U.S Motocross

Jett Lawrence Continues Undefeated At 2024 Pro Motocross Championship Opener

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Photo of Jett Lawrence at the opening round of the 2024 Pro Motocross Championship
Jett Lawrence remained unbeaten in 450 Class competition and is now 24-0 to begin his premier class career. Photo: MX Sports Pro Racing, Inc.

The 53rd season of the Pro Motocross Championship kicked off in the motocross epicentre of Southern California under sunny skies and balmy temperatures.

Pala’s Fox Raceway was the site of the season-opening Honda Fox Raceway National, where the reigning SuperMotocross World Champions both made a statement with dominant performances in their respective divisions.

In the 450 Class, Australian Jett Lawrence picked up where he left off from last year’s perfect season to remain undefeated in premier class competition with his 23rd and 24th consecutive moto wins and a seventh straight victory at Fox Raceway. In the 250 Class Haiden Deegan shone in front of the hometown crowd with an impressive 1-1 effort in which he showed an ability to come from behind and run from the front.

450 Class

The opening premier class moto started with the Lawrence brothers leading the way with Jett edging out Hunter for the Holeshot. They were joined by Aaron Plessinger, who pushed hard early to move into second behind the young Aussie. As Lawrence asserted his control of the lead, Plessinger settled in to keep him honest.

Jett inched away as the moto wore on and soon built a lead of more than five seconds, which left the battle for second to take shape between Plessinger and Hunter Lawrence. The KTM rider held strong for the majority of the moto, but the elder Lawrence went on the attack as the moto entered its final 10 minutes. Hunter made the pass for second and quickly put distance on Plessinger.

Out front, Jett cruised to his 23rd straight moto win dating back to last season, crossing the line five seconds ahead of Hunter to complete a Lawrence 1-2 in their first 450 Class race together. Plessinger followed in third, with Chase Sexton fourth and Justin Cooper in fifth.

Photo of Hunter Lawrence at the opening round of the 2024 Pro Motocross Championship
Hunter Lawrence’s 450 Class debut resulted a second-place finish (2-3) behind his younger brother. Photo: MX Sports Pro Racing, Inc.

The Lawrences led the field into the first turn to open the final moto, with Hunter edging out Jett for the Holeshot. Jett then made an early push to slip by his older brother and seize control of the lead, while Hunter briefly dropped to third behind a hard-charging Phil Nicoletti. Hunter reclaimed the position, while Sexton followed into third.

The top three set a torrid pace early and put several seconds on the rest of the field. Soon, a sibling battle unfolded as Hunter closed onto Jett’s rear fender. The champ fended off the challenge, but it allowed Sexton to close back in from third to make it a three-rider pursuit for victory. As Jett continued to lead, Sexton was able to make the pass on Hunter for second and mount an attack for the top spot. Sexton kept Jett within reach for several laps, but went off track just before time ran out on the moto and lost considerable ground to end the threat.

Photo of Chase Sexton at the opening round of the 2024 Pro Motocross Championship
Chase Sexton was resilient en route to a third-place finish (4-2). Photo: MX Sports Pro Racing, Inc.

Sexton gave it his all over the final two laps and got back within sight of Lawrence, but it wasn’t enough. The Honda rider wrapped up the 1-1 effort by 1.3 seconds over Sexton, with Hunter Lawrence a distant third.

Jett Lawrence wrapped up the 12th overall win of his career and moved to 24-0 in 450 Class competition, spearheading a historic Lawrence brothers 1-2 in their first race together following Hunter’s 2-3 effort. Sexton rebounded strongly from a challenging first moto to round out the podium in third (4-2).

With the win, Jett Lawrence has established an eight-point lead over Hunter, while Sexton sits 10 points out of the lead in third.

It’s the third straight season that Team Honda HRC has finished 1-2 at the opening round.

“Mid-race [in Moto 2] I looked back and saw [Hunter] behind me, then I looked back again and it was Chase [Sexton]. I couldn’t let up at all. It was a great day and now I’m tied with James [Stewart] at 24-0 [in motos], which is pretty cool,” Jett Lawrence said.

Hunter Lawrence said he was stoked to join his brother on the box.

“I knew the points situation [in Moto 2] and made a change [on the bike] that we’ll get better with. I just took what it gave me. I didn’t want to do anything silly. I’m stoked to put it on the box [in my first race],” Hunter said.

Chase Sexton was satsifyied with his season opener and is looking to build from here.

“I went off the track at the top of the hill and thought the race was over,” Sexton said. “I picked the pace up and got close to Jett [Lawrence] on the final lap, but he picked it up [too] and that was it. We got off to a good start and will look to build on this next weekend.”

Photo of Haiden Deegan at the opening round of the 2024 Pro Motocross Championship
Haiden Deegan captured his third career win following a 1-1 moto sweep. Photo: MX Sports Pro Racing, Inc.

250 Class

The first moto began with Tom Vialle leading the field through the first turn for the Holeshot, but Levi Kitchen slotted right into second. Kitchen showed patience early but went on the attack during the opening 10 minutes of the moto and took control of the top spot. With the lead in hand, Kitchen opened up a multi-second advantage over the field, while Vialle and Haiden Deegan engaged in a battle for second. Deegan soon made the pass to move into the runner-up spot.

Deegan showed a quicker pace than Kitchen through the middle portion of race and slowly chipped away at the deficit until he eventually closed to within a few bike lengths as the moto entered its final 10 minutes. The battle was on from that point forward as Kitchen responded, leading to trades of momentum. An off-track excursion briefly slowed Deegan’s momentum but he regrouped and continued to put the pressure on the Kawasaki out front.

Kitchen appeared to have control of the moto as they took the 2-Lap Board, but an errant track marker became lodged in his boot, which slowed the Kawasaki’s momentum while he removed it and allowed Deegan to slip into the lead. The Southern California native dropped the hammer to sprint away and grab the first moto win of the season, 7.2 seconds ahead of Kitchen. Vialle followed in third, with Chance Hymas fourth, and Joey Savatgy fifth.

Following the race, officials determined that Vialle was in violation of Rule 1.6.20 Track Cuts/Unfair Advantage of the series rulebook after the Frenchman went off track early in the moto. As a result, Vialle was docked one position to fourth, which moved Hymas into third.

The final moto saw Deegan pick up where he left off with the Holeshot as Jalek Swoll and Kitchen gave chase. Kitchen didn’t waste any time with a pass on Swoll for second and positioned himself right behind Deegan. The early pace of the top-two finishers from the opening moto allowed them to pull away from the field. Swoll, meanwhile, came under fire from Vialle, but the KTM rider tipped over and lost positions.

Photo of Levi Kitchen at the opening round of the 2024 Pro Motocross Championship
Levi Kitchen battled up front all afternoon with 2-2 motos and a runner-up effort. Photo: MX Sports Pro Racing, Inc.

Deegan and Kitchen both settled in through the middle portion of the moto, with about one second sitting between them. Behind them the battle for the overall podium heated up as three riders were in position to capture third overall. Swoll’s third-place positioning on the track gave him the edge, but both Vialle and Hymas were also in the mix. With five minutes to go, Swoll, Vialle, and Hymas were running 3-4-5 on the racetrack, separated by mere bike lengths. Vialle went on the attack and successfully made the pass on Swoll for third, which gave him the advantage in the overall classification. Hymas then made the pass on Swoll for fourth.

Back out front, Deegan picked up the pace in the waning moments to prevent a late push from Kitchen and extended his lead on the final lap. He wrapped up a 1-1 sweep of the motos by 1.9 seconds over Kitchen, with Vialle finishing strong in third.

Photo of Tom Vialle at the opening round of the 2024 Pro Motocross Championship
Frenchman Tom Vialle finished third overall with 4-3 moto finishes. Photo: MX Sports Pro Racing, Inc.

The second career 1-1 performance by Deegan resulted in the third win of his career, kicking off the season in dominant fashion in front of the hometown crowd. Kitchen secured a solid runner-up effort with his 2-2 scores, while Vialle (4-3) edged out Hymas (3-4) for the final spot on the podium via the second moto tiebreaker.

With maximum points scored at the opening round, Deegan has established a six-point lead over Kitchen in the championship standings. Vialle and Hymas sit tied for third, 12 points out of the lead.

“I’ve put in a lot of work [preparing for this championship],” Deegan said. “I go out and grind. I put my heart into this sport and you guys saw that. Great job to Levi [Kitchen], he kept me honest the whole time and didn’t make it easy on me. I’m stoked to start the season with a win.”

The 2024 Pro Motocross Championship will continue next Saturday, June 1, with the second round from Northern California’s Prairie City SVRA.

450 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish // Points)
1 Jett Lawrence, Landsborough, Qld., Australia, Honda (1-1 // 50)
2 Hunter Lawrence, Landsborough, Qld., Australia, Honda (2-3 // 42)
3 Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., KTM (4-2 // 40)
4 Dylan Ferrandis, Avignon, France, Honda (7-5 // 32)
5 Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., GASGAS (6-6 // 32)
6 Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha (5-8 // 31)
7 Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Kawasaki (10-4 // 30)
8 Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM (3-12 // 30)
9 Malcolm Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Husqvarna (8-7 // 29)
10 Phil Nicoletti, Cochecton, N.Y., Yamaha (9-9 // 26)

450 Class Championship Final Standings
1 Jett Lawrence, Landsborough, Qld., Australia, Honda – 50 Points
2 Hunter Lawrence, Landsborough, Qld., Australia, Honda – 42 Points
3 Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., KTM – 40 Points
4 Dylan Ferrandis, Avignon, France, Honda – 32 Points
5 Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., GASGAS – 32 Points
6 Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha – 31 Points
7 Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Kawasaki – 30 Points
8 Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM – 30 Points
9 Malcolm Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Husqvarna – 29 Points
10 Phil Nicoletti, Cochecton, N.Y., Yamaha – 26 Points

250 Class Overall Results (Moto Finishes // Points)
1 Haiden Deegan, Temecula, Calif., Yamaha (1-1 // 50)
2 Levi Kitchen, Washougal, Wash., Kawasaki (2-2 // 44)
3 Tom Vialle, Avignon, France, KTM (4-3 // 38)
4 Chance Hymas, Pocatello, Idaho, Honda (3-4 // 38)
5 Jalek Swoll, Belleview, Fla., Triumph (6-5 // 33)
6 Jo Shimoda, Suzuka, Japan, Kawasaki (8-6 // 30)
7 Nate Thrasher, Livingston, Tenn., Yamaha (11-7 // 26)
8 Pierce Brown, Sandy, Utah, GASGAS (10-8 // 26)
9 Joey Savatgy, Thomasville, Ga., Triumph (5-13 // 26)
10 Ryder DiFrancesco, Bakersfield, Calif., GASGAS (9-12 // 23)

250 Class Championship Standings (Round 1 of 11)
1 Haiden Deegan, Temecula, Calif., Yamaha – 50 Points
2 Levi Kitchen, Washougal, Wash., Kawasaki – 44 Points
3 Tom Vialle, Avignon, France, KTM – 38 Points
4 Chance Hymas, Pocatello, Idaho, Honda – 38 Points
5 Jalek Swoll, Belleview, Fla., Triumph – 33 Points
6 Jo Shimoda, Suzuka, Japan, Kawasaki – 30 Points
7 Nate Thrasher, Livingston, Tenn., Yamaha – 26 Points
8 Pierce Brown, Sandy, Utah, GASGAS – 26 Points
9 Joey Savatgy, Thomasville, Ga., Triumph – 26 Points
10 Ryder DiFrancesco, Bakersfield, Calif., GASGAS – 23 Points

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