One More Year Would've Done It...
It’s this simple, Davi Millsaps who ended the season a career best second place in supercross, would be a member of the JGR Yamaha team had they offered a second year. That was the sticking point according to people I spoke to on both sides. JGR Yamaha had seen what Millsaps was capable of doing when he had to race for a new deal. As someone that has, at times, shown questionable motivation to put the work in that is needed to be a top five racer every time out, the JGR guys were very pleased with Millsaps’ season in 2012 even though injuries has kept him out of most of the outdoor series.
But JGR felt like adding security to Millsaps’ deal would be too much of a cushion for him to maybe slip back to his old ways and even though they offered him a substantial raise for next year, they wouldn’t budge on adding a year.
And Davi, who mutually split with his high-powered WMG agency (another rider who did this- with Bobby Nichols- and it helped tremendously to get a deal done was Jake Weimer), was doing his own deals and for a rider who was a real surprise this year, he did have some of that old fashioned thing we call leverage. Davi and wife just had their first child and you can’t blame a guy for wanting to work on more than year to year deals which is what he did this year. One injury and that’s all she wrote. And injured riders or not, second place in the supercross series is second place. Millsaps rode well this year and he should get a multi-year deal.
So in steps Rockstar Suzuki looking to somehow stem the Monster Energy tide and as well, looking to add a 450 rider to their 250 team that now has Jason Anderson, Blake Wharton and Nico Izzi. Another semi was promised to Millsaps and all indications are that Rockstar is amping up the game. Will it work? Well that’s to be seen but there’s no doubt in my mind that I would have done the same thing that Davi did. Not a fan of the Yamaha, equal amount of money and another year and I’d find myself wearing yellow also.
So now what about JGR? This leaves them with, hold on let me do the math, exactly zero riders under contract for next year. The super team of Stewart and Millsaps that started 2012 is gone up in smoke and the team went hard, real hard, after Dean Wilson. This was their number one guy, they flew him and his parents to North Carolina and they were basing their strategy on getting the up and coming star.
But Dean’s going to Jeff Ward Racing and JGR is well, their looking at maybe taking in their old guy Justin Brayton if Honda doesn’t decide to add a third rider. Maybe Kyle Chisholm goes back to blue, he’s one rider that has decidedly better results on the “controversial” Yamaha (can we say controversial? It’s something, I know that. Most riders start sweating and breaking out in hives when you mention riding that machine. As with most things, it’s not that bad but it’s also not that good either). Michael Byrne, Bobby Kiniry, Nick Wey- some other names thrown around out there-but definitely no one on the level of the guys they just lost or the guys there have been trying to get.
The JGR guys, some of the best and smartest guys at the races each weekend, have to be frustrated at what’s going on with them. They’re handicapped by a bike that doesn’t seem to work for most guys and by all accounts, is unpredictable. The guys there have built an all-new shock, gone to Showa forks, an all new tank and shroud combo to slim it down and even made an eccentric rubber-mounted motor mount for it. They’ve done more R&D and made more changes than almost anyone else in the pits (I think Honda is still the leader here though, there is some very trick stuff going on under those shrouds) and they still can’t seem to impress anyone out there.
It’s like they’re the hottest girl at the dance that everyone knows puts out on the first date but a few months ago was arrested for chopping up an old boyfriend and dumping him in a retention pond. You just can’t seem to go near her no matter how tantalizing it is.
It’s going to be interesting to see what they do this off-season. I have no doubt they’ll end up with a strong team but right now, morale can’t be very high over in North Carolina.