Suzuki Announces Official 2003 Off-Road and MX Teams

Kit Palmer | November 14, 2002

Press Release: American Suzuki Motor Corporation (ASMC) today announced the lineups for its 2003 off-road/motocross racing teams. After capturing the Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Championship as well as a second consecutive World Off-Road Championship Series (WORCS) title in 2002, Suzuki is carrying plenty of winning momentum into 2003.

“The 2003 racing season is going to be a great one for Suzuki,” predicts Mel Harris, vice president of ASMC’s motorcycle/ATV division. “Never before has Suzuki combined such an impressive group of returning champions with such a promising roster of up-and-coming riders. The potential for Suzuki off-road racing in 2003 is enormous.”

Contesting AMA 250 Supercross next year will be Team SoBe Suzuki, with beverage-maker SoBe returning as title sponsor again in 2003. Team SoBe Suzuki will consist of former AMA 125cc Supercross and 125cc AMA/Chevy Trucks National Outdoor Motocross Champion Travis Pastrana, former 125 and 250cc World Champion Sebastien Tortelli and former AMA 125cc Supercross Champion Stephane Roncada. According to SoBe Suzuki Team Manager Roger DeCoster, Roncada will participate in the first five 250 Supercross events. He may move to the 125cc class, however, if DeCoster feels that Roncada can turn in a stronger performance there.

In supercross’ 125cc class, Suzuki will be represented by returning riders Danny Smith, Branden Jesseman and Sean Hamblin. Jesseman shined in the 2002 National Outdoors, finishing second overall and beating out Chad Reed. Hamblin, too, was a contender in the outdoors after joining SoBe Suzuki midseason. He was a regular top-10 finisher and carded a podium spot by season’s end. Complementing this winning trio is new Suzuki rider and French phenom Matthieu Lalloz.

The Suzuki-supported team is almost all new for 2003. The lone returning rider, Andrew Short, will campaign 125cc supercross with new teammates Ryan Morais and David Pingree in the West Region, while Daryl Hurley and Bobby Kiniry will compete in the East Region.

Also receiving factory support is the ECC Suzuki 125cc Supercross team. With all new riders, the team will be made up of former 125cc National Outdoor Motocross Champion Steve Lamson, former 125 West Region Supercross Champion Shae Bentley and former factory rider Shane Bess in the West Region, and Tyler Evans and Jeff Gibson in the East Region.

Team FMF Suzuki Off-Road remains intact for 2003, with 2002 GNCC Champion Rodney Smith, 2002 WORCS Champion Mike Kiedrowski and Steve Hatch all returning for another go.

Finally, the Suzuki-supported Arenacross team will consist of five-time Arenacross Champion Buddy Antunez and 2002 AMA Horizon Award winner Evan Laughridge, both campaigning the 125 and 250cc classes for 2003.

Kit Palmer | Off-Road Editor

Kit Palmer started his career at Cycle News in 1984 and he’s been testing dirt and streetbikes every since – plus covering any event that uses some form of a knobby tire. He’s also our resident motorcycle mileage man with a commute of 120 miles a day.