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|Ricky Carmichael, left, and Carey Hart are creating a formidable team in motocross and Supercross.|
Ten years ago this announcement could have been a good April Fools' Day headline. Ricky Carmichael was a two-time Supercross champion and had a perfect season in AMA Motocross, and Carey Hart was a freestyle pioneer who had finally landed a revolutionary trick he introduced to his sport: the backflip. Today, Carmichael is considered the greatest of all time and Hart is an entrepreneur with tattoo parlors and a professional Supercross and motocross race team.
The pair announced a partnership Saturday at the Monster Energy Cup that will see Hart's Dodge/Sycuan Casino Racing team merge with Ricky Carmichael Racing and receive factory support from Suzuki and Yoshimura research and development to form Dodge/Sycuan Casino/RCH Racing. They also announced the signing of former Supercross Lites Champion Broc Tickle as their marquee rider to race the 2013 RM-Z450 in Monster Energy Supercross and Lucas Oil Pro Motocross circuits. A second rider for Supercross only is expected to be announced by the end of this week.
Hart has been a team owner since 2007 and has been able to secure notable sponsorship (Dodge), but never the original engine manufacturer support that is crucial in this sport. The team, originally known as Hart & Huntington after Hart's tattoo business, has ridden Hondas and Kawasakis in the past. The 2013 Monster Energy Supercross season will be the team's first with direct factory support.
"Ricky was the pivotal piece to bringing Suzuki to our team and now that we have a long-term relationship with them on a factory level I feel that we have all of the pieces to go out and win a championship," Hart said. "I think with Ricky working close with Broc during preseason and throughout the course of the season will help boost Broc's confidence and bring him up to the next level."
Carmichael's role will be hands-on as a co-owner and he will lead the team's rider development and motorcycle testing, research and development. Hart will handle business and marketing. After retiring from motorcycle racing in 2007, Carmichael moved to four wheels, where he worked up to the Camping World Truck Series. He finished 16th overall in 2011, but Monster Energy moved their four-wheel support to Kurt and Kyle Busch in the Nationwide Series for 2012. Although Monster remains a loyal personal sponsor, Carmichael has spent more time in the motorcycle industry as a television analyst with SPEED and at his Ricky Carmichael University riding schools. He is currently working on a part-time Nationwide deal for 2013 but will be in attendance at most of the Supercross and motocross races in 2013.
"2013 will be a building year and in 2014 I think we will be in contention for wins and a championship," Carmichael said. "I think [Tickle] is a diamond in the rough and with a little bit of guidance from myself and support from Suzuki I think we will be able to run top five each weekend and score some podium finishes."
Tickle rode a 450 for the Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki team in 2012 and won a Supercross Lites title in 2011 for the same team. He finished ninth overall in the Supercross Class earlier this year and fifth overall in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, where he missed the top three by six points.
The Dodge/Sycuan Casino/Suzuki RCH Racing team will debut Jan. 5 at Anaheim, Calif., in Round 1 of Monster Energy Supercross.