step it up soon, as the top three are pulling away.
Blake Wharton (14th in the 250MX series standings):
Intriguingly, Blake Wharton went in for nose surgery prior to round one, which hindered him through the first few rounds. Despite this, I expected him to have some better showings thus far; he hasn’t really shown that he has a lot of raw speed. High Point was the worst round for him, so he will be looking to rebound from that at Budds Creek. Now that Wharton has had a weekend off, I expect to see him inside of the top ten from this point onwards, which is what he is expected to do. In my opinion, he should be battling on the edge of the top five with his teammate, Jason Anderson.
Cole Seely (15th in the 250MX series standings):
Although Cole Seely is buried quite far down in the points standings, he proved at High Point that he has the potential to run up front, which has to have motivated him through the week off. High Point didn’t go to plan, as he crashed out of moto one and could only salvage seven points in the second moto, which must have dropped him down a handful of positions in the standings. Seely doesn’t have a lot of credibility outdoors, but he did get on the podium back in 2010; there is no doubt in my mind that he can be battling for positions inside the top ten.
Nico Izzi (18th in the 250MX series standings):
Unfortunately, the first four rounds of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross were disastrous for Nico Izzi, and he is unable to resurrect his season as he has been forced to sit out the rest of the year, because he has reinjured the knee that kept him out of supercross. Nico caught his foot in a rut at High Point, and tore his ACL as a result. Prior to that, his best moto result had been an eleventh, which is very good when you consider he was just building himself back up. Whilst everyone was preparing for Hangtown, reports from California indicated that Izzi was really fast. But now we won’t find out if he could have translated that into a race situation, sadly.
Words by Lewis Phillips