News 13 May 2024

New 250SX West champion Hampshire hints at 2025 plans

Gradual transition into premier class the ideal scenario next season.

Image: Align Media.

The intention is for newly-crowned 250SX West champion RJ Hampshire to defend his title in 2025 as part of a unique plan that would see him gradually transition into the premier class next season. That’s the scenario that he hinted at after clinching in Salt Lake City on Saturday night.

Hampshire signed a contract extension with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing mid-last year to remain in the 250 class through 2024-2025, but is in the prime of his career at 28 years of age and following almost a decade in the lower tier.

Winning the title after defeating Levi Kitchen (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki) in the 250SX East/West Showdown – the duo entering the Monster Energy Supercross finals tied on points – came as a significant result for Hampshire, which could instead prompt a promotion into Husqvarna’s premier class program as soon as next year. The value in defending with the number one plate in 250SX West is an opportunity the brand likely won’t want to pass on, however, that case could result in Hampshire entering an FC 450 on the east coast before going full-time outdoors.

“Now’s a good time to talk about an extension…” Hampshire commented after finishing P2 in the Utah main event. “What I want, I think will happen, my plan is I want to spend all off-season on a 450, train like I’m going racing on a 450, defend next year west coast on a 250, race the opposite coast on a 450, and then make my debut full-time outdoors next year.”

The 2022 Pro Motocross season almost saw Hampshire fill in on the 450 before a late decision saw him remain in the 250MX class on that occasion, while a one-off ride at the Daytona Supercross in 2023 saw him win his heat race and finish eighth in the main event. His achievements in 250SX include finishing runner-up to Jett Lawrence in both 2022 (east) and 2023 (west) prior to executing for the title this year.

Hampshire’s title is Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s first in Supercross since Jason Anderson won the 2018 450SX championship and Zach Osborne claimed back-to-back 250SX East championships in 2017-2018. Osborne also went on to earn the 2020 450MX national championship, which was the team’s most recent professional MX/SX title in the United States prior to Hampshire’s success.

“Everybody has their own story, and I was determined to write my own and to have a championship and be part of that,” he reflected. “It’s truly special. I’ve had so many ups, so many downs, and still have people that just believe in me. I’ve always worked hard my entire life just to be in this position and to have the team.

“My group is small, but they’re the best guys that I could ask for, and that just goes to show that it definitely plays a big role in my results and how I am each weekend. Just how the vibes are around the team, and like I said, I would not change my group. Just a massive thanks to everyone that has been involved and been part of this story.”

Malcolm Stewart is in the first of a two-year contract to remain at Rockstar Energy Husqvarna through 2025, while this year marks Christian Craig’s final term of his 2023-2024 deal that’s largely been affected by injury. It’s unclear if he will be provided a career lifeline of sorts into next season.