Cooper Webb put in an outstanding ride to earn his first win of the season at Round 6 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross season in Tampa, Florida while Australian Hunter Lawrence made it back-to-back wins in the 250 class.
Chase Sexton finished second after leading most of the main event while Aaron Plessinger, earned his first podium finish of 2023 with third. In a nail-biter of a 250SX Class race, Hunter Lawrence took the race down to two dramatic contact passes in the final two corners to win his second consecutive race in as many rounds of the Eastern Regional 250SX Class series.
Sporadic rain throughout the day exacerbated the tough, changing track conditions but when the gate dropped on the 450SX Class Main Event the skies were clear. Cooper Webb was credited with the official Holeshot but Sexton’s momentum over the stripe put him directly into the lead with Webb, Plessinger, Ken Roczen, Jason Anderson, and Adam Cianciarulo in tow. Points leader and defending champion Eli Tomac was ninth out of the first corner.
Before one minute had run off the race clock Anderson collided, once again, with Justin Barcia. The riders tangled and dropped to the back of the pack. Three minutes into the 20-minute plus one lap Main Event Sexton had pulled a 1.7-second gap on the pack. Most fans were expecting to see Tomac battling forward, but the pace of the front runners was close and the only rider seeming to make headway was Webb.
Through the race, Cooper Webb pulled within a second of Sexton on two occasions but seemed to be biding his time for a pass attempt. Meanwhile, Tomac seemed settled into the fifth position, 8 seconds behind Roczen and 8 seconds ahead of Justin Cooper.
Webb’s strategy of patience almost fell apart when, with less than three minutes on the race clock, he got wildly out of control in the whoops section. It was the longest whoops section of the year and was breaking down rapidly. Webb kept his feet on the pegs and the bike on the track and in short order made up the time he’d lost on Sexton. The next lap through Sexton made a nearly identical mistake; Sexton could not save it and crashed.
Webb took over the lead and brought home the win, his first of the season. Sexton recovered quickly and took second place, and Plessinger took third without pressure for the podium spot. The win for Webb tightened the season standings so that only four points now separate the top three athletes.
“I came into today knowing I needed to execute a good result, but the day didn’t start out that special for me, as I struggled in qualifying and my Heat race,” Webb said. “In the Main Event, I really focused and went to work – I got a good start and rode really solid laps, although the sand and the lapped riders were tough. I saw the leader go down and I was able to take the lead and win. It’s been over a year since I’ve won a race, so now that I’ve got that winning feeling again, I now have the confidence, equipment, fitness and speed to do it again. From a championship standpoint, we’re in a great spot and confidence is key for me, so I look forward to Oakland.”
Aaron Plessinger was happy to have made his first podium.
“This was a big confidence-booster for me,” Plessinger declared. “I’ve been working on my starts and that’s definitely been showing. It felt good to get out front and run with the front guys, although I made a couple of mistakes during the Main Event that meant I couldn’t really latch onto them. In saying that, I’m pumped – third place is the best result I’ve had in a while and it’s given me more confidence as we head to Oakland.”
The Eastern Regional 250SX Class provided all the drama the fans could ask for. Jeremy Martin grabbed the Holeshot but Nate Thrasher was right around him and instantly pulled a gap on the field. The track’s deep sand section claimed Jordon Smith on the opening lap, who was running in second place; that crash caught up Tom Vialle and he dropped back to mid-pack with Smith.
Up front, Thrasher looked untouchable. Max Anstie held the second place and rookie Haiden Deegan looked like a seasoned pro in third ahead of one of the class’ true seasoned pros, Michael Mosiman. Behind all the action at the front, Lawrence was on the move slicing rapidly through the pack after a bad start. Less than six and a half minutes into the 15-minute plus one lap Main Event Lawrence cut under Mosiman, taking out his front wheel and dropping the GASGAS rider to the dirt. The move put Lawrence in third place and he quickly closed the distance to Anstie. With 5:47 on the race clock, Lawrence took over the second place spot, but Thrasher was 5.9 seconds ahead.
Rain from earlier in the day was back, and as it intensified so did the excitement. As the front runners battled the changing conditions, Lawrence drew the lead down to 2.89 seconds as the race clock reached:00. When the white flag came out the gap was 2.4 seconds. Lawrence got to Thrasher’s rear wheel when the riders came to the sand section for the final time. Exiting the sand, Thrasher moved to the outside line and the two riders made hard contact. Neither hit the ground and Thrasher maintained the lead.
As they reached the final corner Lawrence pitched his Honda sideways on the slick dirt. He finessed his bike to the inside of the corner, drove across the turn’s exit ruts, and cut off Thrasher’s straight-shot to the checkered flag. The athletes both charged toward the checkered flag with Lawrence taking the win just .2 seconds ahead of Thrasher. The crowd went wild with the dramatic finish, which extended Lawrence’s points lead in the Eastern Regional 250SX Class series that is only two races into its season.
The next race takes place on February 18th inside RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland, California. The event is the re-scheduled Round 2 that was postponed due to regional flooding. The Oakland race brings back the Western Regional 250SX Class series for one race in what would have been a seven-week break.
450SX Class Results
1 Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM
2 Chase Sexton, Clermont, Fla., Honda
3 Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM
4 Ken Roczen, Clermont, Fla., Suzuki
5 Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Yamaha
6 Jason Anderson, Rio Rancho, N.Mex., Kawasaki
7 Justin Cooper, Tallahassee, Fla., Yamaha
8 Justin Barcia, Greenville, Fla., GASGAS
9 Joey Savatgy, Clermont, Fla., Kawasaki
10 Christian Craig, Clermont, Fla., Husqvarna
450SX Class Championship Standings
1 Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Yamaha (113)
2 Chase Sexton, Clermont, Fla., Honda (111)
3 Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM (109)
4 Jason Anderson, Rio Rancho, N.Mex., Kawasaki (93)
5 Ken Roczen, Clermont, Fla., Suzuki (92)
6 Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM (85)
7 Justin Barcia, Greenville, Fla., GASGAS (80)
8 Adam Cianciarulo, New Smyrna Beach, Fla., Kawasaki (67)
9 Joey Savatgy, Clermont, Fla., Kawasaki (67)
10 Colt Nichols, Murrieta, Calif., Honda (61)
Eastern Regional 250SX Class Results
1 Hunter Lawrence, Wesley Chapel, Fla., Honda
2 Nate Thrasher, Livingston, Tenn., Yamaha
3 Max Anstie, Cairo, Ga., Honda
4 Haiden Deegan, Tallahassee, Fla., Yamaha
5 Jeremy Martin, Rochester, Minn., Yamaha
6 Tom Vialle, Murrieta, Calif., KTM
7 Michael Mosiman, Minneaola, Fla., GASGAS
8 Chance Hymas, Pocatello, Idaho, Honda
9 Jace Owen, Mattoon, Ill., Honda
10 Hardy Munoz, Kissimmee, Fla., Husqvarna
Eastern Regional 250SX Class Championship Standings
1 Hunter Lawrence, Wesley Chapel, Fla., Honda (52)
2 Max Anstie, Cairo, Ga., Honda (44)
3 Haiden Deegan, Tallahassee, Fla., Yamaha (38)
4 Jeremy Martin, Rochester, Minn., Yamaha (36)
5 Tom Vialle, Murrieta, Calif., KTM (33)
6 Michael Mosiman, Minneaola, Fla., GASGAS (33)
7 Nate Thrasher, Livingston, Tenn., Yamaha (31)
8 Chance Hymas, Pocatello, Idaho, Honda (30)
9 Jordon Smith, Ochlocknee, Ga., Yamaha (29)
10 Jace Owen, Mattoon, Ill., Honda (23)