The 2023 Pro Motocross Championship continued with its second California round, this time in the northern half of the state in the shadow of the capital of Sacramento.
The history of the iconic Carson City Motorsports Hangtown Motocross Classic is one of the richest and deepest in the sport and always provides one of the toughest tests of the summer. Temperatures that hovered around 90 degrees made for challenging conditions at this early juncture of the championship, but the end result on the track was the same as the previous week as the Australian siblings from Team Honda HRC, Jett and Hunter Lawrence, prevailed once again in the 450 Class and 250 Class, respectively.
450 Moto 1
One week removed from a win in his 450 Class debut, Jett Lawrence carried the red plate as the points leader for the first time and positioned himself at the head of the pack to open the first moto following an impressive move around Dylan Ferrandis, who grabbed the MotoSport.com Holeshot. As Lawrence looked to sprint away from the field Ferrandis engaged in an intense battle with Aaron Plessinger and Cooper Webb, as Adam Cianciarulo lurked in fifth.
Due to the pace of the fight for second between Ferrandis and Plessinger, the pair closed in on Lawrence, but it didn’t take long for the young Aussie to pull back out and stabilise his advantage. Behind him, the relentless fight between the Yamaha and KTM riders continued, as Ferrandis continued to withstand the pressure.
The action quieted down through the mid portion of the moto as the lead trio settled in, but another wave of intensity loomed. As time wound down on the race clock, Lawrence grew his lead to nearly eight seconds while Plessinger dropped the hammer to close the gap late on Ferrandis. Lawrence once again led every lap and cruised to his third straight moto win, while Ferrandis and Plessinger’s battle carried on through the final corner, with the Frenchman narrowly earning second, 4.1 seconds behind Lawrence and less than a half-second ahead of Plessinger. Webb finished in a distant fourth, while Cianciarulo rounded out the top five.
450 Moto 2
The final moto of the afternoon looked like it’d once again be Ferrandis with the MotoSport.com Holeshot, but he was overcome by Lawrence, who then stormed into the lead. Ferrandis continued to lose spots, as Webb and Plessinger moved into second and third, respectively. The Frenchman eventually settled into fourth, ahead of Cianciarulo.
Webb looked to keep Lawrence honest through the opening five minutes of the moto but the point leader started to build on his advantage with every lap and was soon more than four seconds clear of his rivals. That left the KTM teammates to engage in a tense battle for second.
Halfway through the moto, the running order remained unchanged, but the pursuit of Webb, Plessinger, and Ferrandis allowed them to maintain the deficit to Lawrence and keep him in sight. They paced one another for several more minutes before Plessinger started to increase the pressure and searched for alternate lines. With 11 minutes to go, Plessinger pulled the trigger and made the pass stick on Webb to take control of second. Webb then came under fire from Ferrandis in a battle for third.
Following the pass Plessinger took a second off Lawrence’s lead and was the fastest rider on the track. However, Lawrence responded with his fastest lap of the moto to push the lead back out. The Honda rider backed that up with another one of his fastest laps to open up a margin of 5.5 seconds with five minutes remaining.
The moto took a turn with three minutes to go as Plessinger went down and struggled to get his bike restarted due to a broken clutch lever. That allowed both Webb and Ferrandis to assume the remaining spots on the moto podium as their battle for second continued. Plessinger eventually resumed in fifth but was unable to run the same pace.
Lawrence maintained his undefeated start to the season with ease, as he wrapped up his second 1-1 sweep by five seconds over Webb, while Ferrandis settled for third. Plessinger soldiered home in sixth.
For the second week in a row, Lawrence led every lap of competition to cap off another dominant 1-1 effort. Plessinger’s misfortune allowed Ferrandis to finish in the runner-up spot (2-3) and also moved Webb onto the overall podium in third (4-2) for the first time since the final round of the 2021 season.
Lawrence now joins elite company with Jeff Ward as the only two riders in Pro Motocross history to go 1-1 in the first two races of their 450 Class career. His lead in the championship standings now sits at 18 points over Ferrandis, while Webb moved into third, 26 points out of the lead.
“The track was so brutal [in the second moto]. You had to be patient and couldn’t take too much,” Lawrence explained. “I didn’t eat enough between motos and lost energy halfway through and just relied on technique to keep it going. On this track you really had to manage everything because if you took too much it could bite you. It almost got me a couple times so I really had to focus and keep it on two wheels.”
Dylan Ferrandis admitted to struggling with arm pump but was happy with second.
“I’m very happy because we made a big change from the first moto and the bike was much better, but I struggled with arm pump all day,” Ferrandis said. “The track was very hard and it was difficult to pass. I had to follow the whole [second] moto. I’m a little bit frustrated by this, but I’m still happy to be on the podium and to get the bike more comfortable.”
Cooper Webb was happy with his turnaround from last week to and to grab a podium.
“It was a sufferfest [in Moto 2],” Webb said. “I’m so pumped. It’s incredible what seven days can do. Last week I thought I was going to get lapped in the second moto and this week I could see the leader. I definitely learned how to suffer again and that was nice. I’m just stoked.”
250 Moto 1
One of the championship’s freshest faces opened the first moto with the MotoSport.com Holeshot and early lead as rookie Haiden Deegan stormed out to a multi-second advantage on the opening lap over his teammate Justin Cooper, Jett Reynolds, and Tom Vialle. Hunter Lawrence started the moto deep inside the top 10.
As the Yamahas asserted their hold up front, Reynolds and Vialle started to battle for third, which saw the Kawasaki rider go off track and down to the ground to hand the position to Vialle.
Deegan built on his advantage over Cooper through the opening 10 minutes of the moto, as both Vialle and Guillem Farres settled into third and fourth, respectively. Behind them, Lawrence was on a march forward in fifth.
As the moto reached its halfway point an international three-rider battle unfolded between France’s Vialle, Spain’s Farres, and Australia’s Lawrence. Vialle got the worst of this brief fight, dropping from third to fifth, while Lawrence battled his way into third and pulled away.
With 10 minutes remaining the battle for the lead started to heat up as Cooper continued to chip away at his deficit to Deegan and closed to within two seconds. The momentum shift was short-lived as Deegan responded by picking up the pace and stabilising the lead once more. As the race entered its final minute Cooper made a final push to get the closest he’d been all moto. About 1.5 seconds separated the duo as they took the 2 Lapboard, from which Deegan dug deep again to pull back out.
The second-generation racer captured the first moto win of his career by 2.1 seconds over Cooper for a Star Yamaha 1-2, with Lawrence not too far behind in third. Jo Shimoda overcame a start outside the top 10 to finish fourth, with RJ Hampshire fifth.
250 Moto 2
The deciding moto began with Cooper out front for the MotoSport.com Holeshot, which he used to grab control of the early lead ahead of Lawrence, with Jalek Swoll third. As Cooper and Lawrence asserted themselves at the head of the pack, Swoll was forced to fend off pressure from Vialle. Deegan started the moto deep in the top 10 and quickly went to work in climbing up the running order.
Back out front, Lawrence went on the attack and successfully made the pass around Cooper within the first 10 minutes. The clear track allowed Lawrence to establish a quick lead, as he wasted little time moving ahead by nearly four seconds. Cooper settled into second as did Swoll in third. However, a brief off-track excursion caused Swoll to lose third to Vialle and another position to rookie Chance Hymas.
As the moto surpassed the halfway point the top three in the running order strengthened their grasp on the podium spots, with Lawrence managing a lead of more than six seconds over Cooper, while Vialle followed another six seconds back in third.
The lead group went unchanged through the end of the moto, as Lawrence wrapped up another Moto 2 victory with ease, 3.1 seconds ahead of Cooper, with Vialle third. Deegan earned a hard-fought fourth-place finish that paid big dividends in the overall classification.
With another 3-1 effort to open the season, Lawrence parlayed his second moto win into back-to-back overall victories. Cooper’s consistent afternoon (2-2) put him on the overall podium for the first time this summer in the runner-up spot, while Deegan brought home a second straight top-three result in third (1-4).
The win is the third of Lawrence’s career and establishes his first ever winning streak in Pro Motocross competition. He extended his points lead to 10 over Deegan, while Cooper moved into third, 12 points out of the lead.
“The start was crucial [in Moto 2],” Lawrence explained. “They put a lot of water down and I didn’t want to be behind anyone for long with that. It was the first hot one of the year, a bit of a wake up call, but happy to get out of here safe and healthy.”
Justin Cooper admits he needs to keep digging after his second runnerup finish in a row.
“[Lawrence] probably was following me a bit, checking out my lines, and seeing where he was better,” Cooper said. “He was riding good. It’s disappointing to give up the lead like that, but it’s a way better weekend than last and I’ll definitely take two seconds. I feel like I get close but don’t get one of these wins and that’s building up the fire. I want to win, so it’s time to start digging.”
Haiden Deegan was happy with the podium finish and his progress.
“I didn’t get a great start and I had to work through the pack. I charged hard and rode my heart out. It’s crazy to think I was riding superminis a year and a half ago and now we’re getting podiums in Pro Motocross. It’s still so crazy. I’m hyped.”
450 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish // Points)
1 Jett Lawrence, Landsborough, Qld.,Australia, Honda (1-1 // 50)
2 Dylan Ferrandis, Avignon, France, Yamaha (2-3 // 42)
3 Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM (4-2 // 40)
4 Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM (3-6 // 35)
5 Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki (5-4 // 34)
6 Ty Masterpool, Fallon, Nev., Kawasaki (7-7 // 28)
7 Derek Drake, San Luis Obispo, Calif., Suzuki (8-8 // 26)
8 Jerry Robin, Hamel, Minn., Yamaha (10-9 // 23)
9 Lorenzo Locurcio, Valencia, Venezuela, GASGAS (9-11 // 22)
10 Jose Butron, Cadiz, Spain, GASGAS (16-5 // 21)
450 Class Championship Standings (Round 2 of 11)
1 Jett Lawrence, Landsborough, Qld., Australia, Honda – 100 points
2 Dylan Ferrandis, Avignon, France, Yamaha – 82 points
3 Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM – 74 points
4 Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM – 69 points
5 Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki – 63 points
6 Lorenzo Locurcio, Valencia, Venezuela, GASGAS – 46 points
7 Jose Butron, Cadiz, Spain, GASGAS – 45 points
8 Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda – 44 points
9 Jerry Robin, Hamel, Minn., Yamaha – 43 points
10 Fredrik Noren, Lidköping, Sweden, Suzuki – 41 points
250 Class Overall Results (Moto Finishes // Points)
1 Hunter Lawrence, Landsborough, Qld.,Australia, Honda (3-1 // 45)
2 Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha (2-2 // 44)
3 Haiden Deegan, Temecula, Calif., Yamaha (1-4 // 43)
4 Tom Vialle, Avignon, France, KTM (7-3 // 34)
5 RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna (5-5 // 32)
6 Jo Shimoda, Suzuka, Japan, Kawasaki (4-10 // 29)
7 Guillem Farres, Balsareny, Spain, Yamaha (6-8 // 28)
8 Levi Kitchen, Washougal, Wash., Yamaha (10-7 // 25)
9 Jalek Swoll, Belleview, Fla., Husqvarna (9-11 // 22)
10 Ryder DiFrancesco, Bakersfield, Calif., Kawasaki (8-13 // 21)
250 Class Championship Standings (Round 2 of 11)
1 Hunter Lawrence, Landsborough, Qld.,Australia, Honda – 90 points
2 Haiden Deegan, Temecula, Calif., Yamaha – 80 points
3 Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha – 78 points
4 Tom Vialle, Avignon, France, KTM – 68 points
5 RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna – 67 points
6 Jo Shimoda, Suzuka, Japan, Kawasaki – 62 points
7 Guillem Farres, Balsareny, Spain, Yamaha – 57 points
8 Max Vohland, Sacramento, Calif., KTM – 53 points
9 Levi Kitchen, Washougal, Wash., Yamaha – 50 points
10 Carson Mumford, Simi Valley, Calif., Kawasaki – 41 points
10 Ryder DiFrancesco, Bakersfield, Calif., Kawasaki – 41 points