Following months of anticipation, this Saturday, May 19, the 2012 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, will commence with the 44th running of the FMF Hangtown Motocross Classic from Prairie City OHV Park in Sacramento, Calif. Crisscrossing the United States, three world-class racing divisions—the 450 Class, 250 Class, and Women’s Motocross Championship (WMX)—will embark on a summer-long battle for the most prestigious championship in motocross.
The Dirt Diggers North Motorcycle Club will make sure the competitors face a challenge when they visit the iconic track, which features plenty of elevation changes, highly technical obstacles, and a bowl-like layout that lends itself to spectacular sightlines from almost any vantage point. As the longest-running event on the schedule, the Hangtown Motocross Classic even precedes what is now known as the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship and boasts a devoted local following.
Hangtown will host the 2012 Lucas Oil Motocross season opener on Saturday.
(Courtesy Simon Cudby)
Hangtown also signifies the start of the 2012 broadcast package with NBC Sports and FUEL TV. Opening motos will be showcased live on FUEL TV and AlliSports.com beginning at 4 p.m. EST, while same-day coverage of the second motos can be seen on NBC Sports Network at 12:30 a.m. EST.
On an international level, the second motos of Lucas Oil Motocross will be simulcast throughout the globe, with over 24 hours of live racing showcased on SPEED Australia, ESPN Brazil, and ESPN Latin America. This will bring the most prestigious championship on the planet to over 40 million homes across those continents.
Additionally, 15 hours of post-produced highlight shows will be distributed to Extreme Sports Channel in Europe and the Middle East, Germany’s SPORT1, South Africa’s SuperSport, along with SPEED Australia, ESPN Brazil, and ESPN Latin America. This will expand the reach of the Nationals to over 65 million homes.
For more information about dates and times of these broadcasts, contact local satellite or cable providers.
Reigning 450 Class Champion Ryan Villopoto will miss the entire 2012 season following an injury suffered prior to the start of the championship. In the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider’s absence, several contenders are prepared to step up.
Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey enjoyed the most successful rookie season of all time in 2010 en route to that championship. For his first season aboard a KTM, he wants to give the Austrian brand its first American title. Alongside Dungey is the newest member of Team Yoshimura Suzuki, James Stewart, the 2008 champion who has not competed full-time in Lucas Oil Motocross since his perfect season four years ago. Stewart’s highly publicized move from Toyota/Yamaha/JGRMX to Suzuki will be a major storyline throughout the season.
Other riders to watch include Toyota/Yamaha/JGRMX’s Davi Millsaps, Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Justin Brayton and Tommy Hahn, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer and Tyla Rattray, Team Yoshimura Suzuki’s Brett Metcalfe, MotoConcepts Suzuki’s Mike Alessi, Chaparral Honda’s Andrew Short, and Jeff Ward Racing Kawasaki’s Josh Grant and Kyle Chisholm. Each knows what it takes to win at the sport’s highest level and will be battling alongside Dungey and Stewart all season long.
Ryan Dungey (5) and James Stewart (7) will be focal points as the
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson achieved his lifelong dream of becoming a national champion last season, and now he’s back to continue his reign atop the 250 Class, home to the sport’s rising stars. As the first rider to defend his 250 Class title since the 2008 season, Wilson will meet a bevy of challengers prepared to make their own marks on the sport.
Wilson’s Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki teammate Blake Baggett might be the biggest threat to his title defense. Baggett showed tremendous speed and ability on his way to a series-leading five wins last season. Red Bull KTM teammates Marvin Musquin and Ken Roczen have championship experience of their own, having split the last three World Motocross MX2 titles. They’ve now made the move to the States to compete alongside the world’s best in Lucas Oil Motocross.
GEICO Honda duo Justin Barcia and Eli Tomac got off to a successful start in 2012 AMA Supercross competition and will look to carry that momentum to the Nationals. With veteran riders like Star/Valli Yamaha’s Kyle Cunningham, along with Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki’s Martin Davalos and Blake Wharton, the 250 Class is loaded with talented competitors.
Dean Wilson will lead the 250 Class into action as the defending champion.
Over the past four seasons, a captivating rivalry has developed between the two biggest names in the WMX Class. Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Ashley Fiolek and Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki’s Jessica Patterson have traded wins and championships, establishing themselves as the premier female motocross riders on the planet and helping bring the WMX Class to the national spotlight.
Fiolek enters the 2012 season as the defending champion, having claimed her third title in four years, but Patterson is back with a new team and a renewed passion to reclaim the title she last won in 2010. Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda’s Tarah Gieger will challenge every step of the way, as will the exceptionally fast Mariana Balbi, Jacqueline Strong, and Vicki Golden. Fiolek’s new Team Honda Muscle Milk teammate Sayaka Kaneshiro will look to make the most of her new opportunity as well.
Ashley Fiolek (67) will aim for her fourth WMX Class title against
The FMF Hangtown Motocross Classic, Round 1 of the 2012 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, kicks off at 4 p.m. EST this Saturday, May 19.