Jorge Prado's American Dabble | Vital MX Editorial 6

Jorge Prado's American affair is in full swing, but what are the chances of that becoming more?

The on-and-off nature of Jorge Prado's love affair with supercross has left those with influence at KTM AG in a state of angst for some time. There should be little doubt that he has always had one eye on what is transpiring underneath the bright lights in the United States, even when he has been operational in Grands Prix.

It seemed that his 'dream' would remain exactly that when he committed to racing a KTM 450 SX-F in the 2020 FIM Motocross World Championship, especially as he started to downplay his aspirations. It was all so quiet until the current season fired into life – the rumor mill was set alight when discussions about his future resurfaced. It was mentioned that he could leap over to the United States as soon as 2024, although Prado later admitted that there was an 'internal miscommunication' that fueled such claims.

Seemingly startled by the rampant claims about his future, Prado doubled down on the task at hand and reaffirmed his commitment to Grands Prix. '61' committed to the option in his GASGAS deal as well – that was effectively confirmation of the prior miscommunication in the paddock – and so that dust had settled. Silently, behind closed doors, a scheme that would quench his thirst for supercross was being constructed. This brings our tale to the present day.

"I will be riding in the United States for two and a half weeks," Prado told Vital MX exclusively in the hours after his impressive showing at the Motocross of Nations. "I will just ride in supercross, not even outdoors. I want to see how my feeling is on the 450F [in supercross]. I think that it will be important for me: I have always had that thing from supercross in the back of my head. If I like it, then I could maybe start to think about a future riding supercross."

Will Prado commit to a transatlantic move? In the opinion of this humble scribe, who has had the privilege of watching him post many laps on a supercross track, this preliminary test will generate adequate results. Prado has the skillset to run consistent laps with few scares and so it is ludicrous to think that the trip is going to be looked upon as a disaster – it should whet his appetite instead of having the opposite effect. If there is a portion of supercross that could prove to be tricky to adapt to then it would likely be the fierce aggression that is needed when racing in the middle of the pack.

Prado is elegant and calculated aboard a motorcycle. Those traits will benefit him when it comes time to ride supercross, not race, and identifying the intricate differences between the two could keep him awake. The other glaring issue is whether he would be happy to up sticks – his previous leap from Italy to Belgium is proof that he will do whatever is best for his career, conversely, so perhaps that should be disregarded? Present the facts and it is abundantly clear that there are few reasons for him to linger in Grands Prix for another nine years or so. Remember that he has won it all!

J.P. Acevedo

Now, an intriguing counter is that him showing commitment to chasing European titles would be beneficial for the Pierer Mobility Group. Jeffrey Herlings could retire in two years and, if Prado is in the United States, who would be left to spearhead their 450F effort into the latter part of the 2020s? Andrea Adamo, Simon Längenfelder and Liam Everts are brilliant but not perceived to be as talented as their predecessors. Now consider that both Kay de Wolf and Lucas Coenen are desperate to move across to the United States and Mr. Pierer has an issue on his hands. There is too much demand within the workforce.

Prado seemingly holds all of the cards. The deal that he has with GASGAS Motorcycles will expire in twelve months and he will be in hot demand, potentially on both sides of the Atlantic. If he shows motivation to chase glory in the FIM Motocross World Championship, then there is little doubt that Kawasaki will be in hot pursuit of his signature. Antti Pyrhönen has the ability to present very lucrative contracts and therefore GASGAS' best option could be to make a roadmap to the American dream. If they want to retain their first motocross champion, that is.

There is so much at play here and, of course, speculation is rife as one of the sport's biggest names moves from one continent to another. What many rubbernecks have not realized is that this is rather different to previous instances where a talented European has taken the plunge – it is very rare for a champion in the premier class to look elsewhere. It is just as unique for a rider to bypass the feeder system and debut in supercross' 450SX division. Prado has been adamant that he would not drop down to a 250F and that in itself has caused some confusion.

Is there a rule in place that stops the 450F world champion from dropping down to contest either 250SX West or East? Yes, but that is irrelevant in this instance. Prado wants to race a 450F – rule or not – and's shut down any talk of doing the opposite. The idea that circling back around to the 250F would represent regression in his career is sound. "I am a 450F rider," Prado proclaimed with such conviction. "I can beat the best riders there – I am a world champ on the 450F. I cannot go backwards. It makes no sense."

The most recent example of something similar to this is Ben Townley, who claimed third place in the MX1 (as it was named at the time) class in the 2005 FIM Motocross World Championship and then moved to the United States. Townley was eager to ditch the smaller bike, as he too believed that it was a backwards step, but even he waited two terms before looking for a contract in the premier class. There is no blueprint for what Prado aspires to achieve unless you go as far back as Sebastien Tortelli in 1999.

There are many facets that make this experiment so bewitching, even if it amounts to nothing. There is joy that comes from fanaticizing about the unknown. For now, this is nothing more than a fantasy. Put emphasis on "for now" though.


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