The 2021 Monster Energy Supercross 250 West Series Championship begins tonight in noted west coast crown jewel city Orlando, Florida. While this field may not be as top-heavy as the 250 East series is, the west perhaps provides a greater chance to provide a multitude of podium contenders and hopefully race winners with a solid mix of 250 veterans and some rookies making the jump from the amateur ranks. Here we look at those to keep an eye on as this group takes to the track for the first time in 2021.
There is no shortage of former amateur standouts in this year’s 250 west field. Let’s get to know a few of them.
Stilez Robertson – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing.
The biggest of which may be reigning 250 Pro Sport class Loretta Lynn’s champion, Stilez Robertson. Robertson won the supermini class at the Monster Energy Cup in 2016 as a part of Kawasaki’s Team Green amateur development program. He has since made the jump to the pro ranks as of last year. Robertson ended up running a few rounds of AMA Motocross, sporting a best overall finish of 8th at the track he won his amateur championship at being Loretta Lynn’s. Now he finds himself with trainer Aldon Baker. Baker hopes to put the Bakersfield, California native on the winning track in his maiden season of Supercross.
Seth Hammaker – Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki
Hammaker was a highly touted prospect in years past, winning a Supermini Loretta Lynn’s championship in 2016 and a Monster Energy Cup Amateur All-Stars win the year after. However, the last few years for Hammaker have been plagued with injuries, including him missing the bulk of last year’s amateur events with Epstein-Barr Virus, which has been rampant in the sport seemingly in the last three or four years. Now fully healthy, Hammaker gets to make his pro debut tonight and show that he belongs in the pro ranks.
Nate Thrasher – Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha
Thrasher was acquired by the team in one of the only trades in supercross/motocross that I have ever seen. Yamaha acquired thrasher last year from, what is now, Troy Lee Designs Red Bull Gas Gas Factory Racing, essentially for a rider to be named later. It was a badly guarded secret seeing as most people knew it was Justin Barcia. Thrasher ended up riding in a few pro motocross races last year with Star Yamaha, scoring a pair of top 15 overall finishes. Now, with some familiarity with his bike and team, Thrasher looks to improve on a small sample size from 2020.
Carson Mumford – FXR/Chapparal Honda
Finally, we move to Mumford of FXR/Chapparal Honda. Mumford has a very impressive resume as an amateur, winning 3 Loretta Lynn’s championships between 2012 and 2019. The expectation was that he would have been on Geico Honda for this year. Unfortunately, due to lack of funding, they had to close their doors, creating a ripple effect making all of Honda’s top 250 rider’s free agents late in 2020. While Honda HRC opted to run a 250 program in 2021, they decided to let Mumford walk as they signed The Lawrence Brothers as a package deal. While maybe not as good a program as HRC, The FXR Chapparal team should give Mumford a chance to make a name for himself in the pro ranks, and in return, maybe he can put the team on the map and prove they are a contending team.
Now we move on to the six riders I expect to be reasonable championship contenders in this class.
41 Hunter Lawrence – Honda HRC
The older brother to 250 East racer winner Jett Lawrence, Hunter enters his third full year running in America. He has only run a total of two Supercross races, both in Salt Lake City last year. Hunter missed the entire 2019 Supercross season due to injury and would have missed all of 2020 if the pandemic did not happen most likely as well. Outside a 13th and 7th place finish at the final 2 Salt Lake City rounds last year, all that we have seen from the elder Lawrence brother stateside has been in Motocross.
In 2019 when he made his American debut, Lawrence from the jump showed incredible speed but made too many mistakes and had bad motos following good ones often. In 2020 he had only one top 5 overall finish. That top 5 finish came in the final round of the year in Paleta, California. After that, he missed a few races due to injury as well. I believe that Hunter can be a supercross podium contender and possible race winner, but he must stay healthy and keep the bike upright, the former of which has been a challenge for the young Australian.
48 Garrett Marchbanks – ClubMX Yamaha
Last year’s 250 Daytona Supercross winner finds himself off Pro Circuit Kawasaki and on ClubMX Yamaha for 2021. After that Daytona win, Marchbanks came up with a 5th and a 3rd in his first two races in Salt Lake City, but in his third, he had a brutal crash in the second to last Salt Lake City near the end of a rhythm section that knocked him off the bike for the rest of the year. Despite this, he still finished 4th in points in the 250 East class but ended up losing his ride at Pro Circuit Kawasaki.
Marchbanks now finds himself in a situation like Carson Mumford, now off of a major team and onto a smaller team. Marchbanks is only 19 years old and only in his third professional year. He proved last year that he can be a race-winning rider, and he gets the chance to show Pro Circuit Kawasaki Team Manager Mitch Payton that he made a mistake letting him walk last year.
80 Jordon Smith – Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki
Let us roll the clocks back to May 2017. Jordon Smith, then with Troy Lee Designs Red Bull KTM was running second place in the 2017 East/West showdown race in Las Vegas, and at this point, on his way to winning the 250 East Championship, but then Smith wrecked twice in about a minute, the second crash costing him a championship and the rest of 2017. That night was the beginning of a long series of injuries for Jordon Smith and last year tore his ACL in his right knee at Daytona, which also cost him the rest of that ensuing year.
Since that 2017 Las Vegas injury, Smith has finished outside the top 10 in supercross points twice. However, in the lone season he was fully healthy for, in 2018, Smith finished second in points to the current 450 Motocross Champion Zach Osborne and won at Daytona. Health permitting, Smith will most likely be a week in week out contender in the 250 West Class this year. He will be a considerable title threat.
31 Cameron McAdoo – Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki
This is hopefully the year that McAdoo can put a full season together. If he does, he can compete for a championship. McAdoo has shown flashes to this point in his career, having a couple of career podiums to his name, but the week-to-week speed has not been there for the now fourth-year pro.
Last year he ended up missing races due to injury at San Diego, so he gets a pass for finishing 12th in points. In 2019 he ended up 5th and the four riders who bested him that year? Dylan Ferrandis, Adam Cianciarulo, Colt Nichols, and RJ Hampshire. No shame whatsoever in losing to those guys. Now with another year under his belt, perhaps 2021 is where Cam McAdoo rams it (if you know you know) and puts himself into the upper echelon of the 250 Class in Monster Energy Supercross.
32 Justin Cooper – Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha
In his professional supercross career, Justin Cooper has not once in 19 career 250 Main Event starts finished outside of the top 10 and in both of his full-time supercross seasons, has finished second place in points. Consistency is the name of the game with Justin Cooper. There are very few people that are at or above him in the 250 class in regards to consistency. Last year he fell short in the 250 West Class to Dylan Ferrandis by 20 points on the dot but racked up his first career win at Anaheim 1 and put his YZ250 on the podium in five out of a possible nine rounds, so by no means was 2020 a failure for Cooper, and he enters 2021 with high expectations.
Cooper signed a 2-year contract extension with Star Yamaha late last year to take him to the end of his 250 career before he moves up to the 450s. I would be stunned if he doesn’t at least win one championship in that span. His raw consistency will make him a hard out in every race he is in, and I would imagine he takes home more than one main event win this season. However, perhaps his biggest competition may be parked right next to him at The Star Yamaha team rig.
6 Jeremy Martin – Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha
Jeremey Martin may be the best story in the entire industry over the last 48 or so months. In 2018 he suffered a back injury at The Muddy Creek National in Tennessee in June of that year that knocked him out for the rest of 2018. However, due to botched back surgery, he missed both supercross and motocross in 2019 and did not race until October of 2019. So, it was very cool to see him contending for race wins and championships last year. I cannot imagine what the grind to get back to racing was like for him.
Now, in 2021, after his stint with Geico Honda, Martin is back with Star Yamaha, where he won back-to-back Motocross in 2014 and 2015, and they are probably a better team now than they were back then, which is the scary thing. While Martin, I would say, is more known for his motocross skill over supercross. He is by no stretch bad at the latter. With about a year and a half of him racing again, Martin puts himself in a great spot to win a 250 Supercross Championship before maybe moving up to the 450 Class. For what it is worth, he is going to turn 28 in May. I would imagine the clock is ticking on his 250 career, and it is getting close to midnight.
If I had to make a preseason championship pick here, I would go with Martin. Cooper will give him a run for his money, but I think Martin will do just enough to get his first career 250 Supercross Championship when it’s all said and done. Also, I think Marchbanks steals a win at some point for ClubMX Yamaha. And of the four main rookies, my guess is Robertson does the best of that group, but ultimately, I see all four of those riders showing flashes of good speed throughout this championship.
Follow Jack Gaffney on Twitter @JackGaffneyPTST
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