It’s hard to pick a single most intriguing move in an intriguing silly season for Monster Energy Supercross and Lucas Oil Pro Motocross. A number of 250 riders will move up to the 450 class full-time in 2019, including Justin Hill with Suzuki (who actually got a jump on the move up earlier this year), Joey Savatgy with Kawasaki, and Zach Osborne with Husqvarna. Even the 250 class will feature some new intrigue, as Alex Martin announced a shift to Suzuki after riding a KTM for two years.
But if one move up to a 450 for next season truly stands out, it’s Aaron Plessinger’s promotion to Monster Energy Yamaha.
Unlike Osborne, Plessinger will forego dual number 1 plates in the upcoming indoor and outdoor seasons to partner Justin Barcia on a retooled Yamaha factory squad for 2019. It’s been a long time coming, but simply the latest in a long line of successes for the Ohio native.
Plessinger raced all disciplines as a young rider, scoring a number of wins and championships as an amateur in motocross, supercross, and cross country. In 2013, he won Loretta Lynn’s AMA Amateur National Motocross championships in both 250B and 450B Limited, and the next year, he won both the 250A and 450A Pro Sport titles at Daytona Amateur Supercross, as well as Monster Energy Amateur All-Stars.
It should be no surprise, then, that Plessinger went professional with Star Racing in 2015. He rode his Yamaha to both indoor and outdoor Rookie of the Year wins, and rode to sixth in 250 outdoor points after top five finishes in seven of the final eight motos. In 2016, he placed second in 250SX East and fifth in 250MX; he moved to 250SX West last year and placed third overall, and improved yet again in 250MX with a fourth overall result.
2018, though, was Plessinger’s true breakthrough season. After winning the 250SX West title with four wins and five podiums, holding off Adam Cianciarulo by just two points, he kept up his winning ways in the outdoor season by becoming the first multiple overall winner of the season when he swept both motos at Glen Helen and High Point.
With both Osborne and Jeremy Martin going down for the season, there was nobody left to stop Plessinger as the year went on. Sweeps at RedBud, Spring Creek, and Ironman joined an overall win on points at Washougal and an individual moto win at Budds Creek. After clinching the title a round early, Plessinger eventually extended his advantage to 110 points over Alex Martin when the 12-race season wrapped up.
The 450 class will be a totally different game for 2019, though. Besides fellow full-time 450 newcomers Hill, Osborne, and Savatgy, Plessinger will match up with defending indoor and outdoor champions Jason Anderson and Eli Tomac; returning injured riders Cole Seely and Justin Bogle; and international superstars Marvin Musquin and Ken Roczen, among a number of others. In fact, it’s not hard to argue that, barring injury, next year will be one of the most competitive Supercross and Pro Motocross seasons of all time.
But Plessinger, continuing the association with Yamaha that he’s had for his entire professional career, has already drawn plenty of attention for both his size (Star Racing lists him at 6’2” and 155 pounds) and his successes. And if those results are anything to read into, there was no reason to keep him on a 250 just for the sake of a number 1 plate—he’ll be earning another one on a 450 sooner than later.