New Australian SX1 championship points-leader Luke Clout has revealed he has plans to contest the opening portion of the 2020 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship in the United States.
It’s been rumoured throughout the current supercross series that 25-year-old Clout will depart CDR Yamaha Monster Energy following AUS-X Open Melbourne and he’s been linked to a high-profile switch to Penrite Honda Racing.
While Penrite Honda Racing owner Yarrive Konsky has been working on launching a US-based 250SX West program for next season, speculation is mounting that the team will separately enter Clout in 450SX as part of a deal that would lure him away from Yamaha to rejoin Honda for the first time since 2017 when he rode with the now-defunct Motologic-run factory team.
“It’s a little hush-hush at the moment [laughs], but there is some stuff in the works,” Clout confirmed in New Zealand. “You should see me there in the first six rounds or so, but the details are confidential at the moment. I can’t wait to get over there and I really think that I can do some good things, so I’m excited.”
If a deal does eventuate between Clout and Penrite Honda Racing, it would see him return to Australia and focus on the MX Nationals and Australian Supercross Championship following the brief stint overseas. Honda’s local effort will expand to two 450 riders – potentially Clout and Brett Metcalfe – and a 250 with Kyle Webster tipped to be joining the official team next season.
The opportunity to try his hand in America again is an attractive one for Clout, who spent a large chunk of 2016 over there with the MAD Racing Suzuki team prior to its closure. On that occasion, he finished 14th on debut at Anaheim 2 as a replacement rider in 250SX West, before breaking his femur in Oakland. He returned during Pro Motocross to score points at a number of rounds.
With Clout expected to exit the powerhouse CDR Yamaha Monster Energy team, it is Hayden Mellross who has emerged as the favourite to take over the vacated factory YZ450F following a single term at Raceline KTM. Like Clout, Mellross – who is sitting out supercross after injuring his knee at the Moree national – is one of the current few who are capable of challenging for 450 wins outdoors and in supercross domestically.
Clout delivered a special performance among a host of the world’s best at the weekend’s Monster Energy S-X Open in Auckland, claiming second behind former world champion Jason Anderson (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) and winning the second of three finals in Saturday night’s triple crown. He said that was exactly the goal going in.
“I work really hard on and off the bike, but you don’t really know how you’re going to stack up against the American guys because you just watch them on TV and you watch them on Instagram,” he explained. “You see how good they’re riding, so kind of base yourself off that and hope that you can do well.
“I’m confident in my ability, which I think is a big thing because my mental aspect is a lot better now. I’d said to my family at the dinner table – it was my birthday on Tuesday – that if I could get second behind Jason that’d be awesome. You know, he was the only guy that I wanted to beat me… To be leading the championship, I wanted that to happen, but didn’t know if it would.”
With just one round remaining in the Australian Supercross Championship as part of the Monster Energy AUS-X Open Melbourne at Marvel Stadium on Saturday, 30 November, Clout leads three-time defending champion Justin Brayton (Penrite Honda Racing) by one point after the latter claimed fourth in Auckland.