Another picture-perfect afternoon of sunny skies and comfortable temperatures provided ideal racing conditions for Round 6 of the 2022 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship as the 50th anniversary season reached its halfway point.
The legendary sands of The Wick 338 provided one of the summer’s most unique challenges at the MB Tractor & Equipment Southwick National, where Eli Tomac extended his winning streak to three races with a dominant sweep of the 450 Class motos. In the 250 Class, Australian Jett Lawrence made his return to the top step of the podium with an impressive 1-1 performance that resulted in his fifth victory of the season.
The first 450 Class moto of the afternoon got underway with a convincing Holeshot by Ken Roczen, followed by Ryan Dungey and Christian Craig. As Roczen sprinted out to a quick lead of more than a second, Craig made the pass on Dungey for second while Chase Sexton, the point leader, followed in fourth.
Craig started to chip away at his deficit to Roczen and successfully made a pass for the lead a little more than five minutes into the moto. As Dungey looked to apply pressure on Roczen for second the KTM rider went down, but quickly remounted. However, he fell from third to fifth, which moved Sexton up to third and Tomac into fourth after running as far back as eighth.
As the moto reached its halfway point Craig maintained a lead of nearly two seconds, but it was Tomac who started to attract the attention as the fastest rider on the track. He made an easy pass on Sexton for third and put in a charge on Roczen to take control of second. A little more than a second separated the Yamaha teammates of Craig and Tomac with 14 minutes to go in the moto. It took just a lap for Tomac to seize control of the lead. Behind them, Sexton got by Roczen for third.
Once out front Tomac opened up an advantage of nearly four seconds on the field, while Craig and Sexton engaged in a fight for second. These two riders traded momentum for many laps, but Sexton’s patience paid off in the closing minutes of the moto when he pulled the trigger on a pass and made it stick.
It was clear sailing for Tomac the rest of the way as he cruised to his fourth consecutive moto win by 7.3 seconds over Sexton, with Craig in third. Dungey followed in fourth, while Fire Power Honda’s Max Anstie rounded out the top five with a last-lap pass on Roczen.
The deciding 450 Class moto began similarly to the first moto with Roczen at the head of the pack for a sweep of the Holeshots. Craig slotted into second, while Aaron Plessinger followed in third. Tomac started inside the top five, while Sexton emerged deep in the top 10.
As Roczen sprinted out to an early multi-second lead, Craig and Plessinger engaged in a battle for second, from which Plessinger prevailed with the position. A battle for third then unfolded between teammates Craig and Tomac. After the two riders came together, with each avoiding a crash, Tomac reset and made the pass happen.
Roczen, Plessinger, and Tomac asserted themselves at the head of the field, which allowed the lead trio to open a huge gap. A showdown soon followed as the moto passed the halfway point. Tomac dropped the hammer and made the pass on Plessinger for second and didn’t let up in his pursuit of Roczen. In less than a lap, Tomac moved from third to first and took control of the moto with a little more than 12 minutes to go. As Tomac pulled away, Plessinger went on the attack and took second from Roczen.
As Tomac checked out on the field the attention shifted to Sexton in his effort to fight his way onto the podium. The point leader showed tremendous patience from fourth and bided his time. Soon enough he was within striking distance of Roczen and successfully took control of third. He then moved to within a few bike lengths of Plessinger and with just two laps to go, he made the pass for second.
Tomac was in a class of his own out front and capped off a dominant afternoon with his fifth straight moto win by 10 seconds over Sexton. Plessinger earned his best moto result of the season in third.
Tomac’s second consecutive 1-1 sweep resulted in a third straight overall victory and the landmark 30th win of his 450 Class career. Sexton continued his podium streak in second (2-2), while Plessinger’s strong second moto landed him on the overall podium for the first time this season in third (7-3).
While Tomac gained even more ground in the championship battle, Sexton’s runner-up effort allowed him to maintain his hold of the point lead. A single point now separates the riders halfway through the 12-round season. Roczen, who finished fourth (6-4), is third, 41 points out of the lead.
“We’re just doing what we can,” Tomac said. “This is a gnarly points race and neither of us [Chase Sexton and I] have made a mistake yet or blinked. We’re both riding really strong. I just got better starts today. This track is so difficult. It just takes everything out of you. I’m done, but it makes winning here that much more satisfying.”
Chase Sexton admitted it was a tough day, saying, “That was a tough race. I didn’t get a good start [in Moto 2] and those guys were gone. This place has never been my favorite but today was fun. I’m looking forward to battling Eli [Tomac] for the rest of the summer. We need to start winning motos and races, but it’s been a blast so far.”
Aaron Plessinger was happy to make a return to podium after a lenghty absence, “It’s good to be back up here,” Plessinger said. “I could hear the fans every lap. It wasn’t easy there at the end. Hats off to Chase [Sexton] and Eli [Tomac], they were both riding great. Third overall on a KTM, it’s a great, great day.”
The opening 250 Class moto began with Jett Lawrence leading the way for the Holeshot, chased by Justin Cooper and Nick Romano. Several positions behind them, point leader and Hunter Lawrence started outside the top 10 in his first race carrying the red plate.
Jett Lawrence wasted little time in checking out on the field and built a lead of more than five seconds just a handful of minutes into the moto. Cooper settled into second, while Romano was forced to battle with RJ Hampshire for third. Back up front, Lawrence crashed and lost the lead. Cooper assumed the top spot as Lawrence remounted in second and immediately went on the attack to try and reclaim the position. A bobble by Cooper provided the opening Lawrence needed to put the number one bike back out front. As that battle unfolded, Hampshire made the pass on Romano for third.
Things took another interesting turn when Hunter Lawrence crashed while running eighth and dropped outside of the top 10 into 16th place.
As the moto approached its final 10 minutes a three-rider battle started to take shape in the fight for second between Cooper, Hampshire, and Jo Shimoda, winner of the previous round. Shimoda took advantage of a small miscue by Hampshire to take over third and he kept the charge going to Cooper’s rear fender. The Japanese rider was aggressive and made the pass for second. Cooper later lost his hold of third to Hampshire.
When Shimoda moved into second 5.7 seconds separated he and Jett Lawrence. Shimoda continued to run the fastest laps on the track, which allowed him to cut the deficit to just over three seconds. Lapped traffic slowed Lawrence even further and helped Shimoda close in, even more, dropping the deficit to 2.2 seconds. Lawrence responded and picked up the pace in the closing stages of the moto to stabilize the lead.
Lawrence closed strong to secure his fifth moto win of the season by 10.8 seconds over Shimoda, while Cooper made the pass back on Hampshire for third. Michael Mosiman rounded out the top five, while Hunter Lawrence put in a resilient ride to salvage sixth.
The final moto kicked off once again with Jett Lawrence leading the way for the Holeshot, followed closely by the Star Yamaha duo of Levi Kitchen and Cooper, who slotted into second and third, respectively. Shimoda started seventh, with Hunter Lawrence in ninth.
With the clear track, Jett Lawrence looked to inch away from the field but Kitchen refused to let it happen. Their early pace allowed the pair to pull away from Cooper and the rest of the field by four seconds. Despite heavy pressure from the Yamaha rider, Lawrence withstood the challenge and inched away to about 1.5 seconds. Soon enough, the leaders enjoyed an advantage of more than 10 seconds on third.
As Lawrence and Kitchen controlled the moto a battle for third took shape between Cooper and Shimoda. The Kawasaki rider was faster and continued to close in on the Yamaha. With 10 minutes to go Shimoda made his move and got around. Cooper responded initially, but Shimoda quickly solidified the pass.
Despite the early pressure, Lawrence never put a wheel wrong and brought home a wire-to-wire moto win by 9.4 seconds over Kitchen. Shimoda followed in a distant third.
Jett Lawrence’s second 1-1 performance of the summer resulted in his fifth overall victory of the season and cemented his rebound from the heartbreak of the previous round. It was also the milestone 10th career victory of the Australian. Shimoda followed up his winning effort from last week with a runner-up finish (2-3), while Cooper finished on the podium for the second time this summer in third (3-4).
Lawrence’s dominant afternoon allowed him to reclaim possession of the point lead from his brother, Hunter, who finished seventh (6-8). A 22-point swing saw Jett go from seven points down to 15 points ahead of Hunter, while Shimoda now sits 37 points out of the lead in third.
“I have to be pumped with the win,” Lawrence said. “Hunter had a rough one today. I’d rather not do it [get the point lead] that way and would have rather raced him for it, but the track was brutal. It was a really good day and my starts were good, so I’m happy.”
Jo Shimoda was happy to get through a tough round with another good results “The track was really difficult. I’ve never practiced in conditions like this. I was just holding on so tight. I’m happy, but we just have to keep improving,” Shimoda said.
Justin Cooper enjoyed his trip to Southwick and another podium. “It’s cool to be back on the podium,” Cooper said. “I always love coming here. It always beats my butt and we always come back for more. We made progress today and are getting closer to where we need to be, so I’m happy, but still have more work to do.”
The second half of the 2022 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will commence next Saturday, July 16, with the series’ annual visit to Minnesota and Millville’s famed Spring Creek MX Park.
450 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish // Points)
1 Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Yamaha (1-1 // 50 Points)
2 Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda (2-2 // 44 Points)
3 Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM (7-3 // 34 Points)
4 Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda (6-4 // 33 Points)
5 Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Yamaha (3-8 // 33 Points)
6 Max Anstie, England, Honda (5-5 // 32 Points)
7 Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM (4-7 // 32 Points)
8 Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Kawasaki (8-6 // 28 Points)
9 Benny Bloss, Oak Grove, Mo., KTM (10-10 // 22 Points)
10 Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., GASGAS (13-9 // 20 Points)
450 Class Championship Standings (Round 6 of 12)
1 Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda – 268 Points
2 Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Yamaha – 267 Points
3 Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda – 227 Points
4 Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Kawasaki – 207 Points
5 Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM – 185 Points
6 Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Yamaha – 184 Points
7 Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., GASGAS – 159 Points
8 Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM – 149 Points
9 Joey Savatgy, Thomasville, Ga., Kawasaki – 125 Points
10 Shane McElrath, Canton, N.C., Husqvarna – 118 Points
250 Class Overall Results (Moto Finishes // Points)
1 Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda (1-1 // 50 Points)
2 Jo Shimoda, Japan, Kawasaki (2-3 // 42 Points)
3 Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha (3-4 // 38 Points)
4 Levi Kitchen, Washougal, Wash., Yamaha (8-2 // 35 Points)
5 RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna (4-5 // 34 Points)
6 Stilez Robertson, Bakersfield, Calif., Husqvarna (7-7 // 28 Points)
7 Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda (6-8 // 28 Points)
8 Michael Mosiman, Sebastopol, Calif., GASGAS (5-9 // 28 Points)
9 Nate Thrasher, Livingston, Tenn., Yamaha (15-6 // 21 Points)
10 Jalek Swoll, Belleview, Fla., Husqvarna (12-10 // 20 Points)
250 Class Championship Standings (Round 6 of 12)
1 Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 261 Points
2 Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 246 Points
3 Jo Shimoda, Japan, Kawasaki – 224 Points
4 Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha – 197 Points
5 Levi Kitchen, Washougal, Wash., Yamaha – 180 Points
6 Michael Mosiman, Sebastopol, Calif., GASGAS – 169 Points
7 Stilez Robertson, Bakersfield, Calif., Husqvarna – 158 Points
8 Seth Hammaker, Bainbridge, Pa., Kawasaki – 151 Points
9 RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna – 132 Points
10 Max Vohland, Sacramento, Calif., KTM – 129 Points