With defending 250 Class Champion Plessinger making the move up a division, that leaves a wide-open opportunity for a new young star to step up and claim his first career title. For the first time in nearly a decade there will not be a past champion in the field, as two-time titleholder Jeremy Martin, of GEICO Honda, will be forced to sit on the sidelines in his continued recovery from a major back injury suffered last season. That means a long list of budding talent will be chomping at the bit from the moment the first gate drops.
JGRMX/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing’s Alex Martin and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo are arguably the most experienced riders in the 250 Class, and they will be expected to take the reins from the get-go. After breaking through with his first win on American soil last season, Frenchman Dylan Ferrandis will certainly continue to build off his MXGP experience and challenge for the title with Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing, while fellow first-time winners RJ Hampshire (GEICO Honda) and Shane McElrath (Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM) now know what it takes to win and are in a position to take the next step to becoming perennial contenders.
Joining these title hopefuls is an extensive mix of riders with tons of potential, like Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing’s Justin Cooper, GEICO Honda’s Chase Sexton, and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Michael Mosiman, along with rider that have multiple seasons of experience like GEICO Honda’s Christian Craig, Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing’s Colt Nichols, and Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM’s Jordon Smith. Rookie Hunter Lawrence hopes his success in MXGP transfers to U.S. soil with GEICO Honda, as does American Thomas Covington, who will make his anticipated debut in his home championship with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing, after spending several years racing MX2 in Europe.