2017 250cc East SX Preview

Steve Cox | February 16, 2017

2017 250cc East SX Preview: As the 250cc West pilots go on hiatus for a few weeks – and begin to heal up from six weeks of bone-jarring, bruise-inducing madness during the very wet and rutted west-coast supercross-season opening volley – a whole new batch of racers prepares to hit the track starting this Saturday in Minneapolis. Here’s what we know, in alphabetical order by motorcycle manufacturer:

2017 250cc East SX Preview

GEICO Honda
RJ Hampshire (31) and Christian Craig (48) will be joined in due time by rookie Chase Sexton (486). PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY GEICO HONDA

GEICO Honda

31            RJ Hampshire

48            Christian Craig

486            Chase Sexton

Last year’s 250cc East champs (with Malcolm Stewart) are taking another swing at it this year, but without the racer who pulled it off. Instead, the Factory Connection squad is bringing in Christian Craig. Craig won his first 250cc Main last year out West and was a consistent podium finisher through most of the series on his way to third in the points. He broke his Tib/Fib at the Glen Helen National last summer, but has had all the time he needs to get ready to go for the 250cc East. Joining him will be RJ Hampshire, who achieved a season-best fourth-place at St. Louis last year. Rookie Chase Sexton broke both of his wrists in December and was hoping to be ready for round one in Minneapolis, but he’s not quite there yet. He hopes to be ready by Atlanta, but his status is race-by-race. On paper, Craig is this team’s expected title contender.

2017 250cc East SX Preview

Cameron McAdoo
Cameron McAdoo standing in front of the new Toyota Tacoma he was awarded for grabbing both holeshots on his way to winning the Amateur All Stars event at last year’s Monster Energy Cup in Las Vegas. PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE COX

Smartop/Motoconcepts Honda

812            Cameron McAdoo

Cameron McAdoo is coming in hot to the 250cc East. A rookie, McAdoo pulled off an upset win in the Amateur All Stars event at last October’s Monster Energy Cup in Las Vegas against a lot of factory-backed talent.

2017 250cc East SX Preview

Zach Osborne
Zach Osborne will be representing Husky back east. PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE COX

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna

16            Zach Osborne

In what will likely be his final season racing 250s, 28-year-old Zach Osborne is among the elder statesmen of the class. He’s raced the 250cc West the last few years and seems to always hang around on or very near the podium, but he has yet to win his first supercross. Last summer, he broke through to win his first-ever 250cc National MX event, so if the mental side has been holding him up, it’s possible he’s past that now. Osborne should definitely be a title contender.

2017 250cc East SX Preview

Adam Cianciarulo
Adam Cianciarulo will be competing in supercross for the first time since 2014, when he won three of the first five rounds of the 250cc East. PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY KAWASAKI

Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki

17            Joey Savatgy

36            Adam Cianciarulo

On paper, either of these two could come home as the 2017 250cc East champ. Joey Savatgy won three main events in 2016 out West and lost the championship by a single point. Outdoors, Savatgy did a lot of winning again, but late in the series he seemed to hit a wall in terms of fitness or possible illness. That’s the only question hovering over Savatgy’s head. As for Adam Cianciarulo, this 20-year-old former amateur phenom came in hot in his supercross debut in 2014. He won three main events in the first five rounds before his shoulder popped out of socket, dropping him out of the championship. Since then, at least for supercross, he’s just been injured. Cianciarulo missed the 2015 season after blowing his shoulder out at an overseas race in Switzerland in the off-season, and then missed the 2016 season after breaking his wrist just before the start of the 250cc East. However, Cianciarulo showed back up outdoors in 2016, and after essentially racing himself into shape (or at least nearly so), he managed to run up front for much of the last half of the series, including a season-best podium finish at Budds Creek. If he’s healthy, he’s proven he can win indoors.

2017 250cc East SX Preview

Alex Martin
Alex Martin is taking on the 250cc East with his new team, TLD/Red Bull KTM. PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIT PALMER

TLD/Red Bull KTM

26            Alex Martin

44            Jordon Smith

Alex Martin and Jordon Smith are both new-additions to the TLD/Red Bull KTM team, and both come from very strong, venerated teams prior to landing with the TLD squad. In his first season on a “factory” squad last year, Martin (then with the Star Racing Yamaha team) caught fire at the start of the AMA National MX Series, finishing on the podium in 14 out of 24 motos, winning two of those, and finished second in points. He hasn’t had that kind of success just yet in supercross, but then again, he hadn’t had that kind of success outdoors until last year, either. Smith comes from the GEICO Honda team, where he frankly struggled for nearly the entire duration of his time there. Both are top talents, so we’ll know more about how prepared they are after the gate drops this Saturday.

2017 250cc East SX Preview

Benny Bloss
Benny Bloss (center) will be taking on the full 250cc East schedule for his first time in 2017. PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE COX

Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM

34            Benny Bloss

Benny Bloss is easily the tallest professional motocross racer you’ll see at any races right now. At 6’5” tall, and in the ballpark of 180-190 pounds, Bloss is also likely the heaviest guy planning to contest the 250cc class. He’s only willing to do it in supercross, though, where heavier racers can often make up the difference. Outright horsepower isn’t nearly as big of a deal in supercross as it is outdoors. Last year, Bloss bounced around between 250cc teams before landing on this team to race a few 450cc supercrosses before the end of the series. Then, outdoors, he came alive with the team, finishing sixth in points, only one point behind fifth place, earning him a permanent spot on the team for 2017. Bloss is a really nice guy – a gentle giant, if you will – but he might turn some heads in the 250cc East if he can just manage to get some starts.

2017 250cc East SX Preview

Matt Bisceglia
Matt Bisceglia will miss the first couple of races, but will return soon after to make his JGR debut. PHOTOGRAPHY BY GARTH MILAN/COURTESY OF SUZUKI

AutoTrader/Monster Energy/Toyota JGR Suzuki

43            Matt Bisceglia

56            Kyle Peters

Matt Bisceglia has had a rough couple of years. After being dropped from the GEICO Honda squad, he joined a Suzuki team that went belly-up in 2016, then filled in at the factory Yoshimura Suzuki 450cc team for part of the MX Nationals. He signed with JGR to race 250s in 2017, but injured his foot in the off-season. He hoped to be ready for the start of the 250cc East, but he’s not quite there yet. He still plans to join the series after an undisclosed number of early rounds, but in the meantime the team has hired Kyle Peters to fill in. Peters is a solid racer who has hovered between fifth and 10th for much of his supercross career, and after he’s done filling in at JGR, he plans to head to Australia to race supercross there for Suzuki.

2017 250cc East SX Preview

Dylan Ferrandis
Dylan Ferrandis is making his US Supercross debut Saturday in Minneapolis. PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE COX

Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha

39            Colt Nichols

45            Mitchell Harrison

108            Dylan Ferrandis

Colt Nichols was a big signing for the factory-backed Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha team for 2017. Last year, racing for Yamaha support team CycleTrader/Rock River, Nichols surprised a lot of people by running up front and finishing five of the nine rounds inside the top five, including a season-best second place at Anaheim II. However, Nichols suffered a broken femur in the off-season, so he’s a question mark for the Minneapolis opener.* Dan Reardon was signed as a fill-in for Nichols on the 250cc West, guaranteeing that the team would have two guys ready for the 250cc East barring further mishaps. Then there’s Mitchell Harrison. Harrison was a rookie last year and had to learn a lot. He has a ton of raw speed and plenty of style, but he’s hoping to turn that, along with what he learned last year, into some better results in 2017. He’s joined by now-former GP racer Dylan Ferrandis, from France. Ferrandis has won MX2 GPs in the past, and was on the French Motocross of Nations team in 2014 when the team won in Latvia. He’s done well in overseas supercross events, but they aren’t quite the same as the AMA events. Still, he’s had plenty of time to prepare, and the 22-year-old is determined to make a life of it here in the USA.

2017 250cc East SX Preview

Lorenzo Locurcio
Venezuelan Lorenzo Locurcio will be making his debut on a #183 YZ250F in Minneapolis. PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE COX

CycleTrader/Rock River Yamaha

183            Lorenzo Locurcio

Lorenzo Locurcio is a 19-year-old rookie who is making his AMA Supercross debut in Minneapolis. Hailing from Venezuela, Locurcio is an unknown commodity in supercross, having only raced in the Amateur All Star event at the Monster Energy Cup last year – finishing 5th and 8th in the two motos.

2017 250cc East SX Preview

Kyle Cunningham
Kyle Cunningham is taking on the East on a Blue Buffalo Dog Food-backed YZ250F. His Frenchies apparently approve. PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY LEEANN CUNNINGHAM’S FACEBOOK PAGE

Blue Buffalo/Slater Skins Yamaha

42            Kyle Cunningham

Another of the elder statesmen of the 250cc class, Texan Kyle Cunningham is preparing for his 11th season of racing. He’ll definitely be putting the Blue Buffalo Yamahas into the main events, but the rest of the equation depends mostly on his starts.

For more of the latest news and information from the world of motocross and supercross, click here.

*This article has been changed to indicate that Colt Nichols would be racing the 250cc East. It originally indicated that Colt Nichols would miss the 250cc East with his broken femur.

steve@coxmx.com'

Steve Cox

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