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Villa Park is ready for World SX opener

The FIM World Supercross Championship (WSX) is set to make history as it ventures into the vibrant city of Birmingham for the first time on Saturday. The iconic Villa Park, known for its rich history in sports, will play host to the opening race of the season. Take the incredible venue, partner it with some of the most talented supercross racers in the world and the action is set to be absolutely spine-tingling.

Nestled in the heart of Birmingham, Villa Park stands tall as an iconic venue steeped in rich sporting heritage. Since its inception, this hallowed ground has witnessed countless thrilling battles and unforgettable moments across various disciplines. From football to concerts and now the FIM World Supercross Championship, Villa Park has become synonymous with sporting excellence.

Dating back to 1897, Villa Park was originally constructed to serve as the home ground for Aston Villa Football Club. With its classic architecture and vibrant atmosphere, the stadium quickly garnered a reputation as one of the most revered football venues in England. Over the years, it has witnessed numerous historic moments, including domestic and international matches that have captivated fans worldwide.

However, the arrival of the FIM World Supercross Championship marks a thrilling new chapter in Villa Park’s storied history. This esteemed venue, with its expansive stands enveloping the excitement of a Supercross track, provides the perfect stage for high-octane Supercross action. The contrast between the stadium’s historic charm and the cutting-edge world of Supercross creates an atmosphere that is as vibrant as the racing itself.

In 2022, history was made as the World Supercross Championship burst onto the scene with incredible intensity. The 35,000 fans packed into Cardiff’s Principality Stadium were treated to an electrifying spectacle. The racing itself lived up to expectations, showcasing the finest talent in the sport. Eli Tomac of Monster Energy Yamaha, taking full advantage of his wildcard status, dominated the WSX competition, leaving Ken Roczen and Vince Friese in his wake.

However, the event was not without its challenges. Supercross legend Chad Reed experienced a catastrophic crash due to a part failure, resulting in a violent impact with the ground.
In the SX2 class, Shane McElrath claimed a solid victory in an exhilarating three-final format, pipping Chris Blose and Mitch Oldenburg. The event proved to be an overwhelming success, captivating both seasoned supercross fans and newbies alike. The electrifying atmosphere and thrilling racing action left an indelible mark on the spectators – the World Supercross Championship had arrived!

Now, Birmingham has the honour of continuing the legacy of this exhilarating event as it hosts the 2023 series opener. The track has been designed to provide a true battlefield: technical rhythm sections, big whoops, eyewatering triple jumps, and a finish line jump just waiting to play host to victory whips. These elements will test the athletes’ abilities and provide world-class racing – get ready for some bar-bangin’ action!

The British GP will witness an impressive gathering of Supercross talent, with absolute superstars of the sport showcasing their skills on the Villa Park track. Leading the charge in the WSX class is the fiercely competitive Ken Roczen. There isn’t a rider with a bigger heart than Roczen, fighting back from a near career-ending injury to be crowned the 2022 World Supercross Champion. Roczen is at home on his Suzuki RM-Z450 machine, evoking memories of his success in both the USA and Europe on yellow machinery. Roczen is carrying momentum from his AMA Supercross success and means business. However, this won’t be an easy task for “Kickstart Kenny,” as a worldclass lineup of Supercross athletes is chomping at the bit to steal Roczen’s thunder.

The lineup of American racers vying for success is led by veteran racer Justin Brayton, who has his sights firmly set on the top step. Retiring from racing in the USA, Brayton has shifted his focus to the World Supercross Championship, joining the Firepower Honda team. JB is a smooth and calculated rider who possesses the ability to disrupt the Roczen show. Joey Savagty, riding for Rick Ware Racing, showed flashes of brilliance and incredible speed in 2022. With another year under his belt, expect Savagty to capitalise on that speed to become a serious threat to win races. Savagty’s teammate, Colt Nichols, will be one to watch, as will the legendary Cole Seely.

French riders Cédric Soubeyras, Jordi Tixier, Greg Aranda, and Thomas Ramette will bring their European flair to the Supercross circuit, while lone Australian Matt Moss could be an underdog capable of stealing the show – this WSX class is stacked!

The SX2 class is set to be a high-revving, bar-banging affair as reigning World Champion Shane McElrath fights to make it two in a row. McElrath and his number-one Rick Ware Racing machine mean business, with a host of newcomers and returning athletes nipping at his heels. The MotoConcepts duo of Mitchell Oldenburg and Mike Alessi will have their Honda machinery focused on the front, while MDK Motorsports SX’s Justin Bogle will look to bounce back from a disappointing 2022 season to be in the running for the crown. Keep an eye on the young Aussie Craig Dack Racing Yamaha duo of Luke Clout and Aaron Tanti; these guys mean business and have the speed to turn heads.

In addition to the international stars, British fans have two local riders to cheer for: Dean Wilson and Max Anstie, both mounted on FirePower Honda machinery, aim to make their mark on home soil. Wilson is lining up in the WSX class on his CRF450R in his first season as a supercross-only rider. Max Anstie is coming into the SX2 class with a whole load of momentum, fresh off his impressive AMA Supercross results. Max won’t be lining up to finish in second place, particularly in front of the British fans. With their extensive experience and hometown support, Wilson and Anstie possess the potential to surprise and delight the crowd.