Husqvarna Factory Racing Introduces 2024 Rider Lineup
An expanded five-rider Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team will take centerstage when the 2024 SuperMotocross World Championship (SMX) season commences with the AMA Supercross Championship season-opener at Anaheim on Saturday, January 6, led by 450SX duo Malcolm Stewart and Christian Craig, alongside 250SX contenders RJ Hampshire, Guillem Farres and Casey Cochran.
The Nathan Ramsey-managed official Husqvarna Motorcycles U.S. team will be equipped with the Husqvarna FC 450 Rockstar Edition and the Husqvarna FC 250 Rockstar Edition, forming a strong foundation for all five riders to build upon as the gates drop on what is a highly anticipated new season.
In addition to the on-track action, Rockstar Energy Drink has renewed its commitment as title sponsor of the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team in a multi-year commitment, which will span the entire 31-race SMX series. The team will contest 17 rounds of AMA Supercross, 11 rounds in the AMA Pro Motocross Championship, and a three-round, post-season SMX Finals series.
“We’re incredibly excited to extend our partnership with Husqvarna Motorcycles. Over the past 10 years, the relationship with the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team has been more than just a sponsorship and we’re looking forward to continuing to grow together, said Jennifer Kalban, Senior Motorsports Marketing Manager, PepsiCo North America. “The team is as strong as it’s ever been and the 2024 season should be an exciting one.”
Each step of that journey will be documented in Season 3 of the Grit and Grind docuseries, which will continue to be broadcast on the Husqvarna Motorcycles YouTube channel in 2024. A collaboration between Rockstar Energy and Husqvarna Motorcycles, it will once again provide an all-access insight into the season of Stewart, Craig, Hampshire, Farres, and Cochran.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team Manager, Nathan Ramsey, is confident that all five riders will be competitive across next year's SMX series, determined to iron out any kinks that have proven costly in the past and to ensure that all riders can consistently deliver strong results in 2024.
"2024 is looking good for us, the guys are having a really good off-season, and we are working hard to be ready for the season," explained Ramsey. "I think that ultimately, we’re going to come out swinging and avoid the major ups and downs and ride it out as steady as possible and put our Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team riders up front. We have looked a lot at things that have cost us or possibly pushed us out of championship hopes in the past, and I think we have highlighted a few of those areas and we are all – the team, the crew, the riders, everyone – committed to correcting those areas and hopefully it works and pays off, because if they are corrected, I think we’re in the hunt, for sure."
Making a welcome return to Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing will be Stewart, the 31-year-old who was unfortunately sidelined in the early stages of last season and is in line to pick up where he left off almost 12 months ago. The fan favorite finished a career-high third in the 450SX standings in 2022, now excited to get back behind the gates in a bid to rebuild his form in a competitive environment.
"The focus for 2024 is honestly just to get back out there and get my feet wet again," said Stewart. "2023 was a pretty short-lived year for me, it was kind of more for me to get back going and to finish what I started last year. I was looking really good, A1 was going very well, we had one little incident and we won a heat race, so we had some big flashes, but it just ended too quickly. This is part of racing and things happen, but I have had a really good recovery so far, and training has been going well this off-season with a good group of guys that I’m surrounded with. Everyone has been positive through the whole recovery and I’m glad I locked myself in for another two more years! I really want to win next year and I’m looking forward to getting back into the bunch with the team for the upcoming season.”
Entering his second year with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing, Craig was also affected by injury in 2023 but was able to return and represent Team USA at the FIM Motocross of Nations (MXoN) in September. At 32, Craig has the desire to establish himself toward the front of the premier class and has been enjoying the pre-season to date.
"I’m feeling pretty good entering another year with the team, so I’m more comfortable, learning everyone around me, and obviously learning the bike more with more seat time," commented Craig. "I'm coming off a pretty serious injury, so just trying to build back up from that and we’re kind of in the middle of boot camp right now. I am excited for the new year, I need to put in some results, so am very focused and driven for this one. This past season was a big learning year for me, so this time I know what to expect with the training program, riding program, and what the team brings – I need to step up and try to be upfront as much as possible."
As one of the most experienced riders in the 250 Class, RJ Hampshire has his sights firmly set on achieving title success in the new year. He was runner-up in 250SX West last year and raced to third position in the inaugural 250SMX standings, now motivated to capture a first-career championship with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing.
"My goal is to definitely try and get a championship," Hampshire stated. "We’ve been close the last two years in a row, so I'll just come into the season, take it race-by-race, and build from where were last year. The team has worked really hard to make the bike as good as possible, and there are a lot of improvements already. We were in a good spot last season, so if we can be a bit better this year, I definitely think we can get it done. Supercross was massive for me because I had seven podiums in seven years and then last year I had eight in total, so that was a really big step in my career. The next step is to get the red plate, so that is the goal going into the season. The team has been awesome, there is nowhere else I would rather be, and I just renewed my deal for two more years – it just goes to show how much I believe in this team and how much I believe in myself, because we’ve grown a lot together. They believe in me a lot to go out there and perform also, and I definitely think that this year will be another big step in our relationship."
For Farres, the chance to join Rockstar Energy Husqvarna sees him preparing for his maiden 250SX campaign, in which the 20-year-old Spanish revelation is looking to develop important Supercross experience during the upcoming season, before turning his attention outdoors.
"The transition to the Husqvarna FC 250 and the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team has been really good," Farres said. "This is my first time ever here in Clermont, Florida, training and first time in California. So far, so good. Everyone has been really welcoming on the team, I’ve been having a good time, and I’m excited for the 2024 season. It’s going to be my rookie season in Supercross, so I am going to focus on staying healthy, being at every round, and improving every day with every lap. I’ve never raced in a stadium before, so I’m sure it's going to be something new and I’m going to be a little nervous, but hopefully it gets better after the first round."
Exciting teenage prospect Cochran has graduated to the professional ranks with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna full-time for 2024, the 17-year-old looking to build upon the Supercross Futures AMA National Championship that he won in 2023, while learning his craft as a professional in the sport.
"It's my first official pro season, so I'm looking forward to getting out there with the big guys and mixing it up, getting good results," Cochran commented. "Nothing too extravagant so far, but my goal is to get used to the whole program. It’s a super-cool opportunity because we have worked our whole lives for this deal, this contract, to be on a factory team, so I am super-excited to be here and have a great team around me and ready to get to work. I have always personally liked Supercross better than outdoors, so I am excited to race indoors. I raced Futures last year and that was a good experience, so the more indoors, the better!"