It’s almost time for the gate to drop on the 2023 World Supercross Championship, with the stage set at Villa Park ahead of this Saturday’s British Grand Prix.
Though known globally as the home of Premier League football club Aston Villa, the famous stadium will instead see Ken Roczen – this year making the switch from Honda to Suzuki with the PMG team – and Shane McElrath start their WSX and SX2 title defences from the best supercross riders in the business, including series newcomer Colt Nichols and Brits Max Anstie – who finished second in the world in the SX2 class in 2022 – and Dean Wilson.
“It’s felt like we’ve been talking about it for a long time but it’s always seemed so far away, but now it’s here and we get to start the 2023 World Supercross season, it’s great,” Roczen said. “I get to give this supercross-only thing a shot, and I would make the same decision over and over again. I’ve been doing the same thing in the US for a long time now and, honestly, it was getting a bit monotonous. I really enjoyed travelling to different countries in GPs, it was something I wanted to do again, maybe when I retired, but with World Supercross I get to do it as part of my job again. It’s a shame there’s such a gap between this round and the next but, I’m excited to get this season started.“I’ve been riding a lot of motocross the last few weeks and running my own training programme, and I’m really enjoying it and I think that’s the foundation for success. I’ve also not had a number one plate in a long time, I’m going to enjoy that again.”
Returning to WSX for second season and riding for Rick Ware Racing is reigning SX2 champion McElrath, who, like Roczen, is excited to race around the world again in 2023.
“I’d never left the States until last year’s World Supercross Championship, and it was amazing to get to the UK and see so many Max Anstie and Dean Wilson fans, and realise that people outside of the US know the sport, know the riders, that was really cool,” McElrath commented. “With more rounds this year I think this championship will continue to build, and we’re seeing that happen. So, for me, getting to do this and see all these new places, I’m really excited and looking forward to trying to defend the title.”
Making his World Supercross debut this year will be Colt Nichols. The 2021 AMA 250SX East champion and this year’s Rookie of the Year in the US’ domestic series will also race out of the Rick Ware Racing awning in the WSX class.
This has been something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I wanted to do it last year as well and we talked about it but it didn’t work out, so I’m pumped to be here this year,” Nichols said. “It’s a new adventure for me, and I’m excited to travel the world. And after a good rookie year on the 450 I’m excited to be on a 450 again in this series against really good competition. I also really liked the idea of doing supercross only, that was cool for me, and I think the championship’s a cool concept. I’ve got a good bike and I’m ready to get going.”
Flying the flag for the home crowd again will be Max Anstie and Dean Wilson, both returning to WSX with Firepower Honda. Anstie finished runner-up in the SX2 class last year, while Wilson’s looking for a strong WSX campaign after an injury-blighted 2022.
Last year was a bit of a test run, I think, for us as a team and also for me as a rider, getting back on a 250 and getting used to riding the 250 again,” Anstie said. “But we had a good run and that meant we went into the US series firing, going well, and we had some good results, and probably I surprised myself a bit. We now want to carry that momentum with us into a second year of World Supercross. I’m in a good spot with the bike, I’ve enhanced my own skills and supercross craft, and I’m excited to be a part of this series again. I’m also happy to just be doing supercross this year. I missed a lot of years of supercross when I racing in GPs but after going to the US, I realised I want to be successful in supercross, and by being able to race it all year round and have a world championship, I can try and do that. And starting with another home GP, under the lights, I’m ready to get going.”
For me, half of it is just being healthy again,” Wilson added. “I’ve had some big injuries and got hurt last year, and I’ve really had to build my body back up again. So far, thought, it’s been a good year. It started slowly but I’m working on everything, my riding, my health, and it feels like I’m in a good place. I’m looking forward to another go at this World Supercross, and excited for a home race again, with family coming down from Scotland. But, like the rest of the guys, I’m really looking forward to also visiting other countries, seeing different cultures and travel the world. I’m excited and I’ve not felt that in a while, I’ve not been excited about racing in a while, but I’m feeling good again and ready for tomorrow night.”