2015 GEICO AMA EnduroCross Series Preview

Read up as we set the odds on the contenders and the pretenders in the 2015 GEICO AMA EnduroCross championship chase.

Read up as we set the odds on the contenders and the pretenders in the 2015 GEICO AMA EnduroCross championship chase.

Cody Webb has switched from Beta to KTM for the 2015 GEICO AMA EnduroCross Series, and we say he will still be the man to beat. PHOTO BY DREW RUIZ/GEICO AMA ENDUROCROSS SERIES.
Cody Webb has switched from Beta to KTM for the 2015 GEICO AMA EnduroCross Series, and we say he will still be the man to beat. PHOTO BY DREW RUIZ/GEICO AMA ENDUROCROSS SERIES.

No doubt about it, the GEICO AMA EnduroCross Series has quickly earned its place among the premier motorcycle racing series in America.

Off-road racing’s version of supercross, the series attracts the sport’s top off-road gladiators to do battle on tight and extremely technical tracks in premier small arenas across the country, and the gladiators are preparing to enter the arena again this weekend as the 2015 GEICO AMA EnduroCross Series opener gets underway in Daytona Beach Florida during Bike Week.

Last year’s series was one of the most exciting yet, as Cody Webb defeated Poland’s Taddy Blazusiak, who had held a tight grip on the title for consecutive seasons. It all came down to a thrilling season finale at the Citizen’s Bank Arena in Ontario, California, in which Blazusiak did all he could do by winning the event. Webb, however, cruised to a third-place finish to clinch the title, giving the Italy-based Beta motorcycle brand its first GEICO AMA EnduroCross title.

But there are changes afoot for 2015, as Webb has switched bike brands and Blazusiak has announced that he will not be contesting the 2015 series, electing to take a break from the hectic schedule that has seen him fly back and forth from his home in Spain to compete in the GEICO events. Blazusiak plans to remain in Europe this year to focus on winning the FIM SuperEnduro and to compete in the numerous Hard Enduro and other extreme off-road events held there.

Not that Webb will have an easy time of it, as the 2015 GEICO AMA Endurocross field is stacked with talent. In fact, we thought it would be fun to play bookmaker and set the odds for the main title hopefuls in 2015. Here goes.

Cody Webb, 2-1
Face it, the reigning champion is the man to beat. He is the only rider to figure out out how to stop the Taddy juggernaut over the past five years. No longer with Beta, Webb will defend his title aboard an FMF/RPM/KTM ride for 2015, and based on his win at the most recent FIM SuperEnduro round, he is already comfortable aboard his new ride. He is certainly beatable, but it is going to take the same kind of effort that he made against Blazusiak to dethrone him.

Colton Haaker, 3-1
Husqvarna’s new recruit had a pretty food season in 2015 while competing for Johnny Campbell Racing Honda, and he christened his new factory ride the right way by winning this year’s grueling Klim King of the Motos. He has the speed to win—two round victories in 2014 are proof of that, and he showed a lot of consistency, remaining in the battle with Webb and Blazusiak almost to the finish. If Webb is looking over his shoulder at anyone, it’s probably Haaker.

Mike Brown, 4-1
Don’t think that former AMA 125cc National Motocross and WORCS Champion Mike Brown is over the hill. One of the best-conditioned athletes in the sport regardless of age, the factory Husqvarna rider still has what it takes to compete at the top level. A hand injury derailed his first two rounds of 2014, and he failed to make the podium after that, but let’s not forget his stellar start and season-long challenge for the title in 2013. Brownie will definitely be a factor in 2015.

Ty Tremaine, 5-1
Surprised that we picked Ty Tremaine this high in the pecking order? Don’t be. He has the talent to back up this position. At 19, he’s the 2014 Junior EnduroCross Champion, an honor bestowed upon the highest-finishing under-21-year-old rider in the series, and he is the current FIM Junior SuperEnduro Championship point leader, having earned multiple wins in Europe. With guidance from his FMF/RPM/KTM teammate Webb, Tremaine could be the threat that nobody was counting on.

Cory Graffunder, 11-2
If likeability was a factor, Canada’s Cory Graffunder would be closer to the top of our list, but there are other attributes that place him this high. First of all, he’s an EnduroCross veteran with several podium finishes to his credit. Second, he showed how tough he can be by finishing second to Haaker at this year’s Klim King of the Motos. And third, he’s tall, which should help him guide his new SRT KTM through the rocks and gauntlets. If he lands on the podium enough times, he could be a threat.

Max Gerston, 6-1
This year’s third-place finisher in the Klim King of the Motos, Gerston is the man who has replaced Webb on the factory Beta team, so we know that he has equipment that is capable of winning, and his fifth-place series finish in 2015 is a testament to his consistency. However, if there’s a do-or-die line separating the real championship contenders, Gerston may be the one straddling it. That fifth came without one top-five finish in 2015, let alone a podium. His KoM performance was impressive, but can he get the job done in the weekly GEICO EnduroCross “sprints?” We’ll see.

Taylor Robert, 7-1
It’s almost criminal to place FMF KTM’s Taylor Robert down this far, as he is clearly one of the premier American off-road racers in the world today. Still, as good as he is, we can’t expect him to spot this level of competition two rounds while recovering from his recent wrist injury and then come back and win the title. It could happen, but it probably won’t. Still, we look for Robert to add more wins to his career-first victory in Everett, Washington, last year, and he is going to make life miserable for the contenders in the points.

Bobby Prochnau, 8-1
Prochnau is another tall Canadian who had a pretty good EnduroCross season in 2014. A veteran of the GEICO series, he races for the FMF/RPM/KTM team. Having new teammate Cody Webb alongside him in the pits won’t hurt his chances this year, and neither will a good start like the one he got in 2014 when he finished fifth at the season opener in Las Vegas. A little more speed and consistency could vault him higher than the eighth-place finish he enjoyed last season.

Geoff Aaron, 9-1
Geoff Aaron is American trials royalty, and he can never be counted out as a contender for the GEICO AMA EnduroCross Championship. Armed with his new factory-backed Gas Gas factory ride, Aaron has it in him to put together brilliant rides and battle for the podium week in and week out. If he can do that and stay healthy, a title run is not out of the realm, and it would be a welcome result for one of off-road racing’s true renaissance men.

Wally Palmer, 10-1
“Wild Wally” displays an exuberance on the track and in interviews that is rarely equaled. Everything about his program screams spectacular, from his wild Christini All-Wheel-Drive motorcycle to the way that he tries to total it during one of his jaw-dropping wipeouts. His talent is hard to gauge, but he has veteran experience. It will take better results than the solo ninth-place main event finish he collected in 2014 to move him from sideshow to serious.