Photos courtesy of RacerXOnline
Our buddy Chris Riesenberg takes a look at the latrest group of 250 rookies in this week's Checkz Mix.
You’ve spent your whole life preparing for this moment. You’ve studied film, spent endless hours comparing lap times, mentally envisioned the gate dropping; but no matter how much you’ve prepared you’ll still be a ball of nerves as the gate drops at Houston. Not just your season, but your whole life revolves around this night. Let’s just hope you’ve done your research on the new kids on the block and some rookie doesn’t cost you the MXD360 2021 SX Championship at the first race. To help avoid that mental destruction that could ruin your life, I’ve prepared a list of a handful of the notable rookies that you will want to be familiar with when the season kicks off.
Jarrett Frye – Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha
Unless you follow amateur MX very closely, you likely didn’t know about Jarrett Frye before he came onto the pro scene for the last 4 nationals. Out of those 4 races, he scored a pair of top 10s to end the year. Star Racing has basically been able to pick anyone they want to ride their bikes in the 250 class, and they chose to swoop in and snag Frye right out from under Suzuki’s nose. Judging by his results in the 250 nationals, which remember, aren’t divided into coasts like SX and feature a deeper field; Frye could have a fantastic rookie SX season and should be on your radar immediately.
Bold prediction: Guidance for the rookie will lacking with so many other riders under the Star tent. We won’t see Frye realize his potential until late in the season or possibly not at all in 2021.
Seth Hammaker – Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki
Hammaker’s last couple of seasons have been filled with injuries and a case of the Epstein Barr virus, but don’t let that fool you. He went from a relatively unknown outside of his region to the top of Kawasaki’s amateur support list after a couple of exceptional performances at the Monster Energy Cup. Yes, the race that is the most SX-like event for any amateurs and Hammaker put on a clinic. The kid has indoor skills and can perform under pressure, he’s working with Ivan Tedesco under the watchful eye of Mitch Payton too. If the magic Tedesco worked with Marchbanks transitions over to Hammaker, some real magic could be in the making.
Bold prediction: Hammaker will be the class of the rookies in SX and will have multiple top 5 finishes.
Max Vohland – Red Bull KTM
Jumping straight from the Schoolboy/125 classes to the AMA Supercross ranks on a factory team under Roger Decoster sound familiar? I bet KTM, Decoster, and Max Vohland all hope the lighting that was Ryan Dungey can strike twice in this perplexing move. I say perplexing not because KTM taking Vohland pro under their tent is any bit of a surprise, but for them to do it a year or more early if you’re following a “standard” path was shocking. Add to that the extra pressure of being the lone 250 rider in the KTM truck alongside Cooper Webb and Marvin Musquin and you have to hope KTM knows something we don’t. Max Vohland has been a winner and a standout much of his life, so maybe he can step up to this challenge as well.
Bold predicition: The KTM 250 parts budget will be double their 450 one as a cartwheeling factory KTM becomes a common obstacle on the SX series. Max will figure it out, but it won’t be until 2022.
Nate Thrasher – Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha
Remember when Thrasher was turning pro for the TLD KTM team at Millville, and then he wasn’t, and then he was on a Yamaha linked to a “trade” of sorts with Justin Barcia. Any rookie that hasn’t lined up on the pro gate yet and is even in the conversation with Justin Barcia should be taken seriously. Thrasher has humble roots coming from a family filled with southern charm, but once he found some factory support the wins started racking up and so did the bidding war for his services. Kawasaki tried their hand before KTM swooped in, but ultimately, Yamaha arrived to transition Thrasher to the pro ranks.
Bold prediction: Thrasher will pull the most holeshots out of the rookie class resulting in some fantastic heat race finishes. The main events will be less exciting, but he’ll be top 10 most nights.
Stilez Robertson – Rockstar Husqvarna
Stilez is the first of a few bad ass youngsters snatching podium after podium through the amateur ranks out of Bakersfield, CA and with a name like Stilez, you already know he has the SX timing dialed, right? He’s on a proven program with Rockstar Husqvarna and has placed himself down at the Baker’s Factory (not directly under Aldon though should be noted) where he should be focused solely on his career as a racer. Robertson won the AMA Nicky Hayden Horizon Award at Loretta Lynn’s and was the most outstanding rider during the week at the ranch; however, he wasn’t the best rookie outdoors last summer as Mason Gonzales and Jarrett Frye definitely turned more heads.
Bold prediction: Stilez will be smooth and steady, you won’t notice him much until you look at the points after the season and see he’s inside the top 10.
Levi Kitchen – Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha
Is Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha adding a 3rd rookie to their SX roster? We aren’t sure just yet, but we do know that after dominating the B classes at Loretta’s and the A classes at the Mini O’s; that Levi Kitchen received a much deserved promotion in a form of a contract for the powerful Yamaha team. Our sources say Kitchen has been spotted riding SX and the team is still deciding whether he is ready to make the jump or if he should wait until outdoors begin.
Bold prediction: Kitchen doesn’t see his first pro starting gate until the AMA Nationals in 2021.