Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto had an outstanding 2013 season, taking 450 championships in both Monster Energy AMA Supercross and Lucas Oil Pro Motocross. But despite his continued domination, and the loss of Davi Millsaps and Trey Canard to injury, 2014 was somehow still considered wide open. After all, James Stewart looked to be back on track after winning the off-season Monster Energy Cup, Chad Reed was healthy again (and now on Kawasaki), and the always-solid Ryan Dungey would be there too. Adding depth to the 450 talent pool were powerhouse rookies Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen. (There were also a few small but exciting changes in supercross, like the return of the semis and the advent of twenty-two-man main events.)
Things got nuts right off the bat at the Anaheim opener. Villopoto and Stewart both had crashes that ruined their chances of drawing first blood, with Stewart’s spectacular get-off knocking him completely out of the race with the win seemingly locked up. Roczen, who had recently started training with Villopoto, was the benefactor that night, scoring his first 450SX win. Villopoto would rebound for a win at round two in Phoenix, but the veteran Reed brought the crowd to its feet at round three by passing rival Stewart late in the race for the win. Two races later he won again, only to crash out of the season while going for a pass on the final lap in San Diego a week later.
Yoshimura Suzuki’s Stewart, meanwhile, was starting to gather steam, winning in San Diego and Arlington. He’d win three more times (Detroit, Toronto, and St. Louis) before the season ended, moving him into second place on the all-time win list, but crashes, mechanical problems, and even a broken head pipe in Daytona ruined his chances of challenging for his third premier-class SX championship.
As for the rookies, the German Roczen would win once more in Atlanta but fade in the second half of the season. That was better than Tomac, who got hurt at the opener. He would return but was forced to withdraw after re-aggravating his injury. He would go on to break his collarbone before Las Vegas, keeping him out for a significant portion of the upcoming nationals as well.
As the indoor season started to wind down, it became clear that perhaps it wasn’t quite as wide open as everyone had thought. Villopoto avoided catastrophe, and although he didn’t string together a ton of wins in the first half of the season, he went on yet another tear down the stretch, leading every lap of the final four races to win his fourth consecutive Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship, tying the great Jeremy McGrath’s record.
In regional action it was Rockstar Energy KTM’s Jason Anderson and Troy Lee Designs Honda’s Cole Seely who initially emerged as the dominant forces in the West, taking the first four wins of the season. Anderson did so in grand fashion, too, often stealing victories on the final lap. Dean Wilson, who won a pair of races, should have been in the title fight but a mechanical hiccup in Oakland while leading (which handed the win to Anderson) and a twenty-first in San Diego had him watching the championship battle through glass doors, despite winning two races. In the end it was Anderson who persevered to lock down the championship in his final year aboard a 250.
Injury had a heavy hand on the East Region results. Rookie Adam Cianciarulo came into the season guns blazing, winning his first supercross race and taking two more victories and a pair of seconds in the next four rounds. The title seemed his to lose—until his shoulder popped out during the Toronto SX. Just like that, he was out for the rest of 2014 altogether. This gave temporary control to veteran Martin Davalos, who had finally broken through for his first career win in Atlanta. Coming into New York, the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider led Justin Bogle by nine points with only two races left, but then he broke bones in his ankle and feet while practicing and was forced to watch the final two races from the couch as GEICO Honda’s Bogle rode to his first supercross championship.
Outdoors, despite the absence of defending champ Villopoto with a knee injury, things were as unpredictable as ever. Dungey, Stewart, and Roczen were all still healthy, and Team Honda’s Trey Canard was ready to get back the top after missing much of supercross with a broken arm. (Reed would also be back in action, though he wasn’t fully recovered from his injury and was never a threat up front.) When the gate dropped at Glen Helen, however, it was Southern California native Josh Grant who exploded out of the gate on his JGR Yamaha to win the first moto of the season in front a raucous hometown crowd. Dungey would win the second moto by inches ahead of Roczen to nab the overall, but from that point forward Roczen started taking control of the season, winning seven of the next eleven motos and finishing third or better in the rest.
But then the tables started to turn. Dungey started picking up steam, and Eli Tomac, who’d missed the first four rounds with a broken collarbone, started putting together some great rides, including a solid victory at Spring Creek, his first National win aboard a 450.
Meanwhile, amid whispers that the German seemed to have a hard time in the second half of a season, Roczen seemed to struggle. He was still getting good finishes, but suddenly he was unable to beat Dungey like he had been earlier in the year. Worse yet, Tomac was getting between them and costing Roczen points. Dungey was starting to loom extremely large in Roczen’s rearview, and although Kenny still controlled the points, Dungey seemed to be holding the championship reins.
At the second-to-last round in Indiana, Roczen had the day he needed. The skies opened up and sheets of rain fell, producing a mudder for the ages. Roczen and Dungey went 1-2 in the first moto, but the wheels came off for Dungey in the second. He took ninth in the moto, earning 12 points to Roczen’s 22, giving Roczen a comfortable points cushion heading into the final round of the year at Utah’s Miller Motorsports Park. Dungey needed to win the finale and have a fair amount of bad luck befall Roczen, but neither happened. Canard scored a perfect 1-1 won, and Roczen’s 3-4 was more than enough to earn him the 450 National Championship in his rookie year.
As for James Stewart, he had a promising season going early, including a dominant 1-1 at High Point, but his season fell apart after news broke that he’d failed a doping test at the Seattle Supercross. (The violation stemmed from a legal prescription drug, believed to be Adderall, that contained a banned substance.) He was allowed to continue racing while everything was getting sorted out, but he just wasn’t himself after that and ended up pulling out of the season four rounds early.
In the 250 ranks, things seemed just as wide open as they did early on in the 450s. Frenchman Christophe Pourcel, who had spent the previous two years largely out of action, was returning to the American scene. Past champs Dean Wilson and Blake Baggett were anxious to get back to their winning ways, and sophomores Jeremy Martin and Cooper Webb were anxious to prove their mettle in a class made up largely of veterans—and they’d do just that as soon as the first starting gate dropped. In fact, Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Martin went on a winning spree that would last the first five motos of the season, with teammate Webb finishing right behind him in four of them. For the first time in years, Yamaha, with its brand new YZ250F, was looking good for a 250 National Championship. It would get it, with three motos to spare, when Jeremy Martin clinched in the mud in Indiana.
A few challenges would come from Blake Baggett, who was able to put together some wins and solid finishes, but a pair of mechanical DNFs put the hurt on his title hopes. Musquin also had some great finishes in the second half of the season, and if not for a dislocated shoulder during practice at the first round and a nagging ACL injury, he may have been able to challenge for the championship. And Dean Wilson? A bad crash at the opener forced him to the sidelines for several rounds. He came back in Tennessee but was unable to tap into the same speed that saw him nail down the 2011 championship.