As predicted yesterday on this blog, H-D has announced a three rider team of Coolbeth, Johnson and Robinson at the X Games today.
After Indian audaciously hoovered up Smith, Mees and Baker the pool of riders who can win and pass the H-D corporate cleanliness bill was limited. Jeffrey Carver and Sammy Halbert are both top racers, Halbert should have been a GNC number 1, but series was split into singles and twins that year and he had enough points to win the combined, but not enough in either singles and twins to win the individuals, hence he is able to run single digit number, reserved for former champs. But neither are quite H-D corporate types (that's perhaps why Sideburn likes them so much). Wiles could have fit in. There are few current GNC who've won more races. Beyond that there are no obvious candidates.
The factory obviously feel they needed experience, but it's a shame Fisher wasn't part of the equation, but we don't know what went on behind the scenes in 2016, or even if Fisher wanted to continue within the team.
Now these riders need good machinery. The factory's own XR750 hasn't consistently been as quick as other XR750s for ages. Kenny Tolbert's XR, ridden by Mees and before him Chris Carr, seemed to be the bikes to be on. Vance and Hines, who run the factory team for H-D can win drag race championships and individual GNC races, but they're yet to win a GNC title.
Lots of people are saying Indian are going to run away with the 2017 championship, but I don't think it's necessarily going to be that clear cut.