After one of the most competitive series in history, the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series returns on Saturday, January 7 in Anaheim, California. Four former champions will again be expected to battle at the front each week, including two-time champions Chad Reed (Honda) and James Stewart (Yamaha), as well as defending champ Ryan Villopoto (Kawasaki) and 2010 champion Ryan Dungey (KTM). The grizzled old veteran known as Kevin Windham (Honda) is also back and capable of surprising the other front runners on any given weekend, particularly if the track gets technical or slippery.
Villopoto has to be the favorite, as he not only won the 2011 crown, he swept the Monster Energy Cup in Las Vegas in October to take a $1,000,000 prize. He also returns with the same team and bike, the Kawasaki KX450F that he is so familiar with.
Ryan Dungey moves to the KTM squad this year, but is returning to the mentorship of Roger DeCoster, his former team manager at Suzuki. Dungey isn’t always the fastest guy on the track, but he tends to ride smart and consistent laps that find him on the podium nearly every weekend.
James Stewart will ride a Yamaha again this year, but he changes teams to the Toyota/Yamaha/JGRMX team. Stewart is unquestionably one of the fastest riders in supercross history, but he has not won the title since 2009. He has been plagued by crashes, injuries and general inconsistency. He claims he is focused this year and intent on winning.
Chad Reed, in addition to his two championships, has more podium finishes than any supercross rider in history. He finished second last year in the championship to Villopoto during the debut season of his privately owned team Two-Two MotorSports. He will again campaign a Honda, although his stellar results last year mean he will have much more Honda factory support from the start of this series.
Young Trey Canard returns with the Honda factory team after scoring three wins in his rookie season last year. Canard seems to have natural speed on a 450, but he is coming back from a broken femur, and may need time to get up to the pace.
If last year is any indication, predicting the outcome of the 2012 series is a crap shoot. Can Stewart find the speed and consistency he showed a few years ago? Is Villopoto now the class of the field? Can DeCoster re-ignite Dungey’s winning ways? With more factory support this year, can Reed take the championship back? Will Canard be even faster in his sophomore season? Weigh in with your thoughts below.