Silly season 2014

Silly season 2014

By Clifton Kump
I cannot remember an off-season so rife with rumors, half-truths and rider/team changes as this one. It has been absolutely insane.
Let’s go over some of the big moves.

Troy Lee Designs Honda moving to KTM to become TLD/Red Bull/KTM

The TLD team will campaign next season on the pumpkins. The team infrastructure will remain the same, but some riders will not return to the squad. As of today, it looks like Mookie Stewart is out of a job. I have also heard that TLD will be marketing a new Red Bull signature line of riding gear, much like the Lucas Oil Honda gear they had a few years back. Should be cool!

Rockstar Husqvarna, formerly Rockstar KTM

Look, I’m a Euro nerd and and get all worked up for anything from the Austria manufacturer. They have Kiska Design to thank for their new look over the last few years and next year’s bikes will be no exception. The team’s inner-workings will remain the same, but Zach Osborne and Martin Davalos will join the squad on 250s while Jason Anderson rides the four-piftay.

Yoshimura Suzuki

This one is probably one of the most intriguing, because no one really knows what’s happening with JS7. I have read that he is on suspension. I’ve also read that he will not receive a suspension. Who knows what to believe? We will see. GuyB from Vital MX wrote a summary of the goings-on and included a little morsel claiming Blake Baggett will ride for Yosh Suzuki. This should make Layne Kolbet very pleased.

Red Bull KTM

Ryan Dungey showed big-time heart in battling with the young gun, Ken Roczen, this summer. He is motivated and from what I hear, he’s hired Aldon Baker to take him to the next level. Dean Wilson will come over from PC Kawi and should be top five at times. Mark that. He will also wear Ansr gear. Marvin Musquin remains and will look to build on the stellar second half of his 2014 season, and Justin Hill comes over from PC Kawi as well. Justin is a charismatic dude, just like his older bro, but everyone knows that Justin works harder. He has a West Coast 250 win under his belt. He could be a title threat.

RCH Suzuki

Ken Roczen moves over here with his main sponsor, Red Bull, and his mega Fox deal. He’s a perfect fit for this team as they definitely have an edge and Ken fits that perfectly. He will be the biggest star this sport has ever seen — bar none. It’s unclear who the second rider will be, though I have heard that Broc Tickle may be in if he has healed properly from his injuries.

Muscle Milk Honda

Trey Canard returns after winning four out of the final six motos of the outdoor championship. He will be good, and hopefully he can stay healthy. Cole Seely comes over from TLD Honda and will be a frontrunner, though he is more of a supercross specialist, it seems.

JGR/Toyota Yamaha

Here’s hoping Justin Barcia comes back for this team and kills it. He is awesome to watch and will have a great team behind him. Weston Peick, the privateer hero, has landed a factory ride here after his summer with RCH. Peick deserves all of this, though he owes a lot to the moto media for getting his name out there. Good job, Weston!

Now, to address the elephant in the room — Ryan Villopoto …

Here’s what I’ve heard and read:

1. He sold his properties and severed his relationship with trainer Aldon Baker.
2. He went on a tour of Europe.
3. He looked at houses and according to a source, bought a home in the Netherlands. All the fast guys in Europe train and live there, Cairoli included.
4. Villopoto wanted Tyla Rattray to be his teammate and Tyla was "let go" from his Husqvarna contract. He subsequently signed with Factory Kawi Europe.
5. Gautier Paulin, current factory Kawi Europe rider, is rumored to be going to HRC Honda Europe. This would jive because Max Nagl has signed with Husqvarna Europe, opening a spot for Paulin.
6. Steven Frossard was linked to Red Bull KTM with Cairoli, but then Tommy Searle was confirmed with KTM Europe. Steven now is rumored to be signed with SRT KTM alongside Jake Nichols. This opens the final spot for Villopoto on Factory Kawi Europe.
7. Villo will not be ready for the opener at Anaheim 1 due to his knee injury, but he could be ready for the first GP in March.
8. It has been speculated that Villo has to race the entire season next year to appease his sponsors, but with his knee, he won’t be able to do the full U.S. circuit. It has been said that he does want to continue racing, but given his recovery, Europe is his only option for contesting a full season.

Given all of the above, I would say there is no question that Villo will end up in Europe. He will be in shape and he loves the outdoors anyway. His decision to go over there and compete with the best of the rest of the world is both brave and noble. I wish him all the luck and I will certainly be watching! Should be good!

Robert Beaupre