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The Changing of the Guard?

As rookie Justin Barcia won his first ever 450 supercross at his second ever attempt in Phoenix Arizona, legends Chad Reed and James Stewart both failed to make the podium for the second weekend in a row and they didn’t even crash – that has to be some sort of record and perhaps points to a shift in the supercross hierarchy.

For the last ten years Chad Reed and James Stewart have been the big names of Supercross along with Ricky Carmichael – they are two of the best supercross riders of all time. When Stewart stepped up to the big bike class in 2005 he and Reed have been big rivals and always competing for titles, it was rare for anyone to be able to get in between them once Carmichael retired. But since 2010, neither of them have won a title since the arrival of Ryan Dungey and Ryan Villopoto.

Of course both riders were and are still challenging for titles and race wins when not injured or crashing – they are two of the greatest supercross riders ever after all! But as the years go on, these injuries and crashes, along with father time, will eventually catch up with you and maybe the next couple of years will be when it finally catches up.

It is now 2013 and as the two Ryan’s enter the prime of their career , the new wave of up and comers, led by Justin Barcia, are about to make their mark on the 450 class.

When you looked at the combined practice times of the Phoenix Supercross you discovered that Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen where going just as fast as the 450 guys on their 250f machines – it is clear than the new wave of riders coming through are riding at an unbelievable level with a very high intensity – and they are already proven on the bigger machinery.

Roczen scored a podium in last year’s supercross series on a 350 and was on the podium on a 450 at the final round of the GP season. Tomac of course showed his speed on a 450 with wins at the Monster Energy Cup and Bercy.

When you add in Dean Wilson who should have been moving up this season and Frenchman Marvin Musquin, you have four riders that will be looking to finish up front straight away in 2014.

Justin Barcia has paved the way for his peers and they will all believe they are as fast as him, so where does that leave Chad Reed and James Stewart?

Reed and Stewart’s time is coming to an end, they used to be the two main guys now they are one of the five or six main guys -next season there will be even more potential race winners.

Much like 1990 when the younger generation of Damon Brashaw and JMB came to the big bikes and left the likes of Jeff Ward and Rick Johnson behind or when Jeremy McGrath came up in 1993 and put Stanton and Bradshaw into retirement, the new wave of Barcia, Roczen, Wilson and Tomac could do the same for Chad Reed and James Stewart.

But it won’t happen just yet! The old guard are still trying to compete with the young generation but it is getting harder, so enjoy this season and maybe the next because right now it is a golden age of supercross.

There are three generations all vying to be top dog -the past, the present and the future and it is a small closing window of opportunity to witness so many top championship calibre riders on the track at the same time.

James Stewart and Chad Reed can all still win right now, but this is the changing of the guard and, in a couple of years, the old guard won’t be around anymore. This is their last stand.

Article by Jonathan McCready

MX Vice Editor || 25

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