2023 Monster Energy Supercross 250 West Class Preview
There isn't a monumental level of change within the 250 class in 2023, but this is almost certainly the final year for the Lawrence brothers in the class for Supercross. After suffering a last-minute injury a year ago, Jett Lawrence is now penciled in and good to go for a West Coast No. 1 plate after winning the East a season ago. Although he is the consensus favorite in this field, there are still several notable names that are capable of winning this championship as well. Specifically guys like Stilez Robertson, R.J. Hampshire, Cam McAdoo, and Austin Forkner. But the biggest question still is, can anyone stop Jett Lawrence?
Monster Energy AMA Supercross 250 West Preview
*- Bold statistic indicates series leader
Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha
No. 40 Stilez Robertson
2022 Supercross Stats (250 East): 0 Wins, 0 Laps Led, 1 Holeshot, Average Start of 3.7, Average Finish of 6.8, 67 Points (13th)
With Christian Craig, Colt Nichols, and Justin Cooper off the Star Yamaha 250 SX roster, Bobby Regan went shopping within the 250 class to retool his roster. One of those two new riders is Stilez Robertson. Last year with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna, he was lights out off the gate, but never capitalized on the early race speed. In fact, if you take away his two career second-place finishes at Daytona, Robertson is a career average 13.1 place guy. Injuries have also been a part of the story, as he only has 10 career Main Event starts.
Getting a fresh start with Star, the hope is that he can fill the void with the outgoing 250 Champions, getting put on the gate right away, which kind of tells me they feel at least somewhat good about his offseason. There's not going to be much of a place to hide at A1, especially with some of the names in this field to boot. I'd say I'm cautiously optimistic about Robertson, but need to see him this weekend to get a real sense of where he's at. Now as is the case with all Star Yamaha 250 riders, Roberston will be rocking Thor gear, Alpinestars helmets, and boots, as well as 100% goggles.
No. 43 Levi Kitchen
2022 Supercross Stats (250 East): N/A (Broke kneecap in a crash at Dallas)
The Master Chef's rookie Supercross season ended as it began, only running one full Main Event before a kneecap injury suffered the next week held him out until the summer. At his first full Supercross event in Minneapolis, Kitchen qualified third, ended up third in his heat behind R.J. Hampshire and his new teammate Jordon Smith, then ended up ninth in that evening's Main Event.
Based on that night and Minneapolis, along with his sporadic good runs outdoors in 2022, you would like to think Kitchen should be in good shape for the coming months. Hard to say where he will ultimately finish in this field, but I have a hunch it'll be better than ninth if he can go the distance.
*- Injury to No. 52 Carson Mumford will hold him out likely until 250 East, if not Motocross
No. 53 Derek Drake
2022 Supercross Stats (250 East): 0 Wins, 0 Laps Led, 0 Holeshots, Average Start of 17.6, Average Finish of 13.2, 88 Points (10th)
For Drake, this is year three with the BarX squad after breaking into the pro ranks with TLD/Red Bull KTM. 2022 was a step down from his last full season in 2020, but given the drop-off from KTM to Suzuki, it wasn't all doom and gloom. Drake has also finished top 10 in both of his full seasons, which leaves credence to the idea of that being in the cards in 2023., but this is a tough field. And for the whole BarX team, the setup is Answer kits, Alpinestar boots, Bell Helmets, and Scott goggles.
No. 59 Robbie Wageman
2022 Supercross Stats (250 West): 0 Wins, 0 Laps Led, 0 Holeshots, Average Start of 11.3, Average Finish of 9.4, 109 Points (9th)
The first of two new BarX riders lining up on the 250 West gate is the former Team Solitate standout, Robbie Wageman. Despite an injury during the PulpMX privateer challenger knocking him out of the Salt Lake City finale, he managed a top 10 points finish, and could have made it to eighth, maybe seventh with some luck had he not been hurt.
Something that caught my eye on Michael Lindsay's final silly season roundup is Wageman's wrench for the year, Wyatt Mason. Why would that jump out you may ask? Mason was at Star Yamaha last year, paired up with the sports top prospect Haiden Deegan. Would not be shocked at all if Wageman ends up top five in points when it's all said and done. He might be the most slept-on rider in the class.
No. 81 Ty Masterpool
2022 Supercross Stats: N/A (Five career Supercross Main Event starts, all in 2021)
Masterpool's career trajectory is an odd one for certain. He never got the chance to run Supercross with Star Yamaha, and despite some excellent efforts in Motocross, was without a ride after the 2020 season. For the last two years, he's been on the privateer grind, and last summer at RedBud was LEADING A MOTO on a used KTM he had gotten two weeks prior. Hard to put into words how crazy that is.
I don't know where Masterpool ends up in Supercross, but I'm just glad a team is giving him a chance. It was abundantly clear when he was with Star Yamaha that he could hang, but he was dealt a brutal hand. He may ultimately be better outdoors than in, but I'd keep my eye out on the No. 81. On a final note, the BarX team might have my favorite bike of the year, super clean with the subtle red.
Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing
No. 33 Pierce Brown
2022 Supercross Stats (250 East): 0 Wins, 14 Laps Led, 0 Holeshots, Average Start of 6.1, Average Finish of 6.8, 149 Points (3rd)
Feels like ages ago, but yes, Brown made a year-three leap and ended up third in the 250 East standings. If not for a pair of subpar outings back-to-back in St. Louis and Atlanta, he probably doesn't finish too far off of Jett Lawrence either. No wins for Brown, but three podiums (all thirds) and just shy of a half dozen Top 5s was a good sign of his development. Racing against largely the same field he raced a season ago, can he hit the top step of the podium for the first time and give Lawrence a run for his money?
Team Solitare Heartbeat Hot Sauce Yamaha
I'd like to thank Doom (2016) for introducing me to New Noise and Refused. Quality banger of a song.
No. 76 ‘Nique Thury
2022 Supercross Stats (250 West): 0 Wins, 0 Laps Led, 0 Holeshots, Average Start of 12.8, Average Finish of 14.7, 65 Points (14th)
It's a whole new look for the People's Team in 2023, a new sponsor, and a complete rider refresh to match. That starts with Thury, who was with the ClubMX Yamaha team a season ago, making all but one Main Event on the season. The German rider's best outing of 2022 happened right out of the gate at Anaheim 1 with a ninth, outrunning most notably Star Yamaha's Nate Thrasher, winner of the Salt Lake City East/West Showdown. Once again for Solitare Yamaha, it's Leatt gear straight down the order as well.
No. 83 Cole Thompson
2022 Supercross Stats (250 West): 0 Wins, 0 Laps Led, 0 Holeshots, Average Start of 11.6, Average Finish of 10.0, 117 Points (5th)
Thompson, a native Canadian, closes out the international lineup for Solitare Yamaha in 2023. The former member of Red Bull KTM in Canada was sidelined with a shoulder injury after five rounds last year, but not before Thompson put up a ninth in San Diego. His best career finish was a fifth at Toronto Supercross in 2014. You know, the night that James Stewart (so good by the way) put in the best ride of his career? Back on track, Thompson is a quality, well-traveled veteran, and former international Champion rider who should give the Solitare boys some honest results in '23.
No. 39 Vince Friese
2022 Supercross Stats (250 West): 0 Wins, 4 Laps Led, 1 Holeshot, Average Start of 5.3, Average Finish of 8.2, 150 Points (6th)
For those heading out to Angel Stadium on Saturday night planning on booing Vince Friese, I have some bad news. An injury suffered relatively recently has sidelined him for the time being. With that said, MCR seemed committed to a 250 West and World Supercross schedule only. So I'm willing to bet we see Friese still run the West slate, though a move to 250 East shouldn't completely be ruled out.
When talking about Friese's 2022, two things were above all else. Firstly, he was fantastic on the gate drop as always. No. 2, he made a couple of notably big enemies to bookend the year. Christian Craig was first after the two came together during a Triple Crown race in Glendale. Then it was his longtime teammate, Justin Brayton after he T-Boned him at the Australian Supercross GP. Brayton went as far as alleging that Friese offered Grant Harlan two thousand dollars to take out Brayton himself on an episode of PulpMX. I ended up covering this the week it happened elsewhere, but TLDR, maybe the most inexcusable chain of events I've seen in motorsports in a good bit. I have zero reasons to believe that Brayton is lying either, doesn't seem like his M.O. As it relates to 2023, if Friese can simply not make any enemies, he should be fine whether he runs east or west. Leatt gear across the board for Friese and his running mates as well.
No. 49 Mitchell Oldenburg
2022 Supercross Stats (250 East): 0 Wins, 0 Laps Led, 0 Holeshots, Average Start of 9.8, Average Finish of 6.6 117 Points (4th)
If Robbie Wageman is the most slept-on rider in 250 Supercross right now, Oldenburg is right behind him. Despite missing the opening 250 East Main Event of the season last season via technical issues, the Texas native still put together a fantastic campaign and a top five points finish. He's racing against largely the same group as he did last year as well, so I'd imagine some similar results.
No. 111 Anthony Rodriguez
2022 Supercross Stats: N/A (First season in the United States since 2019. Multi-time)
Closing out the three-rider MCR lineup is Rodriguez. The native Venezuelan most recently was victorious in the Brazilian Arenacross series for the second season in a row. The last time we saw him stateside for Supercross, however, Rodriguez picked up a 10th in East Rutherford in 2019. Since then he's been all over, even doing some MXGP rounds on a 450 that very same year. Additionally, although in a lackluster effort, helped Venezuala get into the Motocross Des Nations just a few months ago.
Red Bull KTM
No. 34 Max Vohland
2022 Supercross Stats (250 East): N/A (Only made Main Event in Minneapolis. Missed time with multiple injuries)
It was a tale of two halves for Vohland in 2022. After getting hurt immediately in the 250 East tilt, but outright failed to qualify for multiple events later in the season. Just a very odd situation, especially considering how good Vohland is in Motocross. The hope internally I'd imagine is that the third-year pro has regained his confidence and can just simply put a season together with solid results. It would be the first time Vohland has done so, facing multiple major injuries his first two seasons.
HEP Motorsports Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
No. 85 Dillan Schwartz
2022 Supercross Stats (250 West): N/A (Suffered shoulder injury at Anaheim 2 which ended his season)
Schwartz made the jump from BarX to HEP Suzuki for World Supercross and is sticking with them for the long haul in both Supercross series. He's been held to just seven Supercross Main Events in the United States since 2021 but put his HEP/Pipes RM250 inside the top 10 back at the Australian SX GP. For heart, Schwartz is on the same setup as the bulk of his 450 teammates, Fly helmet and kit, 100% goggles, and Alpinestars boots.
AEO Powersports KTM Racing
No. 41 Derek Kelley
2022 Supercross Stats (250 West): 0 Wins, 0 Laps Led, 0 Holeshots, Average Start of 10.0, Average Finish of 11.9, 78 Points (13th)
Kelley ended up missing a couple of Main Events last year, but when he didn't, he simply got the job done. Save for a 21st at Anaheim 1, he was an 8th-12th guy on the dot for the entire season. Would assume his pick rate in PulpMX fantasy on a week-to-week basis was pretty high in 2022 with that said. Same setup for Kelley once again from last year, except for Shot gear.
No. 42 Joshua Varize
2022 Supercross Stats (250 East): 0 Wins, 0 Laps Led, 0 Holeshots, Average Start of 10.8, Average Finish of 11.9, 78 Points (11th)
Last Motocross season, Varize finished out the season with this AEO KTM team after running supercross and the opening rounds of Motocross on a Husky. Oddly enough, he and his new teammate Kelley essentially had the exact season, just running on opposite coasts. Outside of not making the SLC Showdown Main Event, Varize still ended the year with back-to-back eights in Foxborough and St. Louis as well.
Muc-Off/FXR/ClubMX Yamaha Racing
No. 56 Enzo Lopes
2022 Supercross Stats (250 East): 0 Wins, 0 Laps Led, 0 Holeshots, Average Start of 11.6, Average Finish of 10.0, 117 Points (5th)
Finishing top five on either coast is no joke, and Lopes, the pride of Brazil pulled that off for the first time in his career a season ago. Outside of some off rounds here and there, Lopes was on point more often than not. His five best outings were a fifth, two sixths, a seventh, and an eighth. I have no doubts that Lopes will put together another strong season in 2023 either.
No. 715 Phil Nicoletti
2022 Supercross Stats (250 East): 0 Win, 0 Laps Led, 0 Holeshots, Average Start of 5.7, Average Finish of 7.8, 76 Points (12th)
The folks at ClubMX Yamaha have somehow, someway, convinced Filthy Phil to run 'Deathcross' for the second consecutive year. A genuine miracle. The crazy thing is despite that running joke, Nicoletti did surprisingly very well before he ultimately went down with an injury in Atlanta. He started with a 10th in Minneapolis and got one spot better in every round before jumping from seventh to fifth between Detroit and St. Louis. As long as Filthy Phil stays outright, he should be absolutely fine.
No. 63 Max Anstie
2022 Supercross Stats (450): 0 Wins, 0 Laps Led, 0 Holeshots, Average Start N/A, Average Finish of 15.1, 55 Points (24th)
Anstie didn't end things the way he wanted to in '22, suffering a season-ending crash in Minneapolis where he broke ribs. This year he's down on the 250 with the Firepower Honda squad for both AMA and World Supercross. We got a little preview of what the former MXGP product looks like during the two-round WSX season last year. Anstie, if not for race results of 10th and 11th at the British GP, he almost certainly wins the points considering he went 1-3-2 in Australia. How he does in this field should be a fun storyline to keep up with.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki
No. 48 Cameron McAdoo
2022 Supercross Stats (250 East): 1 Win, 5 Laps Led, 0 Holeshots, Average Start of 4.5, Average Finish of 2.2, 114 Points (7th)
It was all looking so good for Wackers last year. Starts off the season with five consecutive podiums and a win in Dallas, then he gets knocked out until Motocross via a press day crash in St. Louis. Like McAdoo was giving Jett a real run for his money last year, just 11 points out of the red plate leaving Indianapolis. Given that he stays upright this year, I think he has the best shot of anyone in this field to beat Lawrence.
No. 55 Austin Forkner
2022 Supercross Stats (250 East): 1 Win, 4 Laps Led, 1 Holeshot, Average Start of 4.5, Average Finish of 4.6, 98 Points (9th)
It's been the story of Forkner's career since his knee injury in the middle of the 2019 season, but can he stay healthy? Strictly talking about 2022, the answer was no. Forkner ended up missing multiple Supercross rounds after, to no fault of his, a mid-air collision with Jett Lawernce. Then he missed the final 11 rounds of Pro Motocross with a shoulder injury and subsequent surgery.
It's been clear that when Forkner stays upright, he can hang with literally anyone in the class. He was going to moonwalk to the 2019 250 East Championship before he tore his ACL in qualifying, literally winning every non-showdown round to that point. Even though he was hurt last year, we had a good enough sample size to say he can compete still, even winning in Foxborough.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing
No. 24 R.J. Hampshire
2022 Supercross Stats (250 East): 1 Win, 0 Laps Led, 1 Holeshot, Average Start of 5.9, Average Finish of 6.0, 158 Points (2nd)
If you're scratching your head over the win but no laps led for Hampshire, it's because his win was the Triple Crown round in St. Louis, and laps led do not appear to be tracked. In any case, R.J. is back with Husky on what is believed to be a one-year deal via Michael Lindsay. After a rough start to the season with a 16th in Dallas and a 7th in Daytona, Hampshire put up four top 5s in the next six rounds, including two podiums and his St. Louis win. Hard to say another good season wouldn't help out Hampshire should he decide to go elsewhere in 2024.
No. 18 Jett Lawrence
2022 Supercross Stats (250 East): 4 Wins, 70 Laps Leds, 3 Holeshots, Average Start of 4.7, Average Finish of 1.8, 192 Points (2022 250 East Regional Supercross Champion)
20-something odd riders later, we finally get to the Jett. The numbers last year speak for themselves, and that is without lining up for the finale due to a practice ankle injury. He still podiumed in every Main Event he lined up for with four wins, and somehow got better in Motocross. You can say he's overexposed all you want, but Jett Lawrence is a bonified superstar at just 19 years old.
The big story with Lawrence is that these are his final nine rounds racing a 250, as he's making the midyear jump to a 450 just like Chase Sexton did in 2020. We got a preview of what that going to look like back at Motocross Des Nations, and..yeah, he's pretty good on the big bike. It's unclear when his current contract expires, but whenever that happens, I would be more shocked if he didn't become the highest-paid rider in the sport (make rider contract details public I beg of you).
Gaffney's 2023 Monster Energy Supercross 250 West Class Preseason Power Ranking
10) No. 63 Max Anstie
9) No. 59 Robbie Wageman
7) No. 49 Mitchell Oldenburg
6) No. 55 Austin Forkner
8) No. 56 Enzo Lopes
5) No. 43 Levi Kitchen
4) No. 33 Pierce Brown
3) No. 24 R.J. Hampshire
2) No. 48 Cameron McAdoo
1) No. 18 Jett Lawrence
2022 Monster Energy Supercross 250 West Class Championship Pick: Jett Lawrence
Main Image via Honda HRC