Getting to the second part of our 450 Class Motocross preview, there are still several championship-caliber riders to touch base on. Star Yamaha most notably is sending out the All-Star trio of Eli Tomac, Christian Craig, and defending Champion Dylan Ferrandis. Additionally, Jason Anderson takes on the great outdoors for the first time with Team Green. As well as Red Bull GasGas’ Justin Barcia and H.E.P Suzuki’s Brandon Hartranft as well.
Be sure to keep up with all of our Motocross coverage.
Monster Energy Kawasaki
No. 17 Joey Savatgy
2021 Stats: 22 Moto Starts, 0 Moto Wins, 0 National Wins, Average Moto Finish of 11, 8th in Points
With Adam Cianciarulo out for the year to get 100 percent healthy, Monster Kawi made a great move bringing Savatgy back into the fold. With the Butler Bros last year, he ran respectably for the whole season, the capped off the year with a sixth, seventh, and ninth overall run in succession. That finish matches up well with how Savatgy ended out his 2019 Motocross season, that being his only year with Monster Energy Kawasaki on a 450. A strong season should make him a good free agent option this fall.
No. 21 Jason Anderson
Ran only Pala 1 last year, going 10-4 for 6th Overall.
Excluding 2019, Anderson has raced an average of four Nationals a season dating back to 2016. The lone year in that span he made every round (2019), El Hombre ended up fourth in points, losing out to only Marvin Musquin, Ken Roczen, and Tomac. Additionally, he got tabbed for that year’s Motocross Des Nations entry for his efforts. Seeing as Anderson is now coming off a career-best Supercross campaign in year one with Kawasaki, a big-time summer could be on the horizon for Team Fried and friends. With Husqvarna, Anderson was typically a top-five guy for a wide majority of the Nationals he made for reference.
Twisted Tea/HEP Motorsports Suzuki
No. 19 Justin Bogle
2021 Stats: 24 Moto Starts, 0 Moto Wins, 0 National Wins, Average Moto Finish of 14.21, 13th in Points
For Bogle, this is his 12th season taking on the Great Outdoors, I feel very old saying that. After finishing ninth in the 2019 season, the Oklahoma native has since had back-to-back seasons in 13th. Last year it took him 15 Motos to get a top 10 run, the after that Bogle rattled off five more before the year ended. As a reminder, Bogle does have a 450 National win to his name, that being at Budds Creek in 2017 with RCH/Yoshimura Suzuki going 1-3.
No. 41 Brandon Hartranft
2021 Stats: 24 Moto Starts, 0 Moto Wins, 0 National Wins, Average Moto Finish of 13.83, 12th in Points
Hartranft had a very similar year to his teammate Bogle in 2021. The only difference was that the pride of Brick, New Jersey picked up six consecutive top 10 Moto finishes ending the season after having zero before that stretch. This Motocross season is a big one for Hartnranft, he won’t be a title contender, but he has a very real shot of securing a career number. To do that, he needs to finish top 10 in combined Supercross/Motocross points between both classes. As of this moment, he sits in ninth (excluding Supercross only riders, and riders who are currently injured).
Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing
No. 51 Justin Barcia
2021 Stats: 14 Moto Starts, 1 Moto Win, 1 National Win, Average Moto Finish of 5.07, 9th in Points
Bam Bam’s excellent outdoor season a year ago was cut significantly short due to injury. He finished top-five Overall in all but two rounds (RedBud and High Point) and had two Overall podiums. After Barcia’s final round at Washougal, he sat fourth in points, but just 17 points back of then second place Roczen. As long as he doesn’t make any more enemies, this should be a good Motocross run for Barcia.
Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha
No. 3 Eli Tomac
2021 Stats: 24 Moto Starts, 6 Moto Wins, 2 National Wins, Average Moto Finish of 4.08, 2nd in Points
2021 started out uncharacteristically bad for ET3. An uninspiring 9-8 at Pala 1 was backed up by a brutal 11-10 which was worse than it appeared at Thunder Valley. Even after, some major Moto 1 struggles cost him multiple National wins throughout the year. In fact, Tomac only won second Motos last year, which had never happened in any of his 450 Motocross seasons.
Now with Star Yamaha, there is optimism Tomac could be back to what we were used to seeing from 2017-19, even with the hurt knee. If he does pull off the clean sweep of the Supercross and Motocross Championships, he would be the first 450 rider to do so since Ryan Dungey in 2015. Seeing as he may be Supercross only after this season, this is likely his last shot to do that, as well as win a Motocross Des Nations, and he should be the leader in the clubhouse for the U.S. effort this fall at RedBud if the knee isn’t an issue.
No. 29 Christian Craig
2021 Stats: 22 Moto Starts, 0 Moto Wins, 0 National Wins, Average Moto Finish of 8.68, 6th in Points
As of the first gate drop this Saturday at Pala, Craig will officially become a full-time 450 rider. He has run a 450 outdoors far more than he has run a 250, but he isn’t going back down to the small bike anymore. In the last two seasons, Craig has finished twice in the points, last year with Star Yamaha, and Honda HRC in 2020. Additionally, this will be it for Craig and Star Yamaha, as he will be off to Rockstar Energy Husqvarna in 2023.
No. 1 Dylan Ferrandis
2021 Stats: 24 Moto Starts, 8 Moto Wins, 6 National Wins, Average Moto Finish of 2.08, Defending 450 AMA Motocross Champion
It has been a good minute since we last saw Ferrandis in race action, but he is a full go try and defend his Motocross Championship. His rookie 450 season was nothing short of incredible, not due to wins, but an absurd amount of consistency. Ferrandis’ worst Moto finish was a fifth, and he finished on the Overall podium in every single round a year ago. Not to mention his average finish barely above a second.
Ferrandis’ starts in Supercross are a well-known issue at this point, but that isn’t the case in Motocross. This year before he got hurt, he averaged a start of 10.4 in Supercross, while last year in Motocross, he averaged a start of 5.7. How his starts are that drastically different is certainly a conundrum, but it didn’t hurt him any last summer. The likely captain for Team France in the ’22 Des Nations also secured a contract extension with Star Yamaha, as he now looks to win his first two 450 Motocross Championships in a row.
Preseason 450 AMA Motocross Top 10 Power Rankings
(Under the assumption that Antonio Cairoli is in for the full season)
10. No. 7 Aaron Plessinger
9. No. 28 Christian Craig
8. No. 51 Justin Barcia
7. No. 23 Chase Sexton
6. No. 5 Ryan Dungey
5. No. 94 Ken Roczen
4. No. 21 Jason Anderson
3. No. 222 Antonio Cairoli
2. No. 1 Dylan Ferrandis
1. No. 3 Eli Tomac
2022 AMA Lucas Oil Pro Motocross 450 Championship Pick: Dylan Ferrandis
Preseason Team USA Motocross Des Nations Team Pick: Jason Anderson (MX1), Justin Cooper (MX2), Eli Tomac (Open)
Follow Jack Gaffney on Twitter @JackGaffneyPTST
Main Image via Yamaha