Morning Espresso: Vurb’s 2024 Team Previews: AEO Powersports KTM

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Welcome to the offseason and our new ongoing “Team Previews” column. Every week from now until the Monster Energy Supercross season starts in January we will be profiling a big team in the sport. We’ll go through the changes that have been made, analyze results, and give each team a grade on all of their offseason moves. This week we have the AEO Powersports KTM team and you will find the full schedule below.

The Biggest Question Mark: How much more progression will we see out of Hawkins and Kelley in SX? 

Who’s In:
#35 Talon Hawkins – 250SX/250MX
#53 Derek Kelley – 250SX/450MX
#TBD Ryder McNabb – 250SX Futures/250MX

Who’s Out:
Josh Varize

Last Season’s Supercross Results:
Talon Hawkins – 14th (250SX East)
Derek Kelley- 9th (250SX West)
Ryder McNabb – Did Not Race

Last Season’s Motocross Results:
Talon Hawkins – 12th Overall (250MX)
Derek Kelley- 24th Overall (250MX)
Ryder McNabb – Did Not Race

Best 2023 SX Finish:
Talon Hawkins – 8th (Atlanta)
Derek Kelley- 6th (Glendale)
Ryder McNabb – Did Not Race

Best 2023 MX Finish:
Talon Hawkins – 11th Overall (Southwick and Washougal)
Derek Kelley- 15th Overall (Thunder Valley)
Ryder McNabb – Did Not Race

Offseason Grade: B

The Rundown:
The AEO Powersports KTM team keeps making progress to make their program better each year. For 2024 the team will add a full-sized semi and KTM will be giving them more support. These are two big elements that are going to add to their success going forward. For 2024 the team will field three riders in Derek Kelley, Talon Hawkins, and Ryder McNabb. 

Kelley returns to the team for his third season. The California native progressed in supercross once again in 2023 having the best season of his career in the stacked 250SX West Region. He finished ninth in the standings with a career best sixth at the Glendale Triple Crown. It looked like Kelley was going to continue to be the top privateer going into 250MX. However, he landed on at the SX finale in Salt Lake City, causing him to bruise his kidney. He was put in the hospital and the outdoors looked bleak from that point. In a crash several years ago, Kelley lost his spleen and other kidney. DK decided to race through it despite his internal organs taking a beating. He started off behind as one would expect, while trying to heal his body in the process. He had his best moto finish of 14th in the final moto of the year at Ironman. It was a step in the right direction. Kelley has really high goals set for himself and this year is no different. While he achieved some of those goals in SX, the goals outdoors were not met. He’s going to continue his progression in SX and start a fresh slate come outdoors on a 450. The 450 move will be beneficial for his career in the long run. He’s a taller, stockier rider and this switch will be better on his body for the long run. Kelley will be in the 5-10 range all SX and a 10-15 guy in the outdoors. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him inside the 450MX top ten at multiple rounds. 

Talon Hawkins is entering his sophomore season after spending his rookie year with the Rockstar Husqvarna team. Hawkins had a successful intro to the pro ranks. He made most of the races, which is always a win to younger riders making the leap. He didn’t set the world on fire, his SX results were very up and down, but he was consistent in 250MX. With a good offseason T-Hawk will be a darkhorse for the top ten in 250SX and MX. Hawkins is still a prospect with a bright future. He’s a great fit for AEO Powersports KTM and what they’re trying to build.

Canadian MX2 champion Ryder McNabb will be making the move to the states this year to ride SX Futures and 250MX with the team. This was a big move for the AEO Powersports KTM crew. Ryder is young, but has the potential to be the next great Canadian to make a difference in the USA. If he can make it through SX Futures unscathed then he’s also going to be a darkhorse in 250MX. Where to put him? The top ten is the goal, but the sky’s the limit at this point. 

AEO Powersports KTM is growing their efforts to show the paddock that they are going to be legit contenders for years to come. Do they have championship contenders or race winners yet? No. Yet, they have a great bike, great personnel, and talented riders that are wildcards. This is going to be a fun team to watch in the mix for 2024.

2024 Rider Projections:
Talon Hawkins –
A young prospect with one year pro under his belt. He will be competing for top ten finishes each week indoors and out.
Derek Kelley-
Another year of progression in 250SX will lead Kelley to be the surprise of the 450 class next summer. 
Ryder McNabb –
Canada’s biggest prospect makes the move to the USA to learn SX and contend for the top ten in 250MX.

Thanks for reading my series of team previews for the coming season. If you’d like to talk about these or any of the other stories that I’ve written you can email me at [email protected] You can also reach me on Twitter/Instagram: @troydogvurb

2024 Team Preview Schedule:

10/13 – Troy Lee Designs / Red Bull /  GASGAS Factory Race Team

10/20 – Monster Energy / Pro Circuit Kawasaki

10/27 – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

11/5 – HRC Honda

11/12 – Monster Energy Kawasaki Factory Racing

11/18 – AEO Powersports KTM

11/20 – Partzilla PRMX

11/22 – Team Solitaire

11/24 – Rock River Yamaha

11/28 – Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing

12/1 – Muc-Off FXR ClubMX Yamaha

12/3 – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna

12/5 – HEP Motorsports

12/8 – HBI Racing Kawasaki

12/12 – Triumph Racing

12/15 – Madd Parts Kawasaki

12/19 – Liqui Moly Beta Racing

12/22 – MotoConcepts Racing

12/29 – Firepower Honda

1 /3 – Phoenix Racing Honda

1/ 5- Bar-X Suzuki

Written by Troy Dog

Faster than Slaw Dog. Editor-in-Chief

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