When Honda’s Ryan Hughes began this 250 Outdoor National motocross season, there were high hopes for his performance on the new CRF450R motocrosser. After all, he had just smoked Yamaha’s Doug Dubach in a pre-season race, and his style seemed to work well with the new four-stroke.
Now, after a season that can best be described as mediocre, and a recent concussion that will keep him off the Motocross des Nations team, Honda has asked Mike LaRocco to step off his two-stroke 250 and ride the CRF450R during the last three Nationals of this season. This is a tall order for LaRocco, or any other rider who has spent a career on two-strokes. LaRocco is extremely strong, however, and Hughes has talked about the 450 literally leaping out of his hands on occasion as it accelerates. Perhaps, LaRocco can tame this monster better than Ryno.
The lack of engine braking from Honda’s 450 (something Honda’s reps have touted) will help LaRocco’s transition, as this aspect of other four-strokes poses the most difficult part of the learning curve for two-stroke specialists. In any event, with LaRocco virtually out of the championship points race at this point, he and Honda have nothing to lose. This should make the remainder of the season a lot more interesting.