Rookie Report: The Great Outdoors Preview!

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Ahhh, the great outdoors or TGO as everyone seems to be saying on social media. Is there really anything better? 40 bikes on the line, ice cold beers are flowing, and people are just screaming REDBUD at the top of their lungs. It really does not get any better. While we are stoked on the return of the TGO, let us take a deep dive into the rookies who will be making their outdoor pro debuts and what we can expect from them. Some of these guys you have heard of and some of them you haven’t. I’m here to break it down all season long for you guys and keep you informed on these new guys. Okay, enough of me just babbling, let’s get down to the meat and potatoes here, and start talking about some rookies.

Julien Beaumer – Red Bull KTM

Beaumer had a little taste of what it is like to race pro outdoors last year. Julien and some fellow rookies we will talk about later, took on the last few rounds of the series to test the waters and see where they stand against the best of the best. Julien was able to finish 9th at Budds Creek and 21st at Ironman. Beaumer’s ride at Budds Creek was super impressive and honestly something I did not expect. It was impressive to see the 17-year-old up there dicing it up with a few of the veterans in the class. Beaumer had an outstanding rookie SX season where he finished 7th overall. He seems to be really comfortable on the bike and working with Davi Millsaps seems to be working well for the duo. I expect Julien to have a ton of top tens and break into the top five. It is a stacked 250 class, so getting on the podium will be tough, getting into the top five would be a huge success.

Daxton Bennick – Monster Energy / Star Racing Yamaha

Just like Beaumer, Dax and the team decided to hit the final rounds of the outdoor series, but they did it a little differently. Bennick raced three rounds before Loretta’s and the final three rounds outdoors. Daxton was able to take the top qualifying spot in his debut at Red Bud and yes I know it was on a fresh track and it’s easier to get the fast times, but it’s still impressive. Daxton finished just outside the top ten in his first three races, but it makes me wonder if he had more in the tank and possibly laid off to make sure he didn’t point out for Lorettas. He was able to capture a title in Open Pro Sport and finished second to his teammate Gavin Towers in 250 Pro Sport. He then went back to the pro series, where he finished the season on a strong note with two top tens and a 12th. This will be the rookie to sneak in a few podium finishes. Bennick seems like a stronger outdoor rider for now and his talents outdoors are undeniable. This is who I am most excited for this season and know we will see him on the podium for a few motos. Overall finishes I think we see him in the top five consistently and really mixing things up for the title contenders.

Casey Cochran –  Rockstar Energy Husqvarna

Cochran raced two rounds of the outdoor series last year, Budds Creek and Ironman. He seemed to struggle at both of these rounds, but there wasn’t much to think of it. Cochran had just turned 17 and was coming out of the B class, so this was just a chance to get the feet wet and not push the limits. Cochran raced three rounds of supercross also this year where he struggled in the mains. This rookie season could be tough for Cochran, he’s the young gun, and it will be interesting to see how he stacks up. I expect him to have a few topten finishes, but overall we could see him in the 10th-15th range. Cochran has all the talent in the world and has proved that in the amateur ranks over the last few years, but I think he will need a full season under his belt before we get to see the kids true talent. Casey will have his highs and lows this season, but looking ahead to 2025, Cochran will be a favorite for the title in 2025.

Mark Fineis – Muc-Off/FXR/ClubMX Yamaha  

I’m honestly not sure where to place Fineis. Mark made the switch from GasGas to ClubMX this offseason and raced fou rounds of Futures for his new team. He did not finish in the top ten in any of those. Fineis raced a few combines last year. He finished sixth at RedBud. In a recent podcast Fineis was on (Grom Squad) by Whiskey Throttle Media, he was asked what he is looking forward to this outdoor season. Mark had a great answer, he just wants to race. He said he used to race every weekend, no training, just racing. Now with features, and not racing every weekend, Fineis said he has become better at training than he was at actually racing. So, he is looking forward to racing every weekend and not just training weeks at a time between races. I think Mark’s season will start off slow with some 15th – 20th place finishes but as the season goes later into the summer, Fineis will move up more towards a consistent 15th place guy and potentially a top ten later in the year.

Preston Boespflug – Toyota of Redlands / Bar X Suzuki 

Boespflug had a rough ending to his amateur career. Going into Lorettas as one of the favorites, he had a nightmare of a weekend with a 21st and a 28th in his classes. Preston was on Orange Brigade at the time and is now on the Bar X Suzuki team. I’m not sure if the two decided to part ways after Lorettas, or if Boespflug was ready to make the move to pro and KTM was not ready to offer that so he made the move to Suzuki. The fresh new team has seemed to be doing well for Boespflug and he had a nice rookie SX season. Preston raced Washougal last year on his KTM and was able to finish in 20th but this was the only pro race we would see out of the Washington native. Just like Fineis, I’m just not sure where Preston will stack up. I was hoping to see him lineup for the Stopwatch National to see where he stacks up, but Preston unfortunately did not. Boespflug should without a doubt be a top 20 guy, but not sure we will see a better finish than that. If Preston is able to get into the top 10 this season, I would consider that a huge success.

Evan Ferry – Wildcat Race Team

Yeah, I honestly do not even know where to begin. In the last few years Evan has switched from a few teams, he’s had a lot of good rides over the last few years, and some unfortunate ones. Ferry crashed out at Loretta’s last year and he went silent for a while. He then came out saying he signed with Triumph and would be making his pro debut with the team at Detroit SX. Ferry was able to get into the main, but a first turn crash would end his night. After a few weeks of silence from Ferry, he returned to social media to say he would be leaving the Triumph team and would be going his own route. Evan went on the PulpMX Show to clear the air, which left me with even more questions, but Evan did say that he will be racing outdoors and will do it on his own if he has too. Well, like a week later, the Wildcat Race Team announced they had signed Ferry, and he would be hopping on a GasGas for them and competing in the full outdoor series. Ferry has ridden three different bikes in the last two months, so I can’t see him being super comfortable on the bike just yet. Yes, he did ride a GasGas last year at Loretta’s, but this is a new team with a whole new setup, so at least he is familiar with the brand. With all that being said, it is almost impossible to tell where he could finish. We could see Evan in the top 20 or we could see him around 30th, I really have no clue or expectations for him. I hope Evan has found a home and we can see him on the bike all summer. Hopefully by the end of the season he can show off his potential, but for now I have no expectations for him and want him to finish the season happy and healthy regardless of the results.

Lux Turner – AEO KTM

Turner is the guy you may have not heard of, but he will be one to watch this outdoor season. Lux first started catching some attention in 2022 where he finished in the top ten in two of the toughest classes at the ranch. Last year he backed those results up with an eighth and sixtth in the Pro Sport classes. Lux raced RedBud and Southwick last year where he finished 21st in both of those rounds. Turner looked pretty damn solid in the SX season and even with some time off from an injury, he came back to finish the season and looked better than he had before. I expect turner to be around 15th, but don’t be surprised if he can sneak up towards that top ten and cause a headache for some of these factory guys and the veteran privateers. AEO has a strong team for not being factory with some good talent and by the end of the summer, Lux could be the go to rider on the team.

Jorgen Talviku – Rides Unlimited Racing

Talviku is my sleeper pick for the rookie class. Jorgen tested the waters the two last years for three rounds during the GP break and finished in the top 20 in all three rounds (besides one round where he finished 24th). Talviku, who is from Estonia, left the MXGP series to pursue his career in the US. He raced the supercross last year and recently signed with Rides Unlimited Racing. If you watch MXGP you know those dudes ride the gnarliest of gnarliest tracks and in some crazy conditions. Talviku should not have any trouble with roughness of the tracks here in the states. He seems hungry and determined to prove that he belongs over here and wants to prove himself to the factory guys that he belongs under their tent. While Jorgen won’t be competing for a championship, we should expect him to be fighting for top ten points every weekend.

Bryce Shelly – DBD Race Team

Bryce had a rough rookie year in supercross, but we will see a whole new kid come outdoors. Shelly is another sleeper in this rookie class and he has some results from last year to back up his outdoors capabilities. Bryce raced the 450 class last year for a few rounds where he placed in the top 20 in three of the four rounds and even had a 11th at Redbud. The 450 class was plagued with injury last year but to get an 11th in the premiere class is pretty damn good in my books. Shelly seems a lot more comfortable with himself and the bike on an outdoor circuit, so I expect some good finishes. Shelly could even break into the top ten a few motos. I’m telling you guys, this dude rips outdoors and I think he will surprise a lot of people.

Other Notable 250 Class Rookies:

Blake Gardner

Crockett Meyers 

Matti Jorgensen

Hayden Hoover

Leo Tucker

Casey Benard 

Slade Varola 

Main Image: Octopi Media

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