- Chase Sexton finishes a steady third in premier division
- Colt Nichols places sixth in promising 450 class debut
On a treacherous track in a packed Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Team Honda HRC enjoyed a strong start to the 2023 AMA Supercross season. For Jett Lawrence, a convincing 250 victory was a promising start to his bid for a West title to go along with last year’s East crown; for Chase Sexton, a safe third-place finish in a dramatic 450 main showed that he’s capable of minimizing errors in perilous scenarios; and for Colt Nichols, a sixth-place ride was a respectable performance in his first race aboard 450 machinery.
Lawrence rode nearly flawlessly in the 250 West main event, taking the holeshot and leading every lap, but the 450 main was much more dramatic. Nichols nailed the holeshot aboard his CRF450RWE, but an early bobble caused him to be overtaken by several riders, including teammate Sexton, who sat fifth in the early going. The Illinois native’s patient riding was rewarded when he profited from mistakes by other riders, and an aggressive lap-12 pass on Malcolm Stewart put him into the lead. Sexton’s momentum slowed during the race’s latter stages, and was overtaken by Eli Tomac and Cooper Webb, though he still finished just 4.35 seconds off the winning time.
- With California being pelted by rain for most of the week leading up to the race, Team Honda HRC ventured away from the squad’s private Corona test track, to Carson Mumford’s track in Adelanto, which was less affected by the precipitation.
- The Wednesday before race day, Hunter and Jett Lawrence held a press conference at Costa Mesa, California’s South Coast Plaza. The public event featured Daniel Blair interviewing the brothers and Phil Nicoletti–Jettson Donuts’ first “sponsored” rider. It was also announced that Jettson is the Official Donut of AMA Supercross, and will be sold in the concourse areas at every round.
- Team Honda HRC riders Chase Sexton, Colt Nichols and Jett Lawrence were featured in AMA Supercross’s Friday press conference. Although the weather was good, the track sessions were canceled to protect the surface for race day.
- In a nod to the many kids who received Honda CRF trail bikes over the holidays, the Team Honda HRC pits featured a display featuring the CRF50F and CRF110F–both in new White color schemes that are offered for 2023. The display also featured a pair of factory Team Honda HRC machines in the same colors–serving as a reminder that Honda’s CRF line covers an impressively broad range of riders, from first-timers to factory racers.
- With Team Honda HRC 250 crew chief Grant Hutcheson under the weather for the opener, his duties were assumed by Ricki Rock, who normally works as the squad’s R&D supervisor.
- The rain leading up to race day resulted in an extremely rough track that prompted many mistakes by the riders. The weather itself was actually quite good, with sunny skies all day, although evening temperatures were chilly (51º Fahrenheit for the main event, with 94% humidity).
- Sexton was the top 450 rider in daytime qualifying at Anaheim 2, and the only one to turn a lap time that was under a minute. Nichols was 16th-best, and Lawrence was second-fastest in the 250 West class despite a couple of falls.
- Lawrence finished second in the season’s first heat race following a fifth-place start. Other Red Riders to advance straight to the main were SmarTops/MotoConcepts Honda racers Mitchell Oldenburg and Anthony Rodriguez, whereas Concrete Plants’ Maxwell Sanford made it from the last-chance qualifier.
- The holeshots in both 450 heat races went to CRF450RWE-mounted riders, with Nichols and Sexton doing the honors. Nichols eventually finished seventh in heat 1, whereas Sexton led all the way to the finish in heat 2. Also advancing to the main was Fire Power Honda’s Dean Wilson.
- Jett Lawrence was the only 250 West main-event rider to post a lap time that was less than a minute, his 59.667” lap nearly four-tenths of a second better than his nearest competitor.
- Lawrence has competed in the 250 East region for the past two seasons, so this was his first Angel Stadium appearance since he broke his collarbone while battling for the win on the final lap at the 2020 Anaheim 2 event.
- Lawrence’s main-event win was his eighth in AMA 250 Supercross, and his 15th podium. Sexton’s 450 podium finish was his 12th in the class, and his first at a 450 season opener.
- Sexton and Lawrence both took part in the post-race press conference.
- Next up, Team Honda HRC travels north to Oakland for AMA Supercross round 2, which is expected to be affected by the rainstorms drenching California of late.
Chase Sexton 23“Anaheim 1 was one of the gnarliest tracks I’ve been on. It was really hard to jump into and be consistent and perfect throughout the whole main event. Being back in a race setting was good. I’m pretty comfortable on my bike; I think we made some good steps in the right direction, and I felt safe and stable in the whoops all night.”
Colt Nichols 45“It was a little chaotic throughout the day, but things came around. I started out making it through the heat race unscathed. I went into the main and got a really good start and kind of fumbled the first little straightaway and went from first to like sixth. [laughs] I didn’t quite have the intensity the first maybe 10 minutes, and the front group got away a little bit–I was riding in no-man’s land. Overall though, I’m really happy. We got through it, which is all I really wanted to do, and I’ve got something to build on now. I’m excited for next weekend.”
Jett Lawrence 18“It’s always nervous coming into the first one because you don’t know where everyone’s at. The big thing was how the track was going to form up for the main, and after practice, the joke was, ‘I just want to see Sunday!’ [laughs] I had a bit of a rough one in the heat race, so I just focused on the main and making sure I did what I needed to do. I’m thankful I came out of here in one piece.”
Lars Lindstrom - Team Manager“That was a really good Anaheim 1 for the team, with two guys on the podium, and I’m really proud of Colt Nichols for finishing sixth in his first 450 race. Jett had struggled a little bit during the day with being consistent, but in the main event he just executed and rode a super-clean race–the cleanest he had ridden all day, hitting all the rhythms incredibly clean for a fantastic win. The track was extremely rough and rutted, and Chase probably needed to adapt to the track a little bit better, but to come away from Anaheim 1 with a podium is a success in my book. I’m really stoked on the team and ready to get to the ‘normal’ races now–glad to get A1 out of the way.”