Supercross season preview: Predicting the top 10 — Nos. 5-6

(From left) Justin Barcia and Trey Canard, seen competing during the 2014 Monster Energy Cup.

Editor’s note: From Dec. 29 to Jan. 2, FOX Sports’ Brandon Short will list his predictions for the Top-10 finishers of the 2015 Supercross season.

It’s been widely touted as the most talented field of competitors in Monster Energy Supercross history and — with 19 riders who have won a 450SX Class main event, finished on a 450SX Class podium and/or won a 250SX Class main event — it’s easy to understand why. While at this point it looks as though just two former champions will line up on the gate at Anaheim 1, this collection of premier class riders has more budding talent than any in recent memory.

The departure of reigning four-time champion Ryan Villopoto and subsequent suspension of James Stewart means this battle for the vacant title is truly wide open, thanks largely to the aforementioned young riders turning heads in the early portions of their racing careers. Unlike previous years, there’s simply no way to look at past results as an indicator of how things will play out considering the two winningest riders of the last six seasons won’t be a factor. Because of that, simply earning a top 10 in 2015 can be considered an accomplishment while the ability to contend for finishes inside the top five or on the podium will take an exceptional effort. Heck, just making the main event will be harder than it’s ever been before.

With all that being said, we break down our predictions for the top-10 finishers in the 2015 championship.

Nos. 9-10: Jason Anderson and Weston Peick

Nos. 7-8: Chad Reed and Dean Wilson

Sixth Place: Justin Barcia – Toyota/Yamaha/JGRMX

Barcia is in search of a rebound season after a tough 2014, and the new scenery surrounding JGR could be just the thing for that. Unfortunately for Barcia, he’s been out of competition for an extended period of time while nearly every one of his biggest rivals has continued to log laps and get faster. When you add the adjustment factor that will inevitably play into his move to a Yamaha, there could simply be too much ground to make up in the points by the time this relationship hits its stride. Barcia’s offseason development with the team hit a bit of a hitch when he escaped serious injury during a scary crash while racing overseas, and there’s no way to know if any effects of that could still be lingering. We all want “BamBam” to get back in top form because the sport is better off with him duking it out alongside everyone else, and the pieces of the puzzle are there for him to do so. However, it may be a season before this effort gets to the level its capable of with so much talent littering the field.

Fifth Place: Trey Canard – Team Honda

SX: 2015 Monster Energy Supercross season kicks off Saturday night

I don’t think there was a hotter rider at the end of 2014 than Canard, which was capped off with a near-perfect performance at the Monster Energy Cup. After several years of heartbreak and frustration with injury, Canard appears to be more confident than ever before in his ability to succeed and we’re seeing him at his absolute best on the track. When you add that Barcia is no longer there to create any turmoil at Honda, things are shaping up nicely for Canard this season. However, in four seasons of 450SX Class competition, Canard has never competed in all 17 rounds of the championship, coming close in 2013 but missing one race due to a concussion. The slightest hiccup could prove costly this season when it comes to the championship, so Canard will need to be better than he’s ever been before in order to contend for the 2015 title. I think he will be, but he’s up against some stiff competition.

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