World Supercross confirms Nichols, Savatgy, to take on Roczen

With the beginning of the 2023 World Supercross Championship getting closer, the rider line-up for the upcoming season grows more complete.

2022 World Supercross race start. - WSX

The World Supercross Championship has announced a number of riders that will be competing in the upcoming 2023 championship.

The World Supercross Championship is gearing up for its second season in the new guise it has worn since last year, when SX Global took over the promotion of the series. 

The 2022 season was billed as a ‘pilot’, with only two rounds - one in the UK, and the other in Australia - making up the World Championship.

For 2023, the calendar is expanded, with six rounds in four continents. Starting again in the UK on 1 June, the 2023 World Supercross Championship will pass through France, Germany, Canada, an undetermined Asian country, before concluding in Australia in November.

While the 2022 season was relatively successful, with decent attendances at both the UK and Australian rounds, it is unclear how that will translate to other countries; and even a new venue and time of year for the UK round which this year will run at Villa Park in Birmingham and on the same weekend as the UK round of WorldSBK at Donington and an as yet unconfirmed round of the British Motocross Championship.

Part of building on the 2022 pilot season is maintaining a strong rider line-up, especially at the top, and therefore the confirmation of Ken Roczen - the reigning WSX Champion and winner of more than 20 AMA Supercross races - continuing with the series in 2023 was an important step for SX Global. 

However, having an elite rider like Roczen is less intriguing if he doesn’t have some solid competition and, with respect to Vince Friese (who was Roczen’s closest rival in 2022), the absence of Eli Tomac - who raced the UK round of 2022 as a wildcard - in Australia last year dramatically reduced the interest level. 

With respect to Joey Savatgy and Colt Nichols, they are perhaps not on the level of Tomac, but, especially with the slightly hectic three-race format of World Supercross, they might be able to get in the mix with Roczen and keep the points tight down the stretch. We will see, but both have pedigree - Savatgy as a former factory Kawasaki rider in AMA Supercross, and Nichols as the 2021 AMA 250SX East Champion.

Both Nichols and Savatgy will be lining up for the Rick Ware Racing (a name that will be familiar to the NASCAR fans out there), and Savatgy also raced with RWR as a privateer in the first half of the 2023 AMA 450SX series, where he was, summarily, the fastest non-factory rider.

On the SX2 (250cc) side of Rick Ware Racing are Henry Miller and reigning SX2 World Champion Shane McElrath, who rode a Suzuki RM-Z450 for the HEP Motorsports team in 2023 AMA Supercross and was runner-up to 2023 AMA 450SX Champion Chase Sexton in the 2020 AMA 250SX East championship.

Max Anstie, winner of the 2023 AMA 250SX East/West Showdown race at East Rutherford earlier this year, will likely be the favourite to take the SX2 title from McElrath. Anstie will return this year with the Honda Fire Power team he raced with last year, and is currently the team’s only confirmed SX2 rider. 

On the 450/WSX side of things, Honda Fire Power is counting on Dean Wilson, who raced to multiple top-10 finishes in the 2023 AMA 450SX series for the Fire Power team earlier this year, and Justin Brayton, who retired from AMA racing at the end of the 2022 AMA Supercross season, but is continuing in the World Championship. 

Brayton, winner of the 2018 450SX Daytona Supercross with the MotoConcepts team, also raced with MotoConcepts last year in WSX, but moves to the Fire Power team for 2023 after controversy with his then-teammate Vince Friese in the final round in Australia last year.

Speaking of Friese, he returns with the MotoConcepts team for 2023, alongside former AMA 450SX race winner Cole Seely in the WSX class. In SX2, Mike Alessi will line-up for MotoConcepts alongside Mitchell Oldenburg, Alessi is known as one of the best starters in the history of dirt bike racing, especially in the US, but during his career was always better suited to motocross than supercross, where he took five total podiums across the 250SX (four podiums) and 450SX (one podium) classes in the US. Oldenburg took two fourth places on his way to fifth in the 2023 250SX West standings. 

One place ahead of Oldenburg in the standings was Brazil’s Enzo Lopes, riding for the ClubMX team. Lopes will also race SX2 in the World Championship for ClubMX, with Cole Thompson - who finished 10th in the 2023 250SX West points for Team Solitaire - alongside him on the 250. For ClubMX’s WSX line-up, nine-times Australian Champion Matt Moss will take his place alongside Luke Neese.

Neese made his way into the PulpMX LCQ Showdown race (for privateer riders who don’t make Main Events in the AMA Supercross series) partly with thanks to Cade Clason, a fellow AMA Supercross privateer on the Partzilla PRMX Kawasaki team. For World Supercross, Clason will race the WSX class for MDK Motorsports, who will field former AMA 250SX East Champion Justin Bogle in the SX2 class.

Like Bogle, Justin Hill has also found success in the past in the 250SX East class. He won one race in the division, and was also 250SX West Champion in 2017. Hill also stood out in the 2023 AMA 450SX Championship, taking a podium finish for the privateer Team Tedder squad at the season finale in Salt Lake City, finishing behind the aforementioned Chase Sexton, and Red Bull KTM’s Aaron Plessinger, and ahead of factory Kawasaki rider Adam Cianciarulo. In the World Championship, Hill will be alongside Cedric Soubeyras, one of the most internationally-well-known riders from the French supercross scene thanks to his frequent appearances at the Paris Supercross, in the BUD Racing Kawasaki team.

Aside from BUD, the only team to have not yet announced an SX2 rider is the Pipes Motorsport Group (PMG) team, which is known as the HEP Motorsports team in the US (and not to be confused with the Pierer Mobility Group). PMG will enter Kyle Chisholm, who has ridden for the team in both a testing and racing capacity during the 2023 AMA Supercross season in the 450SX class, alongside the aforementioned reigning WSX Champion Ken Roczen.

The only all-French team so far confirmed in the 2023 World Supercross Championship is Team GSM, who currently have Gregory Aranda and Thomas Ramette confirmed in the premier WSX class, and Maxime Desprey signed to the SX2 division. 

Jordi Tixier is the only rider in the class known mostly for his efforts in MXGP (with the possible exception of the aforementioned Max Anstie). The 2014 MX2 World Champion is back for his second season of World Supercross on the Honda NILS team in the WSX class. 

In SX2, Honda NILS will field Chris Blose, who rode most of the 2023 AMA 250SX East series as a fill-in rider at Pro Circuit Kawasaki, and serial AMA Arenacross Champion Kyle Peters.

SX Global CEO Adam Bailey, speaking after the most recent rider announcements, said: “We’re building the World Supercross Championship for the fans first and foremost. And they are our motivation. There’s nothing more rewarding than witnessing their enjoyment when they experience WSX racing for the first time and get to see their heroes in action first-hand.

“You can feel the energy building for the season-opener in Birmingham. If you’re a hardcore supercross fan or just looking to experience the most entertaining motorsport on the planet, you have to be at Villa Park on the first of July.

“It’s fantastic to see so many of the top riders from 2022 returning and new faces joining WSX for our first official season. It’s been an enormous amount of work, but the increased depth of talent in 2023 proves we’re building a product that the world’s best athletes want to win, and I’m proud of that.”

Ahead of the start of the 2023 World Supercross season in Birmingham on 1 July, there are still a number of rides left to be filled. 

Visit the World Supercross website to purchase tickets.

2023 Honda CL500 Review | New Scrambler for the 500cc class!