Starting Gate
Photo Credit for All Photos: Kardy Photo

The off season is winding to a close, and professional supercross riders, their teams, and fans everywhere are getting ready for another year of racing to begin. The 2018 supercross season was filled with surprises and exciting moments – Jason Anderson’s domination of and first title in the 450 class, Justin Brayton’s exciting win in Atlanta, the heart-pounding battle for 1st place in Oakland, Chad Reed’s new world record, and more. Though it is impossible to speculate how each new season is going to go, it is fun to look back on each passing year and make predictions anyway.

The upcoming year is bound to be just as exciting as years past, with several riders either returning from injury, changing teams, moving up in class, or just plain riding better than ever before. Will 2019 see an all-new title holder crowned? Can Anderson defend his championship and win again? Will a 450 rookie be standing on top of the podium at the end of the season? Is Tomac finally going to be able to add a 450SX title to his list of achievements, or will Musquin win his first 450SX title instead? With so many viable outcomes, trying to foretell how the season will turn out is as about as useful as predicting what Ken Roczen is going to wear to the pre-season press conference. We’ll just have to wait and see! Take a look below to see what the previous year has looked like for several of the most prominent riders and what they are bringing to the table come Anaheim 1.

Jason Anderson

Jason Anderson

Returning in 2019 for the second of a four-year deal with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna, Jason Anderson is coming off of an eventful year full of highs and lows. Starting out the 2018 race season, Anderson had been pegged as a significant competitor – but not necessarily as the guy to beat. All of that changed after Anderson grabbed the points lead during the second round of the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross Championship and held onto it for the remainder of the season. With a steady approach to the season, four overall wins, and consistent finishes inside the top four or five throughout the rest of the season, Anderson rode his way to his first 450SX championship. He entered the MX season on a high note, but a crash in practice at Glen Helen left him with a compound fracture in his right foot that required surgery. He missed seven outdoor rounds and even when he returned for Budds Creek, he wasn’t fully up for all-out competition. He rested up and came back strong for several off-season races. With a recent 2nd place win at the Monster Energy Cup, a sweep of the AUS-X Open with 1-1-1 wins, and a shiny new King of Paris crown from the Paris Supercross, it is safe to say that Anderson is feeling well and ready to defend the red plate in the fight for the 2019 Monster Energy Supercross 450SX Championship.

Marvin Musquin

Marvin Musquin

Marvin Musquin will return for 2019 with Red Bull KTM on the final year of his current contract. Musquin’s 2018 season kicked off with a bang when he earned the win at the opening round of SX in Anaheim. However, a crash took him out of the running the next week in Houston and he struggled for a few weeks to get back into the groove of things. But before mid-season, Musquin was back to riding strong and logging consistent top three finishes. He ultimately finished the SX season in 2nd place, a mere nine points behind the 450SX champion, Jason Anderson. He carried that momentum into the outdoor season and once again stayed close to the top in points all season long. He would also take 2nd place overall in the outdoors before setting his sights on off-season races like the Monster Energy Cup and Paris Supercross. The off-season races didn’t pan out the way he’d anticipated. A crash at MEC took him out of the running for the win, and a small tear in his meniscus from SX testing had him sitting on the sidelines for Paris as well. Instead of a busy off season at the races, Musquin has been spending a lot of his time on R&R to get ready for the 2019 race season. Will he be back to 100% by the time Anaheim 1 rolls around?

Eli Tomac

Eli Tomac

In the middle of a multi-year contract with Monster Energy Kawasaki, Eli Tomac is likely to be a favorite in the running for the 2019 450SX championship. His off season has been accentuated with highs and lows; notably a discouraging loss for Team USA at MXoN, and a million-dollar win for both himself and for a fan at MEC. Though he now has two consecutive outdoor championships under his belt, Tomac has yet to clinch the elusive 450SX title. The past couple of supercross seasons have started off pretty rough for him, especially during the 2018 season when expectations for his dominance were higher than ever. However, those same 2017 and 2018 SX seasons saw Tomac charge back up through the ranks once the pressure of leading the points championship had abated. He is easily the fastest guy on the track these days, as was evident throughout the outdoor season and in his sweep of MEC. But consistency has been the variable in Tomac’s battle for the points lead. With a 2nd overall in 2017 and 3rd overall for 2018 in the 450SX class, will 2019 be the year Tomac shows the consistency needed to secure the SX championship? Only time will tell!

Ken Roczen

Ken Roczen

Starting out in 2018, Ken Roczen was a main topic of discussion for just about anyone and everyone who follows American supercross. Returning to the track after what, in most cases, might have been deemed a career-ending crash in 2017 that devastated his arm and took 11 surgeries to repair, Roczen showed up at Anaheim 1 ready to race. He mesmerized the audience and fans alike by taking 4th place in the season opener. The next week he took 2nd, following that finish up a couple of weeks later with two more podium positions. Not only was he making podiums, he delivered an epic battle so intense with Jason Anderson during the Oakland race that it might have easily been the most heart-pounding race of the entire 2018 SX season. Luck still didn’t seem to be on his side though, as the following week some contention with Cooper Webb on the track led to a crash that mangled Roczen’s good arm in Webb’s rear wheel. He was once again out for the rest of the season to have surgery and recover. He was back in time for Hangtown in the outdoors, but didn’t start getting his groove back until the next race. He quickly started placing better and earning some podiums, and was even able to win two motos throughout the season. He finished the outdoors in 3rd overall and went on to race for Germany at MXoN. He opted out of additional off-season races to get ready for the upcoming season…and to seal the deal with his girlfriend of several years, Courtney. Newly married and all healed up, Roczen will return in 2019 on the final year of his current contract with HRC Honda ready to compete at the top.

Blake Baggett

Blake Baggett

Blake Baggett signed a three-year extension with the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-KTM-WPS team back in April of 2018 to remain on the KTM through 2021. Though he has stayed pretty quiet throughout the off season, Baggett is not to be forgotten when it comes to the battle for the SX championship. With five podiums and a 4th place overall finish for the 2018 SX season, Baggett has what it takes to be a contender at the track each week. He struggled for the first few rounds during the last SX season before falling into a groove and earning three podiums in a row. He works hard during the week, and it shows on the weekends. When he gets good starts, Baggett is a force to be reckoned with out on the track, and can be seen running up front and battling for the podium. After finishing just outside the top three last year, can Baggett bump it up a spot or two to finish on the overall podium and contend for the championship?

Justin Brayton

Justin Brayton

Having raced in events all across the globe in the last several months, Justin Brayton has arguably been one of the busiest riders this off season. The Smartop/Bullfrog Spas/Motoconcepts rider signed a two-year extension this year to stay with the team through 2020. Currently 34 years old and soon to be 35 (March 2019), Brayton joins Chad Reed as one of the oldest riders still actively competing in supercross. However, Brayton shows no signs of throwing in the towel just yet. He recently clinched the SX1 title in the Australian Supercross Championship for the third year in a row. After winning in Sydney, Brayton headed to France for the Paris Supercross, where he took 5th overall in SX1. He then headed to Auckland, New Zealand, for the S-X Open, where he earned another 5th overall. As if that wasn’t enough, Brayton set out for the Geneva Supercross in Switzerland after that. Despite having struggled with a respiratory illness for several weeks through the off season, Brayton rode strong and clinched his 5th King of Geneva title. To finish everything off, Brayton just won the Torino Supercross as well. With his killer off-season, an awesome win at Daytona, and 5th overall in SX for 2018, Brayton has definitely proven that he’s got what it takes to be a competitor for 2019.

Weston Peick

Weston Peick

Weston Peick was lining up for a good year in 2019. Recently having extended his deal with the JGRMX/Yoshimura Suzuki team through 2019, he has put in a lot of work to be ready for the upcoming race season. Peick’s had a gnarly year when it comes to crashes and injuries. In March, he clipped a tuff block with his foot peg as he launched off of a triple during qualifying in Atlanta. Losing control of the bike, he bailed off, sailed an estimated 70 feet through the air, and then landed on his heel and shoulder. He waved off the paramedics and rode off the track, coming back to race the LCQ for his chance at the night show. He won the LCQ in a sweep and took 12th place in the main event. He finished the SX season in 6th overall, his best career overall finish yet. He rode through the outdoor season with torn tendons in his hand until opting out of the last race to have surgery. After healing up and feeling good on the bike, Peick was asked last minute, alongside his teammate Justin Hill, to fill in for the injured Marvin Musquin at the Paris SX. Peick was riding well until a tangle with Dylan Ferrandis took him down just after the first turn in the third main event, and where he was then accidentally landed on by Cedric Soubeyras. Peick was rushed to the hospital with serious injuries to his face and jaw. After 18 days in a Paris hospital, 40 staples in his scalp, and several surgeries to reconstruct over 10 fractures to his face and jaw, Peick was cleared to fly back home to the States. He probably won’t be lining up for A1, but we hope to see him healed up and back on the bike soon!

Dean Wilson

Dean Wilson

With his deal at Rockstar Husqvarna coming to an end after the 2018 race season, Dean Wilson is yet to secure a spot with a new team for 2019. Being sidelined by injury – most recently, an injured shoulder and another torn ACL – and searching for a ride is not a new scenario for Wilson, but he isn’t letting it get him down. He’s been back on a bike for a couple of months and he is riding hard, training hard and trying to line up his own sponsorships to be ready for whatever opportunities 2019 may bring. He’s been testing bikes to see which brand he will race if he doesn’t snag a deal before A1, and says at the very least, he’ll be running his privateer effort out of a Sprinter van for now. He did make it to a couple of off-season races – the AUS-X Open where he took 2nd overall, and the S-X Open in Auckland where he earned a 3rd overall. He has also been keeping a good attitude by pulling pranks on unsuspecting riders, and then uploading the videos to YouTube for everyone else’s enjoyment as well. For now, Wilson is hoping for a fill-in ride to open up, but will be going forward with his full privateer effort until another door opens.

Cooper Webb

Cooper Webb

There was a lot of speculation about where Cooper Webb would end up this year after his contract with Monster Energy Yamaha expired. Many of the guesses were that he would move to RedBull KTM with Marvin Musquin after the spot was left open from the suspension of Broc Tickle. Those guesses proved correct. Not only will Webb be racing for KTM, he recently moved to Florida from his North Carolina home to train with the infamous Aldon Baker at the Baker Factory. After a couple of disappointing years since moving up to the 450 class – years that were fraught with injury and challenges during his time with Yamaha – things might be looking up for Webb for the 2019 season if he can stay healthy. He missed the last three rounds of SX and the first five rounds of the outdoors in 2018 due to a leg injury (four breaks between his tibia and fibula) sustained at Minneapolis that required two surgeries, two plates, 12 screws, and a lot of rest to heal. Is 2019 going to be the year that the Webb who won two 250SX and one 250MX title reemerges and finally grabs a 450 win?

Justin Barcia

Justin Barcia

Outside of Ken Roczen, Justin Barcia was probably the biggest comeback of 2018. After several years of struggling to put it together on the track, Barcia turned his career around in 2018. During the off season last year, Barcia was riding a Honda on a privateer effort, just having the faith that things were going to somehow work out. His luck changed when Davi Millsaps announced his retirement after a nasty crash, leaving the fill-in spot Barcia had occupied open for a deal on the Monster Energy Factory Yamaha team. With the inspiring performance he’d given at the start of the season, Yamaha signed him on for the remainder of the year. He was sitting second in points when he came up short on a triple during round 7 at Arlington and had his hand landed on by Tyler Bowers. The broken hand required surgery and kept him out of the series until round 14, but he was still able to pull off a 10th overall in SX. After using the last four rounds of supercross to get comfortable on the bike again, Barcia was ready to compete in the outdoors. He earned several podiums and top five positions throughout the season, and even finished the series with the win at Ironman and a 4th place overall in points. He went on to race MXoN, and even took 4th at MEC. He took a little break to get married to his fiancée Amber in England, and then headed to Switzerland to race in the Geneva SX, where he won the SX1 overall the second night and took 3rd for the weekend. He opted out of AUS-X to have a Lasik procedure done to improve his vision, but has been training hard for A1. He is returning this upcoming season with a multi-year extension with Monster Energy Yamaha.

Cole Seely

Cole Seely

To say Cole Seely has had a tough year would be an understatement. Coming into 2018, Seely was all set to have a great season. Though he doesn’t seem to be in the limelight as often as some of the other professional riders, Seely is a solid contender and is regularly found finishing within the top five both in supercross and outdoors. By round 8 in Tampa, Seely had already won one of the mains in A2 and was sitting 2nd in points behind Jason Anderson. Things were looking good for him until a he came up short on a jump in a rhythm section and went over the bars. The crash wouldn’t have been as bad, but his bike flipped over and struck him in the pelvis with the back tire. The resulting injury turned out to be pretty serious – a fully fractured pelvis across the front and partial fracture on the side, multiple fractures to his sacrum, a torn rectal muscle, and complete separation of the abdominal wall from his pelvis. He also separated his shoulder in the crash. He had an extensive surgery to install some plates and screws in his pelvis, and to reattach and repair the torn muscles. He spent two months in a wheel chair and six months off of the bike in total. He used the time away from riding to recover, unplug, rest and reset mentally. He got back on the bike in August and began to train once again. He headed to Switzerland during the off season and was the fastest qualifier at Geneva on Saturday. Due to some bad starts and a crash, he ended up going 6-7 to take 6th overall. Seely is returning to SX in January on a one-year extension with HRC Honda.

Chad Reed

Chad Reed

After much speculation, Chad Reed has been officially signed to line up for the 2019 SX season on a Suzuki. With Weston Peick out for an undefined amount of time due to the injury from his Paris crash, JGRMX/Yoshimura Suzuki had an open spot on the team. Reed filled in for Peick on a Suzuki back in August at Ironman, the first outdoor race he’d signed up for since 2015. For not having raced outdoors in years, his 5-8 finish for 8th overall was definitely impressive. Then when MEC rolled around, Reed was the only rider to show up with Suzuki. The first two mains were a struggle, but Reed finished out the final main event in 3rd place and took 8th overall at MEC. He also raced in the AUS-X Open and S-X Open, taking 5th in Australia and sweeping the S-X Open in Auckland with 1-1-1 finishes. Both races featured Reed on a Suzuki. Reed had stated that if he didn’t get a spot on a factory team, he wouldn’t be racing this year. And he seemed at peace with that conclusion if that was how things turned out. After all, Reed broke the all-time starts record of 227 this year set by Mike Larocco, and then continued to line up each week, extending the new record. Reed will celebrate his 37th birthday in the middle of the 2019 season and has been racing SX in the US since 2002 – at the premier level since 2003. Will Reed be able to grab some podiums and race wins this season on the RMZ-450?

Moving Up to 450s

Another factor that will add intrigue and speculation to the 450 class for the 2019 season is the addition of four of the most prominent 250 riders who are moving to the premier class: Joey Savatgy, Aaron Plessinger, Justin Hill and Zach Osborne. Plessinger, Hill and Osborne are all title holders, and Savatgy had an excellent debut on the 450 at MEC, ultimately taking 3rd overall in the 450 class for the night. They have consistently been contenders for the podium each week and have put on some of the best performances in recent years that 250 racing might have ever seen. Each has a spot on a factory team: Monster Energy Factory Yamaha for Plessinger, Monster Energy Kawasaki for Savatgy, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna for Osborne, and JGRMX/Yoshimura Suzuki for Hill. With awesome backing and factory support, these four are bound to mix things up in supercross for the 2019 season. Who knows, maybe we’ll even have a rookie 450SX title holder this year? Regardless, these riders are sure to make some waves for 2019.

Aaron Plessinger and Zach Osborne

That’s a Wrap

That’s it for our 2019 Supercross preview. The field is stacked as usual, and with some prominent riders returning all healed from injury, it could be stacked even deeper than we think. Let us know in the comments below how you think these riders will perform in 2019, and who you think will be taking home the 450SX title at the end of the season. Bring on Anaheim 1!

450SX Gate Drop