Photo by: MotoVerte
“Cooksey’s Hard Truth” presented by Scott Sports is a weekly editorial written by Chris Cooksey. Chris will be diving in and out of controversial subjects and bringing you his hard truth about the racing and the riders from around the world of Supercross and Motocross.
Seattle was a mud race of epic proportions, but the mud did not cause any surprises in the results. I was looking for Broc Tickle or Blake Baggett to seize the opportunity and take their first win. At this point in the season, Broc Tickle must be feeling like his seat at KTM is on fire. I’m not sure if this is a fair assessment, but it’s a fact.
Broc managed a 4th place finish, and if it were any other season, we would be praising him for this finish. The difference is he is on the Red Bull KTM team with the sport’s premier trainer, Aldon Baker. Any time a rider works with “The Bakers Factory”, expectations are increased. Broc has been a perennial 4th-8th place guy and was hoping to make the jump to a consistent podium finisher in 2018. It’s looking like 2018 is either an indictment on Aldon or Broc. Many have given the Aldon Baker training program mythical status, but I for one believe it is overrated. Broc has always been one of the best conditioned riders on the circuit. I questioned whether working with a new trainer would help and clearly it has not.
Unfortunately for Broc, he is now keeping his spot at KTM warm for someone else next year. It must be difficult hearing people openly discuss who your employer is planning to hire as your replacement—I hear it’sAaron Plessinger. Even if Broc was achieving top finishes, it is unlikely he would be back with the team in 2019 as KTM is looking for a young rider to groom. Being a journeyman 450 rider is a thankless job. Finishing outside the top 3 will leave Broc with a world class skill set and unemployed. Guys like Tickle are forced to wait as the premier factory 450 teams court 250 riders and hope a spot is available for 2019.
Before teams sign guys like Broc Tickle, Weston Peick, Justin Bogle, Dean Wilson, Malcom Stewart, Tyler Bowers or Josh Grant, they try and sign the next great talent. In the history of Supercross, riders usually win the championship during their first three years in the premier class. The team owners and managers know this and are constantly searching for potential superstars. This year’s class of potential 450 superstars include Zach Osborne, Aaron Plessinger, Adam Cianciarulo, Joey Savatgy and Shane McElrath among others. Who would you rather have, Joey Savatgy or Dean Wilson?
If we had a race between the veterans and potential talent, the main difference would be we have already seen all the veterans in the 450 class. Unfortunately, once you have had a couple seasons in the 450 class without flashes of brilliance, you become an afterthought. In Supercross, if you cannot finish on the podium weekly, you’re not celebrated. Unfortunately for these veterans, they are already written off and no longer considered potential champions. The only way to change this is by adding attention to positions outside the top 3. Adding a “playoff” to the Supercross series would bring much needed attention to the riders battling in the 5th through 15th positions. For at least a couple of rounds during the season, all attention would be focused on the middle of the pack riders and if they are able to make the playoffs. More attention to these spots has the potential to create value to sponsors, which would make it more plausible to have a solid top ten roster on the teams.
Like the main event in Seattle, I am keeping it short. I will be in Minneapolis, MN for next week’s Triple Crown Event. This is the final Triple crown event of 2018 and it takes place in a domed stadium, so there is no chance of a mud race. With only 4 races left and the 450 Championship basically decided, look to the 250 class for excitement. You can follow me at @cooks6161 on Instagram. I will be documenting my entire trip to Minnesota.