AMA Pro Motocross

Yamaha Star Racing’s talent-packed 250 team fired up for Pro Motocross start

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Following a successful conclusion to the supercross season, the Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing 250 team is ready to get rolling at this weekend’s Lucas Oil Pro Motocross opening round in Pala, California.

The team comes armed with an exciting line-up for the 2022 outdoor season, including a pair of champions and some fast-up-and-coming riders.

Both 2021 250SX champions return for the outdoors, with Justin Cooper lining up at the opener and Colt Nichols on track for this summer.

Nate Thrasher and Levi Kitchen also return ready to embark on their first full Pro Motocross season. Joining the team’s 250 regulars are two top amateurs – Nick Romano, who moves up to make his pro debut this season, and Matthew LeBlanc, who will get some seat time at the opening rounds.

After sitting out of the supercross season with a preseason training injury, Cooper is hungrier than ever and is eager to line up this weekend at Fox Raceway. On the heels of his 250SX West Championship, the New Yorker enjoyed a great outdoor season in 2021, coming just shy of the title. He led the way in qualifying and holeshots, notched seven moto wins, and never missed the overall podium. Cooper and the team have been putting in the work and have their eyes set on another 250MX title run.

Nichols is also eager to return to action after being sidelined from a big crash at the opening supercross round in Anaheim, California. The 2021 250SX East Champion recently returned to riding and is working towards his comeback this summer.

Fresh off his big win at the supercross finale in Salt Lake City, Utah, Thrasher is fired up for the Pro Motocross season. He first made his debut in the series at the final two rounds in 2020 and, unfortunately, was sidelined with an injury last year. With more seat time on his YZ250F, the Tennessee rider looks to build off his supercross momentum in his first full season outdoors.

Back to full fitness after a shortened supercross season, Kitchen is ready for what will also be his first full year in Pro Motocross. Last year, the Washington rider finished his amateur career in style with a pair of AMA Amateur National Motocross titles and the coveted honour of the Nicky Hayden AMA Motocross Horizon Award. He made his Pro Motocross debut last year at RedBud and turned heads with some solid results in the top 10.

Joining Star’s talented line-up in the pro ranks is the young Romano. Named the 2021 Amateur Rider of the Year, the multi-time amateur champion is one of the sport’s rising stars. The 17-year-old from Bayside, New York, looks to hit the ground running at his first Pro Motocross race this weekend.

Another top amateur making his debut at the Pro Motocross season opener is LeBlanc. The Louisiana rider also has multiple amateur titles to his resume and has enjoyed a lot of success with the bLU cRU. The 16-year-old is looking forward to battling with the sport’s best 250 riders at the first two rounds of the season.

The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross reaches a landmark 50th anniversary this year and kicks off its 12-round season this Saturday, May 28, with the Fox Raceway National I in Pala, California.

Team manager Jensen Hendler: “We’re ready to kick off the outdoor season. Coming off a successful end to the supercross season, we are looking to pick up where we left off. The team has been working hard during the short break, and we’re excited to get rolling this weekend. It’s great to have Justin and Colt back riding, although Colt will be joining us sometime later this Summer. We also have a group of young, fast riders, which is really exciting, and we’re looking forward to seeing what they can do.”

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Justin Cooper: “I’m excited to get back to racing! It feels like it’s been forever, so I’m just happy to be in the position to get back behind the gate. I’ve had good preparation leading into the season, so let’s go for it!”

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Colt Nichols: “I’m really happy to be back riding! We’re taking it slow right now, but I’m excited to get back up to speed and race this summer. It’s been a long wait since Anaheim 1, but my body feels good, and I’m ready to put in the work.”

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Nate Thrasher: “I’m looking forward to the summer and battling up front with the guys. I’m healthy and ready to give it my all.”

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Levi Kitchen: “I’m pumped to get things going. I’ve made huge improvements since this time last year, so I’m expecting a good year.”

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Nick Romano: “I’m super excited for my pro debut with the Yamaha Star Racing team. We’ve been putting in a lot of work, so I’m really looking forward to my first race at Pala. This is something I’ve been working towards my whole life!”

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Matthew LeBlanc: “I’m excited to go racing this weekend and make my pro debut. We’ve been putting in the work with the team, and now it’s time to see what we can do.”

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