Team Honda HRC Announces Rider Lineup for 2020 Season

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9/12/2019 1:23 PM

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Brayton, Sexton set to race factory CRF450R in separate series

TORRANCE, Calif. (September 12, 2019) – Team Honda HRC announced today their roster of racers for the 2020 race season, with a unique arrangement that will see two different riders competing in separate series alongside Ken Roczen, who earlier this year signed an extension to his agreement. Joining the factory squad during the AMA Supercross series will be Justin Brayton, who has ridden for the Smartop/MotoConcepts/Bullfrog Spas Honda team for the past three years and had planned to continue in that partnership until this opportunity arose. For the AMA Pro Motocross series, Brayton will pass the baton to current GEICO Honda rider and reigning 250SX East Champion Chase Sexton, who will join the factory 450 effort fulltime at that point.

A veteran rider with a solid résumé, Brayton brings experience and consistency to the table for the 17-race Supercross series. This isn’t his first stint with the team, as he raced with the factory Honda squad in 2012, when he scored his career-best series-overall placing of fourth, achieved with the help of five podium finishes and six additional top-five results. Since Brayton’s return to the Honda brand in 2017, he and the MotoConcepts team have opted to race Supercross only, and he has continued to log impressive rides including his first-ever victory, in 2018 aboard the MotoConcepts bike at Daytona—arguably the most challenging stop on the circuit. The Iowa native is also a two-time Australian Supercross Champion and will in fact return Down Under this fall to defend that title with the Penrite Honda squad before turning his attention to preparing for 2020 aboard a Team Honda HRC CRF450R.

“I’m beyond excited to be riding for factory Honda in the 2020 Supercross season,” said Brayton, 35. “Riding with the team in 2012 was the achievement of a dream for me, and I had my best season so far that year. Now I feel like I’m living my dream all over again, just a little older and more experienced to be able to take full advantage of this opportunity.”

“Justin has been nothing less than professional and respectful since the idea of his joining the Honda team was presented,” said Mike Genova, MotoConcepts team owner. “Justin has been a positive force on the MotoConcepts team, and I wish him nothing but the best in his future.”

Meanwhile, Sexton will have the opportunity to once again campaign the 2020 250SX series with GEICO Honda before moving up to the CRF450R for AMA Pro Motocross. The Illinois native will not defend his East crown in Supercross, but will instead ride a CRF250R in the West region before beginning his Team Honda HRC agreement, which currently runs through the 2023 season. There’s also a possibility of him periodically competing in the 450SX class at East rounds, as a wildcard rider.

“I’m super excited to be joining Team Honda HRC,” Sexton said. “Factory Honda is a team that I’ve wanted to ride for since I was a kid, so to have this opportunity is honestly a dream come true. I’m looking forward to starting this journey with them, and I think it will be a successful one. I think the CRF450R suits me because I’m a bigger guy and I ride it well. Still, 2020 is going to be a learning year for sure. I’m just getting my feet wet in the 450 class, and it will be good to have an outdoor series under my belt to get me ready for a full 17-round 2021 Supercross series. I’m also looking forward to being teammates with Ken. We’re pretty close friends and train together every day, so I think this will push us both and take us to the next level. You couldn’t ask for a better guy to have under the tent, with his speed and knowledge.”

“We’re really happy to see Chase get this opportunity,” said GEICO Honda co-owner Jeff Majkrzak. “He started with us in our Amsoil Honda amateur program and transitioned into GEICO Honda when he turned pro, and he has been a pleasure to work with the entire time. He has grown a lot in the last year or so, and he has earned this next step in his career. We look forward to working with him during his final 250SX series, and then to watching him progress on 450s.”

Brandon Wilson, American Honda’s Manager of Advertising & Motorcycle Sports, explained that although switching riders midyear is unusual, it makes sense for the team considering the circumstances.

“It really started with Chase progressing so quickly,” Wilson said. “He’s someone that we already had our eye on for the future, and he rides a 450 really well, with a lot of speed and confidence. We thought starting him off outdoors would ease his transition, with no expectations other than to learn the team, bike and competition before rolling all that into his first full year on 450s in 2021. We also thought what a great fit it would be to have Justin come onboard just for Supercross. He’s a Honda guy, and he understands our team structure and knows many staff members from his years on a Honda, which should allow for a smooth transition. Lastly, he’s a veteran of the sport, with a wealth of knowledge, which should benefit our program on many levels. I’d also like to express gratitude to our amazing partners, Smartop/MotoConcepts/Bullfrog Spas Honda’s Mike Genova and Tony Alessi, and GEICO Honda’s Jeff Majkrzak and Rick Zielfelder, all of whom were incredibly supportive with both of these ideas. Everyone here at Honda thanks them for working with us. We’re looking forward to a solid year from all of our riders and teams.”

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9/12/2019 1:29 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/12/2019 1:30 PM

I like the unconventional approach. Brayton will be solid, and Sexton will be exciting to watch and see how he adapts.

I believe between KR and Sexton, Honda may get a 450 title or two in the next few years.

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9/12/2019 1:31 PM

I wonder how much they had to $weet talk MCR to take Brayton? Excited to see him on the HRC bike though!

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9/12/2019 1:39 PM

Sexton is a great rider and I think he has a good future in front of him, but does anyone find it a little odd that Factory Honda is grooming him to be the next RC? His 250 results have been very good and obviously he has a title to his name, but other 250 champs have had a hard time finding a 450 ride much less Factory Honda reserving your deal years in advance. Not trying to bag on the guy at all.

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9/12/2019 1:45 PM

With Sexton moving up to the 450, where does that leave Martin who has proven himself on the 450 in SX no less. I hope there's still a plan for him to move up to the factory team once he's ready.

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9/12/2019 1:50 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/12/2019 1:51 PM

VicDaMoan03 wrote:

Sexton is a great rider and I think he has a good future in front of him, but does anyone find it a little odd that Factory Honda is grooming him to be the next RC? His 250 results have been very good and obviously he has a title to his name, but other 250 champs have had a hard time finding a 450 ride much less Factory Honda reserving your deal years in advance. Not trying to bag on the guy at all.

sounds much like the AC deal with Kawi... Both are contracted under the manufacture (2021 for Adam and 2023 for Sexton) and its just a team change. SO from the words above it sounds like Sexton has the 450 spot for 2.5 years

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9/12/2019 1:56 PM

aeffertz wrote:

I wonder how much they had to $weet talk MCR to take Brayton? Excited to see him on the HRC bike though!

Im sure they got something nice for the deal. But they are WAY more excited for Mookie than having Brayton

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9/12/2019 1:58 PM

Would of liked to see Sexton have some success (at least winning overalls) before he moved out of 250 class MX.
Also strange that Honda don’t want to run the number 1 plate on the east coast.

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9/12/2019 2:02 PM

GPR245 wrote:

With Sexton moving up to the 450, where does that leave Martin who has proven himself on the 450 in SX no less. I hope there's still a plan for him to move up to the factory team once he's ready.

Has he though? Except for the podium at Daytona Martin was a 10-12th place guy in his 450 fill-in rides. I think Honda saw what they needed to from him and decided he wasn't the guy they wanted to invest in long term.

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9/12/2019 2:23 PM

I like it. Sexton moves up early to get a taste of the 450 class, and Martin stays down to be the team leader for the kids as he recovers from a major injury.

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9/12/2019 2:29 PM

Do they become a three team rider in SX 2021 then I wonder? Does motoconcepts pick up someone to replace Brayton? Happy for all of them. Seem like good guys and the Honda's look bad ass this year across the board!

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9/12/2019 2:44 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/12/2019 2:45 PM

I really hope they become a 3 riders team in 2021 and give jmart a 450 spot, with proper time on the bike he would be fast as nails

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9/12/2019 2:48 PM

so.... Cole's not coming back?

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#SeelyNation
Twitter @JaridSavoy

9/12/2019 3:10 PM

Good for Justin.

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9/12/2019 3:12 PM

Hopefully more riders see what Brayton did with racing our Supercross series in Aus and the US series and see that it got him a ride at HRC! It would be awesome if it became a much more common thing for US riders to come down because our series is really taking off this year with legit tracks in big stadiums and it would be fucking awesome! Seems very viable for the riders too!

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9/12/2019 3:14 PM

Jarid332 wrote:

so.... Cole's not coming back?

Cole has retired from professional racing.

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9/12/2019 3:36 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/12/2019 3:55 PM

Awesome news for all those involved.

For JMart I wonder if he might be in the MCR SX 450 team in 2021, not sure where that leaves him for MX though..or perhaps a Geico 450 rider

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Current rides: 2020 CRF450RWE and 2019 TC300
Occasional ride for VMX: 1985 CR500RF
Adventure/Road bike: CRF1000L

9/12/2019 3:45 PM

Weird.

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9/12/2019 3:47 PM

Geico needs to go back to having a 450 rider like they did from 1999-2016

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Alright Lunger, Let's Do It

9/12/2019 3:51 PM

JackkyT wrote:

Hopefully more riders see what Brayton did with racing our Supercross series in Aus and the US series and see that it got him a ride at HRC! It would be awesome if it became a much more common thing for US riders to come down because our series is really taking off this year with legit tracks in big stadiums and it would be fucking awesome! Seems very viable for the riders too!

The Aussie supercross scene is getting better all the time and producing more legit riders, so I'm guessing there will more elite American riders showing up there in the future years. Some elite GP riders may start popping up in your series as well. Even if it's a very gradual thing, my guess is that it will happen.

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9/12/2019 3:53 PM

Justin Brayton is a straight up, good dude. Very humble. He's earned that factory ride in a very hard yet unconventional way. Glad it paid off. Good for him.

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9/12/2019 4:00 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/12/2019 4:07 PM

VicDaMoan03 wrote:

Sexton is a great rider and I think he has a good future in front of him, but does anyone find it a little odd that Factory Honda is grooming him to be the next RC? His 250 results have been very good and obviously he has a title to his name, but other 250 champs have had a hard time finding a 450 ride much less Factory Honda reserving your deal years in advance. Not trying to bag on the guy at all.

You make a good point, but I think Sexton's smooth riding style will translate well to the 450. On one hand you could say he should get more experience on 250's but on the other you could say make the leap and get him on big bikes instead of risking a mediocre 2020 outdoor year on 250's. There is certainly risk in either decision. We'll have to see what happens but for Sexton I like this move.

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9/12/2019 4:16 PM

Jarid332 wrote:

so.... Cole's not coming back?

davistld01 wrote:

Cole has retired from professional racing.

I know =( I was holding out hope...

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#SeelyNation
Twitter @JaridSavoy

9/12/2019 4:20 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/12/2019 10:42 PM

Smart move by HRC, but I thought Craig was going to race 2020 outdoors for HRC. JMart needs time to recover, and he could need a year to be 100%. As long as Jermey is healthy, Honda (Geico, HRC or MCR) will take care of him. Honda takes care of their people. Can’t wait to see who gets MCR’s third slot.

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bd

9/12/2019 4:42 PM

This plan has more layers. It gives Brayton a SX only deal, allows Sexton to get a little more experience in SX but by moving him up earlier to a 450 it opens the doors a bit at FC Honda. They have a lot of young riders in the pipeline, plus a couple of "veterans". I assume Christian Craig returns after his suspension, plus J-Mart and Hunter Lawrence, Jo Shimoda, and for sure Jett Lawrence slots in by Hangtown in Sexton's spot. Plus they have Carson Mumford not far off.

I'd like to see a Sexton, Ferrandis, Forkner battle for the 250 MX title in 2020 but maybe Hunter or J-Mart can get in there.

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Old MXer turned Superfan.

9/12/2019 4:45 PM

JackkyT wrote:

Hopefully more riders see what Brayton did with racing our Supercross series in Aus and the US series and see that it got him a ride at HRC! It would be awesome if it became a much more common thing for US riders to come down because our series is really taking off this year with legit tracks in big stadiums and it would be fucking awesome! Seems very viable for the riders too!

Do you think the Aussie racing got Brayton a contract at HRC? I highly doubt it. He got a deal partly because they needed a SX-only rider, and partly because he raced for them in 2012, and partly because his past 3 seasons at MCR have re-established his relationship with American Honda.

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Old MXer turned Superfan.

9/12/2019 4:49 PM

motonation24 wrote:

Would of liked to see Sexton have some success (at least winning overalls) before he moved out of 250 class MX.
Also strange that Honda don’t want to run the number 1 plate on the east coast.

Running the West coast gives Sexton a good 5-6 weeks to ride the 450 outdoors and test before the Nationals.

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9/12/2019 4:52 PM

JackkyT wrote:

Hopefully more riders see what Brayton did with racing our Supercross series in Aus and the US series and see that it got him a ride at HRC! It would be awesome if it became a much more common thing for US riders to come down because our series is really taking off this year with legit tracks in big stadiums and it would be fucking awesome! Seems very viable for the riders too!

hamncheeze wrote:

Do you think the Aussie racing got Brayton a contract at HRC? I highly doubt it. He got a deal partly because they needed a SX-only rider, and partly because he raced for them in 2012, and partly because his past 3 seasons at MCR have re-established his relationship with American Honda.

Yeah I agree with you 100%. My wording there was shithouse. For sure it wasn’t the only reason he got contract. But I really think doing both series helped him fucking heaps to getting it. And I’m just hoping for US riders see this as a viable option in the later stages of there careers.

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9/12/2019 5:04 PM

Don’t see the logic, Chase has 1 supercross win and 1 moto win in mx. Hope it works out for them.

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9/12/2019 5:21 PM

Johnny Ringo wrote:

Geico needs to go back to having a 450 rider like they did from 1999-2016

I thought that's what JMart's original contract was? Something like the first 2 years on a 250, then the third was for a Geico 450? Either way, I think bd is correct above, and Honda will stick with him for a while.

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