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2024 AMA Pro Motocross 250 Class Preview

After a singular week off, it's out with Supercross and in with the 2024 rendition of the Great Outdoors, which starts once again in Pala, California. The complexion of this year's 250 class is, of course, a big storyline, as now both Lawrence brothers are on the big bores, as is outdoor stalworth Justin Cooper of Star Yamaha. Baring Jeremy Martin miraculously winning while missing a minimum of one round, we are guaranteed a first-time AMA 250 Motocross Champion this summer, and in a field including heavy hitters like Levi Kitchen, Tom Vialle, and Haiden Deegan, you have your fair share of credible options. Here's how I have things stacked up going into Saturday.

Notable Riders Not Factored Due to Injuries: Austin Forkner, Max Vohland, Jeremy Martin

Honorable Mentions: Cameron McAdoo, Chance Hymas, Jordon Smith, Pierce Brown, Ryder DiFrancesco

10) No. 76 Michael Mosiman (Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha)

2023 Motocross Stats: N/A (Ran just three Motos last year, undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery shortly after Hangtown)

Mosiman's stint with Star Yamaha didn't start hot after he got landed on in St. Louis, knocking him out for the rest of Supercross, but he's been solid outdoors in years past on the GasGas and Husky. Now, on a Star Yamaha-powered YZ250, he can be a big spoiler in this Championship if he can keep it upright.

9) No. 929 Julien Beaumer (Red Bull KTM)

2023 Motocross Stats: N/A (Ran the final two rounds of last year, finishing ninth overall at Budds Creek)

Salt Lake City didn't go as planned, but Beaumer wrapped up a rock-solid rookie campaign indoors, finishing just a handful of points out of a top-five finish. He only ran two nationals last summer, but he impressed a ton of people at Budds Creek when he went 11-9 for ninth Overall, beating guys like Haiden Deegan, Stilez Robertson, Levi Kitchen, and Max Vohland that day. Overall, I could see him having a season similar to Kitchen's last year, where he has flashes of elite speed and pace and is in play for a top-five-point finish if everything goes right.

8) No. 17 Joey Savatgy (Triumph Factory Racing)

2023 Motocross Stats: N/A (First season running 250MX since 2018)

At long last, we'll see Savatgy run in 2024 after the point-out rule kept him off the bike in Supercross. The last time we saw the veteran run an entire season's worth of races was Motocross in 2022, where he finished ninth as a fill-in rider for Monster Energy Kawasaki. Despite it being six years since he's run Motocross on a 250, he's finished third in this Championship twice before, and he's had a ton of time to prep for Outdoors. It's hard to say for sure, but he certainly has the chance to outpace this initial ranking.

7) No. 43 Seth Hammaker (Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki)

2023 Motocross Stats: 0 Moto Wins, 0 National Wins, 0 Laps Led, 0 Holeshots, Average Start of 11.6, Average Finish of 10, 157 Points (11th)

Despite missing the opening four rounds of last season, Hammaker still nearly ended up in the top 10 in the standings, but staying healthy has been the single biggest story relating to his career, outdoors specifically. The Pennsylvania native has missed at least one weekend per season, including nine rounds back in his rookie campaign in 2021. Also lacking podiums both in Moto or Overalls, this needs to be the year Hammaker shows he can produce as a Pro Motocross rider.

6) No. 33 Jalek Swoll (Triumph Factory Racing)

2023 Motocross Stats: 0 Moto Wins, 0 National Wins, 5 Laps Led, 0 Holeshots, Average Start of 13.2, Average Finish of 12.8, 221 Points (9th)

Swoll, much like the gentleman who ranks just ahead of him on this list, is a feast-or-famine rider in Motocross, but I thought he looked excellent down the stretch in Supercross, and we've seen what he can do at his best Outdoors in years past. I wouldn't say he's a title contender, but if Swoll ends this year with a few Moto wins and snags a National, I wouldn't be too shocked.

5) No. 24 R.J. Hampshire (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing)

2023 Motocross Stats: 2 Moto Wins, 1 National Win, 21 Laps Led, 1 Holeshot, Average Start of 12.3, Average Finish of 6.9, 288 Points (8th) (MX2 Class rider for Team USA in Motocross Des Nations)

Finally knocking that first Supercross title off the checklist, Rick James Hampshire now looks to improve on his worst Motocross campaign since 2017 last year. The good news is that R.J. has been a back end of the top five points finisher more often than not, but this is R.J. we're talking about. He lives on the opposite ends of the extremes, winning or failing spectacularly. Regardless, I will be entertained.

4) No. 47 Levi Kitchen (Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki)

2023 Motocross Stats: 2 Moto Wins, 0 National Wins, 31 Laps Led, 2 Holeshots, Average Start of 8.1, Average Finish of 7.9, 322 Points (5th)

Although coming up just short of a Supercross crown, Kitchen has been dynamite in his first season running for Mitch Payton and feels poised to take that next step after a fifth-place finish in the Great Outdoors a summer ago. Consistency as far as finishes go has been his biggest weakness in Motocross, and if he can get that out of his system, he has as good a shot as anyone in this field to take home a No. 1 plate.

3) No. 30 Jo Shimoda (Honda HRC)

2023 Motocross Stats: 3 Moto Wins, 1 National Win, 53 Laps Led, 2 Holeshot, Average Start of 6.5, Average Finish of 4.6, 391 Points (3rd)

Shimoda will need more than another consistently solid summer to win the Championship. Still, the fact he's finished in the top three in two straight seasons (top five in three straight) feels like an indicator that he's capable of doing that. Speaking of consistency, the Honda HRC rider has a streak of 55 consecutive top 10 Moto finishes, just one of which is exactly 10th. Assuming HRC can get out of this year's CRF platform what they did a year ago, I wouldn't be shocked if Shimoda is in the hunt for the long haul.

2) No. 38 Haiden Deegan (Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha)

2023 Motocross Stats: 3 Moto Wins, 2 National Wins, 49 Laps Led, 3 Holeshot, Average Start of 6.3, Average Finish of 6.5, 371 Points (4th)

After securing the outright 250MX points lead at Washougal with a 1-1, you could say the pressure got to Deegan, as he collapsed in four of the final six motos of last year with a mix of mechanicals and crashes at Unadilla and Budds Creek. The Star Yamaha rider showed off flashes of elite speed last summer, and he was in the points lead eight rounds in for a reason, but that'll be a tough outing for him and everyone else. His ability to not make friends, including within his own team, based on some comments at SLC, may not help him out any, though.

1) No. 16 Tom Vialle (Red Bull KTM)

2023 Motocross Stats: 1 Moto Win, 1 National Win, 14 Laps Led, 1 Holeshot, Average Start of 7.1, Average Finish of 9.6, 302 Points (6th) (Won Motocross Des Nations with Team France)

Now that his comfort and confidence levels are clearly up to snuff stateside, based on his indoor season, Vialle is easily my favorite entering the 2024 Motocross tilt. Having live race reps at all 11 of these tracks, his second tour of the great Outdoors should be notably better than the pedestrian one moto/National win and 14 laps-led season of a year ago.

The one thing we haven't seen out of Vialle since he left the GP ranks is his electric prowess off the gate drop. He had just one holeshot in a Moto last summer and zero in his 250 East Supercross Championship campaign. Even if Vialle could bump that average start into the 3.5-4.0 range, that would help a ton. We know he has the pace and comfortability on this new KTM model, and I'm willing to bank on his 'GP success to translate into a US title this summer.

2024 AMA Pro Motocross 250 Class Championship Pick: Tom Vialle

Main Image via Red Bull KTM


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