The anticipation and excitement surrounding the 50th Anniversary of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, moved one day closer to becoming a reality on Tuesday as the biggest names in American motocross converged on Southern California’s Fox Raceway, site of Saturday’s Honda Fox Raceway I National, for an exclusive ride day.
A pair of 30-minute sessions apiece for riders in both the 250 Class and 450 Class served as a proverbial sneak peek of the impending 2022 season, which included the best look yet at the riders generating headlines entering the summer.
The ride day provided the first official opportunity to see the number one plates adorning the Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing machine of reigning 450 Class Champion Dylan Ferrandis and the Team Honda HRC ride piloted by defending 250 Class Champion Jett Lawrence. The international duo took the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship by storm one year ago and will look to accomplish one of the sport’s toughest challenges this season, a successful title defense.
The preseason riding session also marked the first time the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing trio of Aaron Plessinger, Ryan Dungey, and Antonio Cairoli took to the track together. Dungey’s anticipated return to competition after his retirement in 2017 has been one of the biggest stories of the two-week transition from Monster Energy Supercross to the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. Likewise, Cairoli’s long-awaited U.S. debut has the industry buzzing about the prospects of what one of Europe’s most decorated racers can do against the star-studded Pro Motocross contingent at the opening two rounds of the summer.
It was also a welcome sight to see several riders make their return from extended layoffs, whether it was recovery from injury or a much-needed break to return to full health. Plessinger’s recovery from a broken arm has him eager to rekindle the speed he showed last season, while Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen appears healthy and motivated after a brief sabbatical from competition that dated back to March. In the 250 Class, a slew of riders were back on track, including the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki duo of Seth Hammaker and Cameron McAdoo, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Stilez Robertson, Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing’s Levi Kitchen, and reigning Rookie of the Year Max Vohland aboard his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing machine.
Rounding things out were the debuts of Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Shane McElrath, who will lead the charge for the team’s 450 Class efforts to start the season, and Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing’s Nick Romano, who will make a surprise move to the pro ranks this summer after a stellar amateur career. Fellow Star Racing rider Matt LeBlanc hit the track as well, as he prepares to test the waters of Pro Motocross at the opening two rounds before chasing continued success this August at the Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship.
The 50th Anniversary of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship kicks off with its own Memorial Day weekend celebration this Saturday, May 28, at Fox Raceway. A full slate of live coverage of all four motos will air on both MAVTV Motorsports Network and MAVTV Plus, beginning at 1 p.m. PT / 4 p.m. ET.