The GEICO Honda race team has announced their five-rider lineup for the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship and as rumoured it will not include Malcolm Stewart.
Tristan Charboneau is the new rider that will line up for the season opener at Hangtown in Sacramento, California on May 21.
Charboneau will take the place of newly crowned 250SX east champion, Stewart, who’s forced to move up to the 450SX class in 2017 thanks to the AMA pointing out rules.
“Now that I have won my first 250SX championship, I know firsthand just how much work it takes to become a champion,” said Stewart. “So as I move full time to the 450 class for 2017 I know it will take twice as much work and preparation. Not riding the outdoors this year will leave me plenty of time to prepare for my 450SX and MX pro debut.
“Thanks to everyone at GEICO Honda and my family for helping me win this 250SX championship.”
Charboneau, a Washington state native, joined the squad’s amateur wing in late 2014, and moved to California this year to operate closer to the team’s headquarters.
GEICO Honda crew say that his recent gains in speed and stamina while riding with current pro riders during the week, convinced them that the two-time AMA Amateur National Motocross Champion is ready for the professional ranks.
“I’ve been working really hard to try to get here and riding is going really well,” says Charboneau, who will wear the #403. “I’ve only known for sure about this for the last few days, but my trainer has had me training for the last two months for this because I knew there was a chance.
“The work has been a huge confidence booster. I can do two 30-minute motos now no problem, and it has helped a lot mentally, too. When I do my motos at the practice track, I’m trying to track down the pro guys and sometimes I’m even passing them. I think [team manager] Mike LaRocco saw something in me when I was riding with other pros at the practice track. I’m really, really excited about this opportunity.”
Charboneau will join Christian Craig, RJ Hampshire and Jordon Smith to make a four-rider 250MX lineup, while Justin Bogle will anchor the 450MX program.