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10 Things: WSX at Cardiff

While the FIM World Supercross Championship has divided opinion since its announcement, with some extremely excited about this new series and others heavily deriding the project, it’s unquestionably an intriguing concept that has the potential to massively grow the sport around the globe. For the purposes of this article, we’ll be shining the spotlight on the upsides attached to WSX.


Words: Ed Stratmann | Lead Image: Supplied

Roczen’s inclusion

After failing to come to terms on a new contract and subsequently announcing his departure from HRC Honda, reportedly due to complications surrounding his desire to race WSX, Ken Roczen heads into the showpiece racing for the Honda Genuine Honda Racing team instead. One of the biggest and most popular names in the sport, the WSX crew deserve immense credit for securing the statement signing of the German legend for their inaugural season.

Adamant the time is right for him to venture overseas to race in Europe again and showcase his skills to his plethora of fans across the world, there was no swaying his decision. Choosing to stick to his guns and grasp this unique opportunity with both hands, watching where his future lies after WSX will be fascinating. For now, though, Roczen, who’s impressively won races indoors and outdoors in 2022 in America, will be focusing on claiming the SX1 (450) title in the pilot crusade of WSX, which he heads into as the undisputed favourite.

“The WSX is a unique opportunity to compete on a truly global scale, and I’m thrilled to be a part of that,” asserted Roczen. “I haven’t raced overseas in a very long time so I’m looking forward to bringing supercross to die-hard fans at these international events in 2022, all while competing for an FIM-sanctioned world title. I’m thrilled for what will no doubt be an unbelievable experience and a fantastic springboard for a full assault on my 2023 supercross and motocross championship goals.”

Tomac to wildcard

Fresh from ending his perfect year by adding the MXoN title to his AMA Supercross and AMA Motocross championships, Eli Tomac heads to Cardiff for the WSX opener full of momentum. Filling one of the wildcard berths, Tomac’s presence is a huge coup for WSX, for having arguably the fastest man on the planet in 2022 on the gate is a massive get even if he’s only competing in the Wales event. In the form of his life and riding exceptionally, he’ll certainly be a tough man to beat and bring that all-important star power alongside Roczen that’s essential to drum up excitement in the series.

“I’m pumped to be heading to Cardiff to compete in the FIM World Supercross British Grand Prix. It’s a huge opportunity for fans in the UK to witness world championship supercross for the first time, and I’m excited to be part of such a historical moment for the sport,” Tomac asserted in a press release. “While I’m definitely looking forward to going head-to-head with Ken, I also know there’s going to be a bunch of fast, talented riders from around the world all lining up for their shot at a world championship. It’s going to be an epic battle for certain.”

Brayton on board

Another fine acquisition for the series is getting supercross maestro Justin Brayton on board, for not only is he a terrific personality, but he’s also one of the finest exponents of the discipline around. Having retired from full-time racing in America earlier this year, this format is the perfect fit for the 38-year-old, who’s well versed in racing SX abroad and wants to strike a nice lifestyle balance as he winds down his career.

Although he’s getting on in terms of age, the fact he finished ninth in AMA 450 Supercross on his way to bagging nine top 10s demonstrates what a high level the SX-only star is still operating at. Set to compete in the SX1 class aboard his Honda CRF450R for MotoConcepts, expect him to be a major hit in his quest for glory.

“I’m very excited to be joining MCR for WSX. I think this is a great opportunity for teams and riders to race supercross around the world at a high level,” said Brayton to the WSX website. “I’ve been travelling the globe in the fall months racing SX-only for years now, so it’s something I’m familiar with and am looking forward to!”

Reed returning

Fiercely competitive and keen to mix it with the frontrunners, observing how Aussie legend Chad Reed fares will be captivating. Not one to ever do things by half measures, the former SX and MX superstar plans to do everything in his power to be upfront despite being 40-years-old and coming out of retirement. Indeed, the involvement of Reed will definitely be an immense drawcard and play a crucial role in ensuring more fans will be in attendance due to his status in the sport, especially for the Australian round in Melbourne.

“Opportunities like WSX don’t come along every day, I’ve seen plenty during my career, but this is super cool and something I had to be involved in,” said Reed, who’ll be riding for MDK Motorsports. “The WSX Championship going global is the biggest thing to happen to supercross in its history and hopefully highlight to everyone around the world how epic this is going to be.”

Altered racing format

Eager to limit downtime for the crowd and squeeze in as much action as possible, fans should be treated to an impressive spectacle, with the smartly devised format highlighted below set to offer some pulsating evenings of racing.

Qualifying

WSX and SX2 fields will each be split into two separate timed qualifying sessions, with individual lap times determining the order for each class’ heat races. Each qualifying session will last 10 minutes, with final laps run to completion once the 10-minute session expires.

Heat Races

WSX class heat races will determine the order for the Superpole – a time-trial format exclusive to the WSX class that will determine the order of its main event round. The top five finishers in each of the two WSX heat races will earn a spot in the 10-rider Superpole. The sixth to eleventh place finishers in each heat will fill spots 11-22 in the gate pick order for the main event, with the faster overall heat taking precedent and gate picks alternating between the remaining riders.

For the SX2 class, in the same manner as with traditional supercross formats, heat races will determine the order for the main event. Collectively, the faster overall heat will take precedent with gate pick choice for the main event alternating between the finishing order of the two SX2 heats.

Superpole

Exclusive to the WSX class, the Super Pole round will feature 10 riders – the top-five finishers from the two WSX heat races. Featuring an individual time-trial format, lap times from the Super Pole round will determine the gate pick order of the top 10 for the WSX main event races.

Main Events

Each WSX Championship round will see riders contest three ‘back-to-back’ main event races for each class, with only a short 5-minute break between each. The combined individual results determine the winner and podium spots for each Championship Round. Insisting they have constructed a “format designed to maximise racing action and overall excitement and entertainment for fans at every WSX event,” it’ll be interesting to see how this pans out once the gates drop.

Off-season races good for fans

With MXGP and racing in America in their off-season, supporters are typically thirsty for extra racing during this period, which has often come in the form of events like Paris SX, Geneva SX or AUS SX, thus making WSX a perfect option to help fill the void this year before the high profile competitions begin again in earnest. Moreover, with it being run in October, all eyes should well and truly be on the highly anticipated WSX, as they’ll be relishing stealing the limelight to breed strong initial interest. While the other above events are more exhibition style one-off races, the FIM sanctioned WSX has that key world championship series element attached to it, which should give it some additional impetus and gravitas as well.

More than just racing

Incorporating Freestyle MX and concerts from renowned musical artists, WSX promises to be a complete entertainment package. Indeed, this, in combination with the tweaked, innovative schedule from a standard AMA SX, should give the fans a memorable night out with something to appeal to all in attendance.

Full of talent throughout

On top of the aforementioned big name riders, much credit has to go to the WSX group and teams involved for signing up a host of gifted pilots. Filling out the roster with a multitude of fan favourites and established riders from all over, the likes of Dean Wilson, Justin Bogle, Phil Nicoletti, Colt Nichols, Cole Seely, Max Anstie, Kyle Chisholm, Vince Friese, Joey Savatgy, Shane McElrath, Mitchell Oldenburg, Brandon Hartranft, Freddie Noren, Chris Blose, Cade Clason, Carson Brown, Jordi Tixier, Luke Clout, Josh Hill, Wilson Todd, Josh Grant, Jace Owen and Thomas Do are set to engage in some captivating battles across the classes while showcasing their undeniable skills.

Longevity and options for career prospects

With many riders opting to race Supercross-only, the introduction of WSX gives those choosing to do so more scope to make this a viable career move. Whether it be older racers in the dying embers of their careers who want to enjoy more flexibility, riders who prefer SX or those just wanting to travel the world doing something they love, this new championship definitely adds to the choices available to riders. Able to prolong and rejuvenate their careers while enhancing their earning potential, plus give them the potential to tailor their schedules to fit their demands, there’s so much upside for the riders to benefit from as a result of WSX entering the fray. “It’s the beginning of something special that will expand supercross on a global level and give riders different/new opportunities at an international and local level. It opens a lot of doors for everyone,” aptly stated Reed.

Quality track building

Seeing as the tracks are being built by the vastly experienced Jason Baker and his team at Dream Traxx, all the signs point to the layouts being challenging and conducive for gripping racing. Hoping to strike the right balance between being a stern examination of the riders’ abilities and safety, the stated aim is of course to make the tracks replicate legitimate SX circuits like those on show in the US as much as possible. So, with this in mind, there’s every reason to believe there will be massive triples, gnarly whoops, some imaginative sections to keep things fresh and everything in between.

“The safety of our riders is paramount and track design and track conditions are arguably the most critical area where safety is concerned – no one understands that better than Jason Baker and his team at Dream Traxx,” noted Adam Bailey of SX Global. “Our intention is to use our collective experience to make adjustments that enhance the racing experience for our riders, increasing their sense of freedom and confidence on the track to ultimately bring a higher level of excitement for the fans at each and every championship round.”

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MX Vice Editor || 25