It is has been quite hard to keep up with everything that has gone on in the 2013 Monster Energy AMA Supercross series; the racing throughout the pack has been gripping all year. With all of the contenders on the line each week, this field is arguably the deepest that we have seen in quite some time. But, is it really? It seems as though everyone has forgotten about the riders that were unable to secure a spot on a credible team in the off-season.
Of course those riders in question are Tommy Hahn, Ivan Tedesco and Kyle Regal; three guys that have achieved a relative amount of success in their careers. Not too long ago, Hahn and Tedesco were on two of the best teams in the paddock. Now they cannot find a home under any of the tents in the paddock? To me, that does seem slightly strange. Perhaps collectively we should be looking at this in more detail, to distinguish what exactly has changed.
Admittedly, a large portion of the blame should fall on the riders themselves. During the off-season, Tommy Hahn did have a handful of offers from respected teams; however he chose to turn them down. Ultimately, this has resulted in Tommy being stuck on the sidelines thus far this year. Interestingly, at first most thought that Ivan Tedesco would be behind the gate this year; there was an announcement back in December revealing that he was supposed to join the Tedder Racing team. However, there were funding issues, which meant the deal fell through the cracks.
However, I believe that a rider like Ivan Tedesco should not have to join a team like Tedder Racing as a last resort. Sure, Ivan has not done what we expected in the 450SX class thus far, but he is a past champion! The problem is that this sport moves so quickly, that everyone is always after the next big thing; this is evident by the amount of teams that choose to delve into the amateur ranks, rather than call on a proven veteran. What about Kyle Regal? Sure, he is not on the same level as the other two riders referenced, however he is still a proven rider that should be out on-track.
Kyle has actually started to creep back into the minds of most, as rumours are beginning to surface that he will be joining the Valli Yamaha team for the second half of the season. Can you imagine how stacked the field would be with another three riders that should be in the main events? Realistically, this is a result of the poor economic situation that we face at the moment. Evidently there was a shortage of rides at the start of the year. But unfortunately, the situation has not improved; it has only worsened.
You can almost guarantee that a few more riders will find themselves in a similar position to what Hahn, and Tedesco have gone through thus far this year. Already there was a shortage of rides this year; but two more teams have folded since the first round back in January, and another team will more than likely shut up shop in May. Chaparral Honda could only make it to the third round, whilst Velocity 3 Yamaha left the series a handful of weeks ago. So that is three less rides for the riders to contend for in the next off-season.
The problem is not exclusive to the 450SX class though; the team that will probably shut up shop in May is JDR J-Star KTM, the team that is contesting the 250SX West series; this team alone has three riders. Realistically, can you see a new team taking the plunge, and jumping into the sport? I cannot. The recent track record for new teams is not great, even if they are factory supported (Chaparral Honda for example). Although things have improved in recent years, there is still a long way to go before there is a ride for every rider that is deserving of one.
Honestly, I am very interested to see how everything plays out over the next twelve months. Although the off-season is quite far away on paper, you can guarantee that some riders and agents are already shopping around for the 2014 season. Where will the seasoned veterans, and the rookies end up? Will there be enough spots on teams to go around? If they are not already, these questions will be at the forefront of the minds of most in the coming months. With riders like Jason Lawrence, and Austin Stroupe looking to break back into the sport; there will definitely be some fighting over spots on credible teams.
However, the focus right now is on the last few Monster Energy AMA Supercross rounds; in that series there is no confusion over who is the man to beat, you can guarantee that those riders that are posting impressive results will be at the top of the pecking order when it is time to negotiate deals for next year. Behind the scenes, these negotiations are already starting to heat up undoubtedly.
Words by Lewis Phillips