With FELD dropping their FIM sanctioning agreement last year for the ‘Supercross World Championship’, it didn’t take too long to find someone to take up that promotional mantle. That fell to Adam Bailey and Ryan Sanderson, the brain trust behind the AUS-X Open Supercross events in years past. Along with Tony Cochrane, who was instrumental in the growth of the Australian V8 Supercars Series throughout the 2000s. Together, they will begin the pilot season of WSX this weekend at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. From the format to the riders and teams and everything else in between, here’s what you need to know.
World Supercross Championship Format
In this Pilot season, there are just two weekends of racing, this weekend in Wales, then in a couple of weeks in Australia. Here are some interesting things to note, however. Firstly, to constitute an FIM World Championship, a series would need to be at least three rounds. By the FIM’s definition, this 2022 season is not a World Championship, but it is also worth noting that a third round was planned. That would have been in Indonesia, which has hosted MXGP rounds in recent years, but that fell through at some point.
As far as the events themselves, the SX Global group did a good job at bringing some of the elements of some international Supercross races into their races. There will be qualifying and heat races like in America, but there is an extra element for the 450/WSX Class in the form of Superpole. If you’ve watched Paris Supercross in the past, you probably know about this but for those who don’t, think of this like single-car qualifying in NASCAR. The top five riders in each WSX Class heat will get into the Superpole and those 10 total riders will battle for the top gate pick.
The night show will end with a Triple Crown format, but with a few key differences from how things go stateside. The biggest change is that each class will run their three Main Events back-to-back-to-back with five-minute breaks in between. The SX2 races will have six laps for the first two and eight for the final race. For WSX that becomes 10 laps for the opening two, and 12 for the finale. Championship Points will be paid out per race and not for the in-event overall finish. Additionally, a bonus point will go to the top qualifier in each class.
Teams and Riders
Bud Racing Kawasaki
A couple of familiar names headline this Bud Kawi squad with Soubey and Zombie Blose. Moss and Escoffier could be fresh faces for some, but Moss is one of Australia’s all-time best. In total, he has nine career National Supercross and Motocross Championships. Additionally, he helped Australia to get on the podium at the 2011 Motocross Des Nations. Meanwhile, Escoffier brings a decade of experience and two French National Supercross Championships to the table. Soubey has kept himself busy since he left the AMA scene in his native France, Blose meanwhile just wrapped up his final season of Monster Energy Supercross
ClubMX FXR Yamaha
Tons of familiar faces for the ClubMX crew in WSX. Harlan and Clason are both new for them after running the full AMA tilt earlier this year. Clason specifically had a great end of the year in Supercross, headlined by a career-best 10th at Detroit. Both he and Harlan getting the chance to run some better equipment is nice to see, they should be solid in these two weekends of racing. Moving onto the two preexisting riders for ClubMX in Owen and Nicoletti, the latter of which missed all of the AMA Motocross season with an arm injury. Despite that, Nicoletti was solid in the 250 East Championship for the rounds he did, exclusively finishing top 10 or better.
Craig Dack Racing (Australian Monster Energy Yamaha)
The Australian Factory Yamaha squad has one of the best units of the 10 WSX teams. That begins with Clout, who unfortunately missed the bulk of the AusMX series with a broken tibia and fibula after going 1-1 in the opener. His resume is impressive, with multiple Australian Motocross Championships to his name, and finished runner-up to Justin Brayton in the 2019 Supercross season. Joining him is former Monster Energy Supercross 450 Main Event winner Hill on the other 450.
Tanti comes into WSX after just winning the Australian MX1 title, and ended up running some 250 West rounds in 2020 before the shutdown. His teammate will be none other than CHIZ, who ran very well for himself on a Star Yamaha 250 for the rounds he was with them. Would imagine that this stint with CDR goes similarly.
Honda Genuine (FirePower Parts Honda)
The team that rivals CDR the most would be this Honda Genuine Squad. Roczen is the name that pops out first and for good reason. He recently became a free agent over him wanting to run in this series, and at least for the next few weeks, this is his new home. What we do know is that this is Wilson’s home for at least a little bit, as his expected deal with the team is now official. Another interesting note with him is that he is now running Fly Racing gear after years of going with O’Neil.
Down to the 250s, former MXGP rider Todd is back in Australia full time and just won the MX2 Championship. By no stretch is he unfamiliar with Supercross, he finished fourth in the 2018 Australian Championship, and second the year prior. Anstie, another former MXGP rider, is sticking with the Genuine Honda squad after joining during the summer. This is probably his best team since coming back to the states and the results should reflect that.
Jumping out right away for this NILS team is Tixier, a former MXoN winner with France and ‘GP veteran. This year he ran in the ADAC Masters MX series aboard a KTM. Finishing second in the points after winning the final round of the season. His 450 running mate Pellegrini, a well-traveled veteran, has a Geneva Supercross 250 win to his name back in 2006. Some AMA Supercross fans may remember Do, who ran exceptionally back in 2021 on the 250 East circuit. Now the Frenchman joins the NILS squad on a reserve basis. With him is multi-time Italian Supercross Champion Camporese.
MDK Motorsports (Freelance Team)
MDK serves as one of two teams in WSX that fits under the freelance/mercenary tagline. Meaning that they aren’t partnered with any one manufacturer, but in this case, they do have three KTM riders. Reedy of course is the big one, who comes out of retirement just a bit after he became a tester for KTM. Reed said on PulpMX that he feels in better shape now than he did in 2020, and the first chance we get to see that is this weekend. Former Anaheim 1 winner Grant also comes out of retirement and will be aboard a CRF450, for this stint.
Bogle, who doesn’t have a 2023 ride as of yet (as far as we know) gets one of the two 250 spots after a mixed year with H.E.P. Suzuki. Drake meanwhile is in the same boat, however, he ran with the BarX Suzuki team during the winter/summer. How Bogle does on the 250 will be interesting to watch. His Supercross season specifically was not going well, well into March.
The King of France/Australia/Geneva/etc Brayton is done with Monster Energy Supercross but is going global at least one last time. With the Australian Supercross series off since 2019, he still technically is their national Champion and has several standalone international event wins to his name. Longtime teammate Friese has also done well for himself outside of America and is back on the 450 after running a split schedule earlier this year.
The big surprise (when it was announced) was the return of Seely, who retired several years ago. Not only is he running WSX, but he also will run in the 250 West Supercross Championship this winter. With his time off, he is once again eligible to run a 250 in Supercross for those wondering. Oldenburg meanwhile had a great season with a split 450/250 East schedule. He also could have finished second in the 250 East points had some bike issues in Minneapolis made him miss that evening’s Main Event.
Pipes Motorsports Group (H.E.P/Twisted Tea/Progressive Suzuki)
WSX Riders: No. TBD Justin Starling and No. 61 Freddie Noren
SX2 Riders: No. 40 Dilan Schwartz and No. 59 Derek Kelley
This H.E.P/Pipes Suzuki team had undergone several changes due to some injuries. Brandon Hartranft and Marshall Weltin were both slated to run WSX but have both recently gone down. In their place, Justin Starling just yesterday was announced as the fill-in for Hartranft, and Kelly the fill-in for Weltin, despite the WSX site having a Robbie Wageman profile with a picture of Kelley on it. Schwartz hops over from BarX Suzuki to run a 250 on the same brand of bike. Noren meanwhile is back with the RMArmy, last running a Suzuki when he was with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2020.
Team GSM Yamaha
WSX Riders: No. 26 Thomas Ramette and No. 945 Anthony Bourdon
SX2 Riders: No. 141 Maxime Desprey and No. 910 Carson Brown
The French heavy GSM Yamaha squad features one American in the form of Brown, who has been a Supercross specialist, and a good one at that on a 250 KTM. How he does on what at the base level is considered the best bike in the business in the YZ250, will be one of the sneakier big storylines to watch out for. On the 250 with him is Desprey, the dual French 450 Supercross and Motocross Champion from 2021. The two 450 spots belong to firstly Ramette, a multi-time French Supercross, and British Arenacross Champion. He’s being paired up with Bourdon who already has a 250 Supercross Championship to his credit.
Rick Ware Racing (Freelance Team)
Rick Ware Racing, a mainstay in NASCAR, IMSA, and IndyCar, re-enters the motocross realm for the first time in over a decade. Speaking of NASCAR, they ended up running a WSX-sponsored car for the Bristol Night race a few weeks ago. In any case, they support a solid group of mercenary riders, headlined by Joey Savatgy, who will be on a KX450. He just came off an impressive outdoor campaign with Monster Energy Kawasaki so it seems he’s sticking with what worked this summer. Breece meanwhile had a rock solid 450 Supercross season earlier this year, finishing 17th in the points.
The last time we saw McElrath on a 250 for Supercross, he nearly won a 250 regional title, and that was also on a Yamaha Colt Nichols would have also been on a Yamaha YZ250 for the RWR team, had he not just reportedly signed a Supercross-only deal with Honda HRC as a Roczen/Jett Lawrence bridge option. Doesn’t sound like RWR was thrilled about this but this is a significantly bigger opportunity for Nichols, who will now miss everything in 2022 outside of Anaheim 1. In his place is Miller, who finished 18th in 250 East action earlier this year.
Wales: Eli Tomac, Dylan Woodcock, Dylan Walsh, and Jack Brunell
Australia: Brett Metcalfe, Nathan Crawford, Kyle Webster, and Rhys Budd
What I’m Looking For
The biggest thing that I am looking out for with WSX is mainly their presentation. Not only that, what are they doing from both a TV and in-stadium perspective that say, FELD isn’t right now? One thing we do know is that there’s going to be a mid-event concert held this weekend, as well as some FMX. More so than that, are things moving along quickly throughout the evening. One thing I know that FELD cares about with their productions is the concept of ‘show flow’. Both from working a weekend of Monster Jam events and having several friends in that industry in general. Generally speaking, I’d imagine the mentality in Monster Energy Supercross is the same. Especially with it being on live TV 95% of the time.
Additionally, the broadcasting crew should be very familiar to everyone; Ralph Shaheen, Jeff Emig, and Kristen Beat. The network should be familiar as well (for those in the states, here’s the link for everything), Fox Sports 1. Something else worth monitoring is how the TV broadcast looks, and are key things being missed out on during the racing with replays or things of that nature. One thing I wouldn’t be worried about is the tracks for this series, both this year and going forward. These tracks will be up to par with the ones that FELD/Dirt Wurx put up without question.
‘Championship’ Picks: Ken Roczen (WSX), Kyle Chisholm (SX2)
Follow Jack Gaffney on Twitter @JackGaffneyTDT
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images