Morning Espresso: Vurb’s 2024 Team Previews: HEP Suzuki

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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 HEP Suzuki team and you will find the full schedule below.

The Biggest Question Mark: In his second year on the program, how much better can Roczen get?

Who’s In:
#11 Kyle Chisholm (450SX/Some MX)
#12 Shane McElrath (450SX/MX)
#94 Ken Roczen (450SX/MX?)

Who’s Out:
Marshal Weltin
Dilan Schwartz

Last Season’s Supercross Results:
Kyle Chisholm – 15th (450SX)
Shane McElrath – 11th (450SX)
Ken Roczen – 3rd (450SX)

Last Season’s Motocross Results:
Kyle Chisholm – 31st (450MX)
Shane McElrath – 28th (450MX)
Ken Roczen – 23rd (450MX)

Best 2023 SX Finish:
Kyle Chisholm – 8th (450SX/Denver)
Shane McElrath – 5th (450SX/Denver)
Ken Roczen – 1st (450SX/Indianapolis)

Best 2023 MX Finish:
Kyle Chisholm – 12th Overall (450MX/Fox Raceway and Spring Creek
Shane McElrath – 14th Overall (450MX/Washougal)
Ken Roczen – 2nd Overall (450MX/High Point)

Offseason Grade: A

The Rundown:
The crew at HEP Suzuki possibly made the most offseason moves going into the 2023 season. They brought on Larry Brooks to take on the team manager responsibilities, thus freeing up team owner Dustin Pipes to work on other aspects. Pipes is still 100% involved in all parts of the team, but having Brooks’ experience to get the best out of his team is a plus. Signing Ken Roczen to the team also grew the program to another level. They brought together another semi truck, and they’re racing the World Supercross Championship as well. HEP also brought back Kyle Chisholm in a hybrid racing/team testing role. It worked out incredibly as Chisholm brought on his suspension guy Matt Andruk at Active Ride Suspension to help with getting the riders more comfortable. Once Chisholm developed a base setting that truly made a difference, the team put in their best results of the season. They even got their first win with Roczen in Indianapolis along with multiple podiums. It was a huge step forward in the HEP organization and that brings us to the present. 

In 2024 you can expect more growth. The team returns with the same lineup that they had for SX last season with Roczen, McElrath, and Chisholm. Roczen finished 2023 looking the strongest that he’s looked in quite some time, especially giving Jett Lawrence fits at High Point and in the SMX Playoffs. Roczen is going to be very tough this season and he’s going to win a couple of main events, while maintaining podiums. The 2024 season is going to be one to remember for Roczen and HEP Suzuki. He should be in the championship fight until late in the season and that’s another step for HEP Suzuki.

McElrath returns to HEP Suzuki, but this time for indoors and out. After trying the Chisholm setting last SX season, Shane put in his best finishes of his 450 career and even led some laps. He’ll be stronger than ever this season as he tries to find where he fits in the premier class. We forget sometimes how good McElrath can be and he may be one if not the most underrated rider in the sport. He’ll be fighting it out in that 10-14 range to start, but he’ll get stronger throughout the season finishing respectably in both standings.

Chisholm just turned 78 years old and his eighth grandchild was just born, but the legend is just now hitting his stride. This hybrid role for Chiz was something he was born to do. He knows how to develop a great base setting that works for everyone and that’s not easy to do. The other riders can tweak it to their liking, but Chiz keeps working away to perfect a very capable, race winning, bike. When Chisholm races he’s going to be putting his bike in every main event and getting better as the season wears on. He even found himself inside of the top ten at some rounds last year. Chiz is like Drake, where he raps and sings, only he has a better voice. The HEP team is lucky to have him signed to a multi-year agreement, because he’s hot property. 

2024 Rider Projections:

Kyle Chisholm – Chiz is gonna Chiz.

Shane McElrath – Mac Dog is about to find himself this season in the 450 class. His best finishes are ahead of him.

Ken Roczen – Title contender. Podium contender. Race winner. 

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

11/21 – Partzilla PRMX

11/27 – Heartbeat Hot Sauce/Team Solitaire

11/28 – Rock River Yamaha

12/4 – Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing

12/6 – Muc-Off FXR ClubMX Yamaha

12/13 – HBI Racing Kawasaki

12/15 – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna

12/20 – HEP Motorsports

12/21 – Liqui Moly Beta Racing

12/23 – Madd Parts Kawasaki

12/26 – Triumph Racing

12/28 – MotoConcepts Racing

12/30 – Firepower Honda

1 /3 – Phoenix Racing Honda

1/ 5- Bar-X Suzuki

Main image: Suzuki

Written by Troy Dog

Faster than Slaw Dog. Editor-in-Chief

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