Morning Espresso: Vurb’s 2024 Team Previews: Rock River 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 Gizmo Mods/Yamaha/Rock River Racing and you will find the full schedule below.

The Biggest Question Mark: The team grew their support for 2024, so will that translate to more success on the track for the riders? 

Who’s In:
#23 Grant Harlan (450SX/MX)
#72 Jace Owen (AMA Arenacross)
#75 Marshal Weltin (250SX East/450MX)
#80 Michael Hicks (General Tire Arenacross/250SX East)
#84 Anthony Rodriguez (AMA Arenacross)
#91 Devin Simonson (450SX)
#116 TJ Albright (250SX West)
#332 Colton Eigenmann (250MX)
#900 Keegan Rowley (250SX East/250MX)

Who’s Out:
Benny Bloss
Luca Marsalisi

Last Season’s Supercross Results:
Grant Harlan – 18th Overall (450SX)
Jace Owen – 12th Overall (250SX East)
Marshal Weltin – 21st Overall (250SX East)
Michael Hicks – 17th Overall (250SX East)
Anthony Rodriguez – 20th Overall (250SX West), 31st Overall (450SX)
Devin Simonson – 27th Overall (250SX East), 27th Overall (450SX)
TJ Albright – 31st Overall (250SX East)
Colton Eigenmann – Did Not Race.
Keegan Rowley – Did Not Race.

Last Season’s Motocross Results:
Grant Harlan – 10th Overall (450MX)
Jace Owen – Did Not Race.
Marshal Weltin – 27th Overall (450MX)
Michael Hicks – Did Not Race.
Anthony Rodriguez – 71st Overall (450MX)
Devin Simonson – Did Not Race.
TJ Albright – Only Raced RedBud (39th Overall 450MX)
Colton Eigenmann – Raced five rounds of 250MX.
Keegan Rowley – Only Raced Budds Creek (35th Overall 250MX)

Best 2023 SX Finish:
Grant Harlan – 9th (450SX/Denver)
Jace Owen – 9th (250SX East/Tampa)
Marshal Weltin – 11th (250SX East/Daytona and Atlanta)
Michael Hicks – 10th (250SX East/Detroit)
Anthony Rodriguez- 12th (250SX West/Anaheim 2), 11th (450SX/Denver)
Devin Simonson – 16th (250SX East/Daytona), 9th (450SX/Salt Lake City)
TJ Albright – 17th (250SX East/Atlanta)
Colton Eigenmann – Did Not Race.
Keegan Rowley – Did Not Race. 

Best 2023 MX Finish:
Grant Harlan – 7th Overall (450MX/Fox Raceway)
Jace Owen – Did Not Race.
Marshal Weltin – 12th Overall (450MX/Thunder Valley)
Michael Hicks – Did Not Race.
Anthony Rodriguez – 22nd Overall (450MX/Washougal)
Devin Simonson – Did Not Race.
TJ Albright – 39th Overall (450MX RedBud)
Colton Eigenmann – 29th Overall (250MX/Thunder Valley and Washougal)
Keegan Rowley – 35th Overall (250MX/Budds Creek)

Offseason Grade: A

The Rundown:
The Rock River Yamaha team has built an incredible reputation for themselves as one of the best privateer teams in the pits. Over the years they’ve helped riders find themselves and gave them the jumpstart that they’ve needed to get a factory team to take notice. Alex Martin is probably the most well-known rider that they’ve helped get a factory deal, but in 2023 the team helped Benny Bloss get a factory ride as well. Benny wasn’t the only rider to have success last season because the Flyin Hawaiian Grant Harlan also had the best year of his career. 

Bloss leaving the team is going to create a huge hole for the team to climb out of in 450SX. Harlan says that he doesn’t have a solid time table for his return to racing yet and he could be back around Daytona in March. Harlan truly showed his potential with the team last year making thirteen main events in 450SX with two top tens. Then he continued to climb outdoors with four top tens and stayed consistent in the rest. Harlan would finish the 2023 Pro Motocross season 10th in points and he earned #23. It was a season that Harlan won’t forget, however he needs to back this effort up and do it again to show the industry that he can consistently be a top 450 rider indoors and out. It’s going to be a tall order since he’ll be coming back from injury, but he’s come back from worse.

Also coming back from injury is Marshal Weltin. Weltin did not have the year that he had hoped with the HEP Suzuki team. He joined the team as a fill-in rider in the 2022 outdoor season and earned a full team ride for 2023. Weltin was able to have one of his best 250SX despite only racing five main events. He tied his career best finish twice with an eleventh in Daytona and Atlanta. Moving up to the 450 outdoors was a great move for Weltin as he has top ten speed and that’s where he can be. He tore his ACL and both of his meniscus around High Point and that was the end of the season for Marsh. He’s now training with Broc tickle in California and getting ready for a fresh start in 2024.

Devin Simonson makes the move over from the Partzilla PRMX team to try his hand on the BluCru. Simonson made leaps and bounds in improvement during his 2023 SX campaign. He topped off his fourth ever 450SX main event with a 9th in Salt Lake City. He’s got the speed and potential to keep making progress in 2024. 

This team is locked and loaded in the 250 class all season with TJ Albright (250 West), Keegan Rowley (250 East/250MX), and Colton Eigenmann (250MX). These three are looking to continue their progress and make as many main events as possible.

Also, new to the team for 2024 is General Tire Arenacross Champion Michael Hicks. Hicks has spent the last two seasons with the Ti Lube Honda team, winning Arenacross, and trying out 250SX. He’s progressed every season and even had a career best 10th in Detroit this past season. If he keeps on his current trajectory he should be able to get more top tens in 2024 and be in the 15-10 range at every race.

The Rock River team is also housing the AMA Arenacross team IAMACOMEBACK/Tucker Freight Lines/CheckmateMX. Jace Owen was originally going to be the rider for this series, however he recently was injured in the World Supercross Championship. Filling in for him will be another heavy hitter in Anthony Rodriguez who has plenty of speed and experience to win the title. The goal for the Rock River team is to win both arenacross championships.

2024 Rider Projections:
Grant Harlan
– Harlan will return from his injury mid SX and will hit his stride as the outdoor season begins. More often than not he will be battling for the top ten and proving to the industry that 2023 was not a fluke.

Jace Owen – Owen, an arenacross title contender, is injured to start the season.

Marshal Weltin – Weltin comes into 2024 armed with a new trainer, team, and mindset. He’s projected to have the best season of his career indoors and out.

Michael Hicks – Hicks has been progressing in SX the past two seasons and will continue that trajectory in 2024. He’ll slide into the top ten of the 250 East Region more this season and improve a handful positions in the final standings.

Anthony Rodriguez – A-Rod is a darkhorse to the arenacross championship and should give defending champion Kyle Peters and crew a good run.

Devin Simonson – Simonson makes the move full-time to 450SX and should make more main events than he will miss. Towards the end of the season you’ll see him creep into the top 15.

TJ Albright – Albright will be looking to make as many main events as he can. The more laps and experience that he gets, the better he will get.

Colton Eigenmann – Eignemann has one season of Pro Motocross behind him and he will make all 40 man gates this season.

Keegan Rowley – Rowley only has one pro race under his belt, but he will look to change that in 2024 with more experience and a great offseason. Progression with the Rock River Yamaha crew is inevitable.

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

11/30 – 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

Main image: Rock River Yamaha

Written by Troy Dog

Faster than Slaw Dog. Editor-in-Chief

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