That is basically what it is for these following riders: A Fresh Start. A fresh start can do wonders to a rider’s mind. Most internet keyboard warriors have written a rider off when you have a bad year and they say you will never win again. In a rider's mind there is no such thing and that comment is the furthest thing from the truth, when they are on their honeymoon with their new rides. Sometimes, just sometimes all it takes is a tiny little spark to create a wildfire burning out of control and these riders hope to get that spark with their change of scenery. Here are some predictions and some rumblings I have heard recently on the transplants.

Trey Canard (Team Red Bull KTM):

Trey has to be one of the nicest human beings on planet earth. Honda was sad to see him go, but they were getting that German guy so there was no budget left for the gingered Oklahoma kid. I have spoke with some of the KTM Red Bull guys and they told me that Trey couldn’t believe how fast the KTM 450 SX-F was on the first day he rode it. He was blown away by how fast it was out of corners and that it was very stable through the whoops. After watching Trey at the Red Bull Straight Rhythm I would say he is just scratching the surface with testing and has some work to do, to feel completely comfortable on the orange pumpkin. If he can stay healthy throughout the entire AMA Supercross Series then Trey will be on the box and in the top 5 a lot.

Trey Canard
Trey CanardPhoto by Shan Moore

Ken Roczen (Team American Honda Factory Racing):

If there is one guy that will dethrone Ryan Dungey as champion it’s this guy, Ken Roczen. Watching him ride so aggressively in Las Vegas at the Monster Energy Cup was super impressive. Ken has more talent in his pinky toe than most guys lining up on the gate in a Main Event. He is happy with his switch, along with getting paid a boat load of money will make Ken hard to beat in 2017, in my opinion. Watching him ride a bone stock 2017 CRF450R in Alabama at the Honda introduction was something to behold. You might not believe it when he says, “this is the best bike that I have ridden”, but after watching him ride a stocker you can see it is really true. Look for Ken to make an impression early on in the series on his rivals to shatter their confidence.

Ken Roczen
Ken RoczenPhoto by Jeff Kardas

Justin Barcia (Team Joe Gibbs Racing Suzuki)

It was shocking to see JGR move to another brand after being on Yamahas for so long. Reports were that Yamaha didn’t really offer up enough money to JGR after knowing they were going to have a full factory effort with Cooper and Chad. The person who benefited the most out of the separation was Justin Barcia. Barcia wasn’t too happy with the Yamaha’s set up and feel in 2016, as he was looking for more front end feel a lot of the time. Going to Suzuki in 2017 Justin and his teammates Weston Peick and Phil Nicoletti will have a ton of front end feel. The Suzuki’s are a front-end steering animal and this will most likely give Barcia that spark I was talking about earlier. Barcia has the speed for a podium at any given race, but he will need to stay off the ground and not make any new enemies to succeed in 2017. With some of the videos of Justin riding that are out now you can really see his style adapt to the new yellow zook. Look for Justin to “rev” his way into the mix by the end of the west coast swing.

Justin Barcia
Justin BarciaCourtesy of JGR

Cooper Webb (Team Yamaha Factory Racing):

Same colored machine just almost twice the cc’s. I feel that moving up a class is almost like hopping on a brand new bike. It feels different on the track and you basically have to get accustomed to all that newfound horsepower. Cooper has already proven himself on the big bike in last year’s off-season races by winning an Australian SX round. He rides the 450 really well and rides it where it should be ridden, in the lower RPMs. He knows all of the guys at the factory and has a strong mind to win races. Can he win the title in 2017? No, but he will win races because he is a strong headed rider that never settles. He is in a low-pressure situation this year, but he will learn quickly and make life a lot harder on Dungey and Roczen by the halfway point in the series.

Cooper Webb
Cooper WebbPhoto by Jeff Kardas

Stewart Brothers (Team Unknown):

Malcolm Stewart looked to have a Geico Honda 450 ride in place, but at the last minute that fell through due to funding. He has been racing some overseas races on a Geico Honda that they are letting him ride for now, but look for Malcolm to put his own deal together or he will be Honda’s fill in rider (in case one of the rider’s gets hurt). James “Bubba” Stewart reportedly wanted to ride the new generation Honda with the help of Geico along with some of his own sponsors, but as Malcolm’s deal fell through so did his older brother’s. Its amazing that your East Coast 250 SX Champion is left without a ride and one of the most influential figures in our sport’s history doesn’t have a deal either. So if you’re a privateer whining about not having anything just look at who else doesn’t have a ride as well.

Malcolm Stewart
Malcolm StewartPhoto by Shan Moore
James Stewart
James StewartPhoto by Shan Moore

Jeremy Martin (Geico Honda):

He is back in the 250 class for one last year and will move up to 450 in 2018. Jeremy was seen pitted out of the back of the semi with an EZ-UP at the end of the outdoor nationals last year. That’s how bad it got between him and the Star Racing Yamaha team. The 2015 250 MX Champ will be looking to prove to everyone that he can get that elusive 250 SX title that he hasn’t seemed to be able to grasp yet. I predict he will take care of that problem this year with the Geico Honda ride and move along to outdoors and show everyone why he is a two time national champion. It also is reported that ex factory rider Wil Hahn will be the team's test rider to help with set up and general direction of the bike. Mike LaRocco is getting up in years and the team needs someone younger that can test parts for supercross.

Jeremy Martin
Jeremy MartinPhoto by Preston Jordan