Wait, what? If someone had told me a few weeks ago that Josh Hansen would be competing in the 2016 Monster Energy Arenacross tour, I’d have had them sectioned. I’m still struggling to take it all in. Why would Hansen, a contender for race wins in the very competitive 250SX West division, give up on that to race in arenas around Britain?
Well, actually, we know the reason. It all comes down to the number fifty-seven. Although it served Jackson Richardson well this year, and Kyle Peters before him, Hansen understandably wants to keep the three digit number that has been a part of him for so long. ‘100’ has been attached to his name for years, but the AMA are now stricter when it comes to enforcing their own rules. Consequently a rider now has to run the number that they earn, unless of course they garner enough points to earn a career number.
That isn’t impossible; Kyle Chisholm earned eleven that way. Hansen only scored ninety-one points in his comeback year though, so if he were to contest a round of Monster Energy Supercross or Lucas Oil Pro Motocross (that one will never happen) in 2016 he’d have to run that pesky fifty-seven.
This obviously means more to Josh, as he has a whole brand associated to the one hundred. Is it worth walking away from Monster Energy Supercross for though? Could he not have stayed, built on the foundation he established this year, and run graphics that are littered with ‘100’? It’s not like people would forget that the number was his, but people tend to forget about you when you’re out of the spotlight.
The Monster Energy Arenacross tour, formerly labelled ‘ArenacrossUK’, runs at the same time as the Monster Energy Supercross series. Will his American fan base really be able to pull themselves away from the bright lights of Anaheim 1 to see how their hero is doing against competition that they, quite frankly, have never heard of? Will they even care? That is something that will be most intriguing once the 2016 season is underway.
Hansen’s story this year was well-publicised, as everyone was obviously interested to see how he would fare following a lengthy lay off from racing at the highest level. Very few can do that successfully, but by the end of the season Josh was getting close to podium finishes. Presumably he would have improved again next year, so could have achieved even better results? Instead you have to think that, when he returns to American racing in 2017, he’ll be back at square one. It’s worth considering that Hanny is thirty-one, so doesn’t exactly have a lot of time left. Maybe that is why he feels now is a good time to explore other options though, before it is too late?
It’s almost impossible to predict how this unconventional path will go for Josh. One thing we shouldn’t overlook though is that it’s a massive boost for the sport in Britain – I just hope it doesn’t have the opposite affect on Hansen’s career.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Image: James Lissimore
Read the full article on MXVice.com here.