Morning Espresso: Vurb’s 2024 Team Previews: Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha

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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 and you will find the full schedule below.

The Biggest Question Mark: Can Star Racing sweep all of the titles in 2024?

Who’s In:
#2 Cooper Webb (450SX/MX)
#3 Eli Tomac (450SX/Option for MX)
#31 Jordon Smith (250SX/MX)
#32 Justin Cooper (450SX/MX)
#38 Haiden Deegan (250SX/MX)
#50 Enzo Lopes (250SX)
#57 Nate Thrasher (250SX/MX)
#59 Daxton Bennick (250SX/MX)
#61 Stilez Robertson (250SX/MX)
#411 Nick Romano (250SX/MX)

Gavin Towers (250SX Futures/Some or all 250MX)

Who’s Out:
Dylan Ferrandis
Levi Kitchen
Guillem Farres

Last Season’s Supercross Results:
Cooper Webb – 3rd (450SX)
Eli Tomac – 2nd (450SX)
Jordon Smith – 4th (250SX East)
Justin Cooper – 22nd (450SX)
Haiden Deegan – 2nd (250SX East)
Enzo Lopes – 4th (250SX West)
Nate Thrasher – 7th (250SX East)
Daxton Bennick – Raced 250SX Futures
Stilez Robertson – 13th (250SX West)
Nick Romano – Sat out 2023 due to injury.

Last Season’s Motocross Results:
Cooper Webb- 12th (450MX)
Eli Tomac – Did Not Race.
Jordon Smith – 20th (250MX)
Justin Cooper – 2nd (250MX)
Haiden Deegan – 4th (250MX)
Enzo Lopes – Did Not Race.
Nate Thrasher – Did Not Race (Injured)
Daxton Bennick – 14th (250MX)
Stilez Robertson – 23rd (250MX)
Nick Romano – Sat out 2023 due to injury. 

Best 2023 SX Finish:
Cooper Webb – 1st (450SX-Tampa and Arlington)
Eli Tomac – 1st (450SX – Anaheim 1, San Diego, Houston, Oakland, Daytona, Seattle, Glendale)
Jordon Smith – 2nd (250SX East- Arlington and Atlanta)
Justin Cooper – 6th (450SX- Daytona)
Haiden Deegan – 3rd (250SX East – Daytona, Detroit, and Atlanta)
Enzo Lopes – 4th (250SX West – San Diego, Seattle, and Denver)
Nate Thrasher – 1st (250SX East – Arlington)
Daxton Bennick – Raced 250SX Futures
Stilez Robertson – 3rd (250SX West- Anaheim 2)
Nick Romano – Sat out 2023 due to injury.

Best 2023 MX Finish:
Cooper Webb – 3rd Overall (450MX – Hangtown and Thunder Valley)
Eli Tomac – Did Not Race.
Jordon Smith – 7th Overall (250MX – Thunder Valley)
Justin Cooper 2nd Overall (250MX- Hangtown, Thunder Valley, Southwick, Spring Creek, Washougal, and Budds Creek)
Haiden Deegan – 1st Overall (RedBud and Washougal)
Enzo Lopes – Did Not Race.
Nate Thrasher – Did Not Race (Injured)
Daxton Bennick – 7th Overall (Budds Creek)
Stilez Robertson – 10th Overall (Ironman)
Nick RomanoSat out 2023 due to an injury.

Offseason Grade: A+

The Rundown:
Once again in 2023, the Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha crew is the most stacked team in the league. Team owner Bobby Reagan has changed the game over the past five years and now employs an astonishing 11 rider team. This is something that most people wouldn’t think would even be possible in this sport, but Mr. Reagan has truly created an empire. 

For 2024, the team retained Eli Tomac for another run at a supercross title, but he also has an option to race motocross as well. As we all saw last season, Tomac had committed to the outdoors before his Achilles injury occurred. Tomac and team felt robbed of the 2023 SX crown, so they will come into the new season looking for revenge. 

For the first time ever, this team will have three full-time 450 riders in Tomac, Cooper Webb, and Justin Cooper. Dylan Ferrandis will move over to the Phoenix Honda team after huge success with Star, which has been the only team that he’s raced on in the United States. Webb has made the return to the team that brought him to the pro ranks. He’s already made his debut with the BluCru during the SuperMotocross Playoffs and he improved at each round, finishing with a third overall at the LA Coliseum. Telling you that you should never count Webb out of any title won’t be telling you anything you don’t know, so let’s dive deeper into this. 

Before Webb had his head injury in Nashville he was making a solid chase for the 450SX crown. At the time he was sitting second in the standings, only 11 points off of Tomac, because of his nine podiums and two wins on the season. Webb did not finish worse than fifth last SX season. With a fresh start on arguably the most sought after bike in the pits, Coop is going to contend for another SX title and have the best Pro Motocross series of his career.

Justin Cooper makes the move full-time to the 450 class this year after moonlighting in some 450SX in 2023. His moonlighting was very successful as he earned five top 10s, with a best of sixth at Daytona. Consistency has been Cooper’s strength since he turned pro back in 2017, so you can expect more of the same in the 450 class. He’ll be in that 5-10 range every week, with the occasional breakout ride. 

This 250 class roster that Star has put together for next year is once again top tier. The team lost Levi Kitchen to Pro Circuit and Guillem Farres to Rockstar Husqvarna, but added rookie Daxton Bennick, Enzo Lopes, and Gavin Towers will race 250SX Futures and either some, or all of the Pro Motocross Championship.

Towers is on the deal that Bennick was on last year, which is where the team will help mold him into a full-time member as he finishes his amateur career. Bennick showed a ton of speed and potential, especially after earning the Nicky Hayden Horizon Award at Loretta Lynn’s. He finished seventh overall at Budds Creek, which shows that he has the tools to make it in this stacked 250 class. Bennick will be a rider to watch as he hasn’t really been able to show his true potential quite yet. It’ll be interesting to see the leaps he can possibly take in his rookie season. 

For Star, winning races and all of the championships is the goal. Anything less will be considered a failure of a year. The 250 class is now looking for new champions with both of the Lawrence brothers moving to the 450 class full-time. Hoping to step up to the plate to win these championships will be Haiden Deegan, Jordan Smith, Nate Thrasher, and Enzo Lopes. Deegan enters his sophomore season as the favorite to win titles indoors and out. Deegan’s progression from supercross to outdoors last season was quite impressive. He won the overall at RedBud and Washougal and then the SuperMotocross Playoffs. He’s flashy, exciting, has a fan base like this sport has never seen before, and he’s already the sport’s next superstar. 2024 will be the year of the Deegs.

Nate Thrasher was giving his best for a chance at the 250 East title last year against Hunter Lawrence before he left with a broken collarbone and a dislocated hip. He’s going to return to form in 2024 and win races in SX. Thrasher has been a nice surprise since he turned pro. He struggled with consistency at first, but he’s supercross races, while improving his outdoor results along the way. Look for Thresher to have a chance at whichever 250SX coast championship that he races and to be in the top ten overall in outdoor points. 

Enzo Lopes took a real chance this season by leaving the ClubMX team for a chance on a Star bike. He’s sticking to his plan of only racing 250SX in America, so this year is very important for the Brazilian. Last year Lopes was a standout in the 250 West and he ran up front weekly. He wasn’t able to get a podium, however he was always the next best guy. You couldn’t go a week without people saying the Lopes should have a factory ride. Now he gets his chance and it will be interesting to see how the Star bike elevates his riding. This move should put him on the podium, but it’s also a very stacked class no matter which coast you go to. It will be interesting to watch unfold because ClubMX had a deal with him to race in 2024, so if this doesn’t work out he’s not going to be able to go back there. 

Jordon Smith had a second coming or a renaissance of his career with the Star guys in 2023. He was a podium guy in supercross, put in his best outdoor results in years, and almost won the SuperMotocross Playoffs. Smith truly believes that he has all of the pieces to win a 250SX championship and he’s going to use 2024 to prove that to everybody else. 

Nick Romano and Stilez Robertson will be in rebuild mode. Robertson only raced eight of the 31 races in 2023 and he wasn’t able to show what he truly had to offer, although he did finish third at Anaheim. He came back late in the outdoors and was able to finish tenth overall at Ironman. If Stilez can make it to all of the rounds this year and finish in the 5-10 range at each round, that would be considered a success. He’s got the potential and skills to get that done plus more.

Romano was forced to miss the entire 2023 season with injuries to his knee and shoulder. So far, since turning pro, Romano has a small sample size as far as results go. He just has raced the 2022 outdoor season, but his last finish is a seventh overall at Unadilla. Just getting to all the races this year and putting the laps in will be a strong base for Romano. However, at the same time, he’s going to have to grab some holeshots, lead laps, and get some podiums in the process. It’s a tall order, but given his current situation, he’s going to need to prove to teams that he has the skills to be a superstar in the sport.

2024 Rider Projections:
Cooper Webb –
Never to be counted out, Coop will contend for another Supercross Championship and will have the best outdoor results of his career. 

Eli Tomac – Tomac is the favorite to win the supercross title and outdoors if he races next summer. 

Jordon Smith – Smith is a podium finisher at most of the the SX rounds and could sneak in a win or two. He will contend mostly for the top ten during Pro Motocross with the occasional top five finish.  

Justin Cooper – Although Cooper got his feet wet in 2023, he is still a rookie for 2024. Cooper will be a top ten finisher both indoors and out. 

Haiden Deegan – After an exceptional 2023 rookie season, Deegan is the favorite to win both 250 titles in 2024.  

Enzo Lopes – Lopes will be a podium guy in 250SX no matter what coast he races, but a championship is going to be difficult to grab in 2024. This will be his best shot to get the job done. 

Nate Thrasher – Thrasher’s surprise progression has made him a championship contender indoors and will finish in the 5-10 range outdoors. 

Daxton Bennick – His rookie season will be a success with consistency and making it to all of the races, while learning in the process. 

Stilez Robertson – Robertson is in a rebuilding year where he just needs to go out and get all of the gate drops in and prove to everyone that he still has it in the process. 

Nick Romano – Romano is in a crucial rebuild year. Staying healthy through supercross will be crucial to have success outdoors. He’s going to give it his all to lead laps and show teams that he’s got the potential to be a superstar in this sport for years to come.

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

12/5 – Muc-Off FXR ClubMX Yamaha

12/6 – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna

12/7 – HEP Motorsports

12/10 – 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

Main image: Yamaha

Written by Troy Dog

Faster than Slaw Dog. Editor-in-Chief

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