Typically, we are at least one or two races into the Supercross season when we have reached the middle of January, but in 2021, while the global pandemic continues, the Supercross season's opening night has been delayed and it is in a different location.
Seventeen events have been scheduled for the 2021 season, but it will be unlike any season to precede it. Familiar venues have been left off the calendar as public gathering restrictions would have made it difficult and in some cases impossible for a race to take place. With restrictions differing state-by-state, Supercross has put together a calendar that limits travel for the teams while also placing events where limited capacity crowds will be possible.
The 2021 season has been broken into mostly triple-headers with many Tuesday night rounds in response to the pandemic and we will see a championship confined to mostly the Southeastern part of the United States.
Houston opens the season on Saturday January 16, and it is the first triple-header of the season with round two and round three taking place at Houston on Tuesday January 19 and Saturday January 23.
One week later, Supercross heads north to Indianapolis for three rounds on January 30, February 2 and February 6. Orlando will host a doubleheader with races on Saturday February 13 and Saturday February 20.
After a break, Daytona will mark the halfway point of the season on March 6. Arlington will host the third triple-header of the season with races on March 13, March 16 and March 20 before the series takes a two-week break. Atlanta will host the final triple-header of the season beginning on April 10 with races following on April 13 and April 17.
Salt Lake City will close out the 2021 season with a doubleheader. The penultimate round will be April 14 with the season finale scheduled for May 1.
Monster Energy Kawasaki
Eli Tomac: #1 Kawasaki KX450
Eli Tomac: #1 Kawasaki KX450
What did he do in 2020: Tomac won the 2020 Supercross championship on 384 points with seven victories, 12 podium finishes, 16 top five finishes and his worst finish of the season was seventh. Tomac ended up fourth in Motocross championship, ending a three-year streak as champion. He had two victories, five podium finishes and seven top five finishes.
What to expect in 2021: Tomac should remain in championship contention. His championship last year was an enormous weight lifted off his back, which can be a relief but it might diminish some of the fire, and with a stout crop of competitors, it could line up for someone else to be crowned champion. I think Tomac will pick up at least three or four victories and keep up his consistent results. I am not sure he can get 16 top five finishes again, but 13 or 14 would be a great season.
Adam Cianciarulo: #9 Kawasaki KX450
What did he do in 2020: Cianciarulo's season was cut short after he suffered a fractured collarbone at Arlington and sidelined him for three races. In his first race back in the first Salt Lake City event, he suffered four acute vertebrae fractures after Cooper Webb accidentally hit Cianciarulo. This injury ended his season. In his first seven starts, he had two runner-up finishes and his worst finish was eighth. He was second in the Motocross championship with two victories, six podium finishes and his only result out of the top five was 12th in the first race of the season.
What to expect in 2021: Cianciarulo was banged up in 2020 after taking the Monster Cup at the end of 2019 and setting high expectations for his rookie season. After all the injuries he suffered, I am not sure he can return and immediately be fighting at the top. Looking at Ken Roczen's slew of injuries and how he didn't return and light the world on fire, I think the first portion of this season could be Cianciarulo getting back up to speed. He might be fighting for podium finishes at some point in 2021, but I don't think it will be a weekly occurrence.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Cooper Webb: #2 KTM 450SX-F Factory Edition
Cooper Webb: #2 KTM 450SX-F Factory Edition
What did he do in 2020: Webb was second in the championship on 359 points with four victories, 13 podium finishes and 15 top five finishes. He competed in one Motocross event before re-aggravating a back injury and sitting out the rest of the season.
What to expect in 2021: Webb's title defense was respectable and he had to battle his own injuries to get second in the championship. I think he will take a step back after finishing first and second in the championship in consecutive seasons. He should be competitive for race victories and pick up one or two. With the depth of this field, he could finish anywhere from first to seventh in the championship. I think he will be somewhere in the middle of that.
Marvin Musquin: #25 KTM 450SX-F Factory Edition
What did he do in 2020: Musquin missed the 2020 Supercross season due to a knee injury. He was fourth in the Motocross season with three podium finishes, seven top five finishes and his worst result was sixth.
What to expect in 2021: Musquin had a good Motocross season after sitting out the first half of the year. With Tomac capturing a championship, Musquin and Ken Roczen will fight it out as the longest waiting bridesmaid and Musquin's clock will be ticking. A championship would not be a surprise for Musquin, but I think a good year would be top five in the championship and leading KTM rider with a few victories.
Team Honda HRC
Chase Sexton: #23 Honda CRF450R
What did he do in 2020: Sexton won the 250 East championship with five victories and eighth podium finishes in nine races with his worst finish being fourth. He competed in the 450 Motocross season and was fifth in the championship with a victory in the season finale capping off a season with two podium finishes and five top five finishes.
What to expect in 2021: Sexton had a good year in Motocross, moving up to the 450 class after a 250 East championship. I don't think he will be the top Honda rider, but he should be competing for a top ten championship finish and he should pick up a few top five finishes and possibly end up on the podium.
Ken Roczen: #94 Honda CRF450R
What did he do in 2020: Roczen was third in the championship on 354 points with four victories, ten podium finishes and 13 top five finishes. He sat out the 2020 Motocross season.
What to expect in 2021: Roczen was a championship threat, but he lost a little steam in the Salt Lake City bubble after exiting Daytona three points behind Tomac. This feels like a now or never year for Roczen. He started last year with two victories from the first four races and he will need to repeat that again in 2021 along with having a stronger middle of the season to contend for a championship. He should be in the top five of the championship with two or three victories, but to be a championship he will need at least five or six victories.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Team
Dean Wilson: #15 Husqavarna FC450 RE
What did he do in 2020: Wilson was eighth in the championship on 239 points with one podium finish, a third in a Husqvarna sweep of the podium in the season finale from Salt Lake City. That was his only top five finishes of the season with 12 top ten finishes. Knee surgery ended his motocross season after five rounds.
What to expect in 2021: Somewhere at the back of the top ten again, though he could slip out if enough riders stay healthy. Wilson is still the third best of the Husqvarna trio, but he can score consistent results. It took him awhile to break into a top five finish last year. I don't think that is going to change as the field grows stronger.
Zach Osborne: #16 Husqvarna FC450 RE
What did he do in 2020: Osborne was sixth in the championship on 252 points with a victory in the Husqvarna 1-2-3 at Salt Lake City. He missed two races after suffering an injury in Atlanta, but the pandemic allowed him to recover and return for the seven-race bubble to finish the season in Utah. He was in the top five of all seven of those races. Osborne won the 2020 Motocross championship with four victories, six podium finishes, seven top five finishes and his worst result was tenth.
What to expect in 2021: Osborne is the sleeper for the championship. After his incredible seven-race run in the Salt Lake City bubble, his summer saw him capture the Motocross championship and momentum will be on his side at the start of 2021. I don't know if the triple-headers and staying at venues for multiple races will play into his favor again, but he should pick up multiple victories, end up as the top Husqvarna rider and, if he avoids disastrous days, he could be in the title hunt heading to Salt Lake City.
Jason Anderson: #21 Husqvarna FC450 RE
What did he do in 2020: Anderson was fourth in the championship on 287 points with five podium finishes and 12 top five finishes. He only started three motocross rounds after getting a plate removed from his arm.
What to expect in 2021: Anderson is a consistent rider and he should be somewhere in the middle of the top ten in the championship, but Osborne has the advantage right now in the Husqvarna camp. I don't expect Anderson to be a regular race winner like I do with Osborne. One or two victories might fall Anderson's way, but I think he will be settling for podium finishes and a handful of top five finishes.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing
Aaron Plessinger: #7 Yamaha YZ450F
Aaron Plessinger: #7 Yamaha YZ450F
What did he do in 2020: Plessinger was 11th in the championship on 207 points with his best finish being sixth. He missed the entire Motocross season after dislocating his wrist.
What to expect in 2021: Plessinger has had a tough couple of seasons in Supercross and the physical ailments don't make it any easier. With two new teammates, one that was ahead of him in the championship last year and another that was the 250 West champion, I think this will be another difficult year for Plessinger. I am not sure he can get back into the top ten of the championship and I would not be surprised if he was 11th again or worse.
Dylan Ferrandis: #14 Yamaha YZ450F
What did he do in 2020: Ferrandis won the 250 West championship with three victories, seven podium finishes and eight top five finishes from nine races. His worst result was 12th. He also won the 250 Motocross championship with three victories, eight podium finishes and his worst result was fourth.
What to expect in 2021: Ferrandis moves up to the 450 class after a successful, but somewhat controversial 250 career. He should be a top ten championship finisher, but I am not certain he will be a race winner as a rookie. I think this is a big step up and it could prove tougher than first imagined.
Malcom Stewart: #27 Yamaha YZ450F
What did he do in 2020: Stewart was seventh in the championship on 252 points with his best finish being fourth in the final. He had three top five finishes after entering 2020 with zero top five finishes in his Supercross career.
What to expect in 2021: Stewart is coming off a breakthrough season in 2020 and he moves over to the factory Yamaha outfit as he looks to improve those results. I think if he was seventh in the championship again and leading the Yamaha camp that would be a successful season. He should get a few top five finishes and maybe sneak onto the podium once or twice. That will be tough considering the depth of the grid, but very possible.
Shane McElrath: #12 Honda CRF450R
What did he do in 2020: McElrath was second in the 250 East championship with three victories, eight podium finishes and his worst finish being fourth. He was third in the 250 Motocross championship with two podium finishes and seven top five finishes.
What to expect in 2021: The bad news is McElrath will miss the opening round with a shoulder injury. When healthy, McElreath should pick up some top ten finishes, but I think top five finishes will be out of reach. I think he will be outside the top ten of the championship and he will be in a three-way fight for best rider in this team.
Broc Tickle: #20 Honda CRF450R
What did he do in 2020: Tickle competed in only seven Supercross races last year, as he was coming back from a two-year FIM suspension because of a failed drug test. He returned when Joe Gibbs Racing Suzuki's first two riders were out due to injury. He also had a hand injury at Arlington and his only top ten finish of the season was sixth in the Salt Lake City season finale. He also had a abdomen and a knee injury in Motocross season, which caused him to miss one round, but he still finished tenth in the championship with his best finish being fourth and he had five top ten finish.
What to expect in 2021: Tickle was a late announcement to the 2021 grid. He was eighth in the championship in his last full season in 2018. Justin Hill was tenth in the championship last year with this team. I think that should be Tickle's goal, but I think he will fall just short, but he should pick up at least six or seven top ten finish.
Benny Bloss: #37 Honda CRF450R
What did he do in 2020: Bloss was 17th in the championship on 108 points with his best finish being tenth. He missed five rounds. He was also 17th in the Motocross championship with his best finish being eighth.
What to expect in 2021: Somewhere around 17th in the championship.
Vince Friese: #40 Honda CRF450R
What did he do in 2020: Friese was 14th in the championship on 155 points with his best finish being ninth and having scored two top ten finishes. He was outside the top 15 in five events, all in the Salt Lake City bubble.
What to expect in 2021: Friese will be somewhere between 13th and 17th in the championship. If he can avoid the Salt Lake slump carrying over into 2021, he could be fighting to be the leading rider from this squad. If the bad days continue, he will be an afterthought.
Rocky Mountain ATV/MC – KTM – WPS
Joey Savatgy: #17 KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition
What did he do in 2020: Savatgy missed the Supercross season due to a foot injury. He competed in eighth Motocross rounds before a twisted ankle ended his season.
What to expect in 2021: Savatgy spent a lot of time on the sidelines in 2020. I think his goal should be to compete in all 17 races. If he can be in the top ten for half the races and be fighting for one of those final top ten championship spots it will be a successful year.
Justin Bogle: #19 KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition
What did he do in 2020: Bogle competed in the first four races before a concussion at Glendale ended his season. His best result was 15th. He ran the entire Motocross season with his best result being eighth in the finale.
What to expect in 2021: I think Bogle and Savatgy will be close to equals all year. They are both coming off of injury-plagued 2020 seasons. Both should shoot for a top ten championship result, but I don't think both can get. Both could miss it because of the depth of the field. It is either one gets in the top ten or neither do.
Justin Brayton: #10 Honda CRF450R
What did he do in 2020: Brayton was ninth in the championship on 227 points with his best finish being sixth and 12 top ten finishes.
What to expect in 2021: Brayton moves over to a customer Honda team after competing for the factory team. I think he will slip out of the top ten of the championship. He will have a few encouraging races, finishing in the top ten, but the top five will prove to be too far out of his grasp.
Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/Gas Gas Factory Racing
Justin Barcia: #51 Gas Gas MC 450F
What did he do in 2020: Barcia was fifth in the championship on 272 points with one victory, three podium finishes and eight top ten finishes. However, in the Salt Lake City bubble his best finish was eighth. He was seventh in the Motocross championship with two podium finishes and missing the final round.
What to expect in 2021: This is the wild card of the season as the Spanish manufacture Gas Gas enters Supercross for the first time. I am not sure what to expect. It is hard to think Barcia will be fifth in the championship again on an unknown bike. This could be a rough season and the results could be significantly off what Barcia accomplished last year.
Twisted Tea/H.E.P. Motorsports Suzuki Racing Team
Brandon Hartranft: #28 Suzuki RM-Z450
What did he do in 2020: Hartranft was fourth in the 250 West championship with two podium finishes, four top five finishes and his worst finish was eighth. He was tenth in the 250 Motocross championship with one podium finishes.
What to expect in 2021: Suzuki lost the Joe Gibbs Racing operation and H.E.P. has been left leading the way. At best, Hartranft will be fighting for top ten finishes, which I think will be tough to come by and be few and far between.
Max Anstie: #34 Suzuki RM-Z450
What did he do in 2020: Anstie missed the 2020 Supercross season due to an ankle injury. He was ninth in the Motocross season with his best finish being fifth and picking up five top ten results.
What to expect in 2021: I don't think Anstie's results will mirror what he did in Motocross last year, but I think he could have a few inspiring days for Suzuki. I am only talking top ten finishes, but that would be a good step for the team.
Adam Enticknap: #722 Suzuki RM-Z450
What did he do in 2020: Enitcknap made five main events all season, two in the Salt Lake City bubble. His best finish was 17th.
What to expect in 2021: The results will be better, but not much better. A top fifteen finish would be a start for Enticknap.
The first round of the 2021 season from Houston will begin at 6:00 p.m. ET on Saturday January 16.