MRTI: Will Owen preparing for Toyota Racing Series appearance

Owen at Lucas Oil Raceway Park. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Pro Mazda will have another driver head to New Zealand over the winter to get some running and continue his open-wheel growth and development, in the form of 20-year-old Will Owen.

Owen follows fellow Mazda Road to Indy standout Neil Alberico as young Americans going overseas to compete in the Toyota Racing Series, a five-round championship which kicks off January 16 in Ruapana, Christchurch.

Owen, originally from Colorado who now resides in Ft. Worth, Texas and studies at TCU, just completed his first season in Pro Mazda with Juncos Racing. He finished seventh in the championship with three podium finishes, including two runner-up results.

Now, the Speed Group driver will follow in the footsteps of both Alberico and fellow Speed Group young rising talent Alfonso Celis Jr., a GP3 driver, who have previously raced in the championship.

“Speed Group had a client – Alfonso Celis – did it last year or two years ago, and had some contacts,” Owen told MotorSportsTalk.

“We were looking for some winter experience, and some more racing experience, and it’s what I need to improve the most – the race craft and wheel-to-wheel action.

“To prepare for next year in Pro Mazda, what’s the right move and how to train? You can’t really practice that unless you’re actually racing.

“This was a cool option, super competitive, like Pro Mazda. I talked to Neil about this, and he did the series and he highly recommended it.”

The preparation should help Owen, who will return for a second season with Juncos next season, move into championship contention – as most series sophomores tend to do in their second year.

There will be some differences between the Pro Mazda chassis and the TRS chassis, which has a base 1.8-liter in-line, four-cylinder engine paired with a typical carbon fiber monocoque.

“It’s similar to more of a Formula 3 car,” Owen explained. “It’s obviously a Toyota engine, with slightly less power but more downforce, and a bit lighter. It should be similar in straights, likely faster in corners, so not a huge difference from Pro Mazda. It’s European style, rather than American style.

“I’m not expecting it to be completely different. At 200 hp, it’s a 1.8-liter Toyota. So a little less powerful than the Mazda. It’s paddle shift instead of sequential. That will be something to adjust to. Michelin tires, 480 kg… so 1,058 pounds. Considerably lighter. Judging by the look, there’s quite a bit of downforce. It’s different, but similar pace.”

For Owen, who balances his studies with racing full-time – although as he noted he’s itching to get back in a car since the Pro Mazda season concluded last month at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – it will also mark his first international racing appearance.

“It’s my first international experience… I’ve never done anything like this,” he said.

“I haven’t been there. But that’s what’s so cool. I’ve heard New Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and cleanest.

“I’m looking forward to the racing, since I’m not gonna have an opportunity to study abroad with racing. This will do the trick!”

Beta Motorcycles joins SuperMotocross in 2024, Benny Bloss named first factory rider

Beta Motorcycles 2024 Bloss
Beta Motorcycles

Benny Bloss will race for the factory Beta Motorcycles team in 2024 as that manufacturer joins SuperMotocross as the ninth brand to compete in the series. Beta Motorcycles will make their debut in the Monster Energy Supercross opener at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California in January.

Benny Bloss finished among the top 10 twice in Pro Motocross, in 2016 and 2018. – Beta Motorcycles

“The wait is over and we can finally share everything we have been working towards,” said Carlen Gardner, Race Team Manager in a press release. “It has been a great experience being a part of this development and seeing the progression. The only missing part was finding a rider that would mesh well with our Beta Family.

“After a one phone call with Benny, we knew it would be a good fit for him, and for us. We are happy to have him on board for the next two years and can’t wait to see everyone at Anaheim in January.”

Bloss debuted in the 450 class in 2015 with a 15th-place finish overall at Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, Indiana.

Bloss has a pair of top-10 rankings in the division with a sixth-place finish in the Pro Motocross Championship in 2016 and a seventh in 2018. His best Supercross season ended 15th in the standings in 2018.

“I’m extremely excited to join the Beta Factory Racing team,” Bloss said. “It’s cool to see a brand with such a rich history in off-road racing to come into the US Supercross and Motocross space. I know this team will be capable of great things as we build and go racing in 2024.”

Bloss is currently 22nd in the SuperMotocross rankings and has not raced in the first two rounds of the Motocross season.

Testing for Beta Motorcycles is scheduled to begin in August and the team expects to announce a second rider at that time.

The family-owned brand adds to the international flare of the sport. The company was founded in Florence, Italy in 1905 as Società Giuseppe Bianchi as they built handmade bicycles, The transition to motorcycle production in the late 1940s.

Beta Motorcycles competed and won in motocross competition in the late 1970s and early 1980s with Jim Pomeroy and other riders.

Beta will join Triumph Motorcycles as a second historic brand to join the sport in 2024. First established in 1902, Triumph has won in nearly every division they have competed in, dating back to their first victory in the 1908 Isle of Man TT. Triumph will debut in the 250 class in 2024 and plans to expand into 450s in 2025.