If you read the first part of our 450SX preview yesterday, you will know just how stacked the 450SX class is going to be in the 2014 Monster Energy AMA Supercross series. In the run-up to Anaheim 1, the title contenders have hogged the spotlight. However, there are going to be a lot of riders behind them trying to break into that elite group.
All of those riders in the second tier are going to be quite equal, I believe. I do not think that anyone in that group is going to step up and become a consistent top three guy, like Millsaps did in 2013. Andrew Short topped the second tier last year; he finished seventh in the series, and consistently finished in the top ten. Obviously, that is going to be much harder to do this year with the extra rookies that have joined the premier division. Like Dungey, Andrew is not the type of rider that rides on the edge, which could hurt him. But then again, Short may rise to the occasion; it is going to be interesting to watch.
Broc Tickle is in a similar position to Andrew, as he too is a solid, consistent rider that cannot break out of his comfort zone. However, I would not be surprised at all if Broc broke through this year; it sounds like he really has the desire to do so! Tickle has Carmichael in his corner, I am sure that the GOAT has been pushing his rider very hard throughout the off-season. They [RCH Racing] have a very strong team, which is really going to help Broc and his teammate, Josh Hill. Hill is going to be interesting to watch; he may end up breaking into the top group at some points – he has the speed. Whether he is going to stay consistent remains to be seen, though.
I have always thought that Jake Weimer could do some damage, especially in supercross; he has a 250SX West title under his belt, so he is clearly capable. Jake has encountered a lot of issues in his short 450SX career, which have hindered his overall results. However, most fans seem to forget that he finished in the top six at the first three rounds of the series last year. I believe that he could do that consistently, if he can avoid injury. Maybe Jake will get shuffled back a little bit, because of the rookies entering the series. But, he has the potential to be on the bubble at most of the rounds – I honestly believe that.
The JGR Yamaha duo of Josh Grant and Justin Brayton are going into the new season under the radar, despite the fact that both guys should be running inside of the top ten, more often than not. Already I have named more than ten riders that will be hoping to post consistent top ten finishes. So, a lot of guys are going to be on the outside looking in – it will be interesting to see how these riders cope with this. Justin will be solid each week; supercross is definitely his forte. Although he may not blow your mind with his speed, he will have a good spot at the end of the season thanks to his consistency. Like Josh Hill, Grant could surprise some people, but he has to stay injury-free, which has proven to be troublesome for him in the past.
It seems that a lot of people have very high expectations for Wil Hahn this year. However, in my honest opinion, I think that he may struggle. If he can break into the top ten consistently by the end of the season, I believe that his year can be considered a success. I just cannot see him moving into the elite group like some think he will – Hahn should be battling it out with guys like Tickle. Wil is a great starter, so this will have a positive affect on his results, I am sure.
Mike Alessi is definitely the most underrated rider going into the 2014 Monster Energy AMA Supercross series – no one is talking about him! I am sure that most do not consider Alessi a threat, because of his lack of success indoors. It will be interesting to see how he fares at A1, as no one really knows what he has been doing in recent weeks; Mike has managed to avoid the spotlight for the most part. If I had to, I would predict that he will finish around fifteenth a lot of the time. Sure, he will break into the top ten occasionally. But, the class is so stacked that it will be extremely tough to do it consistently.
In my opinion, Matt Georke could be a wildcard this year – he really surprised a lot of people last year. However, I am slightly skeptical about how his wrist injury from last year is going to affect him. Although Georke is healthy now, he did struggle when he returned in the nationals last year. If he truly is one hundred percent, I believe he will be pushing the top of this second tier.
In recent years, Weston Peick has gained a lot of new fans, so I am sure that he will be under the spotlight a lot this season. I think that he will be fighting with riders like Alessi a lot of the time, but I think he will break into the top ten at a few of the rounds – he has the speed. I wonder whether his equipment (a privateer Suzuki effort) will be up to par, though; this could be his greatest problem.
Although Jimmy Albertson spent a lot of last year on the sidelines, I am quite excited to see what he can do this year. Jimmy posted some great results in 2013, before he got injured; I see no reason why he cannot do that again – he may even be able to step it up a bit. Firstly, he has to put his CRF450 in the main event, each week; this has to be his primary goal – the same goes for Nick Wey.
So, there you have it – our full preview of the 450SX class in the 2014 Monster Energy AMA Supercross series. Of course, there were not enough words to cover all the riders; guys like Ivan Tedesco (depending on how long he rides for), Ben Lamay, Chris Blose, Kyle Chisholm, Kyle Partridge, Phil Nicoletti and Les Smith, to name a few, will be right in the mix each week. The 450SX class is stacked, evidently. Roll on Saturday!
Words: Lewis Phillips
Image: AMA Supercross