Team Honda HRC has announced that Christian Craig has been called up to the factory operation for the 2017 Monster Energy Cup. This news comes just one day after Cole Seely underwent an operation to have a small plate and screws removed from his hand, a procedure and recovery that will keep him from racing the unique event in Las Vegas.
Craig is very familiar with Team Honda HRC, as he filled-in at the team in the 450 class during the closing rounds of the 2017 Monster Energy Supercross Series and the full duration of the 2017 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. Once this race is complete, Craig will return to his usual duties at GEICO Honda and will help develop the all-new 2018 Honda CRF250R before the start of the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross Series.
MXGP competitor Tim Gajser will join Craig at Team Honda HRC for the Monster Energy Cup. The two-time world champion has expressed a great interest in racing Supercross-style events in the past and was slated to race last year’s MEC until injuries forced him to abandon the plan. The 2017 event will be his first true race in an American stadium setting.
The press release from Team Honda HRC is posted in full below…
Following the recent Motocross of Nations, Team Honda HRC's Cole Seely opted to undergo surgery on Wednesday, October 4, to remove a plate and four screws from the pinky finger of his right hand. With recovery time estimated at three weeks, Seely will miss the upcoming Monster Energy Cup before beginning his preparation for the 2018 AMA Supercross season. With Seely's teammate Ken Roczen also sitting out the race as he gets back up to speed following the recovery process from his January injuries, Team Honda HRC will be represented by GEICO Honda rider Christian Craig, who this time will race alongside Team HRC rider and 2016 MXGP Champion Tim Gajser. Craig posted a pair of 11th place finishes while filling in for Team Honda HRC at the 2017 Salt Lake City and Las Vegas Supercross rounds, and he finished 11thoverall in the AMA Pro Motocross series.
"I was planning on having the surgery done right after the motocross season ended but obviously had to postpone it when I was selected for the Motocross of Nations," Seely explained. "It was a really minor procedure, but it's something I've been wanting to do because the hardware has been bothering me for a while now. It was hard to make a tight fist and would get sore after races, so I think this will help. I also want to take some time off, which is why I decided to do it now and miss Monster Cup. I'll have a couple weeks to relax, recover, and let my body rest before diving full-speed into supercross training."
Craig said that he was excited to ride the Monster Energy Cup with Team Honda HRC. "After spending the entire outdoor season with them, we have a really cool relationship," he said, "so I'm happy to get the opportunity to keep racing the CRF450R. I've always liked MEC because it's a different format and is exciting for both racers and fans. The team and I started testing a couple weeks ago, and everything has been going awesome. I'm used to the bike, but we just had to tweak a couple things to change it over for supercross. I'll have a couple more weeks of practice, and then we'll be in Las Vegas!"