Features 21 Mar 2024

Countdown: 250SX West Returns

Storylines to follow as the 250SX West Championship resumes in Seattle.

With Monster Energy Supercross heading back out west this week, we will see the return of the 250SX West riders getting behind the gate for the first time in six weeks. To get you back up to speed on the series, we Countdown the key storylines to follow for the second half of their championship.

Image: Octopi Media.

8. Michael Mosiman is back:
After months of speculation surrounding Michael Mosiman’s future, it was finally announced last week that he has signed a multi-year deal with Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing. The 24-year-old will debut with the team this weekend at Seattle and then continue on to finish off the 250SX West Championship with them to start their relationship. Mosiman has been an enigma as he had race winning speed just two years ago and was just outside the title fight for 250SX West in 2022. He struggled last year aboard GasGas’ new platform and departed his long-time home under the Austrian manufacturers umbrella at the end of 2023. He was potentially slated to join Star Racing as early as Detroit this year, but some back tightness kept that from happening. Now it appears he’s ready to go and add another interesting factor into this series down the stretch.

7. Riders refreshed:
Thanks to this lengthy mid-season break in the schedule, riders battling nagging injuries before the break will be able to come into the second half of this season rejuvenated. Take Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Nate Thrasher for example, who crashed out of his heat race in Glendale six weeks ago violently, ending his night early. He has been able to get back on the bike since and may not be 100% necessarily, but he is back in action this weekend. Aside from him though, several riders will have used this time to get back to full strength, fine tune some early season struggles, and come out swinging in Seattle.

6. Rookie Julien Beaumer trending upwards:
Red Bull KTM’s Julien Beaumer has impressed many this season already. He led early in his first ever main event at Anaheim 1 back in January and has consistently put himself near the front on the starts. While his best result is still a sixth back at Anaheim 1, he went into the break with back-to-back seventh place finishes and even was mixing it up near a podium spot late in the race having come from 10th place off the start. It seems obvious at this point that the speed is there, and he’s really just putting the whole main event together away from a truly breakthrough ride.

Image: Octopi Media

5. Important fights outside top five:
Mitchell Oldenburg sits sixth place in the standings but is only 26 points ahead of 16th place Robbie Wageman in the standings. We hear there’s a possibility Oldenburg, who was moonlighting some east rounds on a 450, might remain up a class to close out the season. Anthony Bourdon sits just two points behind him in seventh, with aforementioned Beaumer, Carson Mumford, Hunter Yoder, and even Nate Thrasher all nipping at his heels. For someone like Troy Lee Designs Red Bull GasGas’ Ryder DiFrancesco down in P14 in the standings, a season outside of the top 10 just won’t do. But all the riders around him in points have reason to believe they should be in the top 10 on the season as well. Though not quite the same luster as the championship fight brings, each of these positions are important for these riders as 2025 contract discussions are already underway and teams are keeping keen eyes on who is making progress to close out the championship.

4.It’s Jo time:
Honda HRC’s Jo Shimoda’s championship bid was over almost before it began as a mechanical DNF at the second round in San Francisco put him at a massive deficit. Since then, Shimoda has only landed one podium and has noticeably struggled with starts. Coming into 2024 as a potential championship favorite, it is clear things have not gone to plan yet for the former race winner. But Shimoda’s track record shows he always gets better as it gets later in the season, as evidenced by his lone 250SX win coming at the penultimate round of 2021. Eyes will certainly be fixated on what Shimoda does with these final five races as he looks to reestablish himself as a mainstay out front before AMA Pro Motocross begins in May.

Image: Octopi Media.

3. Garrett Marchbanks remains the dark horse:
Muc-Off FXR ClubMX Yamaha’s Garrett Marchbanks was so close to winning the third round in San Diego earlier this year and instantly jumped into championship discussion with that second-place finish. The very next week in Anaheim at the Triple Crown however saw Marchbanks fall a few times and ultimately finish ninth overall. A rebound fifth place at Glendale helped keep him within reach heading into the break, but he’s 19 points down of the lead in fourth place heading into these final five rounds. The best thing Marchbanks has going for him is he was really good in San Francisco and San Diego in the mud, and Seattle is likely going to be a mudder this weekend. If he is able to pull off an upset victory to kick off the second half this weekend, this championship fight will officially be crazy.

2. One Triple Crown, two Showdowns:
Both the 250SX West and East title fights really could go a number of ways for who will eventually win each title. But one factor to think about for the 250SX West riders specifically is that they really only have two more “normal” races. Next week in St. Louis is another Triple Crown format which always returns wild results, while two of the remaining three rounds after that are 250SX East/West Showdowns where each region square off against each other. Factor in that Seattle likely will be muddy this weekend, and that leaves potentially only Denver as the last normal supercross event these riders will battle in this season. Considering all of these factors and the mixed results each of them often provide, it really leaves it open as to who walks away with the hardware at season’s end.

1. Three horse race:
Almost all of the attention coming into these final five rounds centers on the five points separating Levi Kitchen, Jordon Smith, and RJ Hampshire. All three have won races this year, with Hampshire being the only rider to have won two, but the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna man finds himself third in the points. In reality, five points can almost be considered a wash between them as it feels like this is a five-race sprint to the title between Kitchen, Smith, and Hampshire. For Kitchen, it would be a huge championship to get in his first go with Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki, who themselves are trying to end a bit of a dry spell on titles for the historic team. But for Smith and Hampshire, a title would mean a long culmination of ups and downs throughout their careers as both men are in their 10th full seasons of racing. Right now, there doesn’t seem to be a clear favorite in anyone’s eyes, but these next couple rounds before the first East/West Showdown could be huge for one of them to establish themselves as the guy to beat heading into the final stanza.