Motocross

Chase Sexton And Jett Lawrence Sweep 2022 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship Opener

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Photo of AMA PRO Motocross rider Ken Roczen
Ken Roczen took the holeshot in the opening 450 moto of the season, going onto finish second behind teammate Chase Sexton (23). Photo: Align Media

After weeks of anticipation, the 50th Anniversary of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship officially kicked off with the Honda Fox Raceway I National, presented by Fox Racing, from Southern California’s Fox Raceway.

Mostly cloudy skies and cool temperatures made for near-perfect race conditions, which resulted in a stellar afternoon of racing that saw the four-rider lineup for Team Honda HRC dominate all four motos across the 450 and 250 Classes.

In the premier division, Chase Sexton posted the first 1-1 performance of his career, out-dueling teammate Ken Roczen, while Jett Lawrence kicked off his 250 Class title defense with a sweep of the motos, followed by his brother Hunter Lawrence in second.

The first 450 Class moto of the afternoon began with Roczen at the front of the field for the Holeshot, followed by Shane McElrath and Eli Tomac. Roczen and Tomac quickly asserted themselves upfront and established a multi-second lead, while McElrath lost third place to Sexton.

Roczen separated himself from Tomac through the first 10 minutes of the moto, while Sexton closed in on the Yamaha rider to initiate a battle for second. Sexton made quick work of Tomac and set his sights on the lead. The Honda teammates were separated by less than a second at the halfway point of the moto as a spirited battle for the top spot unfolded. A persistent Sexton eventually made the pass stick to seize control of the moto. Behind them, Ryan Dungey, in his first start since retiring in 2017, made the pass on Tomac for third. A couple of laps later, the position changed hands again as Christian Craig took the position from Dungey.

Photo of AMA PRO Motocross rider Ken Roczen and Chase Sexton
Teammates Chase Sexton (23) and Ken Roczen (94) celebrated a Honda HRC 1-2 at the opening round. Photo: Align Media

Sexton closed out the moto in strong fashion to capture the first moto win of the season, while Roczen helped secure a Honda 1-2, 15.8 seconds back. The battle for third intensified in the closing laps, but Craig held off a hard-charging Jason Anderson for third, while Dungey completed the top five.

The field stormed out the gate for the final moto of the day with Sexton back out front for the Holeshot, followed closely by Roczen and Dungey, while Anderson went down fighting for a spot near the front and dropped well back in the field. A determined Roczen put the hammer down on the opening lap and went on the attack with his teammate, storming past Sexton for the lead as Dungey settled into third ahead of Craig.

Roczen sat firmly in control of the first half of the moto, but as the 15-minute mark passed Sexton started to erase the deficit and soon enough moved to within a few bike lengths of his teammate. Much like the first moto, the battle for the lead spanned multiple laps, as Roczen fended off the pressure. As the fight out front unfolded, Dungey lost positions to the Yamaha duo of Craig and Tomac, who moved into third and fourth, respectively.

Back out front, Sexton was able to make a pass stick on Roczen and grabbed the lead with just under 10 minutes to go. Roczen didn’t let up and responded to the pass by keeping the pressure on Sexton as they navigated through lapped riders. However, Sexton was simply too consistent over the final stages of the moto and carried on to complete the sweep of the motos by 4.5 seconds over Roczen, while Craig withstood a persistent challenge from Tomac to claim third.

Photo of AMA PRO Motocross rider Christian Craig
Christian Craig was happy to get his season underway with a podium finish. Photo: Align Media

The first 1-1 performance of Sexton’s career resulted in his third premier class victory at the same track in which he captured his maiden triumph at the final round of the 2020 season.

“It was a dream day for me,” Sexton said. “I think it’s one of the hardest things to go 1-1 but I felt great all day. I feel like I’m riding my best right now. I’m just stoked, this is a big day for me and I’m excited to get the points lead and start the summer like this.”

Roczen finished in the runner-up spot with 2-2 finishes, while Craig captured the first overall podium result of his career in third (3-3).

“I fought hard. That was my game plan,” Roczen said. “I had some good lines and just hung in there all day. He (Sexton) is riding really well right now. The track was really tricky and really difficult, so we had to ride smart. I’m on a good roll right now and I just want to build momentum and keep it going.”

For Christian Craig, it was a podium that didn’t get away. “I’ve been robbed so many times for the overall (podium), so to finally get that one is incredible. It was even better to battle my teammate (Tomac) for it as well. To get my first podium at my home race is something special.” Craig said.

Sexton now leads the point standings for the first time in his career and has established a six-point lead over Roczen, while Craig sits 10 points back in third.

250 Class

Photo of AMA PRO Motocross rider Jett Lawrence
Jett Lawrence takes center stage as the round one winner in the 250 class with brother and teammate Hunter Lawrence (96) second and Jo Shimoda (30) third. Photo: Align Media

The opening moto of the afternoon saw Justin Cooper emerge with the Holeshot ahead of Jett Lawrence and Seth Hammaker. Cooper paced the field for the first 10 minutes until Lawrence applied the pressure and made the pass for the lead.

Once out front, Lawrence easily opened a big lead over the field that he maintained through the rest of the moto. Behind him, teammate and brother, Hunter Lawrence, was making moves forward after starting fourth. He made the pass on Hammaker for third and then took over second from Cooper just past the halfway point.

The battle for third tightened up considerably in the final 10 minutes of the moto as Cooper was forced to deal with a collection of riders. He lost hold of third to RJ Hampshire and continued to lose positions after that. That left the fight for third to be decided between Hampshire and a hard-charging Jo Shimoda.

Photo of AMA PRO Motocross rider Jett Lawrence
Defending Champion Jett Lawrence made a hug statement with two emphatic moto wins. Photo: Align Media

The Lawrence brothers made an assertive opening statement with a 1-2 finish, as Jett took the moto win 6.6 seconds ahead of Hunter. Hampshire successfully fended off heavy pressure from Shimoda for third, while Levi Kitchen rounded out the top five.

The second and deciding moto began with a new face at the front of the field as Nick Romano earned the Holeshot in his pro debut, with Jett Lawrence and Hammaker in tow. Lawrence was patient for the opening laps but then pulled the trigger and made the pass on the rookie, while Michael Mosiman slotted into the top three with a pass on Hammaker.

Lawrence sprinted out to a multi-second lead and put the pressure on his rivals, with Mosiman responding by making a pass on Romano for second. Behind them, several riders jockeyed for position in the battle for third, including Shimoda and Hunter Lawrence, who soon made their way around both Hammaker and Romano.

With the race in hand, Jett Lawrence managed a double-digit lead over the second half of the moto and left the fight for the remaining spots on the podium to be decided amongst three riders. A crash by Mosiman caused him to drop from second to fourth and allowed Shimoda to move into second, with Hunter Lawrence into third.

Jett Lawrence was dominant en route to a sweep of the motos and took the checkered flag 5.3 seconds ahead of his brother, who used lapped riders to his advantage to make a last-lap pass on Shimoda for second.

Photo of AMA PRO Motocross rider Hunter Lawrence
Hunter Lawrence took a pair of second places to finish runner up to his brother Jett. Photo: Align Media.

Jett Lawrence’s title defense couldn’t have started better with a 1-1 effort and a fourth straight victory at Fox Raceway to keep his undefeated record in Southern California intact.

“That HRC Honda bike is hooking up out of the gate and making it easy,” Jett said. “Four wins here (at Fox Raceway) and undefeated, even though it’s not my favorite track. Really happy for Hunter (Lawrence) as well, I was looking to see where he was the whole time. Great day for Honda with a 1-2 here.”

Hunter Lawrence’s 2-2 performance helped solidify Honda’s dominance on the afternoon and clinched the siblings’ first ever 1-2 performance.

“It was a tough track to pass on, but it was a lot of fun battling with Jo (Shimoda),” Hunter said. “I’m happy (with the result), it’s a great way to start the season. I’m looking forward to the summer.”

Shimoda’s consistent 4-3 effort landed him third overall for his fourth career podium result.

“I’ve been working hard for this. I feel like we’re headed in the right direction. Hopefully we can get another one (podium) next week and have a fun summer,” Shimoda said.

Jett Lawrence has established a six-point lead over his brother in the initial 250 Class standings, while Shimoda sits 12 points back in third.

The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will continue next weekend with the oldest event in American motocross, the Carson City Motorsports Hangtown Motocross Classic, for the second round of the 50th anniversary season on Saturday, June 4.

Photo of AMA PRO Motocross rider Joe Shimoda
Jo Shimoda battled hard all day and was rewarded with third place. Photo: Align Media

450 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish)
1 Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda (1-1)
2 Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda (2-2)
3 Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Yamaha (3-3)
4 Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki (7-4)
5 Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM (5-5)
6 Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Kawasaki (4-8)
7 Antonio Cairoli, Italy, KTM (10-6)
8 Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM (6-10)
9 Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., GASGAS (8-9)
10 Shane McElrath, Canton, N.C., Husqvarna (11-7)

450 Class Championship Standings (Round 1 of 12)
1 Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda – 50
2 Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda – 44
3 Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Yamaha – 40
4 Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki – 32
5 Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM – 32
6 Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Kawasaki – 31
7 Antonio Cairoli, Italy, KTM – 26
8 Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM – 26
9 Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., GASGAS – 25
10 Shane McElrath, Canton, N.C., Husqvarna – 24

250 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish)
1 Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda (1-1)
2 Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda (2-2)
3 Jo Shimoda, Japan, Kawasaki (4-3)
4 RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna (3-9)
5 Michael Mosiman, Sebastopol, Calif., GASGAS (9-4)
6 Austin Forkner, Richards, Mo., Kawasaki (6-6)
7 Seth Hammaker, Bainbridge, Pa., Kawasaki (8-5)
8 Levi Kitchen, Washougal, Wash., Yamaha (5-8)
9 Pierce Brown, Sandy, Utah, GASGAS (7-7)
10 Stilez Robertson, Bakersfield, Calif., Husqvarna (10-11)

250 Class Championship Standings (Round 1 of 12)
1 Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 50
2 Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 44
3 Jo Shimoda, Japan, Kawasaki – 38
4 RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna – 32
5 Michael Mosiman, Sebastopol, Calif., GASGAS – 30
6 Austin Forkner, Richards, Mo., Kawasaki – 30
7 Seth Hammaker, Bainbridge, Pa., Kawasaki – 29
8 Levi Kitchen, Washougal, Wash., Yamaha – 29
9 Pierce Brown, Sandy, Utah, GASGAS – 28
10 Stilez Robertson, Bakersfield, Calif., Husqvarna – 21

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