The supercross season is all over, but don’t worry folks because the great outdoors is starting up this weekend at Hangtown! If the 2017 SX season was any indicator of how the nationals are going to run then we are in for a very very good season.
The 450 class lost an elite rider in Ryan Dungey this week and while it may seem like this opens the door for an exciting season, Eli Tomac is not clearly the favourite to not only win this title, but dominate all summer. With Roczen and Dungey out, who is going to step up and be the new front runners? Here are my full 450 rankings for the nationals:
1. Eli Tomac (Monster Energy Kawasaki)
No surprise here. If there is anybody that doesn’t have Tomac as the favourite this summer, they must be out of their mind because this is the only correct answer now that Dungey is done. In Supercross, Tomac was blazing fast for the majority of the season and now he steps outdoors to where he has actually shown that speed before? Yeah it’s over folks. He’s not going to win every moto, but he’s going to be damn close. Remember in 2015 when he started off with 5 straight moto wins before crashing out of the series? That is the only way Tomac loses this title and I think a more mature Tomac will just race through these outdoors as smoothly as possible. We might be in for a boring season in the 450 class.
2. Marvin Musquin (Red Bull KTM)
It may be boring for the top position, but this could very very exciting to see who takes this runner up position. My guess is Marvin Musquin. Yeah I know I’m not really going out on the limb here as he is the safest bet, but I just had to pick him. He upped his game this year in Supercross in his sophomore season so why not do it again outdoors? I think he pulls through and wins his first ever overall this year or at least win a moto or two. With Dungey gone, Musquin take the reigns of Red Bull KTM as their top guy. I wonder if this will also raise his performance as he is now THE GUY. If anybody has the ability to at least make this series a little bit interesting, it is Marvin Musquin.
3. Blake Baggett (Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM)
Blake Baggett will be super fast this summer. He will be a top 3 guy almost every weekend. Stamp it. Just look at how much he improved this year in Supercross! There was times that I was talking about Baggett among the likes of Dungey and Tomac, like that is how good he was. Little mistakes here and there cost him, but the speed was definitely there. I don’t quite think he will have the steadiness of Musquin to get that second spot on my rankings or have the balls out speed to beat Tomac. However, let us remember that Baggett beat the likes of Tomac and Roczen in a 250 MX series annnnd he straight up beat Tomac as close as last year in the first moto at Hangtown. I’m not saying he will do it again, but all we can do is hope! Regardless he will be very very good.
4. Jason Anderson (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna)
Anderson’s outdoor season was an eventful one to say the least. He started very well with 4 podiums in 8 motos, but then broke his collarbone at round 4. He was only able to make it back for the last race where he went 5-5 and then propelled himself to an outstanding win at the motocross des nations. Then he got landed on… After he had already won… Well I see Anderson as the last guy of the contenders. He could easily get top 5s and podiums every round, but like the other two guys above him, I don’t see him beating Tomac. Watch for Anderson to continue his momentum from the end of Supercross.
5. Cole Seely (Honda HRC)
Seely has always been known as a Supercross specialist, but I think recently he has shown us that he can ride outdoors great as well. Last year it seemed like it was going to be a breakout year for him, but an injury left him only racing in 5 events. He has never scored an overall podium, but I think that will change this year if he remains healthy. I am expecting big things from Seely this summer, but the problem currently, is that he may not be very healthy. He injured his leg at the end of Supercross and by the sounds of it, it’s not fully healed quite yet. We will have to see if this hampers his results on the first few rounds.
6. Cooper Webb (Monster Energy Yamaha)
A lot of questions for the Factory Yamaha rookie as he enters his first summer on the big bikes. Will he adapt to the outdoors better then he did Supercross? Will he have some great podium finishes and then some weekends be underwhelming? Are the rumours about Webb not flying at the test tracks true? Will the extra prep time he had during Supercross help him now? Will he get lonely with Yamaha only having one rider at the races? So like I mentioned, there has been some talk about Webb being underwhelming at the test tracks. You can never fully believe these rumours, but it definitely doesn’t make me think he is going to be great… I think this summer will be similar to Supercross with some ups and some downs. I expect him to be from 4-8th most of the time.
7. Justin Barcia (JGR Suzuki)
Justin Bam Bam Barcia is quite the spectacle. This supercross season was bad to say the least. Especially for a rider that is being paid big money to perform and win races. I’ll be honest, I’m not a Barcia fan. He rides way to aggressive that it actually passes the point of being aggressive to just being stupid sometimes. I would love to say that he is going to suck this summer, but honestly I think he will actually step it up quite the bit. He always does better outdoors and I definitely don’t think he’ll be up there with Tomac, but I could see him putting in some good rides and getting a few podiums. I look for him to be in the top 10 every weekend just dirtying the likes of a Wilson or Tickle.
8. Josh Grant (Monster Energy Kawasaki)
Alright so I have decided on my dark horse of the series… Josh Grant. We all know how Grant is the type of rider that can just get a holeshot and just find another level and possibly even win. Do I think he will be constantly up front on the podium? Obviously not because I have him back in 8th and that is where I see him finishing most weekends, BUT he will have a couple rounds where he is just flying. Watch out for Grant at Glen Helen.
9. Dean Wilson (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna)
Wilson finally made it through a 450 SX season and it was nice to see for sure, but the results could have been better. Now that he has that under his belt, does he let it loose a little bit and get back to the crazy fast Wilson that we all know? I think outdoors we will see an improved Wilson and he is one of those guys that could step it up and contend for podiums to be the second or third place guy, But it will be hard and I just see the riders in front of him as doing better this season. Look for him to be inside the top 10 most races.
10. Broc Tickle (RCH Suzuki)
To round off the top 10 of my rankings, I have Broc Tickle. As we all know, no matter how many fast guys are in the class or if there are many riders injured, Tickle will usually find himself in that 6-7-8 position. There is some hope though and that is the fact that he did get a podium this year in Supercross and he also got some podiums last year in outdoors. So maybe we are seeing an upwards trend for Tickle? Anyways, I see him starting off a little slow as he is coming off a small injury and then pick it up near the half way mark and start contending for top 5s.
Photo from Racer X Online