With the end of the 2015 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship just days away, we’ve heard plenty of talk and speculation about how the rider/team pairings will work in 2016. Our constant time in the pit area has helped us figure out a very solid idea of who will land where, but anything could change before the gate drops. In this post, we’ve covered the major teams in the 250 class since most of their lineups are already set for next season. There are still a few question marks surrounding some riders, and we’ve noted their statuses as “likely” in the rosters.
As you will see, there isn’t too much change in the 250 class, but the excitement of the 450 class will come in a later post.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
Team Manager – Mitch Payton
During the summer Mitch Payton stated that the team lineup for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki in 2016 would be the same as it was in 2015. That means Adam Cianciarulo, Tyler Bowers, Chris Alldredge, Joey Savatgy, and Arnaud Tonus will all return for another year, in spite of their tumultuous seasons (Bowers with a back injury, Tonus with illness, Cianciarulo with various injuries, Alldredge with rookie issues). Oh, and about those rumors that have Payton's team switching from Kawasaki: all five riders are employed by Kawasaki and loaned to Payton for the year, so it's unlikely the team will change brands.
Team Manager – Mike LaRocco
GEICO Honda wasted no time setting their lineup for 2016. The season will mark the second years of the contracts held by young racers RJ Hampshire and Jordon Smith, while veterans Malcolm Stewart and Christian Craig inked full-time rides for Supercross and the Nationals at various points in the summer. Justin Bogle will leave the team for the 450 class (GEICO Honda will no longer field a full-time 450 effort), and Matt Bisceglia is at the end of his current two-year contract as well.
Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Red Bull/KTM
Team Manager – Tyler Keefe
Alex Frye (CONFIRMED)
Mitchell Oldenburg (CONFIRMED)
Earlier in the year we heard that Red Bull KTM's 250 efforts would be taken over by Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Red Bull/KTM and compete on both the East and West coasts, but for a while it seemed untrue due in part to Justin Hill's contract with the factory team. This was all recently confirmed to be true, as Hill will now move to TLD and the team will indeed serve as the factory-backed satellite team. Our recent time in the pit area makes it sound like Mitchell Oldenburg and Alex Frye will be with the team full-time, but Darryn Durham will be leaving after missing almost all of the year with complications from a wrist injury. UPDATE: Oldenburg will ride for the team in 2016.
Team Manager – Steve Lamson
Star Racing has come a long way in a very short time and the official factory-backed Yamaha team will largely stay the same in 2016. Past champions Cooper Webb and Jeremy Martin will lead, in what will likely be their last year in the 250 class, while young Aaron Plessinger continues his two-year contract. Alex Martin's signing to the team was announced midway through the 2015 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, but this means the departure of the often-injured Anthony Rodriguez.
Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna
Team Manager – Bobby Hewitt
Both Zach Osborne and Martin Davalos will return to the factory Husqvarna team in 2016, with an option for both riders to jump to the 450 class when the Supercross series heads to the opposite coast of their selected series. Zach Bell's contract with the team is up, but it's rather unlikely we will see Bell back on any bike in the near future as he will spend the next months recovering from brain injuries sustained in a practice crash.
Barn Pros Yamaha
Team Manager – Scott Steffy
After a respectable first year on the 250 West Coast SX circuit, the Yamaha-backed team is set to grow in 2016. Michael Leib is the only rider as of now with a signed contract for next year, but others have expressed an interest to ride the blue bikes. UPDATE: After an impressive run in the 2015 250 West Coast SX series, Cole Martinez will join the team in 2016.
CycleTrader.com/Rock River Yamaha
Team Manager – Christina Denney
Luke Renzland (Likely)
2016 will be a year of transition for CycleTrader.com/Rock River Yamaha, as longtime rider Alex Martin departs for Star Racing. We expect Luke Renzland to stay with the Yamaha-supported team, with others sure to join by the time the gate drops at Anaheim One.
Team 100/Monster Energy/FOX/MotoSport.com
Team Manager – Andy Bakken
Josh Hansen sat out the summer as planned, but many expect the popular rider to return to the 250 class with a similar program as this year for 2016.
RUMORED TEAMS & MOVES
MotoSport.com/GPI/Crossland Racing to change, increase in HRC support
One persistent rumor we've heard this season is a shakeup at Crossland Racing. The small team has grown quite a bit in just a few years, even receiving limited technical support from Team Honda HRC, but the talk in the pit area is that it will get even more help in 2016 from Honda and fall under the guidance of Honda's longtime advisor Dave Arnold. What riders land on the team will depend on how this support from Honda shakes out, but Kyle Peters and Tommy Hahn will likely remain.
Suzuki fields a fully supported 250 team
The return of Suzuki to the 250 is another ongoing rumor we've heard throughout the summer, as the yellow brand looks to regain a place in the small-bore ranks. If what we've heard is true, Yoshimura and Suzuki will either start their own team or envelop an existing team, which we’ve learned will likely be the DirtCandy effort that has run independently for the last few years. Matt Bisceglia and Zach Bell have been linked to the deal, whatever it may be.
Dakota Alix heads to Europe
We heard this directly from Alix. His time at the Orange Brigade/FMF/KTM team is likely up, so he's hoping to head to Europe and the GP scene should everything go to plan.