Predictions: 2014 AMA Supercross

It has become a bit of a tradition here at MX Vice to put our predictions out there before the start of a new series. So, here is what we think is going to go down in the 2014 Monster Energy AMA Supercross series. Obviously, a lot could happen that could alter these predictions, such as crashes and mechanical issues. But, it’s a fun bit of bench-racing, which is something we love to do! So, without further ado, here are our predictions.

Lewis Phillips:

Final 450SX Series Standings:
1st Ryan Villopoto
2nd Ryan Dungey
3rd Justin Barcia

450SX Anaheim 1 Results:
1st Ryan Villopoto
2nd James Stewart
3rd Ryan Dungey

450SX Sleeper Pick: Jake Weimer

Honestly, I cannot even begin to explain how hard it was to come up with those predictions. Even now, I am not entirely confident in my choices. Why is that? Well, the class is deep; we all know that, as we have had it drummed into us for months. After finalising my top three, I then began to think about the many riders that deserve to be on the list that I had left off. It may make the result hard to predict, but it raises the level of excitement also; no one knows what is going to happen when the gate drops each week!

Although I was left baffled by a lot of what I had to predict, I am pretty much certain that the reigning champion, Ryan Villopoto, is going to be the one to beat. When the series gets to Las Vegas, very few riders are going to still be in the title fight, but you can bet that Ryan is going to be right there. Will RV win A1? Well that is a little more wide open, seeing as it is only one race. But, Ryan has had no issues this off-season. So, presumably, he is entering the series as the fastest rider, like he was at the end of last year.

Honestly, I came very close to putting James Stewart as the Anaheim 1 winner. But I thought that it was a bit of a long shot, seeing as he won just one main event last year. I think that he is going to be a lot stronger this year though, and win a few races. However, despite this, I elected to leave him off of my top three in the final series standings. Honestly, I only did this because of how inconsistent he is every year – presumably he is going to have the odd DNF. If he can somehow avoid that, he could be very dangerous.

When the final checkered flag falls at Sam Boyd Stadium in May, I would not be surprised if Justin Barcia has beaten Ryan Dungey in the standings. I believe that the two will be quite evenly matched for the most part, but it all depends on how consistent Justin Barcia is going to be. Of course, we all know that Ryan Dungey is going to be right in the thick of the battles for podium positions most weeks, hence why I think that he will pull through and end up in the runner up position at the end of the season. In my opinion, the intensity level in the premier division is going to be much higher this year, so I am interested to see how Ryan copes with this, as it is something that he struggles with.

I am fairly confident that my sleeper pick, Jake Weimer, is going to impress this year. In my mind, there is no questioning the fact that he has the speed to mix it up with the elite group. However, he has struggled translating that speed into results in recent years, as he has had a lot of issues (mainly to do with his health). So, I think that this has led most to forget about the unearthed potential that he has. In the opening three rounds last year, he finished in the top six, so I am looking for him to do that again.

Although I have not mentioned established riders like Ken Roczen, Eli Tomac and Chad Reed in the above predictions, I do think that these three guys are going to populate the podium a lot of the time. So, although they are not in my top three for either Anaheim 1 or the final series standings, I am not counting them out. You just can’t do that, they are all incredible talents!

Final 250SX Series Standings:
1st Dean Wilson
2nd Zach Osborne
3rd Cole Seely

250SX Anaheim 1 Results:
1st Cole Seely
2nd Dean Wilson
3rd Jason Anderson

250SX Sleeper Pick: Justin Hill

In my mind, Dean Wilson is the undoubted favourite for the 250SX West title. After all, he is going to be the most successful supercross rider (based on what he has achieved thus far) on the west coast. But, of course, Wilson has had a string of injuries, which has left me skeptical about how he will perform. Overall, he has not gotten too much race time under his belt in the last two years, which is worrying. Dean has recently started working with Ryan Hughes though, which seems to have rejuvenated him. Of course, time will tell, but things seem to be going well for him at the moment.

Zach Osborne was quite underwhelming in supercross last year, as he made it up onto the podium just once. However, I believe he will be much stronger this year, hence why I have him picked to finish second in the series. I expect Osborne to win maybe one or two mains, but I think his consistency will be his biggest advantage.

Honestly, I would not be surprised if the 250SX main event on Saturday turns out to be very similar to what went on in 2011. I can see Cole Seely running away with the win, whilst Dean struggles with first round jitters. Could history repeat itself? I think that Cole will be the closest to Wilson when it comes to raw speed. However, I do not know if he has the consistency to contend for a title – he always has one or two bad races. If he can make sure that his bad races are not awful, he will be a big threat, undoubtedly.

If you read some of my stuff (and there has been a lot of it this week, so check it out) then you will know that I am on the Justin Hill bandwagon. Although his rookie season was a bit underwhelming, it was by no means terrible. Justin has to be a consistent podium contender in order to meet the expectations of his team -I think that he will be able to do that easily. In fact, I would not be surprised if Hill comes out and wins a main event at some point, hence why he is my sleeper pick.

Jonathan McCready:

Final 450SX Series Standings:
1st Ryan Villopoto
2nd Ryan Dungey
3rd Ken Roczen

450SX Anaheim 1 Results:
1st James Stewart
2nd Ryan Villopoto
3rd Justin Barcia

450SX Sleeper Pick: Josh Hill

Despite being a class stacked with talent, it is hard to look past RV for the championship. Villopoto has every piece of the puzzle covered and crucially he is brilliant at performing under pressure. Even if he has a bad race at A1 it won’t affect and self-belief or his program. RV is there for the long haul.

The man who has the raw speed to push him is James Stewart but he just keeps crashing. And it is hard to see Stewart changing now. However it would be great to see a healthy James Stewart push RV all the way. I think he will be going all out to win A1 and prove to himself that he can beat RV. Stewart’s worst enemy is himself. If he can stop crashing he should be right there for the championship. I hope he can but fear he won’t.

Ryan Dungey has to change something this season I believe. Consistency just isn’t good enough anymore and Ryan will have to increase his speed or at least his aggression to really worry Villopoto for the title. Dungey can do it and will always be there or thereabouts, so it is hard to see him out of the top three in the championship.

Barcia is the guy who many expect to step up and go for the title now he has a years experience under his belt but Justin can still be prone to rash decisions and overly aggressive riding that could bit him in the long run. I expect rookies Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen to be on the same level as Barcia this season and all three can win races.

Ken Roczen is my wildcard for not just the top three but even the championship. They guy is maybe the most naturally talented rider behind James Stewart, suits a 450 and he learns quickly too. He will be riding with RV (and Dungey) during the week and, if he doesn’t get burnt out with the training, could go from strength to strength. He knows he can win too.

Eli Tomac isn’t there to be a top five guy either. His confidence is so high that he will want to win right away. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if he came close to winning A1 if he gets a start (which is questionable). But Eli has a tendency to crash big time as we saw at the MXDN and that might mean his championship challenge just comes up short.  Tomac will have the intensity of Villopoto and will be exciting to watch next season.

The guy who could get in there and shake things up is Josh Hill, he has done it before and with RC in his corner could do it again. He may just make it back to the podium and even sneak a win. He is my sleeper for the season.

Final 250SX Series Standings:
1st Dean Wilson
2nd Jason Anderson
3rd Cooper Webb

250SX Anaheim 1 Results:
1st Dean Wilson
2nd Cole Seely
3rd Jason Anderson

250SX Sleeper Pick: Darryn Durham

It’s hard to look past Dean Wilson for the West Coast 250 championship. He has experience and looked like he would win the East last year until his crash. Wilson has seen his peers move up to the 450 class now, he basically has to win this title and I think he will.

Cole Seely and Jason Anderson are the next guys in line. Both were impressive last season and both will want to not only win races but challenge for the title. Seeley could be Wilson’s biggest rival on speed but Anderson might just be more consistent.

The PC boys, Durham and Hill, will also be chasing the podium and both should get there at times. Durham has the talent to go for the title but with a year of injuries he might struggle with consistency. But if it clicks he will be up there and is my sleeper pick for the 250 West coast.

Cooper Webb will be making his debut but the Yamaha kid is pretty smooth and smart.  I expect a strong showing from Cooper with the possibility of a win along the way and definitely some podiums.

Zach Osborne has a lot of pressure and he has to step up as team leader in the West as the fast but incredibly crash happy Zach Bell as his teammate. Osborne though might not quite be able to match the raw speed of Wilson and Seeley but consistency might see him in the top three if others falter.

Words: Lewis Phillips and Jonathan McCready

Image: AMA Supercross

MX Vice Editor || 25

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