2022 AMA Pro Motocross 250 Class Previewby Jack Gaffney May 22, 2022 0 comments
Officially, the Great Outdoors are now under a week out with the first of two Nationals at Pala. Naturally, the previews with the 50th season of AMA Pro Motocross will begin with the small-bore 250 class. Jett Lawrence won this Championship a year ago over Justin Cooper, and now looks to repeat amidst an intriguing field. Interesting being used due to several riders either switching to a 450 for Motocross or missing the series entirely. Most notably of which is 250 West Supercross Champion Christian Craig along with R.J. Hampshire. In addition to ClubMX FXR Muc-Off Yamaha bound Jeremy Martin.
On the other side of things, there are also several riders back at the gate after Supercross injuries. That list includes Cooper, Colt Nichols, Jett Reynolds, and Seth Hammaker to name a few. So how do things stack up in the 250 Class? Let’s find out. This preview will differ from the 450 class, in that we will go over ‘the top 10’ entering the season opener.
Be sure to keep up with all of our Motocross coverage.
No. 36 Max Vohland – Red Bull KTM
2021 Stats: 24 Moto Starts, 0 Moto Wins, 0 National Wins, Average Moto Finish of 12.25, 9th in Points
If you are confused by this placement based on Vohland’s Supercross season, that is more than fair. However, he did a fine job in his rookie Motocross campaign a year ago. He had just two Moto finishes outside the top 20 the entire season, both of which were mechanical issues when he was running inside the top 10. This isn’t to say Vohland will be a title contender, but expect some good rides out of the No. 36 Red Bull KTM machine this summer.
No. 59 Levi Kitchen – Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha
2021 Stats: 12 Moto Starts, 0 Moto Wins, 0 National Wins, Average Moto Finish of 13.5, 19th in Points
Star Yamaha opted to go in an interesting strategy with the Master Chef (put it on a shirt) last season. He ended up making his pro debut last season at RedBud before his final trip to Loretta Lynn’s. Hard to say if that move helped him en route to winning both the 250 and Open Pro Sport classes, but it certainly didn’t hurt him any. Kitchen missed all but two rounds in his rookie Supercross campaign, but he should be a name worth looking out for. He absolutely dominated Loretta’s his final two years as an amateur, the Master Chef has legit race-winning speed.
No. 33 Austin Forkner – Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki
2021 Stats: 24 Moto Starts, 0 Moto Wins, 0 National Wins, Average Moto Finish of 12.13, 7th in Points
2021 was just Forkner’s fourth season in Motocross as a professional, missing all of 2019 and 2020 with injury. In his last two tries at the Great Outdoors, the Kawasaki rider finished seventh in points both times oddly enough. Forkner also had a strong end to the season, picking up top-fives in six of his last eight Motos. Consistency was an issue well into the second half of the year, however, not having a top-five Overall result until Budds Creek in late August. Hard to say if the consistency can stick for Motocross, but Forkner looked great to end Supercross.
No. 48 Cameron McAdoo – Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki
Suffered season-ending knee injury at Pala 1 Moto 2
An injury ended Wackers Motocross season far too early, and then an AC joint issue ended his 2022 Supercross season early as well. Not that it matters now, but McAdoo was running exceptionally well before that injury a few months ago. Regardless, this is Motocross season No. 3 for him with the Mitch Payton squad. In 2020 he ran very well save for some bad outings at Millville and Thunder Valley, ending up ninth in points. As long as the shoulder holds up and he can avoid any additional issues, McAdoo should be in for a good summer.
No. 29 Michael Mosiman – Troy Lee Designs Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing
2021 Stats: 18 Moto Starts, 0 Moto Wins, 0 National Wins, Average Moto Finish of 9.27, 8th in Points
Mosiman could have finished as high as sixth in points last year if not for a practice crash costing him a pair of rounds. After a 35-15 outing a RedBud, the GasGas rider rattled off top 10s in all but one of his final 12 Motos on the season. Steve Matthes had Mosiman as his 250 breakout candidate and it isn’t hard to see why. he just has to put everything together, and Mosiman is capable of doing so.
No. 31 Jalek Swoll – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing
2021 Stats: 17 Moto Starts, 1 Moto Win, 1 National Win, Average Moto Finish of 11.05, 11th in Points
Swoll wasn’t as consistent as either Mosiman or Forkner last year, but they didn’t win a National like Swoll did either which gives him the leg up here. He ended up missing two Nationals, then had a DNS at Washougal which hurt the final point total a good deal. Swoll, unfortunately, faced some injuries this year in Supercross as well. Most notably his scary wreck at Anaheim 1 which cost him the Main Event later on that evening, and the following week. He ended the Supercross tilt with a 10th in Salt Lake City which is encouraging, but he needs to stay consistent, we know he can win at this point.
No. 30 Jo Shimoda – Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki
2021 Stats: 24 Moto Starts, 0 Moto Wins, 0 National Wins, Average Moto Finish of 9.08, 5th in Points
For what it’s worth, Shimoda is our breakout candidate for this Motocross season in the 250 Class. Outside of a few rough outings, he was excellent despite not getting a National win. Further cementing that point, he had a triad of second overalls at Southwick, Ironman, and Hangtown, finishing runner up to either Cooper or a Lawrence brother each time. Those three riders are certainly higher in the pecking order, but a healthy expectation for Shimoda is to put his KX250 on top of the box at least once. Should be big as he likely becomes the defacto captain for Team Japan at Des Nations this fall.
No. 32 Justin Cooper – Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha
2021 Stats: 24 Moto Starts, 7 Moto Wins, 2 National Wins, Average Moto Finish of 3, 2nd in Points
Cooper is a full go for what will be his last chance to get a 250 Motocross title before he moves up next year. He had an excellent opportunity to do so a year ago but came around a half dozen points shy of a Championship. A bad Moto 2 at Washougal and a 4-4 at Ironman were the main reasons why. Cooper hasn’t been in a race situation in eight months which is why both Lawrence brothers outrank him here, but he can absolutely beat them this year. His starts a year ago were electric, akin to Jorge Prado over the in ‘GPs. Finishing out Motos was an occasional issue, but nothing like the Spanish GasGas rider. as long as the key mistakes go away, Cooper has as good a shot at the title as anyone.
No. 96 Hunter Lawrence – Honda HRC
2021 Stats: 24 Moto Starts, 2 Moto Wins, 1 National Win, Average Moto Finish of 5.92, 3rd in Points
No 250 rider enters the Motocross season with more momentum than the elder Lawrence brother. He went 4-for-6 to close the Supercross season for his best season, right on the heels of his best Motocross season in the United States in 2021 as well. Both of his Moto wins came at Southwick in the brutal New England summer humidity, but that was also his last podium run of the season. Despite that, he finished third in the standings behind Cooper and his brother Jett. Seeing as he was to end Supercross, there is no reason to believe a jump in his Motocross production wont come either. Additionally, both Lawrence brothers should be locks for the Australian Des Nations squad.
No. 1 Jett Lawrence – Honda HRC
2021 Stats: 24 Moto Starts, 8 Moto Wins, 4 National Wins, Average Moto Finish of 3, Defending 250 AMA Motocross Champion
The Jett technically began and concluded his Supercross season with injuries, but after a coast switch, won the 250 East title. Now he gets his first-ever crack at defending a No. 1 plate in the Great Outdoors. It wasn’t outright domination a year ago, but once Lawrence got the points lead late in the year, he never let it go. It would be a safe bet to assume it will not be an easy run to the title again in 2022 either. Additionally, the 250 Motocross title has been successfully defended just once dating back to 2010 (JMart 2014-15). However, streaks don’t last forever and Lawrence has as good a shot as anyone in the last dozen years to go back to back.
2022 AMA Lucas Oil Pro Motocross 250 Championship Pick: Justin Cooper
Also as a reminder, AMA Motocross will be on MAVTV this year instead of Peacock. Be a friend, tell a friend.
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Main Image via Honda HRC