Morning Espresso: Vurb’s 2024 Team Previews: Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GasGas

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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 Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GasGas Factory Racing and you will find the full schedule below.

The Biggest Question Mark: Will the TLD Race Team be able to stay healthy enough to make a run at race wins?

Who’s In:

#51 – Justin Barcia – 450SX/MX
#34 – Ryder Difrancesco– 250SX/MX
#39- Pierce Brown – 250SX/MX

Who’s Out:

#76 – Michael Mosiman

Last season’s Supercross Results:
Barcia – 5th 450SX
Difrancesco- Raced SX Futures
Brown- 8th 250SX West

Last Season’s Motocross Results:
Barcia – 8th 450MX
Difrancesco – 10th 250MX
Brown- 19th 250MX

Best SX Finish:
Barcia – 1st (East Rutherford)
Difrancesco – Did Not Race
Brown- 4th (Glendale) 

Best MX Finish:
Barcia – 5th Overall (Budds Creek)
Difrancesco – 6th Overall (Ironman)
Brown – 10th Overall (Washougal, Unadilla)

Offseason Grade:  A

The Rundown:

The Troy Lee Designs race team gets an A for putting out what is possibly the best ever rider intro video of all-time with Ryder Difrancesco. After two seasons with the same lineup, the team added Ryder to the mix and did not bring back Michael Mosiman after an injury riddled 2023 season. Basically the entire team suffered from injuries in 2023 with Pierce Brown breaking his hand midseason and opting to get surgery on his meniscus in the process. Justin Barcia, amid his hot streak, had a bad crash at Nashville and came back in time for the last three nationals and SMX Playoff races. Barcia got out front in the finals at the LA Coliseum, came up short on a rhythm triple and caused a red flag. He broke a few ribs, his collarbone, and had a bit of air in his chest. 

Bam looks forward to being back up front in 2024 and you can expect the same things out of him on the track. He’s going to be a top guy, he’s going to get podiums, and he’s going to get a win or two. By the end of SX you can even expect him to be in the top three in points. It’s hard to believe that Barcia is a 15-year veteran at this point, who can still bring it on any given night. At some point in the season you’ll have him go on his “podium hot streak” as I like to call it where he’s one of the, if not the fastest, riders in the series for weeks at a time. Go back to the results if you don’t believe me. For instance, from Daytona to East Rutherford this season he went 4-2-4-3-3-2-1 before ending his SX season at Nashville. Barcia still has plenty of racing left in the tank and the TLD GasGas team is the perfect fit for him to succeed.

Pierce Brown probably had a year that he’d like to forget. The hardest part of a 250 amateur prodigy is taking those leaps in progress every year in the pro ranks. For Brown, the speed is there, it’s just been difficult for him due to the injuries he’s had. Brown raced an abbreviated 2023 SX season and five Pro Motocross races. The 2022 season was a nice leap of progress, however you can’t back that up as easily with a broken hand and a meniscus surgery. Pierce is now facing a crucial contract year for his career. He needs podiums and possibly his first career win to prove to teams that he is in fact a potential championship contender. The 250 class is in need of new champions and a lot of riders are going to be out to prove something this year. Pierce is one of those riders and with a healthy offseason he’s going to be able to do just that. 

The young Team Green prodigy Ryder Difrancesco is now going to be looking at a red fender for the first time since 2015. He has signed a two-year deal with the TLD team. Ryder jumped into the pro ranks at Fox Raceway and started to figure out how to get starts and ran up front with the big dogs around Unadilla. Ryder showed he had the speed of the top ten early on in the season and had his first top five moto finish at High Point. At the season finale at Ironman he pulled two great starts and ran up front for the majority of both motos. He carried that same energy into the first Playoff race at Charlotte going 7-3 for 4th overall on the day. Going into SX 2024 is going to be a learning experience for Ryder, as it is for most rookies, but he’s shown he has the skills in SX Futures. As a former “can’t miss kid” out of the amateur ranks, Ryder is going to be putting a lot of pressure on himself to run with the likes of Haiden Deegan, Jo Shimoda, Levi Kitchen, and crew. Yet, everyone needs to calm down and realize that this is his true rookie SX season and it’s okay if he doesn’t podium right away. Expectations aside, Ryder has the speed, skill, and people in his corner to make great things happen in this sport. He’s got the potential to be a race winner and champion down the line. The goal this year is to make it to all the races, get all the gate drops,  and the rest will fall into place.

2024 Rider Projections:

Justin Barcia – Enters his 15th supercross season and still has the speed to win on any given night. When Barcia peaks during the season he battles for wins and podiums and that will not change for 2024. His success relies on his ability to stay healthy after injuries in ’23. 

Ryder Difrancesco – Enters his first full season as a pro. His starts and speed were starting to come around at the end of outdoors. With a full offseason under his belt Ryder D will develop into a weekly podium threat. 

Pierce Brown – In the last year of his current contract, Brown needs to show TLD why they’ve invested all of these years into him. He has the potential and speed, but staying healthy for the entire season will be the main goal. 

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

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

11/3 – HRC Honda

11/7 – Monster Energy Kawasaki Factory Racing

11/10 – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing

11/14 – HEP Motorsports

11/17 – Team Solitaire

11/21 – AEO Powersports KTM

11/24 – Rock River Yamaha

11/28 – Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing

12/1 – Muc-Off FXR ClubMX Yamaha

12/5 – Partzilla PRMX 

12/8 – HBI Racing Kawasaki

12/12 – Monster Energy 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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